Seiko’s watch launches have been disrupted by the Coronavirus outbreak this year, but there is still a broad mix of new collections hitting stores over summer, fall and winter.
Precise on-sale dates are still in flux, but the watches are worth waiting for, particularly some top end classical Presage pieces and an exciting range of Prospex sporty dive watches that will fly out of retailers’ doors when they reopen.
Running through the story of the 2020 Seiko line-up is a push upmarket, with a number of core collection and limited edition watches given four-figure price tags.
The average sale price for a Seiko watch in Japan is over $1,000. In the United States it is under $500.
That’s a problem because the volume end of the market is being undermined by discounting from the amorphous mass of bot-driven ecommerce players, and eaten into by smartwatches made by the major tech companies.
Seiko’s response is to keep making better and better watches that command higher price points, and it wants to work with a growing network of independent retailers that appreciate the style, quality, tradition and history of Seiko as a watchmaker.
2020 is the 55th anniversary of Seiko’s first dive watch, the 62 MAS, which launched in 1965 with an automatic movement and 150 meter water resistance. It set the standard for Japanese dive watches and paved the way for Seiko’s first hi-beat saturation diver in 1968, and the 1975 titanium one-piece “tuna” design which took Seiko deeper into the professional diving market.
This year’s Prospex line draws on that rich heritage with three limited editions twinned with the watches that inspire them. There is a 55th anniversary of the 1965 First Seiko Diver’s watch, a 1968 Hi-Beat, and a First Tuna. Each of the steel models has a production run of only 1,100 pieces world-wide, and will sell in the United States for $6,300, $6,800 and $4,500, respectively.
There are also core collection First Diver 65 models in the $1,000 to $1,350 price range.
The 2020 Prospex models build on the momentum of the Prospex LX, which last year won the best diver’s watch award at the Grand Prix d’ Horlogerie de Genève, and Shibasaki Munehisa, President & CEO of Seiko Watch of America, believes is perfect for the US market.
“I think the American consumer is very open-minded for new technology and they love it. The Prospex LX line is equipped with the Spring Drive movement. Spring Drive is still very new compared to a regular mechanical watch movement, and it is only available from Seiko. Not only is Spring Drive relatively new to the market, it is a very complicated movement and all its components are assembled by the hands of a well-trained Japanese craftsman,” he explains.
Seiko’s 2020 Presage range of classical watches now has models priced from $425 for a cocktail bar-inspired collection with complex textured dials and hand-wound mechanical movements; up to a 500-piece limited edition known as the Porco Rosso, a Japanese animated comedy movie.
It will sell for $5,600. In between are automatic models with pristine white or blue enamel dials priced at $1,300.
GPS-controlled Astron timekeepers are coming in titanium cases this year, which nudges prices north of $2,000.
And the Seiko 5 Sports family has grown considerably with leather straps introduced for the first time and a number of new dial, bezel, case and strap color combinations. They sell for $295 upwards.