Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017

Angus Davies reviews the Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017

The Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017 harnesses many of the specification details of Seiko’s inaugural diver’s watch along with a smidgen of modern-day know-how.

Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017

Were things better in the past? As I grow older, I increasingly ask myself this question. Supposed progress makes me contemplate what we had in yesteryear and whether so-called improvement actually represents advancement. It is probably for these reasons that when I see a recreation of a former design classic my interest is piqued.

‘Seiko’s and Japan’s first ever diver’s watch was made in 1965 at a time when watches with high levels of water resistance were not widely available’. The watch featured an automatic movement and proffered 150m water resistance.

The Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017 captures the magical allure of Seiko’s inaugural diver’s watch but it is also imbued with a smidgen of modern-day know-how.

The question is, ‘is it better than the original?’

The dial

The dial of the Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017 is fascinating. In some light it appears black and then at other times it morphs into a greyish brown. The dial features a sunray motif which basks beautifully in ambient light.

Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017

The hour and minute hands are lined with luminescent treatment, emitting a green glow in limited light. At first glance the hour markers appear to be applied, however, this is not the case. The hour markers are 3D embossed, causing the indexes to ‘stand up in sharp relief and yet are an integral part of the dial itself’. Like the hands, the hour markers also produce a green emission in restricted light.

A date display at 3 o’clock proves eminently simple to read. The font of the numerals is optimally created for ease of interpretation and the white date disc augments lucidity.

A central sweep seconds completes the inventory of functions and proves a useful indication that the watch is operational when diving.

The dial is an exemplar of clarity with each indication wonderfully articulated. The masterful play with depths and sublime surface treatment heightens the appeal of the watch.

The case

The original 1965 watch measured 38mm in diameter,  while this new timepiece, the SLA017, measures 39.9mm befitting modern-day tastes.

Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017

A unidirectional bezel reaffirms, not that it needed, that this is a diver’s watch par excellence. The case is made of steel and features brushed surfaces, save for the case-back which is highly polished. Furthermore, the case-back sports a dolphin emblem, a feature also found on the 1965 original.

Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017

Each element of the case is a tactile delight. The bezel turns with a positive clicking action, while the crown is easy to grip and simple to adjust. The silicon strap has a pyramid-like motif, inviting fingers to manipulate its form.

It is surprising to learn that the watch measures 14.1mm in thickness. Quite simply, the watch does not feel this deep. Moreover, it confers a wonderful sense of neatness when worn and bestows a magnificently comfortable fit. This watch is an ergonomic delight.

Seiko also provides a stainless steel bracelet as part of the package, but I would find it hard to remove the silicon strap which looks splendid.

The movement

Seiko has not doggedly stuck to 1965 technology merely to provide a faithful replica. Indeed, this new watch is more of a reinterpretation rather than a recreation of the original. The Caliber 8L35 is very much a contemporary movement. It is crafted at the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio in Morioka in the north of Japan. This particular production facility is also where Grand Seiko movements are crafted and excellence is ubiquitously found.

The frequency of the balance is 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 26 jewels. The power reserve provides 50 hours of autonomy. The water resistance of the case has been increased from 150 metres for the 1965 original to 200 metres on the SLA017. In addition, the magnetic resistance is a notable 4,800 A/m.

Closing remarks

Seiko has captured the allure of the 1965 original but drawn on the expertise gained over the last 42 years and imparted this to the new SLA017.

The dial is sublime and wonderfully interacts with light whilst always proving notably simple to read. The case has grown in size but successfully sidesteps the trend for larger cases which can at times appear somewhat bulbous. Lastly, the movement represents progress when compared with 1965 original, offering enhanced water resistance and magnetic resistance.

Is this better than the original? In this instance, yes. The new SLA017 not only represents technical advancement over the 1965 original but also shows that in this instance, the allure of a vintage timepiece has been augmented with a touch of modernity.

Technical specification

  • Model: Seiko First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA017

  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 39.9mm; water resistant to 20 bar (200 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.

  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; date.

  • Movement: Caliber 8L35; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 26 jewels; power reserve 50 hours

  • Strap: Silicon strap with additional stainless steel bracelet included

  • Price: £3750 (RRP as at 30.6.2017)
  • Limited Edition: 2000 pieces

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