One of the many reasons we love Seiko here at worn&wound is the breadth of their lineup. No other brand could produce both sub-$100 budget automatics and world class haute horology, all in-house, and all with equal skill. While we get to cover the brand’s lower-cost offerings all the time, it’s not quite so often we take a look at what the Japanese titan does when it gets to flex its muscles. But when we do, like at Baselworld 2016, it’s a real treat.
One of the stars of Seiko’s display (and the entire show, really) this year was the reveal of the Presage Limited Edition Chronograph, both a celebration of 60 years of Seiko automatic movements and a tasteful homage to the very first Seiko great wristwatch, the 1913 Laurel. This is the first release of Seiko’s premium Presage line outside of Japan, and part of a global push to establish Presage as second only to Grand Seiko in the lineup. If the Presage Limited Edition Chronograph is any indication, the line should be a resounding success.
The Presage Limited Edition Chronograph’s case design is classic, but full of subtle complexities. A simple bevel cut adds visual interest to the polished bezel, while Seiko’s take on twisted lugs feature a mix of polished and expertly brushed surfaces separated by flawless edge work. The pushers are wide and sturdy-looking, flanking a broad signed crown at 3. A polished caseback surrounds a sapphire display window for the impressive Calibre 8R48, handsomely topped with a signed gold rotor with broad Côtes de Genève. At 42mm wide and a surprising 15.2mm thick, it’s a solid modern size with wrist presence without being overwhelming.
For the dial of the Presage Limited Edition Chronograph, Seiko drew inspiration from the very beginning of their archives- all the way back to 1913. The Laurel, released in 1913, was Japan’s first wristwatch, and the Presage Limited Edition Chronograph honors that design with its Breguet numerals and a leaf minutes/teardrop hour handset. The three gently sunken sub0dials are handsomely proportioned, and the soft, rounded cutouts on the dial are unique and give the design a feel of depth and an almost plush effect.
Overall, it’s a fantastically balanced dial design, with only a small 4:30 date window to break up the symmetry. Like the Longines Heritage 1918 from this year, this one too would be better served as a no-date. Despite that small complaint, the look is timeless. The real standout, though, is the finish. Both the black and white dial versions feature exquisite hand-painted surfaces, enamel for the white and glossy Urushi lacquer for the black. The quality here really has to be seen to be appreciated, especially the deep, true Urushi black.
At the heart of the Presage Limited Edition Chronograph is the Calibre 8R48, previously seen in the limited-edition SDGZ013. This 28,800 bph automatic movement boasts some seriously impressive specs. A 45-hour power reserve and column wheel almost take a back seat here, thanks to a pair of unique Seiko innovations. First is the three-pointed hammer, a bespoke solution that synchronizes snap-back of all chronograph hands. The second is the inclusion of a separate vertical clutch for each hand, allowing every hand to sweep smoothly as opposed to only the second hand. It’s a seriously cool addition, and one that’s simply unheard of at this price range.
Both the white and black dial versions come on crocodile leather, deep brown for the white dial and black for the black. The straps are equipped with push-button butterfly style deployants, and are a perfect counterpart to the Presage Limited Edition Chronograph’s design.