Seiko marked the 60th anniversary of its first automatic watch with a pair of limited edition chronographs in 2016. One has an enamel dial while the other has an Urushi lacquer dial. The clincher was not the styling (which was appealing to a lot of people) but more on the pricing. Compared to Swiss made watches with enamel dial or lacquer dial, the price was unbelievably low and the series sold out swiftly.
Seiko has decided to bring back the enamel dial concept in a new series for 2017. This time around, it is not a limited edition series. This gives hope to many fans of their change to get their hands on at least one. Under the Presage line, this new series have four types of watches that make up part of the regular collection. The styling takes its cue from two historical Seiko timepieces; (below, left) the Laurel wristwatch of 1913 which was Seiko’s and Japan’s first ever wrist watch with an enamel dial and (below, right) the Time Keeper pocket watch of 1895 which utilizes a distinctive font for the Roman numeral hour markers.
There are four models, using three different calibers. From left to right, there is the SRQ023 with the 8R48 chronograph movement; the SPB045 with the 6R27 multi-hand movement, the SPB047 with the 6R15 movement and the SPB049 tonneau shaped also with the 6R15 movement. I chose the SPB049 over the other three primarily due to the shape.
The SPB049 is one of two of the most basic under the series. A three hand watch with a date window at the 3 o’clock position, the SPB049 has a rather unique watch casing that is seldom seen in a Seiko collection. This model has a 35.9 mm wide, 46.0 mm tall and 12.5 mm thick tonneau case. As a dress watch, the SPB049 exudes class that fits any formal occasion.
There are three distinct scales on the dial. The outer scale consists of minute markers with 1/3rd sub-minute markers. Next to this is a scale with 5-minute markers in Arabic numbering. Finally, the third and innermost scale consists of the hour markers in Roman numerals. The area where the 3 o’clock hour marker is supposed to be located has be replaced by the date aperture boxed is a black square line.
The date aperture has a rounded square shape to it to facilitate the enameling process. If the aperture has 90 degree angle corners, it may be difficult to get the enamel to stick properly. Even if they could make it stick, the stresses at these points would make them weak susceptible to cracking. As it stands, Seiko made the date wheel with a white background and added the black square line around it to create the illusion of sharpness.
There are four lines of text on the dial. The upper quadrant only has the “SEIKO” brand. The lower quadrant has the rest, the words “PRESAGE”, “AUTOMATIC” as well as the words “JAPAN 6R15 -03HO R 4” in extremely small font size at the bottom.
All the markers, number and letters are painted directly on the enamel dial.
The hands on the SPB049 are beautifully blue-flamed elongated-teardrop shaped pieces. Coupled with the crescent shaped end for the seconds-hand, they provide a nice counterbalance to the otherwise straight angle patterns on the dial.
The whole dial is protected by a dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. The bevel edge of the crystal is slightly higher than the edge of the fixed bezel. This can increase the chance of a chipped crystal if hit by a glancing impact from the side. Meanwhile, due to the shape of the sapphire crystal, the ends of the minutes-hand and seconds-hand are bent downwards so that it would not hit it.
The crown in located at the traditional 3 o’clock position. A rather larger crown of approximately 6.5 mm wide, it has a vintage cupcake style design with a large letter “S” etched on the top surface. Meanwhile, the lugs do not have pass-through lug holes. They are short and curved downward towards the wrist to facilitate better grip on the hand.
Compared to my other enamel dial watch which also comes from the Seiko Presage line, the SARX019 (see http://easternwatch.blogspot.my/2016/07/seiko-presage-sarx019-enamel-dress.html for full review), the enamel on the SPB049 is whiter and finer based on my personal observation.
The case-back has a display window made out of sapphire crystal. The back-plate is attached to the watch case by way of four screws. Due to the construction, the watch is only water rated to 5 ATM or 50 meters.
The engine that powers the SPB049 is the well-known caliber 6R15. It is an automatic movement with a 50 hour power reserve with 23 jewels. Operating at 21,600 BPH or 3 Hertz, it has anti-magnetic properties up to 4,800 A/m.
The watch is paired with a black alligator strap and come with steel folding buckle. Like all Seiko folding buckle on leather strap, the strap tail is facing inward instead of outward.
The Wearing Experience
The size of the watch casing is just nice for my wrist (I have a 7.25 inch or 18.5 cm circumference wrist). The top to bottom length is long but it does not create a situation of overhang on the wrist. This is primarily due to the short lugs.
Visually, the SPB049 looks stunning due to its simplicity. The blue hands has a distinct contrast to the enamel dial which has that simmering paper-like surface which can only be appreciated up close. Below is a video of the watch on my wrist.
The listed price in Kuala Lumpur is RM6,100 inclusive of GST. Rather high compared to the list price in Japan. However, after taking into consideration the discount as well as savings from courier charges, the price difference is not that excessive. However, compared to an equivalent Swiss made watch with enamel dial, it is unbelievably cheap!