Since 1881, Seiko has had an undisputedly amazing and long history of creating innovative timepieces. In fact, the Japanese brand’s consistency in delivering reliable dive watches is recognized by watch enthusiasts worldwide. Also known for its budget-friendly timepieces, Seiko is one of the most popular watchmakers in the world, especially for those who are just starting out their watch collections.
In this article, we will be taking a look at an outstanding limited edition dive watch from Seiko: the Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB149. Hailing from the sports series of Seiko’s Prospex lineup, this watch was released recently in 2020. Since the Seiko SPB149 was launched in celebration of the 55th anniversary of Seiko’s first-ever dive watch, the 1965 Seiko Prospex Diver 62MAS Ref. 6217-8000, this timepiece is also known as the “1965 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation”. It perfectly encapsulates the original look and features of the 1965 Seiko Prospex Diver 62MAS, while also incorporating modern design elements and technology.
It should be noted that this particular Seiko Prospex model actually has three reference numbers: SPB149, SPB149J, and SPB149J1. For the sake of clarity, however, we shall henceforth refer to this watch as the Seiko SPB149. Without further ado, let us take a closer look at the Seiko SPB149, including its specifications, capabilities, and a brief foray into its Seiko 62MAS lineage.
The Seiko 62MAS Lineage
Seiko Prospex 62MAS Ref. 6217-8000 (1965)
The extensive history of Seiko’s dive watches dates back to its very first dive piece, the Seiko Prospex 62MAS Ref. 6217-8000. Who would have thought that this watch, created nearly 60 years ago, would have such an impact on the watchmaking world? Nevertheless, the influence and iconic design of the Seiko Prospex 62MAS has continued for years after its launch. As such, it is no surprise that Seiko chose to release the Seiko SPB149 in celebration of the Seiko Prospex 62MAS’s 55th anniversary.
Encased in a slender 38mm stainless steel case, the original Seiko Prospex 62MAS came with a textured black silicone strap and 150m of water resistance. It was powered by an in-house Seiko Caliber 6217, which possessed a power reserve of 31 hours. Today, the Seiko Prospex 62MAS is incredibly rare. It can be extremely hard to find the Seiko Prospex 62MAS, and as a result, resellers often sell this vintage watch quite expensively. The price for the Seiko Prospex 62MAS usually begins at $5,000 USD and can trend higher depending on the condition of the watch and the seller in question.
A Quick Look at 62MAS Descendants
Given the continuing legacy of the legendary Seiko 62MAS, Seiko has decided to capitalize on this by issuing several modern editions of this particular dive watch. These contemporary re-issues include:
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB051 / SPB051J1 (2017)
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB053 / SPB051J / SPB053J1 (2017)
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA017 / SLA017J1 (2017)
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA037 / SLA037J / SLA037J1 (2020)
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB143 / SPB143J1 (2020)
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB145 / SPB145J1 (2020)
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB147 / SPB147J1 (2020)
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB149 / SPB149J / SPB149J1 (2020)
- Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB213 / SPB213J1 (2021)
In this article, we shall discuss the two limited-edition 55th-anniversary models that were released in 2020: the Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA037 and the Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB149.
Anatomy of the Seiko SPB149 (2020):
Case and Caseback
The Seiko Prospex Ref. SPB149 shows off a majestic all-stainless steel build. This watch utilizes a 40.5mm stainless steel case with a height of 13.2mm. Despite being larger than the Seiko 62MAS, this is still quite a slim size for a watch, so the Seiko SPB149 is best suited for those with small-to-average-sized wrists. This case is completely brushed all over, while also bearing a smooth, polished finish on the upper sides of the watch case. This makes up an elegant combination of alternating matte and shiny tints, giving the Seiko SPB149 an impeccable luster that is incredibly satisfying to look at.
Affixed to the top of the watch case is a 120-click unidirectional rotating bezel. The brushed black finish of the ceramic bezel insert nicely contrasts against the white print of its elapsed time scale. This bezel also has coin-like edges, which makes it easier for wearers to hold and turn. This is a handy, hassle-free feature that provides wearers with a better grip, especially if they are wearing diving gloves.
On the underside of the Seiko SPB149, you can find a solid stainless steel caseback that has been smoothly polished. At the center of the caseback is an engraved emblem of Seiko’s ocean wave logo. This elegant crest can also be found on the casebacks of most Seiko dive watches, with one example being the Seiko Monster. The watch’s serial number is also engraved on its caseback, making it feel more special and unique.
Tucked on the right side of the case is a protruding screw-down crown. The subtle, grooved edges of the crown give wearers a better grip when turning the crown. As mentioned, this crown is firmly screwed down, safeguarding the watch’s inner mechanisms from the potential entry of any dust or moisture.
More importantly, this crown is also used to wind the mainspring of the Seiko SPB149, along with its date complication. If you want to use this crown to set the correct time, you have to first pull the crown out to the first position. Turning the crown while it is in the first position allows you to control the hour and minute hands. To set the correct date, pull the crown out to the second position and rotate it to choose the right date.
In keeping with the Seiko SPB149’s ocean-inspired theme, the dial of this watch showcases a striking matte blue finish. The layout of this dial is incredibly reminiscent of the Seiko 62MAS’s, incorporating thick, rectangular hour indices and chunky blunt hands. A date window also sits at 3 o’clock, helping you keep track of which day it is. This dial is accented by a pale gold-toned seconds hand, which adds a softer touch to this dark watch face.
Seiko’s use of its LumiBrite technology also ensures that this dial is highly legible, even in poor visibility conditions. The hands and hour markers of this watch are all generously coated with lume, keeping the watch face well illuminated in the dark. A layer of sapphire crystal is also used to protect the dial, keeping it safe from any scratches or impacts.
The Seiko SPB149 is offered with a three-link bracelet made of hardy stainless steel. Like the watch case, this stainless steel bracelet boasts alternating matte and polished sides. The front and back of the bracelet are well-brushed and play well against the polished finish applied to the bracelet’s sides.
This bracelet is secured by a clamshell lock with Seiko’s brand name subtly printed on it. The clasp has a double buckle feature, which allows wearers to quickly and effortlessly wear or remove this bracelet. In addition, this bracelet is equipped with a handy built-in dive extension. This is an incredibly useful function, enabling wearers to adjust the length of the bracelet for a more snug fit on their wrists.
Designed as a dive watch, the Seiko SPB149 boasts excellent waterproof capabilities. It possesses a solid water resistance capacity of 200 meters, which is double that of the ISO 6425 standard for dive watches. Moreover, the Seiko SPB149 is appropriately equipped with a luminescent dial and a reliable elapsed time scale bezel. These elements make the Seiko SPB149 a great companion for all your watersports activities like swimming and diving.
The Seiko SPB149 is driven by Seiko’s in-house Caliber 6R35 movement. This same in-house movement is also used in a number of other Seiko watches. These include the Seiko Alpinist models and some pieces from the Seiko Presage Sharp Edged series. As expected, Seiko makes sure that its timepieces are fully equipped with dependable mechanisms that power them.
The Caliber 6R35 is a robust automatic movement that provides high performance and accuracy. Held by 24 jewels, this movement has a beat frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz). On top of that, it has an outstanding power reserve of 70 hours. This exceeds the average power supply of most dive watches, making it an excellent choice for wearers who like to go on long adventures.
As a limited edition piece with only 5,500 pieces available, the exclusive Seiko SPB149 is a special treasure to avid watch collectors. That said, the Seiko SPB149 actually retails at a relatively affordable price despite its quality and 62MAS heritage. The price for this watch ranges from $1,400 USD to $2,000 USD.
Moving on, let us take a look at the rubber strap counterpart of the Seiko SPB149: the Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA037.
Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA037 (2020)
The second watch Seiko introduced in celebration of the Seiko 62MAS’s 55th anniversary is the Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA037. Also referred to as the “1965 Diver’s Recreation”, this watch effortlessly mimics the quintessential design and durability of the original Seiko 62MAS. Instead, the Seiko SLA037 distinguishes itself by shying away from its predecessor’s black theme, opting instead for a blue-on-blue watch makeup.
This watch comes in a 39.9mm stainless steel case, making it just slightly bigger than the Seiko 62MAS. It is fitted with a box-shaped sapphire crystal and a textured blue rubber strap. On top of its dial is a unidirectional rotating bezel with an elapsed time scale insert in black. The dial of this watch also comes in a gorgeous sunray blue finish, complementing the strap. Aside from having an improved 200m depth rating, this watch runs on an in-house Seiko Caliber 8L55, which has an outstanding 70-hour power supply.
Like the Seiko SPB149, the Seiko SLA037 is a limited edition timepiece, with only 1,100 pieces available worldwide. Since it is more exclusive, it is also priced slightly higher, costing around $6,300 USD.
Alternatives to Seiko SPB149:
1. Bell & Ross Vintage Ref. BRV292-BU-G-ST/SST
On the hunt for a fancier alternative? The Bell & Ross Vintage Ref. BRV292-BU-G-ST/SST is packed in a 41mm stainless steel case, paired with a bracelet made from the same material. On top of the case is a coin-edged unidirectional rotating bezel. Its metallic blue bezel insert is nicely contrasted by the lovely, rose gold tones of its elapsed time scale insert.
Complementing the watch’s bezel is its dark blue sunray dial, which looks almost black in the dark. It is adorned with luminous rose gold stick indices, large Arabic numeral hour markers, and sweeping pencil hands. Additionally, a small circular date aperture sits between the 4 and 5 o’clock markers. All of these elements come together to make up a very stylish, elegant watch face.
Inside this Bell & Ross timepiece, you can find an in-house Bell & Ross Caliber BR-CAL.302. It can last for up to an average of 38 hours when fully wound. In addition, as a sturdy military timepiece, this watch is able to withstand water pressures of up to 100 meters. You can easily use this watch in light water activities such as swimming and snorkeling, although it is not recommended for diving purposes.
This Bell & Ross Vintage watch costs approximately $3,300 USD.
2. TAG Heuer Formula 1 Ref. CAZ101K.BA0842
For another dependable alternative to the Seiko SPB149, take a look at the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Ref. CAZ101K.BA0842. While a lot of timepieces from the Formula 1 lineup are racing watches, this versatile watch also doubles as a dive piece. It is presented in a 43mm stainless steel case with a matching stainless steel bracelet. Fixed on top of the watch case is an oversized tachymeter scale which bolsters the watch’s toughness. A screw-down crown on the right side of the case also provides the watch with a solid 200-meter water resistance capacity.
The dial of this watch shows off a beautiful sunray blue finish. It is packed full of complications, including trapezoidal applique hour markers, thick sword hands, and a date complication at 4 o’clock. A large Arabic numeral hour marker can also be found at 12 o’clock. As a chronograph piece, this watch also incorporates three chronograph sub-dials for the 60-second, 30-minute, and 10-hour counters. These sub-dials come in a lighter shade of blue, adding more of a contrast to the watch face. Driving all of these functions is a handy quartz movement.
This TAG Heuer watch sells at around $1,700 USD.
The Seiko SPB149 is both a historical and a modern timepiece built into one. As a tribute to the legendary Seiko 62MAS, the Seiko SPB149 demonstrates how the important feats in Seiko’s watchmaking history are honored in this modern climate. At the same time, it is also a powerful and durable timepiece that is great for those seeking a reliable entry-level dive watch.
With its surprisingly budget-friendly price and stylish design, the limited edition Seiko SPB149 is an excellent dive watch choice.
All images courtesy of the Watch Shopping website, unless otherwise stated. Featured image courtesy of Seiko Watches and watchuseek.