Seiko celebrates the 50th anniversary of their first automatic chronograph with the SRQ029 and SRQ031 limited editions

Of column wheels and vertical clutches.

Last year was a big one for the automatic chronograph. 2019 marked half a century since the first ones were unveiled. The Calibre 11 and El Primero movements that were launched back then are still fondly remembered and collected until today. However, the one that most often gets overlooked is the Japanese Caliber 6139 from Seiko. And in that same fashion, the Seiko Chronograph Anniversary Limited Editions went quite under the radar, to us at least which is why we are only writing about it now.

For the time, the Caliber 6139 was considered quite advanced, offering not only a column-wheel construction but also a vertical clutch; two features that are highly coveted in the chronograph enthusiast community. The column wheel is prized for its ability to make ion of the pushers much smoother, but as it is a complex and small component, it was and still is comparatively more difficult to make than the standard cam and lever chronograph components.

In order to celebrate this movement, Seiko has decided to take the design of a ‘panda’ style chronograph which they made in the 1970s as the inspiration for the new, limited edition, SRQ029. As you can see from the images, it does have all the design flavour of its predecessor but the one thing they couldn’t replicate was the layout of the subdials. And this is due to the construction of their modern 8R48 movement found in the SRQ029. This new movement offers a tri-register layout with a date window found at four o’clock.

The new Seiko Prospex SRQ029 on the right compared with the classic Seiko chronograph from 1970.

The case, on the other hand, gets a massive upgrade with a 48mm Stainless Steel case that offers both a super-hard coating (the same goes for the bracelet) and has lugs that have been Zaratsu polished. The movement is a 12-hour chronograph movement with a 45-hour power reserve.

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Seiko’s automatic chronograph, they have also decided to celebrate the 55th anniversary of their first-ever hand-wound chronograph, and also Japan’s first, the Seiko Crown Chronograph launched in 1964. Unfortunately, the new SRQ031 only borrows the aesthetic values of the Crown Chronograph as it is neither a hand-wound chronograph or have a mono-pusher function. Instead it utilises the same 8R48 automatic chronograph movement with a tri-register design as well.

Seiko Crown Chronograph (left) and the Seiko Presage SRQ031 (right)

The Seiko SRQ029 will be a part of the Prospex collection while the SRQ031 will be in the Presage collection. The retail prices of these watches are EUR 3,700 (SRQ029) and EUR 3,400 (SRQ031) and will be limited to 1000 pieces each.

Reference: SRQ029 / SRQ031
Case: Stainless steel case with super-hard coating
Case size: 41mm
Crystal: Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Thickness: 16mm / 15.3mm
Movement: Caliber 8R48
Water Resistance: 100m
Price: EUR 3,700 / EUR 3,400

For more information about Seiko visit their website here.

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