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Polar Precision: Exploring Seiko's Newest Dive Watch

The limited-edition Prospex SPB385 evokes the glacial beauty of the Arctic and Antarctic.

KRISTIN PATERAKIS

A reimagining of Seiko’s iconic 1968 diver’s watch, the new limited-edition Prospex SPB385 celebrates Seiko’s 110-year watchmaking legacy. Its icy design is inspired by the Arctic and Antarctic, where Seiko’s dive watches first proved their mettle during several Japanese expeditions between 1966 and 1969. This reinterpreted timepiece remains a reliable research tool for explorers pushing the boundaries of the known world, as well as endeavors a little closer to home.

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The 200-meter diver is powered by the new high-performance Caliber 6R54. This automatic mechanical movement has a GMT function—a first for Seiko’s dive watches—that allows the user to set a second time zone using a dedicated GMT hand and a corresponding inner bezel with a 24-hour time scale. The GMT hand can be set in one-hour increments without interrupting the time-of-day hands. This makes it easy to keep track of the time across the globe during remote expeditions or when communicating with colleagues who are out in the field. The movement also includes a date window and a 72-hour power reserve—the longest of any Seiko mechanical watch.

This Prospex’s stainless-steel case is inherited directly from the original 1968 diver’s watch carried by members of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE). Inspired by the extreme polar environments that established Seiko’s reputation for reliable, durable watches, the light-blue textured dial evokes the glistening side of a glacier. It is perfectly complemented by the royal blue GMT hand and markers. The sides of the case have a mirror finish that, along with the blue-gray ceramic unidirectional bezel and three-dimensional dial, has the effect of making the whole watch sparkle with all the charm and beauty of the season’s first snowfall. The matching stainless-steel strap features an extender for wetsuit and drysuit use. Part of the “Save the Ocean” campaign, the limited-edition model includes a special fabric strap made entirely of recycled plastic bottles woven together using a traditional Japanese braiding technique called seichu.

ScubaLab recently tested fins for a gear review in the upcoming January/February issue of Scuba Diving magazine. During our evaluation, we timed how long it took each test diver to cover a set distance using each pair of fins. Although the Prospex’s teeth were cut on much more demanding conditions than the calm, sunlit shallows of Alexander Springs Recreation Area in Central Florida, its smooth-operating timing bezel and highly legible hands and markers made it the perfect tool for our research. Even in our subtropical test venue, we could almost feel an icy, Arctic breeze emitting from the bright, glittering dial. Momentarily lost in imagination, one could well be excused for mistaking a local anhinga waterfowl for a diving rockhopper penguin.

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KRISTIN PATERAKIS

SAVE THE OCEAN The Prospex mission is to help protect the world’s oceans for future generations, and to secure this legacy for divers everywhere. Seiko Prospex supports various marine conservation activities through its “Save the Ocean” initiative. This initiative contributes a portion of the proceeds from sales of special Prospex watches to support marine conservation activities across the planet. The National Institute of Polar Research Japan, which plays an important role in the continuing exploits of JARE, is one of the many beneficiaries of the proceeds generated from this extraordinary limitededition Prospex.

WATCH SPECS

Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation Save the Ocean GMT, SPB385

MSRP $1,700

Movement Automatic Caliber 6R54

Power Reserve 72 hours

Water Resistance 200 meters/660 feet

Case 42 mm

Material Stainless steel with stainlesssteel bracelet and fabric strap

Crystal Sapphire with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface

Limited Edition 4,000

Website seikoluxe.com