Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire’s weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020.
Seiko lovers like me are generally all so terminally goo-goo-eyed for the storied brand’s classic and affordable SKX007 and SKX009 divers that we forget that the 140-plus-year-old brand is no slouch in many other even-more-technical disciplines. While Seiko divers often weigh in at no-brainer, under-$500 prices, some of the house’s more complicated watches can get up into the thousands.
Take the new Speedtimer Chronograph for example, announced this week as an extension of the range of automotive-inspired watches that debuted in the late ‘60s. The blue dial, the retro demeanor of the case, and the sticky-out pushers just ooze 1969, a time when, like other tool watches, chronographs were becoming the playthings and talismans of weekend racers and style hounds.
But it’s not just a pretty face. The original Speedtimer arrived in May 1969 and hit the market at the same time as (or possibly before, depending on who you ask) offerings from two major competitors, Zenith and Heuer, which both launched their own first-ever automatic chronographs in the first quarter of the year. Fifty years later, the debate simmers on. But Seiko can lay claim to some ingenious additional specs in the original Speedtimer’s movement—not least a vertical clutch and a column wheel, together for the first time. The vertical clutch eliminated juddering of the hands during operation of the chrono function, while the column wheel ensured that the mechanism functioned precisely. The chronograph’s seconds also hand curved sharply down towards the markers to ensure a more exact reading of measured time. All these details are faithfully preserved in the new Speedtimer, driven now by a contemporary Caliber 8R46 in-house movement.
Aesthetically, the new Speedtimer is less a replica and more an homage to its forebear. The original came in a cushion shape monobloc case and featured only one sub-dial displaying 30 minutes. Available with a steel bracelet and a calf leather strap as standard, the new Speedtimer, which launches in blue (a previous version came with a black dial) under the Prospex line next month, features a reverse-panda layout with white sub-dials, with the main dial decorated with a vertical hairline finish that shifts from a deep navy to a sporty vivid azure depending on what angle you view it from. Considering how good the Speedtimer looks—not to mention its impressive specs—there’s a good chance you’ll see every last one of them.
Nick Sullivan is Creative Director at Equire, where he served as Fashion Director from 2004 until 2019. Prior to that, he relocated from London with his young family to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. He has styled and art directed countless fashion and cover stories for both Esquire and Big Black Book (which he helped found in 2006) in exotic,uncomfortable, and occasionally unfeasibly cold locations. He also writes extensively about men’s style, accessories, and watches. He describes his style as elegantly disheveled.
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