An enormous part of the appeal of Seiko dive watches is the endless variety. In terms of case shapes, styles, price points and dial variants, there are combinations to suit every taste, and multiple times over. There’s a reason why there are so many collectors who happily focus exclusively on Seiko divers – if you pay attention and are tuned into the history of the brand, there’s as much variation across this one segment of Seiko as you’ll find with entire brands that have been around for similar lengths of time. Their newest release takes two popular case styles that have been around for a long time but recently saw significant upgrades, and gives them a modern feel that’s rooted in an unusual detail for Seiko: a fabric strap.
We’re very accustomed to seeing new Seiko releases come with a series of publicity photos on the standard Seiko bracelet or, maybe, a rubber dive strap. But the new SPB239 (based on the 62MAS from 1965) and SPB237 (based on the “Willard” from 1970) lead with images on a ribbed fabric strap. And this isn’t merely a throwaway detail, but is a highlight of Seiko’s campaign around these watches. According to Seiko, the new fabric straps make use of a traditional Japanese braiding technique known as “Seichu,” which is often found in the fabric cords that hold kimonos in place. While the technique is decorative in Japanese culture, Seiko claims some real performance benefits with these straps as well, befitting the Prospex designation of the watches. Seiko research confirms that these straps have a tensile strength four times greater than a standard Seiko fabric strap, and they also claim a resistance to degrading over time due to exposure to UV light. Naturally, Seiko is also claiming that the braiding pattern makes them inherently more comfortable, which is arguably job #1 of any strap (or maybe job #2), but we’ll wait to have one on wrist to comment on that.
As far as the watches themselves, they need little introduction, as we’ve written extensively about them over the past year. In short, however, these divers fall under the “modern reinterpretation” banner of Seiko releases, meaning they’re inspired by heritage timepieces, but not the collector grade one-to-one recreations that Seiko releases from time to time. These watches are priced for the mass market and enthusiast focused (the SPB239 is €1,250, and the SPB237 is €1,350 – prices in USD haven’t been made available yet, but these seem roughly in line with the releases from last year).
The 62MAS inspired SPB239 has been given a brown dial and bezel that matches perfectly with the dark brown fabric strap. The lume is creamy and the accents appear to have been rendered in a matching color, giving this watch a look that’s clearly rooted in the past, but not directly tied to a specific reference. The SPB237’s dial is a touch more adventurous and more in line with what we think of when it comes to modern Seiko designs, with a textured gray dial and a strap in a similarly earthy tone. It’s worth noting that the original versions of both of these watches from the 60s and 70s have long been associated with professional use by working divers and, thanks to Hollywood, military personnel, at least in the case of the Willard. The fabric straps here in these subdued tones really play up that link – it’s very easy to imagine these watches being worn as true tools.
These watches are both powered by Seiko’s 6R35 movement, and have all of the Prospex enhancements and tech you’d expect, including 200 meters of water resistance and a sapphire crystal. The SPB239 comes in at 40.5mm in diameter, while the SPB237 measures 42.7mm across (both are 13.2mm thick). They are expected to hit Seiko retailers later this summer. We expect these watches to have a similar wearing experience to their counterparts from last year, so be sure to check out Ed’s review of the SPB153 right here, as well as Zach W’s review of the SPB149 here. Seiko