Everything you need to know about Seiko’s affordable Presage collection

“One step ahead…but just one step; no hurry or rest; taking too many steps ahead would make you far from the public”

Seiko is only just beginning to reveal to the world the sheer breadth of its capabilities – far beyond the Argos-catalogue fodder you might be imagining right now – just when the world is ready to appreciate them properly. The brand’s founder, Kintaro Hattori, was every bit the humble pioneer, always quick to suffix his favourite motto with the wise words, “One step ahead…but just one step; no hurry or rest; taking too many steps ahead would make you far from the public”. Earlier this year, Seiko launched the new, mechanically powered Presage collection, giving other, affordable watch brands a run for their money.

By 1881, Hattori had set up shop in Tokyo at the tender age of 21 and his unusually punctual settlement of invoices quickly earning the trust of his suppliers and ensuring a ready flow of new and exciting stock, often before any other retailer in Japan. Sure enough, by 1892 his Seikosha factory was manufacturing high-quality clocks with an appropriately high price tag, and with the introduction of new automated machinery, Hattori’s pocket watches started to turn a profit in 1910, with Japan’s first-ever wristwatch, the Laurel, coming off the line by 1913.

It is this slow but steady spirit of innovation that has seen Seiko grow into the titan of watchmaking we know today, beyond the small matter of inventing the quartz wristwatch in 1969. A week-long Bullet Train blast through Japan visiting Seiko’s various factories reveals absolute autonomy, from the quartz crystals themselves to bracelets and balance springs. Yes, you read correctly: balance springs.

The Presage collection is, in keeping with the usual Seiko oeuvre, a collection of broad appeal. It comprises 60 models, all with 100m water resistance and sapphire crystal dials, and uses the full range of Seiko’s mechanical calibers, from the accessible 4R (a basic automatic for just £600), through 6R to the exclusive 8R. Highlights include the 6R27 multi-hand power reserve model and a series using an entirely new version of the 4R57 caliber. This new caliber is Seiko’s first ever with a center power reserve indicator, and is available in a series of five designs, including a limited edition.

The collection is inspired by Seiko’s heritage and is a celebration of 60 years of the brand’s automatic watch making, and most specifically the design and typography of the celebrated Laurel of 1913, two very special Limited Edition automatic chronographs, each costing £1,950. Their dials are made in the finest traditions of Japanese artistry – one in enamel and the other with lacquer – both use the vertical clutch and column wheel 8R48 caliber, and both are now offered in editions of 1,000 from September.

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