Look around any dive boat anywhere in the world and see which watches, if any, the divers are wearing. Without question, the great majority will be Seiko. Despite the fanfare surrounding so many Swiss dive watches, when the going gets tough, the tough reach for Seiko. Sure, they’ve always been more affordable, which translates into wider appeal, but the fact remains: Seiko dive watches are known for their robustness and no-nonsense functionality. And Seiko has been doing it for 50 years now — their first dive watch appeared in 1965. To celebrate this half century underwater, the Japanese brand released the limited-edition Marinemaster Automatic Hi-Beat Professional, the embodiment of everything that makes Seiko dive watches superior.
Seiko is well known for its seemingly countless quartz, kinetic and automatic divers that can be bought for less than a plane ticket to Cozumel. But the Marinemaster name is reserved for the watches that evolved from Seiko’s Professional line, which can trace origins back to the late 1960s. In fact, the Marinemaster 1,000m Hi-Beat takes its aesthetic inspiration from the vaunted reference 6159 dive watch introduced in 1968 that sported the same blocky hands, large lume plots and sculpted case. That watch also had a “hi-beat” movement with a balance wheel oscillating 36,000 times per hour to provide higher precision. The special movement in the new Marinemaster is a less fussy version of one fitted in some of Seiko’s high-end Grand Seiko timepieces; it’s built in the Shizuku-ishi workshops in Morioka, Japan. To maintain its high beat rate, the components are precision machined to minimize friction points and incorporate channels to hold lubricant.
While its guts are impressive, this watch’s raison d’être is performance underwater. Seiko draws from its long history to produce a single-piece titanium case that not only defies water pressure down to 1,000m but also stops the incursion of helium atoms, should the watch ever be used in a diving bell 100 fathoms beneath the North Sea.
Seiko can build a spectrum of watches for any level of diver, from snorkeler to saturation diver, $200 quartz to $5,000 haute horlogerie. It’s that breadth of offerings and 50 years of experience that have made Seiko a favorite among those who like to get their feet wet. And with its vintage good looks, rare movement and subaquatic prowess, the Marinemaster Automatic Hi-Beat Professional is yet another icon in a long lineage, and a fitting tribute to one of the great dive watch legacies.
Movement: Self-winding mechanical calibre 8L55
Case: Titanium, 48mm
Water resistance: 1,000m
Functions: Time and date; rotating elapsed time bezel
Strap: Titanium bracelet and silicone strap