BY DHANANJAY PATHAK

The Presage collection from Seiko comprises tastefully done mechanical watches that offer a tremendous value proposition. Striking dials, in-house movements, and great build quality are a few common traits which are present in most of the watches falling under the Presage branding that make them stand-out amidst their competitors and also make them punch way above their weight and class. Earlier this year Seiko added two (Ref. SPB073 and SPB075) beautiful watches featuring breathtaking Shippo enamel dials to the Presage collection and now the brand is back with yet another beauty in the form of the Seiko Presage Urushi Byakudan–nuri (Ref.SPB085).  Limited to just 2000 pieces, this new watch tries to depict the rich tones of the sky and moon just before dawn through its hand lacquered dial.

As you must have realized by now, the highlight of the SPB085 is its dial which is hand lacquered in the studio of master artisan Isshu Tamura in the Hokuriku region of Honshu. Three elaborate painting techniques namely Urushi, Byakudan-nuri and Maki-e are utilized to achieve the desired color palette that resembles the scene of the sky just before dawn. Firstly, the dial is hand painted using the traditional Urushi technique wherein jet black lacquer is repeatedly applied onto the metal base of the dial and is then dried and polished till the time the desired depth of black is achieved. This is followed by Byakudan-nuri, a process in which metallic powders and red-tinged semi-transparent Urushi lacquer is used to create a satisfying deep tone of red, as seen on the sub-dials. And finally, the Maki-e technique is used to set up the crescent-shaped power reserve indicator combining Urushi lacquer and gilt-colored powder giving it a nice granular texture.

As for the layout of this dial, it is quite similar to the one found on the Shippo Enamel dialed SPB073. White printed Roman numerals have been utilized to track hours along with a finely printed minute track which is a combination of hash marks and Arabic numerals at intervals of five. Time can be read easily using the elegant looking leaf shaped handset and a slender stick style seconds hand which has a crescent-shaped counterbalance that has also been coated with gold powder to resonate the look of the power reserve indicator. The three sub-dials at 3, 6 and 9 represent the day, date and power reserve respectively and use a small leaf-shaped hand to read the respective functions. In all, though a little congested, the dial on the Seiko Urushi Byakudan-nuri is quite legible and the combination of Roman numerals numeral’s and lacquer give the watch a dressy vibe.

The case on this watch is made out of stainless steel, is 40.5mm wide and is around 12.8mm tall which is certainly on the thicker side for a classic looking watch like this. The case is a combination of polished and satin finished surfaces and features a thin polished bezel on the top which holds the curved sapphire crystal securely, giving an expansive view of the beautiful dial. There is also an exhibition case-back which gives a nice view of the automatic caliber 6R21 which features a Geneva striped rotor and offers a healthy power reserve of around 45 hours. The case is flanked by a nicely knurled crown at the 3’oclock position which can be used to set the timekeeping functions and even though the crown does not screw down, the case is still water resistant to 100 meters making this a great watch for everyday wear.

The Urushi Byakudan-nuri is yet another stellar offering from Seiko that continues to showcase the fact that fine mechanical watchmaking does not always have to burn a hole in the customer’s pocket. The watch would be limited to a production run of 2000 pieces worldwide and would come equipped with a black leather strap. The retail price on the watch would be around $2500. Visit Seiko here.