Introducing Two New Vintage Inspired Seikos Celebrating Their Rich Chronograph History (Refs. SRQ029 and SRQ031)

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To mark the dual anniversaries of Seiko’s first ever chronograph and their first ever automatic chronograph, the brand is releasing two new limited editions in two of their marquee lines: Prospex and Presage. The late 1960s, as watch enthusiasts are likely well aware, was an important period for chronographs as the largest Swiss movement makers and Seiko raced to bring the first automatic chronograph caliber to market. To this day, scholars differ on who was actually first, but there’s no denying the impact that mass produced automatic chronographs had on the watch market — the ripple effect can still be felt.

Let’s take a closer look at Seiko’s new vintage-inspired tribute chronos.


Seiko Automatic Chronograph 50th Anniversary Limited Edition (SRQ029) & Seiko Chronograph 55th Anniversary Limited Edition (SRQ031)

  • Case Material: Stainless steel 
  • Dial: Black & white panda dial (SRQ029), Champagne (SRQ031)
  • Dimensions: 41 x 16mm (SRQ029), 42.3 x 15.3mm (SRQ031)
  • Crystal: Sapphire 
  • Water Resistance: 10 bar 
  • Crown: Push/pull 
  • Movement: 8R48 Automatic Chronograph 
  • Strap/bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet (SRQ029), Cordovan strap (SRQ031)
  • Price: Approximately $3,700 (SRQ031) to $4,000 (SRQ029)
  • Reference Number: SRQ031, SRQ029
  • Expected Release: December 2019

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We’ll tackle the Presage entry first. Reference SRQ031 is a 55th anniversary tribute to the 1964 Seiko Crown Chronograph, credited as Japan’s first chrono. The original, made entirely in-house by Seiko, was a mono-pusher, column wheel affair, which would have been quite the technical achievement considering this was Seiko’s first attempt at this type of watch. Although the new limited edition is part of Seiko’s dress watch oriented Presage line, the original Crown Chronograph was fully in the sports watch category, and actually released with a tie-in to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The new version, though dressed up with a leather strap and plenty of Zaratsu polishing, retains the original’s 60-minute rotating bezel and a general easy going and casual vibe. Sharp sword hands and a subtle two-tone finish on the dial aid in giving this watch just the right level of refinement. 

From a technical perspective, the SRQ031 is, of course, a thoroughly modern Seiko. The 8R48 movement used here employs a column wheel and vertical clutch mechanism for seamless starts and stops, and naturally we have a sapphire crystal and a case with the expected modern proportions (the SRQ031 comes in at just over 42mm). 

The Seiko Automatic Chronograph 50th Anniversary Limited Edition (the full name of the aforementioned Prospex half of this dual chrono release) pays tribute to the still-iconic Caliber 6139 (though this isn’t entirely correct, but more on that in a bit).  The 6139 movement is perhaps most often associated with the “Pogue” chronograph made famous by astronaut William Pogue, who wore his Seiko in space for 84 consecutive days on a Skylab mission. The inspiration for this particular watch, however, isn’t the well known yellow-dialed space watch, but a chrono actually powered by a later sister movement, the 6138. The 6138 caliber came into existence in 1970, but for all intents and purposes it’s an extension of the 6139, so I can go with Seiko’s rationalization here. The 6138 made its way inside numerous excellent watches, chief among them the ref. 6138-8000, otherwise known as the “Baby Panda” — a highly sought after vintage watch with a beautiful two-tone dial and two chrono registers at 12:00 and 6:00 (and an eagle-eye Seiko fan on IG noted that a more apt comparison is the 6138-8020, which has similar syringe hands). That’s the inspiration for the SRQ029, though it’s also worth noting that Seiko released a very similar looking watch some years back as a JDM limited edition through their Brightz line. 

The SRQ029 uses the same 8R48 movement as the SRQ031 and has the same dial layout, so it’s interesting to look at each watch and admire how different they wind up in overall tone, and how they play with expectations of what a dress watch and a sports watch should be. The Presage piece, even though it has modern proportions, definitely has a refinement about it that I think is attributable to the gloss of the subtle contrasting elements on the dial. The Prospex, however, has pure vintage sports watch aesthetics, again thanks almost entirely to the aggressive black/white dial. The SRQ029 is also slightly smaller in diameter than the SRQ031, although it’s a bit taller. It’s sleek in a way that a good sports watch should be, while the SRQ031 is a reminder that a dressier watch can still have real wrist presence.

Both of these new chronographs will be available in December at Seiko boutiques worldwide, as well as through selected retail partners. Each is limited to 1,000 units, which is a fairly small number considering Seiko’s worldwide distribution. Pricing is €3,700 for the SRQ029 and €3,400for the SRQ031. These watches have a lot of competition in their price bracket, but column wheel chronos will always demand a premium. For a Seiko collector after a bit of history, these vintage inspired pieces might tick the right boxes. Seiko

Editor’s Note: An eagle-eye Seiko fan on IG noted that a more apt comparison for the SRQ029 is the 6138-8020, which has similar syringe hands. 

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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