1913 was a time when pocket watches were still popular, even though wristwatches were steadily making their mark in Europe, thanks to being used in the military. At such a time Kintaro Hattori, founder of Seikosha, now Seiko, saw an opportunity. Hattori rejigged the movement he was using in larger pocket watches, and using custom-built tools, created a smaller movement that was ideal for Japan’s first wristwatch, the Laurel. Now as the 110th anniversary of this wristwatch approaches next year, Seiko has introduced a faithful yet modern update, in the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Seiko Presage Limited Edition SPB359.
The original 1913 Laurel The Seiko Laurel was an enamel dial watch, set in either silver, gold, or a copper and gold combined case, with fixed lugs and vintage Arabic hour markers – 12 was set in red. At 6 o’clock was a small seconds sub-dial, and its hour and minute hands were blued steel. ‘LAUREL’ was displayed at 12 o’clock. A large onion crown made for a comfortable grip to set the time, while an elaborate dark brown leather strap with a lighter-coloured inlay secured the watch to the wrist. The small seconds sub-dial is replaced with a date subdial
Seiko has tried to faithfully recreate the aesthetics of this 1913 Laurel, albeit with modern updates, in the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Seiko Presage Limited Edition SPB359. The new watch is a 37.7 mm stainless steel watch with an enamel dial created by master craftsman Mitsuru Yokosawa and his colleagues at a workshop specializing in enamel production. The hour markers, the red 12, and the blued steel hour and minute hand all mimic the original. Even the trident-esque edge of the numeral ‘4’ has been replicated.
Details are recreated faithfully, including the design of the 4 What has changed is that the small seconds at 6 o’clock is now the date the sub-dial, with an additional power reserve (45 hours) indicator at 9 o’clock; there is also a central seconds hand. Instead of ‘LAUREL’, there is now Seiko branding at 12, with ‘Presage’ and ‘Automatic’ underneath. The boxed-shaped sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective coating on the inner surface, The straps are just as elaborate as the original. The difference is that in the new piece the lugs are movable, with a pull-through deer leather strap. Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Seiko Presage Limited Edition SPB359 is an ode to the 1913 Laurel The watch runs on the Caliber 6R27 with bidirectional winding, a staple in the Presage line. The movement is however not visible – the watch has a closed caseback with the words ‘Limited Edition’ and the number of the watch out of 2500 pieces mentioned.
The brand has promised that more commemorative pieces to celebrate the 110th anniversary of its first wristwatch will be launched over the course of 2023.
The Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Seiko Presage Limited Edition SPB359 will become available Jan 2023 onwards and is priced at Rs 1,75,000 (approx.)
Images: Courtesy Seiko