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Seiko 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition: SRQ049 | Image: Seiko

Is Seiko’s Speedtimer Chronograph the Best Value Panda-Dial?


Coco Chanel once quipped that fashion changes but style endures and when you look at the contemporary watch market, it’s hard to disagree. For all the industry’s development, the Panda Dial, perhaps best typified by Paul Newman’s iconic Rolex Daytona 6239 with its stunning triple subdial layout, is still widely considered the pre-eminent leader in versatile design. And it has a price tag to match. So when perennial fan favourite Seiko announces two sub-$5,000 limited-edition panda dial chronographs with a design that oozes classic luxury, you better believe the watch world takes note.

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph: SRQ047 | Image: Seiko
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph: SRQ047 | Image: Seiko

Unveiled as part of the Japanese watchmaker’s 2023 novelties, the new Prospex Mechanical Speedtimer Chronographs are a modern reimagining of one the brand’s most faithful servants; the 1972 Seiko 6138-8020 “Panda” chronograph. While they bear some slight differences from that iconic release (including a beefier 42mm case size), the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ047 and the mouthful-named Seiko Brand 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition SRQ049 do owe a lot to their predecessor.

Seiko has managed to somewhat tastefully pull references from the ’70s without feeling too much like a homage or recreation. The flowing case design and orange-tipped chronograph seconds hand are as authentic as they come, however, the case material has been updated for the modern era. According to the watchmaker, both the case and dial feature varying hairline finishing techniques to “create a classic and refined presence”.

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph: SRQ047 | Image: Seiko
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph: SRQ047 | Image: Seiko

Inside, it’s a similar story. The new timepieces are powered by the Calibre 8R48, a chronograph movement that stacks up incredibly well against its competitors. The same movement we’ve seen in the more recent Presage pieces, the Calibre 8R48 boasts a stellar 45-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate, not to mention the addition of a vertical clutch and column wheel chronograph actuation system. Don’t let the price tag fool you, this is every bit a world-beating chronograph movement.

The standout here, however, has to be the dial design. On the SRQ047, Seiko has adorned the panda dial layout with a slightly softer finish than we’ve typically seen from the Japanese producer. The base dial surface appears vertically brushed silver with the black subdials and matching outer tachymeter ring providing a luxurious contrast of tones and colours. On the inverse, the “reverse panda” SRQ049, created to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary, looks straight out of the ’70s racing playbook, arriving with a matte black dial and bright silver accents.

Seiko 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition: SRQ049 | Image: Seiko
Seiko 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition: SRQ049 | Image: Seiko

If there is one thing to be said about Seiko it is that the brand is not afraid to celebrate its heritage. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the Japanese icon expertly pull from the archives to refresh its vast catalogue of dive watches and dress watches, often to immense success.

The Speedtimer, while historically significant, hasn’t always copped the same level of attention but the playbook is about the change. The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ047 and the 100th Anniversary Limited Edition SRQ049 make for an enterprising addition to any collector’s portfolio, and unlike Paul Newman’s Daytona, they won’t set you back $18 million.

The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph: SRQ047 is priced at AUD: $3,900 and is available now, while the 100th Anniversary is limited to just 1,00 pieces worldwide, priced from AUD$4,200.

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph: SRQ047 | Image: Seiko
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph: SRQ047 | Image: Seiko

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph: SRQ047

  • Brand: Seiko
  • Model: Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph
  • Reference: SRQ047
  • Calibre: Calibre 8R48, Automatic Chronograph
  • Diameter: 42.0mm
  • Thickness: 14.6mm
  • Power reserve: 45 hours
  • Water resistance: 10 bar (100m)
  • Price: AUD$3,900
Seiko 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition: SRQ049 | Image: Seiko
Seiko 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition: SRQ049 | Image: Seiko

Seiko 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition: SRQ049

  • Brand: Seiko
  • Model: 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition
  • Reference: SRQ049
  • Calibre: Calibre 8R48, Automatic Chronograph
  • Diameter: 42.0mm
  • Thickness: 14.6mm
  • Power reserve: 45 hours
  • Water resistance: 10 bar (100m)
  • Price: AUD$4,200