Of all the things modern Seiko watches are known for, chronographs haven't been among them recently — which seems like a waste for a brand with some truly landmark achievements, such as the first automatic chronograph to market in 1969. (Yes, they beat the Swiss.) Finally, Seiko is introducing a new collection of chronographs with the resurrected Speedtimer name in automatic and solar-charging versions, hinting that the brand is getting more serious about the chronograph game. Seiko fans should be excited.
It's not as if there haven't been automatic Seiko chronographs at all (and there have long been plenty of quartz models), but they've been relatively rare and the brand has notably lacked a dedicated line to match its presence in the dive watch market. Featuring the same name as its namesake 1969 automatic chronograph watch, the new Speedtimer collection nods to the brand's past chronograph glory, and that's exactly what a lot of Seiko most loyal fans have hungered for.
Housed within the Prospex family of sport watches are several models that introduce the new Speedtimer collection. The highlight is a limited-edition automatic chronograph with a stark white dial and prominent pushers based on a 1964 hand-held stopwatch Seiko made for sports timing — reminding us that there's more to the brand's timing history than its 1969 legacy. It's introduced alongside a non-limited version offering a sportier look with a dark gray dial that recalls other watches from the brand's past, but shares the same movement, 42.5mm case and other specs with the limited edition.
Both automatic watches feature a new version of Seiko's 8R48 movement that's been tweaked to offer two subdials instead of three. It includes features common to the 8R family of movements such as column wheel and vertical clutch that are considered premium and desirable — but the bottom line is that you can generally expect high quality and robustness.
Not to be overlooked, the series of Solar chronographs come in several iterations, among them a "panda dial" (white dial with black subdials) version dubbed the SSC813 that's got fans' attention for its classic looks and sizing as well as its relatively affordable price. Chronographs (and Seiko watches in general) are often chunky, so the Speedtimer Solar models' easy-wearing 39mm diameter is another reason for many fans to perk up.
A dedicated collection of automatic Seiko chronographs is exciting, but don't expect them to be as accessible as the brand's famously fun beater dive watches: There's more to the pricing equation than the movement inside, but it is notable that the automatic watches are priced at the $3,000 mark and above, while there are a number of high-value, automatic chronographs at under $2,000 that include Swiss movements — and even those with the occasional Seiko movement.
For an automatic Seiko Speedtimer you'll pay $3,000 for the non-limited SRQ037 model and $3,200 for the SRQ035 that's limited to 1,000 examples. Each of the Speedtimer Solar watches have the same price of $675. Availability is expected in November 2021.