Given that Seiko One of the world’s first brands to create an automatic winding chronograph in 1969 (the same year Zenith created the El Primero), it’s a little surprising how small a role mechanical chronographs play in the brand’s modern catalog. The Seiko Speedtimer is believed to be the first automatic chronograph sold to the public (although sales were limited to the Japanese market for the first few months), and the name “Speedtimer” was absent from most of Seiko’s catalog. Its history made a big comeback last year in 2021 when the brand revamped the Speedtimer as part of its Prospex series and fitted it with a new in-house automatic chronograph movement featuring both a column wheel and a vertical clutch. Now, Seiko expands on the same Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph model with the new SRQ043, which features red and blue colors inspired by the original Speedtimer Chronograph watch from the 1960s.
While the new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph SRQ043 is inspired by the brand’s early self-winding chronograph watch from 1969, the actual design and layout of the new timepiece follows the revamped Speedtimer model launched last year in 2021. This means that on top of a cushion-shaped case fitted with an outer red and blue tachymeter dial, the new Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph features a more traditional round case crafted from stainless steel that features Seiko’s “Super Hard” scratch-resistant coating and measures 15.1 by 42.5 mm in diameter. mm-thick. In addition, the tachymeter scale now appears as a black inner bezel under the crystal that surrounds the edge of the dial, while the red and blue colors are limited to the dial and hands. A double-domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating on the inner surface protects the top of the watch, while a screw-down display caseback helps endow the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph with 100 meters of water resistance.
While the case will be instantly familiar to those with previous experience with the Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph that debuted in 2021, the dial represents a significant departure from other options currently available and features a contrasting blue surface with white sub-dials. The date window at the 6 o’clock position features a white-and-black calendar disc with applied hour markers. Both the edge of the hour markers and the hour and minute hands receive a healthy application of Seiko’s LumiBrite luminous material for added visibility in low-light conditions, while the chronograph hands are colored bright red for an instant indication of elapsed time when using the chronograph. In addition, the chronograph second hand gently slopes down towards the surface of the dial so that its tip is as close as possible to the dial markers, and it extends to the tachymeter markings at the edge for maximum legibility and a balanced overall aesthetic.
Like the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph models that debuted last year, the SRQ043 is powered by the brand’s Caliber 8R46 automatic chronograph movement. As with many of Seiko’s workhorse mechanical calibers, decoration and aesthetic embellishments are on call. The 8R46 is minimal, but the hand-assembled movement scores big when it comes to its on-paper specs. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph and with a magnetic resistance of up to 4,800 A/m, the Seiko caliber 8R46 offers users a 45-hour power reserve and a column-wheel-controlled chronograph with a vertical clutch. These features are rarely seen in affordable mechanical chronographs, and it is only because of Seiko’s excellent capabilities as a vertically integrated manufacturer that the brand is able to offer an in-house movement with these features at a relatively attainable price. Additionally, a three-link stainless steel bracelet fitted with a push-button clasp is a standard option, while the new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph SRQ043 comes with an additional black calf leather strap with a stainless steel deployant buckle.
While there is always some debate as to which company actually created the first automatic chronograph movement, the original 1969 Seiko Speedtimer was arguably the world’s first chronograph to feature both a vertical clutch and a column wheel, which are now often considered superior. Methods of producing a mechanical chronograph can eliminate shaking or jumping of vertical clutch hands, but a properly executed column wheel can enable precise control of chronograph operation. Additionally, since these features are often mentioned in the context of watches like the Rolex Daytona, it is even more impressive that Seiko is able to offer these features in the new Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph at its official retail price. €3,200 EUR. Additionally, apart from being a limited edition, the new Seiko Speedtimer Chronograph SRQ043 will join the main Prospecs collection and will be available from September 2022 at Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide. For more information, please visit Manufacturer’s website.