The Seiko Prospex SLA017 Is The Best Dive Watch You Will Never Own
The Seiko Prospex SLA017 is one of the most popular vintage re-issue watches in recent memory. That sounds strange I know. When you think vintage watches, Seiko generally isn’t the first name to come to mind. The Japanese brand has always been full of surprises like that though. That’s why it continues to endear itself to collectors and enthusiasts alike. The only problem? Getting your hands on one. It’s about as easy as finding a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN sitting in the case at your local AD.
The First Seiko Dive Watch
Seiko debuted its (and Japan’s) first dive watch in 1965. Some ten years after most of the major Swiss players had introduced their dive watches. The ref. 6217 or 62MAS (autoMAtic Selfdater). It was designed for reliability and legibility in harsh conditions. The Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition used them on their polar expeditions. Soon the 62MAS found commercial success as a recreational dive watch.
Inside was the automatic, non hacking 6217 movement with quick set date. One of its main selling points of the 62MAS was its high water resistance rating of 150m. This was something of a rarity at the time and would go on to set the standard for all Seiko dive watches.
The original Seiko ref. 6217 or ‘62Mas’.
The Seiko Prospex SLA017
Given the success of the design from 1965 not much has changed in the new Seiko Prospex SLA017. On the outside at least. The re-design was entrusted to Nobuhiro Kosugi. He’s a recipient of the prestigious Medal with Yellow Ribbon and Contemporary Master Craftsman awards. As you can see, Kosugi has remained true to the original. Even the font is the same.
A true diver’s watch, the dial layout is simple yet effective. Hours, minutes and small seconds are all displayed centrally. Luminous, 3D embossed hour markers stand out in sharp relief against the sun-ray brushed grey/black dial. They look great and ensure high legibility. The date appears through an aperture at three o’clock. The rotating bezel is narrow and features a 60-minute insert with a luminous dot at twelve o’clock. It only moves uni-directionally though, as opposed to bi-directionally like the 62MAS.
The case is in stainless steel and finished with a super-hard coating. It’s all but identical to the original, but its diameter has increased by 2.9mm to 39.9mm. Still small by modern dive watch standards but very wearable. The Seiko Prospex SLA017 also now features a box-shaped sapphire crystal. The water resistance also increases to 200m.
Inside is the automatic caliber 8L35. This movement has been specially designed for diver’s use. This is more than your standard three-hand automatic. The movement is assembled and adjusted by hand in Seiko’s Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio in Morioka in the north of Japan. It beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers a max power reserve of 50 hours. Unfortunately though its hidden away behind a solid caseback. It’s emblazoned with a similar dolphin emblem to the original 62MAS.
Available in a limited edition of 2,000 pieces, the Seiko Prospex SLA017 comes fitted on a silicone strap. It features a diamond pattern (just like on the 62MAS). Recommended retail is EUR3,800. Given the red-hot demand and limited supply, you will pay a hefty premium for one on the secondary market. Assuming you can find one that is.
Case: Stainless steel case with super-hard coating –39.9mm x 14.1mm –box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – screw case back and screw-down crown – magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m – waterproof to 200m.
Dial: grey –3D embossed hour markers – luminescence on hour markers and hands – date window at 3 o’clock.
Movement: Caliber 8L35 – automatic – 28,800 vph – 50 hour power reserve – centre hour, minute and seconds hands – date.
Tom likes to write about luxury watches. So much so, that he created The Watch Lounge just so he would have an outlet for his passion. Together with his team, he is dedicated to bringing you original, entertaining (and maybe even a little educational) luxury watch and lifestyle content.