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Seiko - Presage: lacquer and enamel at democratic prices

Seiko Presage: lacquer and enamel at democratic prices

The chronograph from Seiko’s new Presage collection offers a choice of dials in enamel and Urushi lacquer. The most surprising thing is their price.

As we’ve already mentioned in previous articles, a surprising phenomenon emerged at Baselworld 2016: there were many new models that offer astonishing value for money. Seiko has followed the trend with its Presage range, which represents an intermediate stage in the Japanese company’s product offering. Presage occupies the middle ground, offering higher quality than the Premier models, but without the prestige of the Grand Seiko, and there is a great deal riding on it. Presage watches are already available in Japan, and their worldwide launch has been timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Seiko’s first automatic movement.

Presage: lacquer and enamel at democratic prices

Although the range includes several new models, one in particular merits attention: the reference SRQ019. Its movement is a known quantity, already one of the company’s core assets. The calibre 8R48 is an automatic chronograph movement made entirely by Seiko in Japan. To understand the level of quality, you only have to read the first letter of the reference: the 8 puts it near the top of the scale of fully mechanical chronograph movements, just below the Grand Seiko movements. The Chronograph Presage 60th Anniversary case is made of steel and measures 42 mm in diameter. Its thickness of 15 mm is due largely to the dimensions of its engine. Nevertheless, on the wrist it feels comfortable and well-proportioned, despite its depth. Similarly, the pushers feel responsive to the touch.

However, the real revelation is on the dial. The chronograph is offered in two versions. The first comes with a white dial in grand feu enamel, which is easy to spot around the date window and at the base of the chronograph hands, where the enamel slopes down in a gentle curve. The second version, in black, is made of Urushi lacquer, a traditional Japanese technique that uses the resin of a particular tree. The result is that the white is perfectly pure and luminous, and the black has an intensely dark sheen. In both cases the quality is immediately obvious. They are made by artisans steeped in the purest tradition, as we have come to expect from Japanese culture. So far, so predictable. Urushi and enamel are known for their lustre, their durability and... their price.

Presage: lacquer and enamel at democratic prices

Working these materials is anything but simple, and takes time and expertise, which is why they are a far cry from the painted or lacquered dials we usually see in the majority of mass-produced watches. But Seiko has set an amazing price point for its Presage chronographs: €2,500 for the enamel, and €2,800 for the lacquer. It is a fraction of what other companies ask for watches with comparable dials, still less chronographs. Seiko has achieved this without offering a discount finish or movement, cutting no corners in terms of the number of layers applied. But you will have to get in early: each version is produced in a limited run of 1000. And it’s a safe bet that the majority will stay in Japan.

The brand

The history of Seiko is a more than 130 year story of innovation. From the very start, Kintaro Hattori was determined to be at the forefront of the industry and his oft-repeated credo was that Seiko should be “Always one step ahead of the rest.”

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