Seiko Diver’s 55th Anniversary

By Montredo in Reviews
March 16, 2020
Seiko Diver’s 55th Anniversary
Seiko Diver's 55th Anniversary
The highlight of the 55th Anniversary Limited Editions: The SLA037J1 as re-release of the legendary 62MAS © Seiko

On the positive side, the three diver’s watches in Seiko’s 55th Anniversary Edition are wonderful, historically significant timepieces that should bring a lot of pleasure to buyers. Technical innovations such as the in-house Ever-Brilliant Steel used for the first time, or the built-in 8L55 and 8L35 calibers, further enhance these watches. If it were only about the bare characteristics of the three classic new editions, there would not be much to complain about. However, critical analysis reveals the rather ambitious prices, and the fact that Seiko has missed the chance to knock the ball out of the park here.

Déjà Vu with the 62MAS

Some of you may experience déjà vu with this release: in 2017, a new edition of the 62MAS was produced, in the form of the SLA017J1. Even then, there was nothing to criticize about the watch itself. It was a worthy new edition of the legendary Divers – just like the SLA037J1 is now. However, it had two glaring problems: It was too expensive at € 4,000, and it was also limited to only 2,000 pieces. With the SLA037J1 now released, the company has gone even further with a price of €6,500 and a much tighter limitation to 1,100 pieces. Of course, everyone has to decide for themselves whether the watch is worth the € 6,500. The caliber used, the 8L55, is certainly a first class movement. However, without regulation by Seiko, it only guarantees a rate accuracy of -10 to +15 seconds per day – a completely unacceptable value for € 6,500. The other models have more or less the same problems: too expensive and unnecessarily limited.

No Competition to Submariner and Co.

With a permanent version of the 62MAS, one could have installed a Flagship Diver in the Seiko range – similar to the Submariner, Seamaster and Co. With a regulated movement and a price of around € 3,000, one would have a serious alternative to the Swiss heavyweights in this range. It seems that this re-release was again strongly influenced by the new market orientation of Seiko. Since the company wants to get rid of the image of the cheap watch manufacturer in favor of a higher market position, higher prices and limited special editions are probably the means of choice. However, this will not bring back fans of the brand who have already been scared off, and a higher market reputation does not only include corresponding prices, but also a higher quality in produced items. For example, for under € 6,500 Omega offers a watch with Master Chronometer certification, which guarantees the buyer a maximum deviation of 0/+5 seconds per day. Similarly, Seiko shold also be within th is range, especially of they are attempting the same price category. There is no question that one is capable of doing so.

The Silver Lining: SPB149J1

Ironically, with this release Seiko simultaneously shows that you can always do better: with the more affordable reissue of the 62MAS – the SPB149J1. Boasting a RRP of € 1,350, a 6R35 movement, and a more generous production run of at least 5,500 pieces, Seiko attempts to atone for the aforementioned issues – it seems as if there is still hope, after all.