Seiko’s new Prospex LX collection introduces sports watches that go beyond the simple passion for a professional dive watch. The version we tested has a rarely seen compass bezel that makes it well suited for extreme outdoor activities.
-We admit it – an overview of the Seiko Prospex collection is not easy. It spans many different price ranges, including an entry-level dive watch with a solar-powered movement (SNE441, $395) and the PADI Special Edition version (SNE435, $395), or a mechanical model with Caliber 6R15 (SpB079,$850) and the Special Edition Twilight Blue with the same movement (SPB097,$1,150). The newest version of the dive watch from 1970, the Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA033, with automatic movement 8L35, is priced at $4,250.. And the dive watch from the new LX line, SNR029, with Spring Drive Caliber 5R65- winner of top honors in the Diver’s Watch category at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve-costs $6,000. With the LX line, Seiko is expanding the Prospex collection to include watches that go beyond professional diving. The name was inspired by the Latin word lux (which means light), and alludes to way light is reflected on the case’s highly reflective surfaces. The LX line includes a model with a bidirectional rotating GMT bezel and one that has a compass bezel, our test watch.
The Compass Bezel Shows the way – If you’ve ever gotten lost while hiking, poked around in the fog or hit a cloud bank while flying, you may already know that a watch can be used as a compass- assuming it is an analog version (one with hands) and you can see the sun again. You place the watch flat on your hand or on the ground and pint the hour hand adjustment. If you’re traveling, it’s easy to quickly move the hour hand to the new local time while the home time remains unchanged (as indicated by the 24-hour hand.) And if you’re crossing over the international Date Line, the date disk will advance and then return when you get home again. Alternatively, the 24-hour hand can be used to indicate a second time zone. To do this, place it in the desired setting and adjust the primary hour hand to the home time (taking the date into account). When the watch is running, the date does not advance immediately but begins visibly moving about three-quarters of an hour before midnight in order to move to the new date shortly thereafter.
Outdoor expert with a Strong Connection to the professional diver – First you’ll need to unscrew the large grooved crown at the 4 o’clock position to access all of the settings of the Prospex Lx. This can require a considerable amount of effort. Standard elements of a professional Prospex dive watch are also important features of the LX outdoor version – a screw-down crown, a solid caseback and 20-bar pressure resistance. Exposure to rain and hail while canyoning, rafting, swimming or taking a “polar bear plunge” – that’s all no problem for our test watch. And, of course, diving, in accordance with professional Seiko standards. In terms of design too, the almost-45-mm, hard-coated titanium case shows its close connection to the professional five watch, where the surfaces polished with a Zaratsu finish stand out clearly. With is lightweight material and downward sloping lugs, the Prospex LX hugs the wrist very well despite its size. Integrated attachments hold the supple titanium bracelet and its very flexible titanium and steel clasp. The bracelet can be adjusted do fit by more than 10 mm within the clasp or by a sliding extension of about 30 mm over 14 positions. You don’t even need to remove the bracelet from your wrist to adjust it – just lift the safety bar to change the position. To open the clasp, simply press the two push buttons on the side of the clasp.
Spring Drive Technology in the Prospex Sports Watch Collection – With the LX line, Seiko’s innovative Spring Drive technology has entered the Prospex collection. For the past 20 years, Spring Drive has connected the traditional spring-based power of a mechanical watch movement with modern electronics, requiring no battery or other external power source. The conventional type of energy production allows the watch to be fully autonomous. The mainspring the gear train, which ends in a Tri-Synchro regulator in place of a classic escapement. This produces a small electrical charge that activates a quartz oscillator. Instead of the escape wheel, a “rotor” completes a smooth, even rotation in one direction above a coil body that generates electricity, which powers the integrated circuit (IC) and a quartz crystal. The IC determines the timing of electromagnetic impulses in order to regulate the rotational speed of the rotor and thereby the rate of the movement. In contrast to the escape wheel, there is no mechanical intervention to the rotor and virtually no friction loss. The Spring Drive system guarantees considerably better rate results than a mechanical escapement. Seiko specifies an average deviation of 1 second per day for its 5R66 caliber and a maximum of 15 seconds per month. Over a period of several weeks our wearing test showed no deviation at all.
A Popular Sports Watch Appears in a New price Segment – The rotor spins clockwise at a rate of 28,800 times per hour. This corresponds to the number of oscillations of the balance in modern mechanical movements. However, in contrast to the escape wheel, it is never stopped. The second hand on the dial keeps up a constant movement without conventional “ticking.” The smooth motion of the second hand makes the time display of the Prospex LX unique. Like professional dive watches, a luminous bar at the short end of the second hand serves as a function check. The minutes hand and two second hands are also coated generously with Seiko’s own Lumibrite, with different shapes that make them easy to distinguish. Together with the various luminous-coated applied markers, they provide the orientation and legibility Seiko is known for, under any and all light conditions. During daylight hours, the vivid black-and-white contrast behind the coated sapphire crystal (which appears virtually invisible) makes it simple to tell the time. The time display elements above a shiny black background give the watch a touch of elegance. The power-reserve indication at 8 o’clock – which shows the 72-hour energy store- is state-of-the-art for all Spring Drive calibers, which are also found as the 9R series of movements in the slightly more expensive Grand Seiko Sport collection. With a modern and accurate movement, a robust titanium case, high functionality, and a seldom-seen compass bezel, the Seiko Prospex LX is priced comparably with sports watches from Breitling, Omega and Tudor.