To Antarctica & Back Again With The Seiko Prospex SPB175 And Explorer Becky Kagan Schott
You don’t have to be a world-class explorer/photographer in order to go on an expedition to the bottom of the world and put a Seiko Prospex SPB175 Special Edition Sumo to the test. But it helps.
Becky Kagan Schott is a five-time Emmy award-winning underwater cameraman, photographer, technical diving instructor, and all-around adventurer. Moreover, her work has graced the screens and pages of National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, and more. As such, her life might be a little bit different from yours or mine.
And so, for the new year, while some of us were nursing hangovers, Schott mounted an extraordinary photographic expedition to Antarctica. She was clearly excited about the project but having the proper gear was obviously at the forefront of her mind. The technical demands of cold-water and ice-diving in such an extreme environment winnowed her equipment list to the most functional essentials, including her trusted Seiko dive watch.
Schott’s recent routine dispatches are excerpted here to give you a sense of the rigors (and joys) of her chosen profession, the specific challenges of this expedition, and how the Seiko Prospex SPB175 comes into play.
We are getting ready to depart to Antarctica today. Ushuaia, [Tierra del Fuego, Argentina], is a beautiful place at the end of the world…This afternoon we will depart through the Beagle Channel with the Straits of Magellan to the north and into the Drake Passage. We’ll spend the next two days crossing to the Antarctic Peninsula.
“The Drake Passage is one of the most dangerous crossings for ships due to strong winds and currents. Looking at the weather, we may have 20-foot seas today. It’s worth it to get to the most amazing continent on earth.”
“During the night, the seas picked up, and we have around 25- to 30-foot seas…Looking out the window, the sea spray from the tops of the waves looks pretty gnarly.
“There are big waves breaking over the bow, and all of the decks are currently closed for safety. The temperature is dropping quickly and is around 32 degrees F now. We will start getting our dive gear and underwater camera set up for our first dives in Antarctica soon!”
“We just passed the South Shetland Islands and are entering the Antarctic peninsula…Our first iceberg came into view, and it was stunning!
“A few penguins jumped next to the ship, welcoming us to Antarctica. Tomorrow we will go ashore and take the Zodiacs around the icebergs and glaciers.”
“What an incredible day! We visited a colony of chinstrap and Gentoo penguins in Orne Harbor. The glacier here is spectacular, and the icebergs in the bay were full of amazing textures and blue colors.
“There were a few seals resting on icebergs and dozens of penguins jumping all over and around the ice. Several groups swam under our Zodiac, and I could see how clear the water was. It really feels like you’re visiting another planet down here.”
“We set out to do our first dive, and along the way, passed by a sleeping leopard seal on an iceberg. We decided it was curious, [not] aggressive, and tried to get in the water and snorkel with it. I was so excited because this is such a rare opportunity to be in the water with one of Antarctica’s apex predators.
“I couldn’t stop smiling after we got back on the Zodiac, and on the ride back, we passed huge icebergs with stunning shades of aqua and blue tones. The mountains on Danco [Island] are also really impressive.
“Today is a day I’ll never forget.”
“We dived to the bottom of an iceberg at the bottom of the planet! How cool is that! The best icebergs to dive are grounded (so they can’t flip), are flat on top, and have no big overhangs that could break off. When we surfaced, the water was so blue it almost looked like the Caribbean (minus the freezing-cold temperatures). I’m so glad we were able to get an iceberg dive in!
“Diving in Antarctica isn’t easy. It takes a lot of gear and preparation before splashing into icy waters in the most remote part of the planet. Before I come, I make sure my dry suit is dry, [without] leaks...We dive from Zodiacs so loading them with all the gear is strenuous. [I then] get my camera rig passed down to me, and we go diving! I only dive with the best gear in these harsh environments, gear I can depend on.
“The ice, the cold, and the Zodiacs are tough on equipment, so I rely on the best to do my job and not think about anything but getting great images. Today, I am wearing my Seiko Prospex SPB175.”
“Adventure is all around us and you never know what each one will bring you. On this expedition, we had amazing ice with brilliant colors; we saw crabeater and leopard seals; humpback whales feeding; chinstrap, Adélie, and gentoo penguins; and stunning glaciers. As a photographer, there is nothing more exciting than interacting with a curious, wild animal in its environment.
“I have a passion for ice and cold-water diving, so jumping into water with berg-y bits is always exciting…I hope you enjoy the beauty through my images and feel inspired to protect and someday visit this special place yourself.”
Faithful Wrist Companion
Schott’s choice of time-keeping gear had to not only stand-up to the demands of her impressive mission, but it also had to carry a certain level of fool-proof accuracy and precision and exhibit a tough-as-nails durability. Luckily for Schott, the Seiko Prospex SPB175 dive watch proved to be an ideal piece of equipment for her.
Also called the Special Edition Sumo, this 45mm stainless steel watch from the Seiko Prospex Ice Diver collection is rated to 200 meters (about 660 feet) of water resistance. And along with the other features you’d expect from a workhorse dive watch, the SPB175 also has a unidirectional rotating bezel, LumiBrite-coating, bracelet extender, and a screwdown caseback and screwdown crown at 4 o’clock.
Additionally, the overall legibility of its design, coupled with the textured grey dial, bright blue seconds hand indicator, and “cyclops” style date magnifier, make it ideally purpose-built for the rigors of ice diving. Yet, at the same time, it’s also a stylish timepiece for when times aren’t so demanding.
Pricing & Availability
The Seiko Prospex SPB175 is a special edition for the U.S. only and is available at Seiko retailers across the country for only $900. For more information, visit the brand’s website.
(Photography by Becky Kagan Schott & Seiko Watches)