We joke around here quite a bit about every year being an anniversary for something. Watch brands have never been shy about celebrating what most of the outside world would consider somewhat inconsequential milestones. Of course, hobbies like ours are built on obsessing over the inconsequential, so it makes a lot of sense at the end of the day. Sometimes, though, there’s a truly significant anniversary that everyone can get behind, and you better believe watch brands aren’t going to ignore those. To that point, next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Seiko brand, a pretty big deal if there ever was one. We’re just weeks away from the calendar changing over, and Seiko has taken the opportunity to get the celebration started a little early.
Seiko, to be clear, has a complicated history that starts before the name “Seiko” was ever used on a watch, so what we’re celebrating here is the 100 year anniversary of the first time that branding was used on a wristwatch. We’re quite certain that Seiko will have an entire lineup of limited and special editions to celebrate the milestone, but the first out of the gate is the entry seen here from the Presage collection, a tribute to that very first wristwatch from 1924.
Seiko is no stranger to dealing with their past, and they’ve taken many approaches over the years in interpreting historic references. The new Seiko Presage Kintaro Hattori Limited Edition (reference SPB441) is effectively a recreation of the original down to the small details, as opposed to a jumping off point for a contemporary version. The typeface of the Seiko branding and Arabic numerals have been painstakingly recreated, as have the ornate hands. The white dial is enamel, just as it was in the original 1924 version.
The largest difference between the original watch and the new version is, unsurprisingly, the movement, and the unavoidable layout changes that are made as a result. The Kintaro Hattori LE runs on the Caliber 6R5H, which features a 24 hour scale at 6:00 and a centrally mounted running seconds hand. This allows the new watch to maintain a lot of the visual identity of the original (which had running seconds at 6:00), even going so far as to recreate the unique typeface on the original subsidiary seconds scale for the 24 hour subdial on the new watch.
The size of the new SPB441 mimics a vintage wristwatch from the era, coming in at 35mm across. It will likely wear true to size, or perhaps even smaller, thanks to the short wire lugs at either end of the case. Seiko deserves credit here, I think, for sticking to these details that might be unpopular in the mass market, but are likely to really please serious collectors who are interested in this small niche of watchmaking history.
The retail price of the SBP441 is $1,900. It’s limited to 1,000 pieces. Seiko