The Unfamiliar Diving Powerhouse – Seiko’s Brief History of Dive Watches

When we think of the words ‘dive watch’ and ‘value,’ one particular brand that comes into mind for many watch enthusiasts out there is Seiko. There are other brands such as Oris that bring about great value in their dive watches, however the fact that Seiko dive watches are (realistically) affordable and of great value catches the attention of many watch enthusiasts.

Say hi to grandpa! (Source: Tantakian Watches)

Seiko’s dive watch history dates back to 1965, with the release of Seiko’s and Japan’s first 150 meter mechanical diver. This historical piece, which many may have heard of before, is the 6217-8000/8001, more famously known as the 62MAS. Following its debut, the 62MAS proved itself in terms of capability and reliability by taking part in the 8th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition.

Seiko 6215 (Source: @xoxhenryxox on Instagram)

Following this landmark startpoint for Seiko, the 6215 and 6159 series were introduced in 1967 and 1968, respectively. The latter was another milestone for Seiko, as it was their first 300m diver and contained Japan’s first hi-beat caliber of 10 vibrations per second (equivalent to 36000 vibrations per hour).

Note: vibrations per second (or hour) and beats per second (or hour) are used interchangeably!

Seiko 6105 (Source: adi4 on forums.watchuseek.com)

The 6105 series was also introduced in 1968, and it became one of the more popular dives watches from Seiko in credit to two reasons. Firstly, the 6105 was more affordable in comparison to its older brothers, and secondly, the length of official availability was much longer (9 years vs 1-3 years).

Wait a minute…isn’t this rendez-vous?

You bet it is!

The Seiko Turtle dive watches available in today’s market also uses a cushion case, like the 6105. One major difference between the old and new would be the water resistance, with the 6105 and Turtle holding 150m and 200m of water resistance, respectively.

Seiko sure likes innovation, don’t they? Yes, but credit has to be given where it’s due. Seiko’s next innovation, the 6159 series which boasts a whopping 600m of water resistance, was only possible due to the experiences of a real diver. A saturation diver voiced his complaints to Seiko regarding their dive watches, as their offerings were not capable of saturation diving. Symptoms of incapability include crystals breaking due to helium gas and insufficient shock resistance when coming in contact with rocks. Thanks to that saturation diver, the 6159 was born.

Seiko 6159-022 (Source: wornandwound.com)

Some interesting things to note regarding the 6159: the watch is corrosion-proof, shock-resistant, has an airtight titanium case, and boasts 20 patents just for the watch case! Oh, and another thing…this watch (again!) looks familiar. Yes, you’re right, as the 6159 is the grandfather of the Seiko Tuna series that is available today!

Rendez-vous mk2? You bet! (Source: strapcode.com)

Phew, that was a lot of history to cover!…or you thought it was

There are more milestones that Seiko have accomplished, however I personally would say that they aren’t as impactful as Seiko’s accomplishments from 1965 to 1975. Hence, I will list them out in bullet points for easier progression.

  • 1978 – World’s first quartz-powered saturation diving watch with the same Tuna-esque watch case
  • 1982 – World’s first hybrid dive watch (analog & digital display) with an alarm and chronograph
  • 1985 – World’s best selling quartz dive watch with 200m of water resistance
  • 1986 – World’s first 1000m dive watch with a ceramic outer case
  • 1990 – World’s first computerized dive watch
  • 1992 – World’s first Kinetic dive watch (in reference to Seiko’s Kinetic movements)
  • 2005 – World’s first Spring Drive dive watch with 600m of water resistance

My, oh my. If you really look back at Seiko’s history (not only dive watches!), Seiko has achieved far more than the general consumer is aware of. Dive watches alone provide great depth to Seiko history, so imagine other timepieces (no need to imagine, Seiko’s non-dive watches also provide a rich history) and other non-horological products.

SKX013
A sneak peek of something to come…?

If we were to pick ONE dive watch (or series) that is the most popular and has had the greatest impact in today’s horology, the Seiko SKX is arguably THE ONE. Sure, there are watch enthusiasts out there that would shoot me down against that statement, however it is difficult to find a legitimate dive watch with such an iconic design, capability and most importantly, affordability.

tl;dr : Seiko has a rich history in dive watches

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