If there’s one thing for which Seiko is famous among serious watch enthusiasts, it’s delivering where it counts – not just in reliability and quality, but also in beautiful design and craftsmanship. Seiko is a major favorite among watch lovers for just this reason, but exceeding expectations (and then some) is its stock-in-trade across all its watches. A fairly recent addition to Seiko’s families of all in-house, Japanese-made watches is the Presage Collection, which was introduced in 2016 with watches that really made enthusiasts take notice – they were offered with both traditional Japanese urushi lacquer dials as well as true fired enamel dials (referred to in Switzerland as grand feu enamel) at a price that seemed nothing short of incredible.
Now, for 2017, Seiko has introduced another limited edition, fired enamel dial Presage: the Blue Enamel Limited Edition, and a limited number are available exclusively in the HODINKEE Shop.
Built On Tradition
The Presage Blue Enamel Limited Edition takes its inspiration from a centuries-old Japanese tradition: that of viewing the Moon. This is especially important during the autumn festival known as Otsukimi, which celebrates the full harvest moon and takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese calendar. The festival was often celebrated with gatherings, and the occasion was considered so important that the homes of Japanese nobles would sometimes have rooms constructed especially for the purpose of holding moon-viewing parties.
The interpretation of the passage of the Moon across the night sky in the Seiko Presage Blue Enamel Limited Edition is done in accordance with the Japanese aesthetic principle known as mitate, which manifests itself in many of the traditional arts of Japan. Mitate is the creation of visual effects that are rooted in recognizable natural phenomena, but which are neither representational nor completely abstract. One of the best known occurrences of mitate is in the Japanese formal garden – in the karesansui, or the "dry landscape" garden, often called a Zen rock garden, the sand is raked into patterns that are reminiscent of ocean waves and rocks may be distributed so as to suggest islands – although neither are literal representations. That they are not entirely abstract means that the viewer is free to imagine many meanings; one remains grounded in reality, but not constrained by it.
The blue enamel dial of the Presage Blue Enamel Limited Edition thus suggests the night sky, but in a non-representational way. The Moon is present in a very subtle way indeed: it’s suggested by a tiny golden crescent at the end of the seconds hand. Under a loupe, you can actually see very fine golden grains on the surface of the crescent, which suggest the texture of the lunar landscape.
The Smallest Details
The hands are coated in a white lacquer that accentuates their three-dimensionality, and both the minute hand and the seconds hand are very gently radiused (a feature often found in higher grade vintage wristwatches, which aids in precise read-off of the time by reducing parallax error). The Roman numeral hour markers are derived from a Seiko pocket watch from 1895 (when the company was still known as Seikosha) known as the "Time Keeper."
The fired enamel dials for the Seiko Presage Blue Enamel Limited Edition are all made by a single artisan: Mitsuru Yokozawa, who has been working with this extremely challenging material for over 40 years. He has specialized in developing techniques that allow for the creation of true fired enamel dials in a reliable, repeatable fashion, which has proven essential to the creation of these enamel dials. It was his method that allowed Seiko to create the first Presage enamel dial limited editions in 2016.
The firing process creates a very gently textured surface to the dial, with the fine granularity characteristic of true fired enamel. The process also creates a depth of color that gives the dial a varied appearance depending on the light – everything from a vivid deep cerulean blue to nearly black. These kinds of dials are typically found only on much more expensive watches and are something collectors truly covet.
The movement inside is Seiko’s tried-and-true automatic caliber 6R15D, beating at 21,600 vph, and running in 23 jewels; the movement can be hand wound as well and has a stop-seconds feature, with a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. The moon motif is carried through to the movement, with the addition of a gold-colored crescent applied to the underside of the sapphire crystal caseback, nicely framing the winding rotor.
All of this is packaged in a stainless steel case that measures 40.5mm in diameter and 12mm thick, and features a bright mirror polish on most surfaces, with the tops of the lugs brushed for a little added contrast and structure. The matte blue crocodile strap has matching stitching and comes complete with a brushed stainless steel folding buckle.
Availability And Pricing
The Presage Blue Enamel Limited Edition is limited to just 1,500 pieces. HODINKEE is the exclusive U.S. retailer for the launch of this special piece, and 150 pieces are available now in the HODINKEE Shop, with delivery within the coming weeks. The watch is priced at $1,100, and in addition to Seiko’s three year warranty, we’re of course including an additional year of HODINKEE warranty as well. Each watch is individually numbered and comes in a beautiful, handcrafted Paulownia wood presentation box.
Click here to learn more about the Seiko Presage Blue Enamel Limited Edition and to order yours.