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Introduction to Vintage Seiko Part 2: Vintage vs Modern

How do modern interpretation of vintage Seiko compares to their decade-old ancestors>

In our previous article, we wrote on the historical milestones of the Seiko brand. While we did cover some of the major events, its clear that what Seiko offered didn’t stop there. In hindsight, The late-1950s to 1980s era was the golden era of Japanese -watchmaking. Watches birthed within that era now branched into watches we put on our wrists today without a second thought on their provenance. In this article, let’s look back at some of the earliest iterations of Seiko‘s product offerings, as well as their modern counterparts.

Introduction to Vintage Seiko Part 1 by Nomad360

First Seiko Diver – 6217-8000 “62MAS”

While the Seiko SKX series probably holds the crown for their most popular dive-watch, it’s definitely not the first one to be conceived by the Japanese brand. That goes to the reference 6217-8000, also known as the “62MAS“.

Vintage Watch Seiko 62MAS 6217-8000
Image: WatchUSeek user BigSom

The 62MAS name comes from the first two digits of the reference number – 62 – and MAS from “Auto[MA]tic [S]elfdater,”. This is the very first professional dive watch and has a grey dial and block markers. Today, it’s one of the most sought-after vintage dive watches with a price-tag well into the thousands.

Which, I believe is an unfortunate case of limited production. See, Seiko produced around 80,000 units across two references, the 6217-8000 and the 6217-8001. While it may seem like a large production quantity, there’s really not enough to go around. There are not many of these floating around in the market, especially for cases with great condition. As a result, it’s hard-pressing to find enough exposure to truly understand the provenance that this model possess.

Modern – Seiko SPB14X line

Seiko Prospex SPB143, SPB145, SPB147, And SPB149  Interpretations Of Seiko's First Diver, 62MAS. Modern vs Vintage
6217-8000(Left) and SPB143(Right) Image: Hodinkee

It’s good to know that Seiko released a watch of similar design in recent year, the Seiko SPB14X. Which is the modern interpretation of the near-unobtainable 62MAS. The reference most closely associated to the original design would be the SPB143, it features a grey sunburst dial and a highly-similar case profile and hand-set.

Interestingly, this isn’t actually the only 62MAS reissue produced by the brand. Seiko produced a number of references in recent years to pay homage to their first dive watch, but this SPB14X stands above all. It’s price isn’t as far-reaching as the SLA017, and it’s design is closer to the original compare to the SPB05X line.

Comparing Modern 62MAS versions. SLA017, SPB147, SPB053
From Left: SLA017, SPB147, SPB053, Image: Worn & Wound

First Hi-Beat Seiko – Lord Marvel, 1967

Seiko debut the Lord Marvel line back in 1958, two years before the Grand Seiko line. It carried the 5740A movement, which was a low-beat movement which had Diashock capabilities. However, it isn’t the reference which made the line as successful as it was.

The Vintage Lord Marvel 5740-8000
Ref. 5740-8000, Image:Adventures In Amateur Watch Fettling

The third generation of the Lord Marvel, reference 5740-8000, holds the place as the go-to piece of the series. This is because it held the 5740C movement. The Hi-Beat movement runs at 36000 beats per hour, a beat at which the watch not only run smoother with a sweep-like second-hand movement, but also more accurate. While the hi-beat movement it’s a remarkable feature, the Lord Marvel is a watch trading well under a thousand-dollar. This is not something you would see on Swiss-alternatives.

Just as with many other technical marvels in watchmaking, The Swiss stands at the very front of the innovation armada. But Seiko remains one of the only in-house manufacturer to produce them at an affordable price.

Modern: Grand-Seiko Hi-Beat Calibers

The Lord Marvel didn’t really evolve into anything as of yet in April 2021, but its movement did. Improving the Hi-beat movement was an inevitable move that is definitely seen a mile away though. In fact, it’s become a trade-mark for most watches of the Grand Seiko line.

Seiko Modern Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000
Image: Grand Seiko

A movement featuring a 36,000 beat movement is very much the norm for these higher-end watches today. For just about every mechanical Grand Seiko reference that has it, you would find it reflected on their dial. It’s their trademark for fine, mechanical watchmaking. And it all stemmed from the 5740C movement from the Lord Marvel line.

First Analog Quartz Chronograph – Seiko 7A28

The Seiko 7A28 was the world’s first Quartz Analog Chronograph, and was succeeded by the 7A38. These watches utilise a stepping motor to move the hands, and indicated the power reserve along with the time by having it’s second hand moving at 2-second intervals.

Seiko Vintage Chronograph, Cal. 7A28
Image: SteveG’s Watch Launchpad

The collectability of these watches have skyrocketed over the years. Unlike our previous pick, this one still remains affordable and attainable because of the large production size and variants.

Modern: Solar Dive Chronographs

Seiko has come a long way in their production of low-cost quartz chronographs. Back in the 1980s, a battery-powered chronograph is an amazing piece of technology. It obviously doesn’t hold the same prestige today, and could be found just about everywhere easily.

Seiko Modern Seiko Solar Analog Quartz watches
Image: Strapcode

But how much has Seiko advanced with their wristwatch technology? For starters, their production of a quartz chronograph has advanced to a more mainstream level. You could head to the mall and pick one up if not finding them on online-sales just about every other day. The SSC Dive Chronograph line, for example, is an analog quartz chronograph which is not only solar-powered but also a dive-watch. It’s a far superior watch compared to the 7A series, but it’s now a watch not one to be technologically-obsessed over.

Final Thoughts

With Seiko standing at the forefront of brand innovation, it’s easy to see why enthusiasts flock over both vintage and modern offerings from the brand.

Would you pick vintage or modern when buying Seiko watches? Check out our Instagram Page for our educational infographics as well as our Youtube video of the same topic. Stay tuned for our next week’s topic!

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