Built For The Ice Diver: Seiko Releases Three New Prospex U.S. Special Editions
Today, Seiko launches a series of special edition submersible timepieces for the U.S. market that pit the ruggedness of its legendary underwater tool watches against new tortures and new temperatures.
Ice diving is a particularly extreme scuba specialty. It demands not only a certain level of special training, but it also requires a special set of equipment to do it safely. Collapsible and compact gear to avoid contact with overhead ice shelves, safety lines, a special “dry suit,” and additional breathing air supplies are just some of the gear needed to combat the complexity, disorientation, darkness, technical challenges, and frigid temperatures of diving under the ice.
Seiko dive watches have always performed yeomen service for cold-weather divers. In fact, after Seiko’s first dive watches were introduced in 1965, they were adopted as essential equipment for the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition. But even with that kind of history, the brand’s Prospex “Ice Diver” line is especially noteworthy.
In the case of the new U.S. Special Editions released today, they were tested by Emmy-award-winning cinematographer and extreme diver Becky Kagan Schott while on her expeditions under the frozen Great Lakes and take additional cold weather inspiration from the polar explorer Naomi Uemura, who wore a 1970 Seiko dive watch on his campaigns to conquer the world’s most extreme environments.
A Modern Homage
Today’s three new 42.7mm U.S. Special Editions – the SPB261, SPB263, and SPB265 – reinterpret the large biomorphic format of the 1970-era dive watch case preferred by Uemura (a style precursor to the current, so-called Prospex “Turtle” watch case) and build in a new level of toughness. The built-in crown protector at 4 o’clock (placed there so it won’t get in the way of wrist movement under the sleeve of a thick dry diving suit), the de rigueur unidirectional dive time bezel, and the hard-coated stainless steel case and bracelet of the original remain.
But the new Prospex “Ice Divers” are rated for up to 200 meters (660 feet) of depth, sport a modern 24-jewel Seiko 6R35 automatic movement with 70 hours of power reserve, and manual and automatic winding functions. Moreover, this trio features blunt-cut LumiBrite coated hands and markers (for increased visibility in dark waters) and a locking tri-fold, push-button clasp and extender.
Meaning your Seiko Prospex “Ice Diver” can be just as handsome on the boat as it is functional under a polar ice shelf.
Icy Cool Style
Ice diving’s frigid nature also plays a key role in the new timepieces’ design inspiration. Graduated shades of white gray (in the SPB261), icy blue (in the SPB263), and sea green (in the SPB265) depicted in a flakey/crystalline pattern on the dials not only echo the play of light on glacial ice but present an image reminiscent of an explorer’s sled tracks across a pristine frozen wilderness.
Furthermore, to aid in the reading of the minute-gauge hash marks, the dial color darkens as it radiates from the watch’s center until it is at its darkest at the bold indices, then it lightens again along the inner rim of the bezel. A secure Special Edition caseback completes the package.
Although ice diving may not be high on your list of weekend activities, timepieces that are as uncommon looking and appealing as they are legitimate and rigorously tested will certainly stand up to your next tropical resort dive or poolside frozen cocktail - if that’s as close to the ice as you would prefer to get.
Pricing & Availability
Seiko’s three new Prospex U.S. Special Editions will be available at Seiko retailers starting in November and list for $1,400 each.
You can find out more about the Prospex collection on Seiko’s website.
(Photography by Hunter Kelley)