Seiko's got some of the strongest dial game in all the watch industry: You might find captivatingly textured Grand Seiko dials based on snow, bamboo, cherry blossoms or other natural themes, but the brand also looks to traditional culture as well as modern, urban sources of inspiration. Unexpected but compelling is the new limited-edition SPB259 watch with a dial mimicking the pattern of cobblestone streets, but done up in a contemporary-feeling blue tint. It's creative and eye-catching, to say the least.
The underlying watch is the brand's Modern Re-interpretation (part of the name) of its 1959 Alpinist field watch just released this year — a 38mm tool watch with an otherwise down-to-earth feel and a rugged 200m of water resistance, just like most watches in the Prospex line. The new limited edition with its special dial, on the other hand, seems to inject some of the elegance that's usually reserved for the brand's dressier Presage family.
Seiko explains that the cobblestone pattern is based on the streets of Ginza, Tokyo, where the company was founded 140 years ago and maintains a strong presence today. The bluish tint is meant to simultaneously reference the modern glass architecture of the district — perhaps like you're viewing the cobblestones through a tinted window. It's a lot going on conceptually, but the result is unlike just about anything else in watches that readily comes to mind.
"Inspired by this, inspired by that..."This can get a bit old, especially when watches always seems be inspired by the same sources, like vintage watches, race cars, airplanes and ocean themes. Seiko's dials in particular, however, feel genuinely like the work of an artist who saw something around him or herself that sparked their creativity. Just as is the case with this particular model, Seiko mostly sticks to textures and patterns that provide contrasting backdrops and don't distract from the ability to read the time. Other watchmakers could learn a lot from them.
The 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation lives in a tier above the brand's most entry-level-priced automatic watches, but still comes in well under $1,000. It features a modern, 70-hour-power-reserve automatic movement operating at 3Hz (rather than the more common 4Hz) and all the features you expect at its price point, such as sapphire crystal. (It debuts alongside another watch featuring the same dial style but based on sporty presage models, and which unfortunately features dial cutouts and a quirky off-center seconds subdial.)
The Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation 140th Anniversary Limited Edition SPB259 will be available from Seiko's USA website in November 2021 for a price of $750 — the same as that of non-limited versions.