Seiko’s latest special edition dive watch series is yet another regional release exclusive to the US market. The Seiko Prospex “Ice Diver” trio seen here is a take on the recently released SLA049 and SLA051, both tributes to Japanese adventurer and Alpinist Naomi Uemura. Those watches, announced this past February in a flurry of activity from the brand, were in turn new and more luxurious takes on the 6105, the much admired “Captain Willard” diver. Coming in at around $3,000, those initial Uemura watches were clearly targeted at collectors and serious enthusiasts, while the latest Ice Divers share a similar look but come in at a more approachable $1,400 each.
The concept of the Ice Diver was introduced last year in a set of dive watches that ostensibly took inspiration from watches worn in the 1960s by members of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE). The dials of the watches in that initial set had a cool tone that evoked the barren antarctic landscape, along with some subtle texture. We get much the same here in this year’s set, but with additional analogues to Uemura, namely the 6105 inspired case shape.
According to Seiko, the dials here in gray, blue, and green are each representative of a precise glacial hue. The texture on each is designed to play with the light and shift color in interesting ways, not unlike polar ice itself. Seiko special and limited editions often feature dials that scream of novelty or are made in unusual, non traditional colors. They’re frequently stunning to look at, but might not be the most versatile day to day options. With these Ice Divers, the colors are more natural, and it’s easy to imagine any one of these watches being worn day in and day out. Likewise, the textured dial doesn’t go overboard – it’s all very reserved, at least in terms of Seiko special editions and limited releases.
Powering the new Ice Diver watches is Seiko’s 6R35 movement, which is as solid a workhorse caliber as you’ll find, offering a healthy 70 hours of power reserve. Hour markers are applied and filled with LumiBrite luminous material (as are the hands), and the crystal is sapphire. The asymmetrical Willard case shape tends to wear better than you’d expect given its dimensions, coming in at 42.7mm in diameter and 13.2mm tall. The unusual lug design helps keep the Willard case wearable even for those who normally shy away from divers over 40mm in diameter, and the integrated crown protection is unique, offers a ton of visual interest, and is quintessentially Seiko.
The all new SPB261, SPB263, and SPB265 (gray, blue, and green dials, respectively) will be available through Seiko retailers in November. Seiko