Under The Sea With The Seiko Prospex 1965 and 1970 Diver's Modern Re-Interpretation
Sturdy and stylish, thanks to interchangeable fabric straps, the SPB239 and SPB237 are set to make a big splash this summer.
For collectors of true vintage watches – meaning timepieces that are old enough to drink in most states – there is much to be admired. For enthusiasts, watches from the 1960s and 1970s are particularly sought after because, mechanically, they represent the peak of pre-quartz technology, and aesthetically, they are from an era when companies took more design risks.
Seiko is a watchmaker that has always honored history while looking to the future. Since it introduced the Recraft line in 2014, the brand has been adept at leveraging its authentic heritage to make wholly new old-school watches that appeal to retro enthusiasts and buyers who seek of-the-moment mechanisms (at an accessible price point).
Now Seiko is introducing two new dive watches based on mid-20th century models: the Prospex 1965 Diver's Modern Re-Interpretation (SPB239) and the 1970 Diver's Modern Re-Interpretation (SPB237). Prospex is Seiko’s more luxe line and with these steel timepieces, the brand not only updates the form and function of the originals, but it elevates the finish with its super-hard coating and flexible Seichu fabric straps.
Here is what you need to know before you go retro.
The first Seiko diver’s watch rolled off the manufacture’s floor in 1965. Since then, the brand has become a favorite for deep-sea and land explorers because the company continues to push the limits of what these sports watches can do.
This duo shares the same design and specifications as the 1968 Automatic Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation introduced last year. That includes a 24 jewel Caliber 6R35 automatic movement that beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour with a power reserve of 70 hours. And although the inspirations for the SPB239 and SPB237 were built to last, they certainly did not have a movement with the power of this modern caliber.
Moreover, the models that inspired the SPB239 and SPB237 were water-resistant to only 150m. This new pair features a 200m water resistance plus diver's magnetic resistance to 4,800 A/m. Other important improvements include a more contemporary stainless steel case (40.5mm for the SPB239 and 42.7mm for the SPB237), a sturdy curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, and easy-to-read Lumibrite on the hands and indices.
The modern world is more demanding than the good old days, and these Diver's Modern Re-Interpretations reflect the needs of today’s buyers.
While this Diver's Modern Re-Interpretation duo is not a faithful recreation of the dive watches that inspired them, they were created with the same spirit of innovation and eccentricity.
The brown dial and the manta-shaped bezel of the 1965 interpretation recall the age of extreme exploration when adventurers took Seikos to the Antarctic. The 1970 re-interpretation has an asymmetrical crown that is as functional as it is funky – this solid construction protects the winding mechanism. Plus, the 1970 edition is based on a model favored by famed Japanese adventurer Naomi Uemura, who took his original on a two-year-long solo dogsled run from Greenland to Alaska.
The Seiko team has not only adapted the construction of the SPB239 and SPB237 from historical models, but they have also created a brand new fabric strap based on a traditional braiding technique from Japan called Seichu.
Due to this technique, these straps have a sumptuous texture and complex coloration that is familiar in Japanese culture because these kinds of textile are used in traditional “obijimes” – the decorative cord used to tie a kimono sash in its place. While this material represents a refined Japanese aesthetic, it also has a tensile strength nearly four times that of a regular Seiko fabric strap. And this is an exciting development for dive watches because Seichu’s strength and resistance to degradation caused by exposure to sunlight and saltwater make it ideal for underwater use.
Additionally, thanks to its unique braiding pattern, these NATO-style straps have the flexibility and air permeability that ensure maximum comfort on the wrist. Both come with alternative strap color options.
Best of all, the Seiko Prospex 1965 and 1970 Diver's Modern Re-Interpretations represent a whole lot of refinement and an excellent value proposition. Both are available now and priced at $1,200 for the SPB239 and $1,300 for the SPB237.