The Return of the 62MAS: The Seiko Prospex SLA017 and SPB051/053

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The brand that I look forward to hearing from the most at Baselworld each year would have to be Seiko, not only because I’m an avowed Seikoholic, but they always announce some great models. Well, 2017 did not disappoint! In the last few months there was much speculation in the Seiko collector community that Seiko would announce a heritage edition of their famous first diver the 6217-8001, aka the “62MAS” which debuted in 1965. The original 62MAS was rated to 150m depth, and had large lume filled indices for excellent visibility under water.

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It was designed to be used in the harshest conditions, and it was definitely put to the test by the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition from 1966 to 1969. The 62MAS performed extremely well during these expeditions, and the watch went on to become quite popular with the leisure diving community.

Today, the 62MAS has become highly sought after by vintage watch collectors, and it is one of Seiko’s most collectible and desirable vintage divers. Seiko has done a fantastic job lately in reaching into their past and releasing modern divers inspired by their vintage relatives and for Baselworld 2017, they did indeed announce a heritage edition of the famous 62MAS: The Prospex SLA017, and it is stunning.

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The Prospex version is a very faithful re-creation of the original, retaining the case shape as well as the dial, markers, and hands. They even went so far as to engrave the screw-down caseback with the classic vintage Seiko Dolphin logo just like the original. Although faithful in look and feel, the SLA017 has of course been updated to rock solid modern specs. The stainless steel case measures 39.9mm wide, only 1.9mm larger than the 62MAS, and features a circular brushed finish (this measurement does not include the oversized screw-down crown). The case is also treated with a “super-hard” coating to increase scratch resistance.

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The black dial has 3D embossed hour markers that have a generous amount of lume, and looks nearly identical to the original, as do the steel baton hands. The narrow diver’s elapsed time bezel again is a faithful rendition of the 62MAS. The glass is a box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, which is an upgrade from Seiko’s more commonly used proprietary Hardlex mineral crystal. Over all the watch has a fairly slim profile of 14.1mm considering its size and 200m depth rating.

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The SLA017 has been outfitted with the Seiko 8L35, a 26 jewel automatic movement that beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour and has a power reserve of 50 hours. The 8L35 is an unadjusted version of the Grand Seiko caliber 9S55, and is the same movement found in the SBDX001 Marine Master. It comes supplied with a Seiko retro waffle style silicone strap, as well as a steel bracelet. I haven’t seen any pictures of the bracelet, but I’m willing to bet it will look fantastic.

The bad news for many Seiko enthusiasts is that this will be a limited edition of 2000 pieces, and come with a hefty price tag of $3400. Now, I’m not saying the watch isn’t worth the money, because I’m certain it will be, but it does put this amazing re-creation of a Seiko icon out of reach for many fans.

However, for those whom the SL017 is out of reach, there is an alternative, such as it is. Seiko has also announced a “re-interpretation” version of the 62MAS in the form of the SPB051/053, which also falls under the Prospex line. “Re-interpretation” is the key phrase here. It retains the general shape of the original, but is considerably larger at 42.6mm. The dial is somewhat faithful to the 62MAS, as is the bezel, but the hands are another matter entirely.

Seiko inexplicably diverged significantly with a large pointy minute hand and fat arrow hour hand. These have white painted borders with large lume filled centers and have black tails. Now, I’m a fan of the broad arrow hour hand in general, but I have to say that it really just doesn’t do this “re-interpretation” justice. I can see a lot of collectors buying this watch and modding it by swapping the hands out for something more 62MAS-like.

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Other differences include a curved sapphire crystal and the use of the Seiko 6R15 caliber movement. This version will come in either blue or black dial/bezel combo, and can be purchased with a stainless steel bracelet (051), or with a standard accordion style silicone strap (053). The bracelet version will retail for about $1000, while the strap version will run you about $800.


For more on the new Seiko Prospex SLA017 and SPB051/053 click here

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Christoph (Instagram’s @vintagediver) is a long time collector and lover of all things vintage, starting with comic books when he was a kid (he still collects them). His passion for watches began in 1997 when he was gifted a family heirloom vintage Omega Genève by his step-father. That started him on the watch collecting path—buying and selling vintage watches of all sorts, with a special appreciation for vintage dive watches and Seiko.
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  • “I can see a lot of collectors buying this watch and modding it by swapping the hands out…”

    Yup, you read my mind – The blue-bezeled SPB053 with a MM300 handset. $3400 for the SLA017, by the way is insanity. Seiko really knows how to capitalize on the ‘vintage’ craze. I’ve seen a NOS 62MAS go for a grand and a half.

  • bcarbs

    I was getting more and more excited until I read 8L35, when I knew it would be expensive. Then my mind was blown when I saw just HOW expensive it was. The “re-interpretation” is a no-go for a bunch of reasons, and I’ll leave it at that.

    I’m a huge fan of Seiko, but they need more options in the 38-40mm range. And a 28,800 bph movement for around $1,000 MSRP would be nice, too.

  • Porter Hudson

    That’s a tiny lil thang. Glad they made a less expensive version in a mens model. XD

  • Koldo

    The new hands on the SPB051/053 are fine. I don’t really prefer them (but they are growing on me…), but they wouldn’t “do this “re-interpretation” justice” only if they didn’t try to build a good diver by modern standards. That includes (for modern Seiko prospex watches) larger case and big arrow hands I guess. Not having them there (or another modern variant) would be dishonest cash-grabbery really. The mm300 hands doesn’t fit stylistically (IMHO of course).

    The reinterpretation needed to stand on its own legs, and it does in my opinion. Like new/old turtle.

    The reissue is simply fantastic. It makes sense as a LE, not as a diver in their “real” lineup. Price is only high in the universe of cheap Seiko divers.

    Two thumbs up!

  • Timothy Lloyd

    Agree with the comment about the handset on the SPB051/3. For me it is not just the hour hand which doesn’t fit… It’s the second hand with the lume on the counterweight side too.

  • Tracy Swan

    Nice…. over $3k..On second thought it’s ok!

  • cameraz

    They need crown protectors.

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