New Vintage-Themed Seiko Presages

Seiko Presage just released an entirely new collection based on the 1964 Crown Chronograph, the brand’s first-ever chronograph. That watch was created in response to the first Tokyo Olympics, and given that the Olympic Games are once again slated for Japan, I think the timing of this new Presage release is not coincidental.

There are two basic groups of watches that were released this week, one with conventional dials and the other with open hearts. The former has four lovely new models. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that although all of these watches are based on a chronograph, none of them actually have the complication.

You’d think that would make them impossible to have any resemblance, but surprisingly, you’d be wrong. Because the original Crown was a simple monopusher chronograph, it pretty much looks like any other three-hander out there. You might be wondering how on earth this thing worked, even though it’s relatively immaterial to the new watches. The chronograph complication only measured seconds, but the black bezel could be rotated. The idea (apparently) was that you would put the 12:00 triangle where the minute hand was when you began timing. Then you could count up from where that triangle remained to where the minute hand currently resided when you stopped the chronograph. It was clever, although somewhat impractical.

The modern versions don’t just look like three-handers, they are three-handers. Gone is the pusher on the case, now rendered pointless (although perhaps it would have been a nice touch for it to stick around and advance the date). Yet, the resemblance is quite strong. I even think the date complication is well-executed here. That’s the second date complication in a row I’ve liked; I must be going soft.

The bezel now more closely resembles a diving bezel, bereft of its former chronograph functionality. Now it serves to denote the seconds, a use of limited utility, but who cares when it looks this good.

The case is quite reasonably sized on these. They’re 40mm across and just 12mm thick, which is a really great everyday size. They’re also stylistically versatile enough to be your everyday watch, if a bit on the sporty side. All of the Style60’s watches feature lovely box crystals, although it should be noted that these are Hardlex, not sapphire which isn’t a surprise for the price. I don’t have the exact prices yet, but they are said to start at $525. This also makes the movement, a practical and reliable 4R35 automatic, a logical choice at this price point. Coming in June 2021, it’ll be available in four colorways: the ivory-color SRPG03J1, the blue SRPG05J1 (my favorite), the dark, dark green SRPG07J1 (your favorite, in all probability), and finally, an all-black SRPG09J1, the only one of the four that doesn’t come on a bracelet.

Next we have all-new open heart versions based on the Crown. While adopting most of the same aesthetic elements as the other Style60’s line, it deviates quite a bit more than the original Crown thanks to the small opening in the dial that reveals the balance wheel.

In addition to the open heart, however, there’s also a 24 hour subdial. This is just one of the quirks of the 4R39 movement; for reasons unknown, Seiko thought that customers would love to have both an open heart and a 24 hour subdial, two very unrelated “functions” (if an open heart can be said to have a function) placed very close to one another.

As odd a pairing as it may be, it does give the watch a sort of avant garde look and sets it apart from the crowd. If a date complication bores you and you were looking for something with a little more flair, the open heart models make a good argument for themselves.

Their cases are quite similar; still 40.8mm across, but somewhat thicker, at 12.8mm. The bigger difference is the addition of a gold-plated (or however Seiko is adding this gold-colored layer) case as an option. I’m not a fan of gold-plated cases in general, but I’ll admit that aesthetically the gold really works on this watch.

For me, however, I’d stick with the more basic model with a date. It gets pretty close to nailing the look of the original Crown, almost as close as it’s realistically possible to without actually having a monopusher chronograph. I’m also really pleased to hear that the prices will be in the $500ish range, which I think is very reasonable for a watch that looks this good. Click here to see all of the new Presages released so far (more may be on the way).

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