Seiko Presage: Affordable Retro Watches
Seiko relies on in-house automatic calibers for its Presage collection. The design of these watches is largely based on the Seiko Laurel from 1913. The collection ranges from relatively straightforward three-hand models to elaborate chronographs.
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For Price-Conscious Watch Enthusiasts
The watches in the Presage collection are among the most popular timepieces from Japanese watchmaker Seiko. The collection has only been available to a worldwide audience since 2016. For years, the tradition-steeped manufacturer had reserved these watches exclusively for Japanese customers.
Presage timepieces are exclusively powered by mechanical in-house movements, one of the distinctive features of this collection. Furthermore, the watches boast elegant designs that are often inspired by classic pieces from the company's long history. Seiko devotes special attention to the design of its dials. In the Presage Prestige Line, most dials are crafted in enamel, Arita porcelain, or striking Urushi lacquer. The Presage Basic Line, by contrast, features colorful sunburst dials and traditional Japanese ornamentation.
The Presage collection mainly consists of three-hand watches with a date display. However, you will also find timepieces with a power reserve indicator, GMT function or chronograph. Many models are suitable for both men and women.
Reasons to Buy a Seiko Presage
- Automatic watches with reliable in-house movements
- Classic, elegant designs
- Select models with intricate dials
- Top models with GMT and chronograph functions
- Large selection of models for men and women
Prices at a Glance: Seiko Presage
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Size, features|
|Presage Enamel Chronograph, SRQ023||2,400 USD||42 mm, chronograph, enamel dial, date|
|Presage Castle In The Sky Limited Edition, SPB215||1,450 USD||40.5 mm, limited run of 1,200 pieces|
|Presage Prestige, SPB095||1,700 USD||40.5 mm, Arita porcelain dial, date|
|Presage Sharp Edged GMT, SPB221||1,400 USD||42 mm, second time zone, pointer date, power reserve indicator|
|Presage Sharp Edged, SPB203||1,000 USD||39.3 mm, date|
|Cocktail Time, SARB065||850 USD||40 mm, date|
|Presage Star Bar Tequila Sunset, SRPE47J1||600 USD||38.5 mm, date, limited run of 5,000 pieces|
|Presage Style60's, SSA426J1||550 USD||40.3 mm, open heart dial, 24-hour display|
|Presage Style60's, SRPG09J1||450 USD||40.8 mm, date|
|Presage Basic, SRPDO7J1||450 USD||37 mm, tonneau shape, Karesansui dial|
|Presage Star Bar Mojito, SRPE45||420 USD||38.5 mm, date|
How much do Seiko Presage watches cost?
The most affordable path toward owning a Presage begins with the Basic line, which features a number of popular Cocktail Time models for around 380 USD. Watches in the Star Bar series are only slightly more expensive, ranging from 440 USD to 550 USD. The models in the Presage Style60's series, recently launched in 2021, have similar prices.
Prices for timepieces in the Presage Prestige collection start around 900 USD. This price point applies to most three-hand watches in the Sharp Edged series. Prices jump to around 1,420 USD for models with a GMT function. Prices for classic watch designs with enamel or porcelain dials range from 1,300 USD to 1,800 USD. If you're looking for a model with a chronograph function, then you should plan to invest up to 2,700 USD.
Basic Line – Presage Quality at Entry-Level Prices
The Basic line offers the most accessible price point in the Presage collection. The Cocktail Time models in this series are particularly popular with their colorful dial designs. No less elaborate are the watches in the Star Bar series, which are closely related in design to the Cocktail Time pieces and have been part of the collection since 2019. Joining the collection in 2021 is the newest member of the Presage Basic line, the Style60's series.
It Is Cocktail Time
The first edition of the Cocktail Time landed on the market in 2010, but only as a limited edition available exclusively in Japan. The cocktail creations by Tokyo bar owner and mixologist Shinobu Ishigaki served as inspiration for the watch designs. This can be seen most clearly in the sunburst dials, which Seiko offers in the "flavors" cool (ice blue), dry (champagne), and sweet (chocolate brown). In addition to the sunburst finish, the dials also feature a radiant texture that gives off a distinct sparkling effect. Even the narrow tapered hour markers evoke the stem of a cocktail glass. At the heart of these watches ticks the automatic caliber 6R15 with a power reserve of 50 hours.
The first versions of the Cocktail Time series are especially popular collector's items among Seiko enthusiasts. Mint condition pieces cost around 850 USD on Chrono24.
The Cocktail Time experienced a revival in 2016 as part of the Presage line. Since then, the watches have been a permanent fixture in Seiko's lineup and are finally available to an international audience.
Just like the first Cocktail Times, the watches in the newer edition feature eye-catching 40.5-mm sunburst dials. However, the color selection has grown considerably since the first edition. The shimmering, dark gray "Espresso Martini," the indigo "Blue Moon," and the dark green "Mockingbird" are only some of the offerings on the cocktail menu. The series also includes several open heart models like the "Acapulco Blue" ref. SSA439J1, whose dial cutout at 9 o'clock reveals the balance wheel. Seiko also offers watches with a power reserve display and pointer date. One such example is the reference SSA343J1, which features an ice blue dial, a power reserve display between 12 and 4 o'clock, as well as a subdial for the date at 6 o'clock.
Seiko uses automatic calibers from the 4R family to power current Cocktail Time models. These run at 21,600 vph and offer around 41 hours of power reserve. A Presage Cocktail Time on Chrono24 costs between 380 USD and 490 USD, depending on the model you choose.
Welcome to the Star Bar
The watches in the Star Bar series, which launched in 2019, are close relatives to the Cocktail Time. Once again, cocktails inspired the design of the colorful dials. Specifically, Seiko found its muse in the high-proof creations of Hisashi Kishi, winner of the International Bar Association World Championship and operator of the namesake Star Bar. Like the Seiko itself, Kishi's establishment is based in Tokyo's Ginza district with several offshoots in Tokyo and Kyoto.
The Star Bar watches have a diameter of 38.5 mm, making them slightly smaller than the models in the Cocktail Time series. The dials also differ from their sister models; many Star Bar watches combine a sunburst finish with an embossed structure resembling a guilloché pattern. Furthermore, slim wedge indices alternate with the Arabic numerals. A notable exception to this design is the 2019 Star Bar Honeycomb, whose dial is adorned with an intricately designed honeycomb pattern and narrow indices. The Honeycomb is also an open heart model; you can spot the balance wheel through a dial cutout at 9 o'clock. As an additional special feature, this watch comes in two variations: a 40.5-mm size for men (SSA409J1) and a 33.8-mm size for women (SSA781J1).
Many Star Bar models are released in strictly limited editions. These include the Honeycomb, the Rooftop edition from mid-2020, and the Kyoto edition from late 2020. Seiko will produce 3,000 to 7,000 pieces of each model and their prices range from 490 USD to 660 USD. Star Bar watches without a limited production run can be acquired for as little as 380 USD.
Inspired by Zen Gardens
The Presage Basic collection offers a large selection of timepieces with a conservative, straightforward design. Particularly noteworthy are the watches whose dials evoke the Japanese tradition of Karesansui, or Zen gardens. The ornate patterns carefully raked in the sand or pebbles of these gardens are re-imagined as finely structured patterns on the white or black dials of these timepieces. This, coupled with the applied Roman numerals and feuille hands, results in a discreet, classic dress watch with a unique character.
The Presage Basic Line comprises a variety of models. These include: round three-hand watches with date display, such as the reference SRPC79J1; open heart models like SSA377J1; or tonneau-shaped timepieces, such as the reference SRPD07J1.
Depending on your preferences for a black or white dial as well as for a leather strap or stainless steel bracelet, you should plan on spending between 400 USD and 570 USD on one of these timepieces.
Style60's – An Affordable Retro Watch
In the summer of 2021, Seiko added a series of retro watches to the Presage Basic Line: the Style60’s. The name of the series pays hommage to the famous Crown Chronograph from 1964. This historical timepiece not only lends its name but also its design to the watches in the new series. While they forgo the stopwatch function, the Style60's watches adopt nearly 1:1 the characteristic features of the Crown Chronograph: the striking dial with applied bar indices, the luminescent dauphine hands, and the bezel insert with a 60-minute scale.
The series includes four three-hand models with a black, white, blue, or olive green dial and a corresponding bezel. The white model is an exception, however, with its black bezel and gold hands and indices. Priced at around 530 USD, this is the most expensive model in the series. Other Style60's models can be found on Chrono24 for between 460 USD and 500 USD.
The Style60's also offers an open heart variant with a dial cutout at 9 o'clock that reveals the balance wheel. Additionally, there is a 24-hour display at 10 o'clock which serves as a day/night indicator. Prepare to spend from 550 USD to 590 USD for this watch.
Presage Prestige – Timepieces of the Highest Order
Over the past few years, Seiko has put together a number of high-quality timepieces to make the Presage Prestige collection. These watches are powered exclusively by calibers in the 5R and 6R families. These movements stand out thanks to their high precision and reliability as well as a power reserve up to 72 hours. The dials and cases of the watches in this collection are further testament to Seiko's excellent craftsmanship.
Inspired by the Seiko Laurel
The Seiko Laurel is considered to be Japan's first wristwatch. Launched in 1913, the watch featured a simple white enamel dial, Breguet numerals, and slim pear-shaped hands. The red 12 index rounded out this eye-catching timepiece.
Several models in the Presage Prestige collection echo the classic design of the Laurel. A good example is the reference SJE075: Like the original, this 39.5-mm stainless steel watch has a white enamel dial, Arabic Breguet numerals, the characteristic red 12 index, as well as blued hands. While the newer Presage model forgoes the small seconds dial of the Laurel, it includes a date display at 3 o'clock. Alternatively, Seiko offers a variant with the reference number SJE077 in dark blue enamel with white hands and numerals for better readability. Both variants cost around 3,000 USD.
The Prestige collection also offers a number of more affordable watches with traditional enamel dials. An example is reference SPB045J1, which features a white dial, black numerals, a pointer date at 6 o'clock, as well as power reserve indicator at 9 o'clock. You can acquire this timepiece for around 1,100 USD. For a similar price, you can find a 34.3-mm version for women (SPB233). The particularly elegant reference SPB115 with a brown enamel dial and line indices is available on Chrono24 starting at just 720 USD. The chronograph SRQ023 with a white dial and black Roman numerals can also be found for a relatively affordable price of 2,700 USD.
If you're partial to watches with black dials, you should take a look at the reference SJE081. It has the same design as the SJE075 but with a black Urushi lacquer dial, white hands, and white numerals, with the exception of the 12 in a deep gold tone. This model costs around 2,900 USD.
Presage Prestige With a Porcelain Dial
The Prestige Line also includes Presage models with a porcelain dial, crafted specially for Seiko in Arita, Japan. Since the seventeenth century, this small town on the island of Kyushu has been the center of Japanese porcelain manufacturing.
The dials are hand-cast, glazed, and fired by master craftsmen. The result of this intricate process is a blank piece of pure white porcelain, also known as Hakuji. The blank dial is then finished with Roman numerals in a deep lapis lazuli blue. Coupled with the blued hands, these elements combine to create a classic, elegant timepiece with a one-of-a-kind radiance.
The reference SPB267, released in early 2022 and limited to 2,000 pieces, is one example of a Presage featuring an Arita porcelain dial. This watch has a 40.6-mm stainless steel case, a pointer date at 6 o'clock, and a power reserve indicator at 9 o'clock. At its heart ticks the caliber 6R27, which offers a 45-hour power reserve. The price for this watch on a stainless steel bracelet is just under 1,800 USD.
Seiko offers a technically identical model in its lineup with the reference SPB093. It differs from the limited edition only by a brown leather strap and a red XII on the porcelain dial. For this model, you should be prepared to spend around 1,800 USD.
The reference SPB095 has a somewhat simpler design than its sister models. This three-hand watch with a red XII and date window at 3 o'clock will cost you about 1,700 USD.
Sharp Edged – Modern Elegance
The watches in the Sharp Edged series are the latest addition to the Presage Prestige collection. The design aesthetic of these watches is significantly more modern than that of other Prestige models. The strikingly angular cases comprise many polished and brushed surfaces that refract the light. The geometric dials inspired by the leaves of the Japanese Asanoha hemp plant also differ markedly from the other Presage watches. Sharp Edged watches are available in eight different colors: Aitetsu blue, Shironeri white, Tokiwa green, Susutake brown, Sumiiro black, Ebiiro crimson, Binroujikuro black with a hint of blue, and Suzuiro gray.
The majority of the Sharp Edged series consists of 39.3-mm, three-hand watches like the reference SPB203, which is powered by the caliber 6R35 with a date display and 70-hour power reserve. If you're not a fan of stainless steel, you might be interested in the gold-colored SPB170 or the black coated SPB229J1. Depending on the model, prices range from around 870 USD to 930 USD.
The watches in the Sharp Edged GMT series have a second time zone thanks to the caliber 6R64. In addition, the movement offers a pointer date at the 6 o'clock position and a power reserve indicator at 9 o'clock. You can read the time in the second time zone with the help of an additional hand in the center and the 24-hour-scale on the bezel. A stainless steel link bracelet keeps the Sharp Edged GMT safely on your wrist. The timepiece costs around 1,300 USD.
Special Models for Fans of Seiko and Anime
The Presage Prestige collection also includes several special models, such as the Sharp Edged SPB205, which Seiko released for the company's 140th anniversary. While identical to the other three-hand models in terms of technology, the reference has a few special features. These include a black coated case and bracelet, a dial with a brown gradient, as well as gold hands and indices. The color combination is meant to evoke the light and mood just before dawn. Limited to just 4,000 pieces, this collector's item reaches a price of around 1,100 USD.
Seiko also released the Sharp Edged GMT SPB223J1 in celebration of its 140th anniversary. The only difference between this and standard models is the color scheme featuring a white dial and a bright blue GMT hand and bezel. White clouds drifting across a blue sky served as the inspiration for this design. With a run of just 3,500 pieces, prices hover around 1,300 USD.
The Presage Studio Ghibli Castle In The Sky Limited Edition (SPB215) was designed with watch and anime enthusiasts in mind. The timepiece is dedicated to the 1968 anime film that gave it its namesake and incorporates several references to the movie. The Roman numerals in a warm brown tone are reminiscent of the church tower clocks that feature in the animated classic. Above the 6 and inset into the crown is the symbol that can also be found on the crystal necklace of the film's heroine Sheeta. The watch's case back features a representation of the flying city of Laputa and the inscription, "Leetay Latuparita Ulus Aria Los Balu Netoreel" (Save me and revive the eternal light). Further nods to the film can be found on the inside of the leather strap, which is imprinted with ornaments of the cornerstones of Laputa. Seiko limited this special edition to just 1,200 pieces. You can acquire one of these on Chrono24 for around 1,700 USD.