You can put this one in the category of: We Didn’t See it Coming. Seiko has just launched a new Prospex branded version of a watch that can be described as a true cult hit of the early aughts, the Seiko Sportura Kinetic. If you’re scratching your head trying to remember the Sportura and coming up empty, perhaps you know it as “the Jay Leno,” as the former Tonight Show host is fond of wearing one while tooling around in steam powered fire trucks from the 1910s, or whatever. The Sportura’s fans, though, are legion. Our co-founder Zach Weiss is a Sportura owner, and I don’t think he even drives a Duesenberg.
The new watches are being framed as a new chapter in the ongoing story of Seiko as a timer of competitive sporting events, which dates back to the 1960s. The conceit of the Sportura was a deconstructed chronograph display that shows elapsed time in three separate dial displays, each covered with a small custom crystal, which must have been terribly expensive and difficult to fabricate. The new watches (there are four in total) are simpler, with a layout that consists of a main dial for the time at 6:00, with what amounts to a trio of subdials arcing over it that display elapsed time. On the new watches, everything is part of one dial, so we lose some of that weird disconnected feeling, but much of the aesthetic sensibility remains.
Functionally, they’re a bit different from the originals, as you’d expect given advancements in movement tech. While Kinetic watches (which recharge a battery via a rotor similar to those found in automatic movements) have been in an ongoing phase-out process, seemingly for years, Seiko has shifted much of their quartz watchmaking focus to solar driven movements, and that what you’ll find in these watches, which carry the official moniker of Seiko Prospex Speedtimer 1/100 Sec Solar Chronograph. The movement is a brand new one, the Caliber 8A50, and as the name implies is designed to display elapsed time to the hundredth of a second via the subdial at 2:00. The 10:00 subdial shows tenths of seconds, and the 12:00 subdial is a simple seconds counter. Elapsed minutes are shown in the main time telling subdial when the chronograph is engaged.
There are a total of four variants to choose from. SFJ001 and SFJ003 are panda and black on black executions, respectively. SFJ005 is a limited edition released to commemorate the anniversary of the first analog quartz chronograph, released by Seiko in 1983. This one has a gray dial and orange toned hands, which are lifted from the first quartz chronograph to time events to 1/100th of a second, released in 1992. This limited edition also has a black bezel accent and a black center link accent in the bracelet, which feels like a very 90s touch that I’m personally very much here for. The fourth variant, the SFJ007, has an all black dial and black coated case and bracelet. This is a limited edition celebrating Seiko’s partnership with the World Athletics Championships, held this year in Budapest, Hungary.
The new chronographs measure 42mm in diameter and are 12.9mm thick. The retail price on the two non-limited editions is $895, with the anniversary LE with the gray dial coming in at $925, and the World Athletic Championships edition priced at $950. Both limited editions are runs of 4,000 pieces, and all are expected at retailers in July. Seiko