A proponent of Japanese artisanal crafts, Seiko has just taken the covers off the latest watch decorated with traditional Japanese lacquer, the Presage Craftsmanship Series Urushi Dial Limited Edition ref. SPB295J1.
Though both the craft and complications aren’t novel, the SPB295J1 is unusual for its triple retrograde display in a symmetrical layout, which is combined with a dial in dark olive urushi with and gold-powder details.
Like the recent pair of time-only watches with porcelain dials, the SPB295 is one of the more elegant watches in the Presage Craftsmanship line. I like the look of the SPB295 – the symmetry and uniformity make it more appealing than the standard Presage day-date watches that rely on a mix of fan-shaped and round sub-dials for the indicators.
Adding to the appeal of the balanced dial layout is the colour. While green is a faddish colour now, it is executed with subtle style here; it’s an understated, dark hue that Seiko accurately describes as evoking a moss garden. And the sprinkle of gold is a nice touch – and a typical feature of traditional Japanese lacquerware – without which the dial the dial might have looked plain.
My only gripe is the unusually small “31” at the end of the date scale, as well as the fact that the date numerals are four days apart, making it difficult to read the dates in between.
Beyond the colour, the watch stands out for the dial layout. Unlike most Seiko Presage day-date watches, the SPB295 features fan-shaped scales for all its displays, resulting in a dial that’s symmetrical. In fact, the triple-fan dial is uncommon at this price point and brings to mind far more expensive watches such as the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day Date.
As is usual for a Presage, the watch big for what it is at 40.5 mm wide and 12.8 mm tall. But it is only marginally thicker than its time-only counterpart, so it is arguably more reasonably sized considering the triple retrograde displays that presumably add a little to the thickness of the movement.
Essentially a metal disc coated in lacquer, the urushi dial is made almost entirely by hand, a process that is made up of three different stages. The dial production process is overseen by Isshu Tamura, the master lacquer artist who is the third generation of his family to helm a workshop located in Kanazawa, a city historically famed for its lacquerware.
Starting out as a blank, the dial is first blasted to give it a rough surface that will hold the liquid lacquer. Several layers of urushi undercoat are applied and then fired in an oven, before being left to dry naturally for two weeks.
Then the intermediate coat of urushi is painted on, which once again requires drying. It’s followed by the top coat – where the drying process is once again repeated – that is then polished to a high gloss when dry. And finally it’s topped with a thin, clear layer of urushi that serves as a protective varnish.
Powering the watch is a little-known workhorse calibre that’s part of the 6R family, the cal. 6R24. The movement was introduced more than a decade ago, which means the triple retrograde display isn’t actually new. But because the movement was rarely used in the past, the dial layout remains novel.
Key Facts and Price
Seiko Presage Craftsmanship Series Urushi Dial Limited Edition
Ref. SPB295J1 (SARD015 in Japan)
Diameter: 40.5 mm
Height: 12.8 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: Cal. 6R24
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date, and power reserve indicator
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 45 hours
Strap: Black leather with folding buckle
Limited edition: 2,000 pieces
Availability: Starting July at Seiko boutiques and retailers
Price: 220,000 Japanese yen before taxes
For more, visit seikowatches.com.
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