Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Seiko Flyback Machine - Back to 1977


(Seiko Superior)
On this day...

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 (Y25,000).  
(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: 

S23631J 49.4mm case, ceramic case, sapphire crystal and quartz 7C46. ($3750)
The second one is S23629J in a titanium case, 47.7mm ($2200)
Here is the photo of 1977 Turtle from Seiko catalogue:
The turtle was originally rated at 150m and was almost a quarter of the price of Tuna.

We have three models in stock:
45mm case size. Water resistance 200M. Special edition. 
45mm case size. Water resistance 200M.
45mm case size. Water resistance 200M.
All three in stock, available for immediate delivery.                         

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