Seiko loves a heritage re-interpretation and their muse of the moment is the 1964 Speedtimer Chronograph. The SRQ039J1 was launched earlier this year with a fun, retro design in pale blue. Now Seiko are using that watch as a base from which to explore a later period in the Speedtimer’s history. This is the new Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph 1969 Re-interpretation SRQ043J1.
It has a 42.5mm diameter stainless steel case with a smooth bezel and brushed edges. Classy in its simplicity. Adding to that aesthetic are the pump pushers, used for operating the chronograph function, which have been simplified compared to the mushroom topped pushers of the SRQ039J1. The small adjustments enhance the sporty nature of the 1969 Re-interpretation, reflecting the development of the Speedtimer from 1964-1969.
Sport is vital to the identity of this Speedtimer, as it’s inspired by a watch that was part of the Seiko 5 Sport collection in 1969. In particular, it’s based on the watch that introduced the world to automatic column wheel chronographs with vertical clutches.
Mechanically, the column wheel is how the chronograph function becomes engaged with the main drive wheel – when the start pusher is pressed the column wheel rotates to activate the clutch and engage the complication. This is a favoured method as it reacts instantly to each pusher press, allowing for greater precision. A vertical clutch means the drive wheel and chronograph are on the same axis, like a record on a record player, meaning there’s no wear and tear or time skips caused by teeth not engaging properly, as can happen in a horizontal system. The combination makes for the best user experience and precision.
A side effect of this being a Prospex watch inspired by a 5 Sport is that the layout and design of the two watches are totally different. The original had a single subdial at 6 o’clock with a day-date complication at 3, whereas the new Prospex has a bicompax layout sporting 30-minute timer, small seconds subdial and a date window at 6 o’clock.
However, while the layout of the Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph 1969 Re-interpretation SRQ043J1 is dramatically different to the heritage model, it pays homage to the original colourway. Specifically, a rich blue dial with a red chronograph hand and white accents for the tachymeter and minute scale. The square indexes also bear a similarity to the original, although the modern markers are more angular.
Housed inside is the 8R46, a chronograph movement that’s been fairly common to see since it debuted last year. While it might be a modern staple, its use feels poignant in the SRQ043J1 because the 8R46 is the spiritual successor to the original automatic column wheel and vertical clutch calibre from 1969.
The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph 1969 Re-interpretation SRQ043J1 is priced at £2,740, so it may as well be a Prospex LX, their most prestigious and expensive line. I’m not suggesting that £2,740 is a bad price for this watch but it’s getting harder to say that Seiko are synonymous with accessibility when they’re leaning ever more towards the high-end luxe market.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Seiko Prospex Speedtimer 1969
- Case/dial: 42.5mm diameter x 15.1mm height, stainless steel case, blue dial
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: Calibre 8R46, automatic, in-house, 34 jewels
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 45h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph with central seconds and 30-minute counter
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
- Price/availability: £2,740