Winter Is Coming: Hands-On With The New Seiko Prospex Built For The Ice Diver U.S. Special Edition
Set a course for adventure with this US-only limited edition timepiece.
Naomi Uemura, the first person to complete a solo dog-sled run to the North Pole, and Yuichiro Miura, the oldest man to scale Mount Everest, are among the most venerated adventurers in Japan. And both the polar explorer and mountaineer’s watch of choice for their adventures was a Seiko diver’s watch.
How did an underwater tool-watch wind up at the top of the world and the ends of the earth? The story reaches back decades, but the latest chapter is still being written by Seiko’s most recent launch, the Seiko Prospex - Built For The Ice Diver U.S. Special Edition.
Ice Ice Baby
Seiko didn’t jump into the dive watch game until the 1960s. But once they started developing professional-grade water-resistant timepieces, they were in it to win it. The brand tested watches in the world’s most hostile environments by partnering with the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE) and donating diver’s watches for four of the group’s winter research projects during the 1960s. While working in this freezing ocean, these timepieces became legendary for their reliability in extreme conditions.
Seiko officially debuted its first collection of diver’s watches in 1965, and they quickly became a cult hit with the exploration community. These watches became essential equipment for the JARE team as well as for adventurers like Uemura and Miura.
Inspired by and in tribute to their legacy, Seiko Watch of America has introduced a Special Edition Prospex timepiece, exclusively available in the U.S. market. This exceptional design celebrates the brand’s tested performance in the harshest conditions.
These rugged watches helped Uemura and Maura’s on their missions, and now their adventures in the frozen climes of Alaska and the Himalayas have inspired a new range of Prospex watches. And if you live in the US, you won’t have to go on a major expedition to get one.
The new Prospex “Built For The Ice Diver” U.S. Special Edition also pays tribute to the intense beauty of these places. The aesthetics of this watch are inspired by the shifting and ethereal colors of polar ice as it reflects light in different ways.
The dials will be offered in gray (SPB175), green (SPB177), and light blue (SPB179) and have a grid-like pattern that suggests the crystalline structure of ice. For maximum legibility, the bezel uses broad lines and thick printed bezel numerals, as well as LumiBrite coated markers and hour, minute, and second hands. The discreet magnified date window at three o’clock helps keep the display clean and dependable.
The new Prospex Built For The Ice Diver also pays tribute to the trailblazers of the past. Seiko diver’s watches were originally conceived to provide precision in the world’s most hostile environments, whether on land or sea. As more explorers adopted the watch, Seiko’s designers evolved the design with a focus on reliability, durability, accuracy, and legibility. The case was also given a wide profile to protect the crown.
It is from this era that the watch worn by the late Japanese adventurer, Naomi Uemura, was made. Uemura wore a 1970s model when he undertook his solo dog-sled run from Greenland to Alaska, a journey of 12,000 kilometers that took eighteen months to complete.
The polished and brushed stainless steel case of this new Prospex U.S. Special Edition lends a cool touch that evokes that classic Seiko diver’s watch silhouette, including the signature four o’clock crown.
A skier and alpinist, Yuichiro Miura is also built for extremes. Known as “The Godfather of Extreme Skiing,” the octogenarian Japanese mountaineer was, in 1970, the first man to ski down Mount Everest. He was even the subject of an Academy Award-winning documentary, The Man Who Skied Down Everest. Then in 2013, at the age of 80, he became the oldest person to climb to the summit of Everest (breaking his own record).
Miura credits his hardiness to healthy eating and a rigorous exercise schedule. Likewise, the Prospex Built For The Ice Diver U.S. Special Edition takes its physical fitness seriously.
While treasured by alpinists, it is ultimately made for ice divers. The watch follows ISO standards for scuba diving at depths up to 200 meters. It has a unidirectional rotating elapsed timing bezel, toned to match each dial, as well as a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a secure screw-down crown and caseback. The integrated bracelet is engineered for the elements and features a tri-fold push button release clasp with a secure lock and extender. These are all reassuring features, whether you are landlocked or submerged in frigid water.
Inside, a 24-jewel automatic movement, caliber 6R35, beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour, with a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, and both manual and automatic winding capabilities.
As mentioned, there are three steel on steel models in the Built For The Ice U.S. Special Edition collection – the SPB175, 177, and 179 – each priced at an extremely affordable $900. For a limited time, this watch will be offered in a special edition presentation box complete with a Prospex Mini Maglite. It is available now at Seiko retailers. For more information, visit seikoluxe.com.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)