BY ERIK SLAVEN
Although most industry prestige is centered around Switzerland and Europe, Japan is a horological juggernaut, particularly with Seiko and Grand Seiko (and, of course, Citizen). Few other brands can match Seiko’s overall expertise as just about everything is manufactured in-house, even crystals and lume. Hand-worked dials such as enamel and porcelain often come with unusually affordable prices, produced either by Seiko or Japanese partners. The new Presage Arita Porcelain SPB267J1 adds a special blue tint to the prior SPB093 pure white porcelain dial, and the effect is incredible.
A pair of limited edition models debuted in 2019 with Arita porcelain dials, equipped with either a simple three-hand setup with conventional date (SPB095) or a recessed pointer date and power reserve indicator (SPB093). The new model is otherwise identical to the SPB093, but the blue tint is more than a simple dial color change. It shows both traditional Japanese artistry and a unique hue that departs from the endless sea of “regular” blue dials. The color itself is a bit uneven like a subtle fog, while a shade of white shines through the curved edges of the sub-dials. Clearly hand-worked and expertly so. The work is done in Arita on the third largest island in the southwest of Japan (Kyushu) by master craftsman Hiroyuki Hashiguchi and the Seiko Presage team. The dial replicates the faint lapis lazuli colors from a traditional Japanese dyeing method called ruri zome. This technique is seen on various Arita porcelain works, such as large tripod dishes from Kyushu with heron designs.
The dial is clean yet sophisticated with a recessed power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock and pointer date at 6 o’clock. Large Roman numerals surround the perimeter, while all hands and dial elements are a darker blue to complement the lighter dial shade. Like the dial, the stainless steel case is also unchanged from the earlier SPB093 model. It’s well sized at 40.6mm in diameter, but hefty with a thickness of 14.1mm. That’s a bit much for a dress watch, but necessary to accommodate the thicker porcelain dial and allow for a water resistance rating of 100 meters. There’s also a nice dual-curved sapphire crystal (and sapphire exhibition case back). Given the package you’re getting for the price, I’m certainly not complaining. Unlike prior models with leather straps, the new one comes with a 3-link steel bracelet with folding clasp for a sportier aesthetic. A dark blue leather strap would also work very well here.
Powering the watch is the in-house caliber 6R27 automatic, which is found in many models throughout the Presage collection. It’s not extensively decorated, but nicely finished with brushed surfaces and Côtes de Genève on the rotor. It has 29 jewels, beats at 4Hz with a power reserve of 45 hours. You’re unlikely to find such an in-house movement powering a Swiss watch in this price range, not to mention with an Arita porcelain dial, which really separates Seiko as a unique and special watchmaker.
The Seiko Presage Arita Porcelain Blue Dial SPB267J1 is limited to 2,000 pieces worldwide, but retails for only EUR 1,950 with availability starting in January 2022. If you’re not hung up on the “Swiss Made” label, this is a steal from one of the most influential watchmakers in modern history.
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