Seiko continues to celebrate 55 years of their most iconic divers with the release of two new limited edition references: the SLA043J1 and the SPB183J1. The new watches are based on models initially released in 1965, and in 1970, that Seiko has deemed an important part of their dive watch lineage, and whose forebears have served as reference to other anniversary editions released this year. Thankfully, these are pretty cool watches to begin with and in typical Seiko fashion, they’ve stuck close to the script in keeping what made them the classics they are today.
The SLA043J1 may look familiar to the SLA037 released in the anniversary trilogy collection earlier this year, in that they are both 62MAS re-interpretations (unlike the straight up re-issue that the SLA017 was), but a few key differences are worth noting. The biggest being the lack of a hi-beat movement in the newest model, which opts instead for the caliber 8L35. This is Seiko’s high end automatic movement and but a stones throw from the 9S55 you’d find pulling duty in some Grand Seiko pieces. The 8L35 has been used in other anniversary models, such as the Prospex Marine Master Automatic SBDX016 and the even SLA017, and while not as accurate as the 9S, it will keep you within 10 seconds a day.
At a brief glance, the SLA043J1 would be easy to mistake for the SLA037 from the trilogy set, however a bright blue seconds hand accents a rich navy dial here, and a sharp eye will notice the lack of the Hi-Beat labeling at 6 o’clock. The same ‘Ever-Brilliant’ steel is used on the 39.9mm case with a uniform circular brushing around its entirety. Thickness comes in at 14.1 with a boxed crystal, and overall lug to lug length is a manageable 47.9mm. The tropic strap returns for use here, sitting between the peculiar squared out lug design of the case. Those lugs are drilled, by the way, so you can take advantage of the additional blue strap that comes in the anniversary edition box. The SLA043J1 will be limited in production to 1,700 units, each priced at $4,500.
In addition to the SLA043J1, Seiko is releasing the SPB183J1, which is an interpretation of the 6105, aka the ‘Willard’, so named for its appearance on the wrist of Captain Willard as portrayed by Martin Sheen in the 1979 Francis Ford Coppola film, Apocalypse Now. While the name has stuck, that’s not the most impressive feat touted by this watch. Rather, the 6105 was the watch of choice for Naomi Uemura, a Japanese explorer known for conquering some of the toughest treks on the planet, solo. He famously wore the 6105 on his solo expedition from Greenland to Alaska, a journey of nearly 7,500 miles that took eighteen months to complete by way of dog sled.
We’ve seen two other ‘Willard’ references released this year from Seiko in the SPB151 and SPB153. The SPB183J1 released here carries the same case and 6R35 movement, though now features a deep blue dial and bezel, accented by a yellow seconds hand with red at its tip (a staple of the ‘Willard’). The case measures 42.7mm in diameter, with a 13.2mm thickness. Lug to lug is just 46.6mm an account of the lugless case shape. The SPB183J1 is limited to 5,500 units, and will be priced at $1,400.
Both of these watches will be available to purchase sometime in November of this year, so keep an ear to the ground if you’re looking to snag one. For more information, visit Seiko right here.