For more than a century now, Seiko has been gracing the world with its excellent timepieces. It has contributed greatly to the watchmaking industry, as we can see from its quartz watch and dive watch innovations. Indeed, it is impressive how Seiko stands the test of time by constantly adapting to and developing new watch technology to keep up with the times.
Just this year, the brand released a special, limited-edition collection, the Seiko Black Series. Consisting of modern reissues that are based on older Seiko diving models, the Seiko Black Series consists of timepieces that are just uniquely Seiko. Read on to find out what the Seiko Black Series is all about and everything it has to offer.
Seiko Black Series: A Background
While the Seiko Black Series was only released very recently, in 2022, its history actually dates back to as early as the 1960s. Most of the watches in this limited-edition series are modern re-interpretations of specific diving models from the 1960s and 1970s.
In particular, the Seiko Prospex Black SPB253 is inspired by the 1965 Seiko Mechanical Diver, while the Seiko Prospex Black SPB255 is based on the 1968 Seiko Mechanical Diver. Finally, the Seiko Prospex Black SPB257 is a rebirth of the 1970 Seiko Mechanical Diver. We will look at each model in closer detail further down in this article.
Concept-wise, the Seiko Black Series revolves around the idea of night diving. This activity is something that many divers want to experience. Hence, Seiko opted to create four well-crafted dive watches that would serve as great companions even in the darkest environments possible. Indeed, even the collection’s name, the “Black Series”, is inspired by the night ocean that influences these watches’ designs.
An In-Depth Look at the Seiko Prospex Black SLA061
While we can definitely talk all day about each of the Seiko Black Series watches, let us first focus on the Seiko Prospex Black SLA061. This is arguably the most different out of the four models in the Seiko Black Series.
The Seiko Prospex Black SLA061 is based on the iconic Seiko Captain Willard from the 1970s, which explains its vintage-inspired exterior. The Seiko Captain Willard is especially famous due to its appearance in the 1979 blockbuster film Apocalypse Now. Aside from that, the Seiko Captain Willard is also known for being adventurer Naomi Uemura’s chosen companion during his 12,000km solo dog-sled excursion from Greenland to Alaska.
While these might seem like minor details, the history of the 1970s Seiko Captain Willard plays a big role in how the brand came up with the Seiko Prospex Black SLA061. In fact, the Japanese watch brand wanted to do the Seiko Captain Willard justice by making sure that its present-day version is just as durable and well-crafted as the original.
Compared to the other models in this lineup, the Seiko Prospex Black SLA061 also boasts materials of higher quality and a superior mechanism. It also had a more limited production, with only 1,000 pieces made available for sale.
Case, Caseback and Bezel
The Seiko Prospex Black SLA061 is presented in a high-quality stainless steel case with a full hard-coating in black, which boosts its resistance against scratches and impacts. It has a diameter of 44mm, a lug-to-lug width of 49.3mm, and a thickness of 13mm. This watch falls on the bulkier end, which, combined with its bold all-black aesthetic, only helps it stand out even more.
The back of this watch’s case is also made from solid, hard-coated black stainless steel. It is firmly screwed-down, which prevents any external elements from leaking into the watch. This contributes greatly to the watch’s impressive 200-metre water resistance rating. At the same time, this caseback also bears inscriptions of the watch’s details. This includes its country of manufacture, its serial number, materials used, and more.
This Seiko Black Series model also comes with a unidirectional rotating bezel that really complements its watch face. It features a count-up scale on its black aluminium insert, which is bound to form a lovely patina as you use this watch. This is great for those who love vintage aesthetics, as this diver will most likely age well over time. The bezel ring also boasts a LumiBrite coat, allowing for excellent visibility even in low-light conditions.
Lastly, in between the bezel and the dial, you can find a curved sapphire crystal. It is treated with anti-reflective coatings on its inner surface, which prevents any visual distortions from affecting your view of the dial. Sapphire crystal is known for its superb durability, so it is very effective at protecting the watch face from any scratches.
The Seiko Prospex Black SLA061 is fitted with a three-link stainless steel bracelet. Like the watch case, the entire bracelet is hard-coated in black, which only adds to the watch’s bold and rugged style. This bracelet also has a three-fold clasp with a secure lock and a push-button release extenders. This keeps the bracelet firmly fastened to your wrist and and allows you to quickly remove it when necessary.
The Seiko Prospex Black SLA061 is also offered with an additional silicone strap upon purchase. Like the other components of the watch, this silicone band and its hardware come in a sleek shade of black, completing the watch’s all-black look. When paired with the case, it gives the watch a more casual, laidback vibe than the stainless steel variation. Using the Seiko Prospex Black SLA061 with a silicone strap makes it the perfect option for an everyday beater watch.
One of the most captivating features of this Seiko Black Series model is its lovely face. The Seiko Prospex SLA061 shows off a black dial with a beautiful sand ripple design, which adds both texture and depth to the watch’s face. This design element reiterates the concept upon which the Seiko Black Series is based: the darkness of the night ocean.
Aside from that, this watch face is also filled with thick hour indices and bevelled sword hands. In between the 4 and 5 o’clock markers, you can also find a small date aperture with a black background and white text. The hands and indices of this watch are all coated in LumiBrite, allowing for improved readability even in the dark. On the very rim of the dial, there is a minute scale in stick indices in white.
Another thing that sets the Seiko Prospex Black SLA061 apart from the other pieces in the Seiko Black Series is that it is equipped with a more advanced mechanism. The SLA061 runs on an in-house Seiko Calibre 8L35, which was hand-crafted at the Seiko Watch Studio in Japan.
Held together by 26 jewels, the Seiko Calibre 8L35 is an automatic movement that boasts great reliability. It has an accuracy rate of +15/-10 seconds per day and a power reserve of approximately 50 hours.
Seiko is known for its very diverse portfolio, with watches that showcase drastically different specifications and price ranges. The Seiko Prospex Black SLA061, in particular, is one of the pricier models from the brand. This limited-edition watch, with its sophisticated, vintage-inspired aesthetic, sells at around $3,600 USD.
Other Models in the Seiko Black Series
Now that we have talked about the Seiko Black Series’s stand-out model, let us take a look at the three remaining pieces in the collection.
Note: As a special-edition series, the production of each Seiko Black Series model is limited. The three Seiko Black Series variants below had only 5,500 pieces released each. Every piece also comes with an additional silicone strap in black, like the Seiko Prospex Black SLA061.
1. Seiko Prospex Black SPB253
First, we have the Seiko Prospex Black SPB253, which was based on a mechanical diver from 1965. This is the cleanest model in the entire series with its well-defined, almost boxy case. It is the perfect combination of bold and sophisticated, making it quite a versatile accessory.
The SPB253 is housed in a 40.5mm stainless steel case in black and a rust-coloured strap made of polyester. Affixed to the top of the watch case is an aluminium count-up bezel. Embellished with vibrant orange accents, this bezel is coated in LumiBrite for better legibility.
Unlike the SLA061, the dial of this watch showcases a simpler matte black finish. It is adorned with luminescent black sword hands and rectangular hour indices, along with a date display at 3 o’clock. Orange and beige lume is also used to fill the hands and indices.
This watch is driven by a Japanese Seiko Calibre 6R35. This automatic movement shows off an outstanding power supply of 70 hours and can withstand water pressures of up to 200 metres.
With a price tag of just $1,200 USD, this is a much more affordable alternative to the SLA061.
2. Seiko Prospex Black SPB255
Next, we have the Seiko Prospex Black SPB255, based on a mechanical diver from 1968. Like its original, this Seiko Black Series watch has a sharp and chiselled exterior that makes the entire piece look robust and powerful. It is a great choice for those who love clean-cut and straightforward timepieces.
The SPB255 comes in a 42mm black case made of stainless steel, along with a dark brown polyester strap. Of all the watches in the Seiko Black Series, the SPB255 has the most flexible proportions as it was made to fit wrists of all sizes. A black count-up bezel with orange and silver indicators can be found on top of the watch case. Flipping this watch over, you can also find a solid stainless steel caseback. It is inscribed with the signature Seiko Tsunami logo.
The dial of this watch also comes in straightforward matte black. It contains luminous hour markers in various geometric shapes, along with sweeping sword hands and a date window at 3 o’clock. The seconds and minute hands of this watch are treated with soft orange lume, adding a bit of pop to this watch face.
This watch from the Seiko Black Series is also powered by a Seiko Calibre 6R35. This automatic movement is held together by 24 jewels and has a precision rate of +25/-15 seconds per day. It also possesses an excellent 70-hour power supply and a depth rating of 200 metres.
The Seiko Prospex Black SPB255 retails at $1,200 USD.
3. Seiko Prospex Black SPB257
Lastly, we have the Seiko Prospex Black SPB257. As another modern reissue of the 1970s Seiko Captain Willard, this model is the closest to the SLA061. Compared to the previous two models, this watch has a more rounded exterior. It is the ideal option for those who love chunky divers.
The SPB257 sports a 42.7mm cushion-shaped case made of black stainless steel and a rust-brown polyester strap. The funky and unconventional shape of this watch’s case is what sets it apart from the other pieces in the Seiko Black Series. Sitting atop the case is a count-up bezel with aluminium inserts and LumiBrite coatings in silver and orange.
The matte black dial of this watch follows a very clean and straightforward layout. It comprises thick hour indices and long black sword hands, which are treated with orange and beige lume. At 3 o’clock, you can also find a small date complication.
This model is also equipped with a sapphire crystal glass, a solid steel caseback, and a screw-down crown, all of which contribute to its 200-meter water resistance rating. Behind the caseback, you can also find a Seiko Calibre 6R35, which can last for up to 70 hours when fully wound.
The Seiko Prospex Black SPB257 costs approximately $1,300 USD.
Why Should You Get the Seiko Black Series?
If you are still on the fence on whether the Seiko Black Series is worth it or not, below are some points to help you decide.
- Good Concept. One of the things that make the Seiko Black Series so great is that it was born out of a clear concept. It revolves around the idea of a night ocean, explaining the boldness of its exterior and the toughness of its mechanism. On top of that, the Seiko Black Series is also inspired by revolutionary, vintage Seiko timepieces from decades ago. This gives the Seiko Black Series more depth, adding to its appeal as a collector’s piece.
- Well-Executed. In relation to having a good concept, Seiko was also able to execute its ideas perfectly in the Seiko Black Series. Each element used in the Seiko Black Series was mindfully chosen to allow for utmost beauty and reliability. It is the perfect balance between beautiful aesthetics and excellent functionality, making it a no-brainer choice for divers and watch enthusiasts.
- Reasonably Priced. The Seiko Black Series, as a whole, definitely falls on the more expensive end for Seiko. Nevertheless, it is still a very reasonable price considering the quality you get with each model, especially when compared to other Swiss luxury watches in the market. The Seiko Black Series models are not just ordinary Seiko watches that are mass produced every year, they are limited-edition pieces that reflect superior craftsmanship in every way.
The Seiko Black Series is a reflection of the Japanese brand’s unwavering commitment to innovation. It chose to use groundbreaking vintage models and turn them into modern reinterpretations that are better in almost every way. Each model is equipped with excellent design and functionality, meant to resonate with divers of every kind. If you are looking for a dive watch worthy of your investment, you definitely will not regret checking out the Seiko Black Series.
Photo Credits: Seiko Official Site and WSIf you are interested in watch guides and reviews, check out this piece on the Robust Sinn U50!