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The Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s SPB299J1 Save the Ocean Special Edition is one of three legendary models designed to commemorate Seiko’s glorious expeditions to the eternal ice. Each watch takes a diver of the time as its model. Three shades of blue provide a breath of fresh air – just the right thing for winter, right?
The right watch for winter!
Sometimes it can happen very quickly. Just a moment ago, it was the beginning of autumn. You know, the season when you start making provisions for the cold season. The firewood is added, the first gifts are bought and before you know it, winter is just around the corner. From now on, it’s a case of sticking it out for three months and – in my case – taking care not to sink into deep snow. Granted, there are nicer seasons. But you can make yourself as comfortable as possible. How about a new wristwatch, for example, perhaps as a Christmas present?
The watch I could recommend to you has already proven its ability to withstand cold and snow more than 50 years ago. Seiko’s new interpretation of a legendary diver’s watch should easily survive the winter in Central Europe. The reference SPB299J1 is part of a special edition that the traditional Japanese manufacturer has launched this year. Three watches are available. Called the 1965/1968/1970 Diver’s, they are meant to evoke the 1960s and ’70s. Back then, Seiko equipped explorers and adventurers with innovative diving watches, which they wore on their expeditions to the North and South Poles. On their journeys into the eternal ice, the divers were to provide the pioneers with reliable service on their wrists.
Three new interpretations from the eternal ice
From 1965 onwards, Seiko steadily improved its manufacturing techniques and introduced new wristwatches as early as 1968 and 1970. All three models, which were used in Antarctica, have now been reissued. Not as 1 to 1 copies, but in contemporary new interpretations. Where the originals were primarily black, Seiko has now noticeably refreshed the look, bringing three icy blue tones to the wrist. The dial also bears witness with its jagged surfaces, inspired by glaciers.
In recent decades, the world has changed a lot. This is most visible in these very glaciers, which are shrinking from year to year. All three new editions are part of Seiko’s Save the Ocean campaign. The manufacturer supports various programs to protect and preserve the oceans and their biodiversity. The polar regions are also included, of course. So every buyer makes a contribution. Another watch from the Save the Ocean edition is the Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPF79K1, which I tested last year.
Diving watches are usually found under the Prospex brand at Seiko, which is where all the functional toolwatches are housed. For this watch review, they kindly provided me with the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s SPB299J1. It is the second of the three models. Its roots can be traced back to the 1968 original. A watch that is as old as I am and has held up just as well! Coincidence?
The 1968 original revolutionized water resistance in dive watches and rightfully takes its place in history. While its 1965 predecessor was water resistant to depths of 150 meters, its successor doubled that figure. This was achieved, among other things, by a then groundbreaking one-piece case construction. What remains of the original’s innovative spirit today?
The Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s SPB299J1 on the wrist
Visually, a lot, to partially answer this question right up front. The case with the angular, polished horns still looks timelessly beautiful and keeps close to the original. Also the proportions of the dial are similar. All indices have been tweaked here and there. The ice-blue homage is a bit more straightforward, sleeker and has arrived in the here and now.
Probably the most drastic change concerns the dial itself. Orange lettering and a black background have given way to a lighter shade of blue. Light gray hands and indices now perfectly match the shimmering case. The bezel, which is a dark blue, also harmonizes with the dial. Personally, I really like the new colors inspired by glaciers. There’s a fresher breeze blowing here now, replacing the somewhat staid black of the 60s.
On the wrist, by the way, I can imagine the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s also perfect as a light summer watch – then best while walking on the beach on brown skin. For this diver, the next spring cleaning is far from over! And as always, you practically can’t go wrong with a timeless diver’s watch in a stainless steel case. White or blue shirts, dark blue or gray suits, or the new cream turtleneck – you can really wear anything with this watch.
The size of 42 millimeters in diameter plays just as little role. The Diver will fit any man’s wrist. Even more important: consider the length between the lugs! There, the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s comes to 48.8 millimeters.
(Almost) Like the original – the case
Just like almost 55 years ago, Seiko has chosen a classic, timeless stainless steel case for its diver’s watch. In the manufacturing process, it is given a super-hard coating, which is supposed to improve the longevity and resistance to scratches in theory. You should still pay attention in everyday use. Larger surfaces of the case are polished, so micro-scratches can quickly occur. The quality of the material and its workmanship are impressive. This is premium level!
In the past, Seiko often relied on hardlex glass to protect the dial. The mineral glass from Seiko’s own production is scratch-resistant, but I was never completely convinced. Here, on the other hand, the Japanese watch manufacturer relies on classic sapphire, the highest-quality and hardest watch crystal. Thanks to an anti-reflective coating on the inside, it can be read excellently even in bright sunlight.
The unidirectional rotating bezel is an excellent way to go diving and read off the dive time that has already passed. And while we are on the subject of diving: I was a bit irritated by the stated water resistance. THE achievement of the 1968 original was to withstand a pressure of up to 30 bar. With the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s, you can only make it to 20 bar, which is about 200 meters of diving depth. I certainly wouldn’t make use of an additional 100 meters, but still, the “downgrade” feels a bit weird.
Seiko’s 6R35 – a marathon runner
You can tell that this timepiece is a Special Edition by the engraving on the caseback. By the way: there is no stated limitation. Behind the sixfold screwed caseback, Seiko installs its well-tried, powerful 6R35 automatic movement. The caliber has a precision of -15 to +25 seconds per day. Once wound, it has a power reserve of 70 hours – a real plus. The crown is located at 4 o’clock. This has the advantage that it does not interfere with the back of the hand in everyday use.
Dial and bracelet of the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s
Actually, the dial of the Prospex 1968 Diver’s is typical Seiko – striking indices, successful proportions and good readability. This is how you know it from most of the Prospex Sea family of divers. New and unusual, however, is the design of the dial. Instead of a smooth surface, the dial is crisscrossed with elongated indentations. They are meant to be reminiscent of the craggy, jagged glaciers that break off the coast. The interaction with the light blue tone also works first-rate. For darkness, the indices and hands have been treated with Seiko’s in-house LumiBrite luminescent coating. At 6 o’clock, you’ll find a date window.
The only thing missing is a classic stainless steel bracelet. Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s is three-link, 20 millimeters wide and comfortable to wear. As you might expect from a serious diver’s watch, there is a dive extension on the triple folding clasp. The comfort and finish of the strap are decent.
My conclusion about the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s
Seiko is reviving the good old days. With the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s, the manufacturer revives an icon from the 60’s, which was revolutionary at the time. For the reinterpretation, they dusted off the classic and put it in all the right places. Two fresh blue tones and a craggy dial emphasize the original’s sense of history. They are also, in my opinion, the main reason why you should grab the watch. Not to mention, Seiko has once again succeeded in building a top-notch diver’s watch that appeals to the masses, yet doesn’t look boring. For the price of 1,300.00 euros you wear a diver on your wrist, which convinces optically and qualitatively.
But what is perfect? The most I could criticize is the lowered water resistance. Compared to the original, the re-interpretation falls off. However, that is complaining on a very high level.
Below you will find all the important links to the watch and the collection!