Seiko Presage Gains Prestige With New Enamel Dials And Spring Drive Movements
The finishes and the movements represent a step up for the Presage collection’s higher tier - up in aesthetics, up in engineering, and up in price.
Seiko’s Presage line has been a staple of value proposition lists since its launch in 2016. The collection won fans by offering dress watches with a twist, sporting details like sunburst dials, beveled hour markers, swanky seconds hands, sapphire casebacks, and even open-heart windows. Full disclosure, I’m wearing my Cocktail Time SSA359J9 as I write this.
The two new watches on offer, the SNR037 in white and the SNR039 in black, are part of the Presage Prestige collection, an elevated sub-tier within Presage and the highest level (price-wise) of Seiko’s current catalog. These two new watches, in particular, represent an upward trend with nearly double the price tag as their Prestige brethren. What comes with this spike in pricing? Quite a few things, it turns out.
A Seiko with a Spring Drive
The most notable upgrade here is the inclusion of Seiko’s signature Spring Drive automatic movement, the 5R65. Aside from finishing, the 5R65 is practically the same movement as Grand Seiko’s caliber 9R15, and it boasts a power reserve of 72 hours with an accuracy rating of ±1 second per day.
The Spring Drive, with its smooth, sweeping seconds hand, is a mechanical movement that uses a quartz timing package to regulate the glide wheel rotating, not ticking, at 8 times per second. The result is quiet, accurate, and borderline poetic to watch through the crystal caseback.
Dials that exude Japanese craftsmanship
Recent releases of the Presage lineup have been keen to incorporate traditional Japanese finishing in their dials. Last month, my colleague Rhonda Riche covered Seiko’s work with Shippo enamel, Urushi lacquer, and porcelain. The focus on tradition brings Seiko a step forward in quality by looking back to time-honored techniques.
The story here follows a similar arc. The fired enamel dials on the SNR037 and SNR039 are created by master craftsman Mitsuru Yokosawa, who has been working with enamel for nearly five decades. The dial design is inspired by the industrial designer, Riki Watanabe, who, until his death in 2013, enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Seiko.
The Presage team worked closely with Yokosawa, Watanabe’s colleague, to capture the spirit of the late designer in these watches. A key example of this is the use of Didoni, the elegant and playful font that was a favorite of Watanabe. Fans of watch history will notice that this dial design is reminiscent of Seiko’s (and Japan’s) first wristwatch, the Hattori Seikosha Laurel which debuted in 1913.
The small touches, like the Didoni numerals, or the spade and leaf hands, or the subtlely sloping recesses around the date window and power reserve indicator help to create a watch that is cohesively greater than the sum of its parts. By creating a watch that is both modern in performance and timeless in design, Seiko has in effect produced a modern classic.
The new enamel dial Spring Drive watches have the feel of a limited edition but are slated for regular production beginning in October of this year. They feature a 40mm wide, 13.1mm thick stainless steel case with Seiko’s super-hard coating and are water-resistant to 10 bar/100meters.
At a price point of $4,500, they are more expensive than the low-tier Grand Seiko Spring Drive models and are a significant jump from the next most expensive Presage on offer at $2,500.
A sign of what’s to come
Presage, when defined, refers to an omen foreshadowing what’s ahead. The recent releases in the Presage Prestige collection, with their Spring Drive movements, elevated aesthetics, and elevated price points, seem to signal further footsteps in Grand Seiko territory.
(Images provided by Seiko)