In 1977 there was only one name on every Japanese lips: Seiko Superior.
The Superior line was launched in 1974 with the 3883 calibre. In 1997 it
was updated to calibre 4883. The very last Superior were fitted with
calibre 9980 with accuracy rating of 5 seconds per year! The price of a
solid gold model was equivalent to the cost of a small apartment and
only 100 pieces were made.
In 1977, the more affordable stainless steel version was on offer -
QNL010 retailing at 180,000 yen. This was still almost twice the price
of a Rolex Datejust. The quartz era was unstoppable and the entire
catalogue was filled with battery powered, super cool, super accurate,
super modern Seiko's.
In the sports range, the story was different.
The catalogue lists only two divers models: 600m monster YAQ028 know
today as the 'Grandfather Tuna' (Y89,000) and just one Turtle: YCS018
(Grandfather Tuna, 1977 Seiko Catalogue)
The story goes like this: in 1975, a
saturation diver from Kure City in the Hiroshima prefecture of Japan
sent Seiko a complaint regarding the reliability of it’s existing line
of professional dive watches. The complaint exposed some notable flaws
in it’s existing design, most notably their "susceptibility to the
absorption of helium gas, a component of the air mixture that saturation
divers were enveloped in".
In response, Seiko’s engineers led by Ikuo Tokunaga,
set out to make the perfect dive watch for professional saturation
divers. Tokunaga spent five years developing the world’s most advanced
diving watch, built for the tiny target market of offshore commercial
divers. Nicknamed the “Tuna” because of it’s cylindrical slab of lugless
casing, the resulting product was a marvel of modern engineering. It’s
monocoque titanium case, L-shaped gasket, and unique shrouded design
were all firsts in the industry. Case size: 50.5 mm!
The result was a watch that was impervious to helium gas penetration,
and one that could withstand the pressure of massive depths up to 600m.
It instantly became a modern classic for Seiko, and has been in
continuous production for the last 42 years.
Image source unknown (web)
Current Seiko ‘top of the range’ Tuna is SLA041J which is also the 55th anniversary model.
Price: $6950 limited to 1100 watches worldwide.
The second best Tuna is SLA042J with retails at $6,100. This one is even larger than the Grandfather Tuna being 52.4mm!
Both watches are fitted with an automatic movement Cal 8L35.
We have none in stock right now, however we should have one soon - your order is welcome.
The current ‘standard’ Tuna comes in two flavours: