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The Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 is one of three diving watches from the edition of the same name. All models are based on watches from the 1960s and 70s and inspired by the underwater world at night. I took a closer look at the watch, which is limited to 5500 pieces….
The retro hype goes into the next round
Seiko continues to swim on the retro wave and released its so-called “Black Series” this March. Fans might be familiar with the “Black Series”, as the label name is anything but new and has already been used on various Samurai watches from the Prospex universe. As you’d expect, the Japanese watchmaker isn’t slowing down the pace this year either and is launching the next set of special black models. With the new watches, Seiko looks back at its eventful history as a diving watch specialist and travels to the 1960s and 70s.
There are three models. SPB253J1, SPB255J1 and SPB257J1 are their references. While the former reference pays tribute to Seiko’s very first diving watch ever, the idol of the third model is still known from the cult movie Apocalypse Now. This one has since been nicknamed “Captain Willard” and has served for quite a few reissues. Today, I want to dedicate myself to the Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1. Its design is strongly reminiscent of reference 6159-7001 from 1968, the year of my birth. The 54-year-old diver moved the crown to four o’clock and established a design language that Seiko is still known for today.
All three models are limited to 5500 pieces each. Seiko itself speaks of the “nocturnal underwater world” that the watches are meant to be based on. According to the company, the orange accents are inspired by lights that illuminate the ocean floor. Well, to what extent there is orange light under water at night and where it is supposed to come from remains to be seen – I am not a diving expert. However, the accent color looks extremely sporty. I’ll find out what else awaits us in the watch review.
Finally a real unboxing
It’s been a few weeks since Uhrenarena sent me five different test watches to briefly review them and record my impressions of the timepieces from the entry-level segment in a few lines. For those who are interested in Seiko watches in general, I recommend my blog article about the Seiko 5 Sports Brian May SRPH80K. As a sixth watch, I was sent the Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1. Finally, the time has come and allowed me to now have a look at this premium diver.
To my delight, this starts with a proper unboxing. For watch tests I usually get provisional packagings, especially for prototypes of not yet released wristwatches. The typical Prospex box makes a decent impression and underlines that the SPB255J1 and its dissimilar sisters are in the premium segment. This can also be seen on the black rubber strap, which can be put on alternatively if you want to go diving with the timepiece. Package insert and warranty card are enclosed in the lid. I then take the Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 off its cushion and examine the retro watch for the first time.
The Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 on the wrist
I am honestly glad to have received exactly this model from the limited edition. As we all know, there is no accounting for taste, but I like the 1968 homage the best. Perhaps because the original features design elements that are still often found today. The dot-shaped indices, for example, or the crown moved to 4 o’clock. In comparison with the SPB253J1, which is quite similar for laymen, I would prefer this diver anytime. What all three watches have in common is the successful color combination of dial, case and bracelet. Orange, black and brown finally bring some variety to the wrist, which I have somewhat missed in previous new releases from the house of Seiko. Especially the bracelet underlines the special retro character. Thus, the Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 really looks like a diver from the 60s.
For most of us, measurements are not insignificant when buying a watch. Seiko’s SPB255J1 has a case diameter of a compact 42 millimeters. Less is sometimes more! On the other hand, wristwatches were usually smaller more than 50 years ago. Most likely, it’s also due to the diameter that the case is visually quite high. However, this only seems to be the case. 12.50 millimeters in height are rather flat, especially considering the automatic movement.
What the black case is all about…
Speaking of the case, its all-black appearance with primarily matte surfaces stems from a titanium carbide coating. This encases the stainless steel case and reduces the susceptibility to scratches that stainless steel surfaces would have had. A side effect is the appealing black look, which makes the Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 look very functional. When checking the case finish, Seiko’s reputation as a price-performance winner is once again confirmed. The level that the Japanese display can easily be compared with more expensive diving watches.
On the front, the 109 gram watch is finished off with a sapphire crystal. Thank goodness for Hardlex glass, I automatically think. Yes, Seiko’s in-house manufactured mineral crystal serves its purpose. In the premium segment, however, you can definitely expect scratch-resistant and high-quality sapphire. The unidirectional rotating diving bezel makes a good impression. It also impresses with its titanium carbide coating. The imprinted index ring is colored orange between 0 and 20, which improves readability. And what about the water resistance? It’s a solid 200 meters. Not a fabulous value, but sufficient for all the leisure activities you can do underwater as a wearer.
On the six-fold screwed case back, you’ll find your production number and can thus check which of the 5500 pieces you own. Seiko has omitted a viewing window with a view of the movement this time. What’s hidden behind the black back can only be guessed – or read about it in the following…
Improving the predecessor even more – a look into the movement
A few years ago, Seiko improved their best-seller 6R15. The automatic movement, part of the 6R series, is now called 6R35 and was trimmed for maximum performance in terms of power reserve. Seiko certifies that the manufacture caliber has a power reserve of 70 hours, provided that it is fully wound. Since the manufacturer now uses it across series and collections, I could already get an idea of the automatic movement in previous watch reviews.
Compared to its predecessor, all other essential key figures remained identical. The accuracy is still -15/+25 seconds per day, which is quite solid. However, a killer argument is the affordable price. So it’s hardly surprising that the watch is significantly cheaper than some of its competitors.
The screw-down crown at 4 o’clock makes winding the movement simple and straightforward.
Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 dial and bracelet
On the black dial, the large, round hour indices are particularly easy to read. They are covered with Seiko’s LumiBrite luminous material and are therefore particularly visible in the dark or under water. The same applies to the hands. The minute and second hands echo the orange accents of the bezel, giving the Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 sportiness, temperament and dynamism. At 3 o’clock, a rectangular date window has been inset.
For use on dives at the beach or in the pool, I would actually swap the brown textile strap for the black silicone alternative. At all sporting activities, its resistance to wind and weather makes it unbeatable. For everyday wear, however, nothing beats the textile strap I just mentioned. The silicone version cannot keep up with the retro character that it brings to the wrist. What I liked most during my test days was the wearing comfort.
My conclusion about the Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1
The Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 is the most interesting diver of the Japanese manufacturer, which I was allowed to test for a long time. Finally, once again a Seiko, which not only deserves the rating ‘good’, but definitely ‘very good’. As part of the Black Series, the watch can inspire retro fans. The homage design in reference to the 1968 watch in combination with the brown textile strap looks great and has a recognition value, which I have recently somewhat missed.
Qualitatively, you can’t expect any surprises – and that’s a good thing! Selection and processing of the materials used are – typical Seiko – on a high level. Always a bit too high for the price, which the watch manufacturer calls up. Regularly, the Seiko Prospex Black Series SPB255J1 costs 1,250 euros. Alternatively, you can have e a look at the two sister models. In the end, there should be something for everyone!