Fifty-five years ago, Seiko introduced its, and Japan’s, first ever diver’s watch. With an automatic movement and water resistance to 150 m, it proved its reliability when it was used by members of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition from 1966 to 1969. In the years that followed, Seiko created many other diver’s watches that became favorites of professional divers and adventurers of all kinds, thanks to their high quality and reliability.
Three landmark designs from Seiko’s first decade as a maker of diver’s watches are now re-created as a trilogy in celebration of the 55th anniversary of that first achievement – the original 1965 design, Japan’s first 300m water – resistant watch from 1968 and the revolutionary 1975 saturation diver. And, fittingly, they are offered as part of the Prospex collection, synonymous today with timekeeping excellence for sports and all types of challenging environments.
Pushing back the boundaries in diver’s watches, 1965-1975.
Although proud that their watch had proved itself in the Antarctic, Seiko’s engineers continued their development work to better meet the demanding requirements of the professional diver. This was the goal that lead in 1968, to Seiko’s first diver’s watch with 300 m water resistance and a 10-beat automatic movement, used successfully by the first person from Japan to climb Mt. Everest. That same year, however, came a letter from a professional diver who explained to the engineers that no diver’s watch yet created could withstand the conditions that he faced every day in his job as a saturation diver.
The Seiko team realized that nothing less than a technical leap was needed to create a diver’s watch that could truly be called “professional.” It took seven years but, at last, in 1975, Seiko produced a 600 m diver’s watch that pushed the boundaries further than any other diver’s watch in history. It had a one-piece titanium case and an outer case protector. Among a host of innovations was a specially developed L-shaped gasket to make the watch impervious to helium without the need for an escape valve, as well as an accordion-style strap that kept the watch secure on the wrist whatever the ambient pressure. This unique watch changed the world’s expectation of what a diver’s watch could deliver forever and its distinctive construction led watch fans across the world to give it the nickname “Tuna.”