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Seiko Prospex LX: Warrior of the Land and Sky
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Seiko Prospex LX: Warrior of the Land and Sky

The Skymaster vs. Landmaster
Jan 09, 2021

Introduction

Seiko has created many watches that are loved by sportsmen, from professional divers to explorers, after launching the first diver's watch in 1965. Among these many creations, the Seiko Professional Diver watch of 1968 fits perfectly into the generation of sports watch enthusiasts, thanks to its robust design and high functionality. Today, the spirit of this classic sports watch is being re-revealed in the lineup of watches for sports on land, at sea and in the sky. The line name, LX, indicates the Latin word for light and in each case is a slight reference to the way light is reflected off the large flat surfaces.

When, at the 2018 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, a Prospex re-creation of the 1968 Professional diver was awarded the Sports Watch award, the Prospex design team gave themselves a moment of extraordinary fulfillment. Their creations have not only won the highest possible accolades for sports watches, but the worldwide respect for the designs on which the LX line is based is, again, greatly demonstrated.

Evolution in Design and Function. Sustainability in Character

The Prospex LX line design strikes an unusual balance. On the one hand, it lives up to his legacy and his overall appearance shows a strong connection with the professional diver of 1968. On the other hand, he is completely modern in his execution. The case's center of gravity is lower so that the watch can sit comfortably on any wrist. The top side of the case is set at a clearer angle to allow Zaratsu's polished surface to shine brighter.

Most notably, the LX line's contemporary feel is shown through the use of Seiko's state-of-the-art 5R Spring Drive calibre, which provides precision for one second a day alongside high shock and temperature resistance levels. With these attributes, the 5R is the perfect caliber for use in all types of sports and adventure environments; has been used successfully both in space, when traveling to the International Space Station and worn in space travel and on top of the world, when Yuichiro Miura wore his Spring Drive watch on his third successful ascent of Mount Everest.

Collaboration with Ken Okuyama Design

The LX line was developed in collaboration with Ken Okuyama Design. With his international experience in car design and other well-known products, Ken Okuyama brings his special creativity to the Prospex LX. At the Baselworld launch, he said “My goal is to take the unique legacy and integrity that Seiko has built in sports watches over the decades and to bring it to life in a design that has simplicity, harmony, strength and presence. Prospex LX is true Seiko with a completely contemporary feel."

Ken Okuyama. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Lines designed for sports on land, at sea, and in the sky. All the watches in this first collection have the robustness, readability and reliability that every sport or adventure needs, but different functions have been combined for three specific activities. The land version has a GMT needle and a compass bezel for finding direction. To display the time in the third time zone, the sky version also has a GMT hand and a bidirectional bezel, and the marine version has a uni-directional bezel to show the dive distance.

Seiko Prospex LX Skymaster Ref. SBDB031 / SNR033

GMT with blue and black bezel is one of the most sought after watches in the world today. We're pretty sure that while that's not the reason why Seiko chose this combination, it's quite comfortable.

Take it with, of course, a grain of salt (or two). It's just something that immediately comes to mind when picking up this watch for closer inspection.The use of these two colors and the extra timezone complication stops the analogy with the Rolex GMT-Master II 'Batman'. A very different watch is the Seiko Prospex LX GMT (reference SNR033).

At Baselworld, the latest Prospex LX range was last launched, and the Seiko conference room booked for this presentation was packed full. Seiko's press conference is always a great start to Baselworld week, with lots of different performances and speakers. This year, the focus is on this new addition to the Prospex collection. LX stands for light, which can be translated as light, but also how the exquisite polished and brushed surfaces of Zaratsu play with light.

With a diameter of 44.8 mm and a thickness of 14.7 mm, the Seiko Prospex LX GMT is a large watch. This is where my main concern can be found. Not very much based on the dimensions of the watch, as it wears pretty well on my 18/19 cm wrist, but because of the weight. Or better said, underweight. The Seiko Prospex LX SNR033 is really light, and because you expect substantial weight, it somehow feels a little unnatural. This could also be the problem I'm having with titanium, perhaps many buyers - especially professional users - would prefer a watch that's light on their wrist.

Will the expected light case and bracelet be the deal breaker for me? Probably not, especially if I'm on the run to get a watch I can use every day. It's all about convenience in the end, and having a watch that's lighter is more comfortable than a watch that's hefty in steel (or precious metal).

Some people pay great attention to titanium and scratches. Titanium is lighter and stronger than steel, but no more scratch resistant than steel. Seiko used a special super hard coating for their case and bracelet, they said. This will help the Prospex LX SNR033 from scratching too easily. The period I have with the watch is a bit short for evaluating this; It takes a precise wear test over a longer period of time to see how well the titanium resists compared to standard titanium watches.

Although Seiko assured us that their Hardlex crystal was perfect, they decided to go with a sapphire for the Prospex LX watch. My personal belief is that they have listened to the customer in this case, who has asked for a sapphire crystal for a watch in this price category. According to Seiko, their Hardlex crystal is very good, and the sapphire only adds a bit of harshness to the huge premium paid for it. However, the Prospex LX SNR033 price point easily justifies the use of a sapphire.

This type of GMT watch, with an independent hour indicator, is very convenient for travelers.

The first question that everyone seems to be asking about GMT watches is: Are these real GMT watches? In short, yes, right. If you are not familiar with the true definition of GMT: a watch with an independent hour hand. This way, you can use the normal hour hand to set local time when you travel to a different time zone. The GMT hand will show the home time (and will move when you set the time, including the minute hand). This type of GMT watch is very convenient for visitors, with independent hands, and is therefore considered to be 'absolute' GMT. The GMT hour hand is the very famous red hour hand with a triangle at the end, filled with lume. Seiko uses Lumibrite for markers and her radiant hands, and in my own experience Lumibrite is brighter than Super-LumiNova, for example. This is based solely on my watch collection, which consists of watches that use these two materials.

A bezel with a 24 hour scale also has the Prospex LX SNR033. This way, you can read whether it is day or night, because the GMT hour hand points to a 24 hour scale. This is where the two colors, black & blue, come into play. Black indicates night time, blue indicates day time. Even though the bezel is shiny, it's not made of ceramic. Seiko is unclear on the material used for the bezels, but it appears to be an aluminum (or metal) bezel with a sapphire cover. Seiko couldn't confirm (or deny) this.

Spring Drive 5R66

Inside the Seiko Prospex LX SNR033 GMT is a Spring Drive of caliber 5R66. The Spring Drive 5R caliber is the only pick for their top Bill Prospex collection, according to Seiko. And it makes sense. The high-end watches of the Prospex collection deserve their innovative and accurate movements. In the Spring Drive movement, the traditional escapement was replaced by modern technology that offered quartz precision, as you probably know by now (and if not, click here). I feel the Spring Drive movement is becoming more and more widely accepted by watch enthusiasts, not only by real watch lovers who have been showing their appreciation for this technology a little while longer. During our Prospex LX event, a few weeks ago in Amsterdam, we noticed that none of the guests we spoke to were negative about this type of movement. Most Spring Drive movements, including this caliber 5R66, have a power reserve indicator on the dial. In total, these moves offer a power reserve of 72 hours.

Unfortunately, movement is not visible on this watch. The back of the case is made of titanium and doesn't have a sapphire crystal inside. Too bad, because I was dying to see the Spring Drive 5R66 move. This can be easily done, as the Prospex LX SNR033 offers 10ATM / 100 meter water resistance. The sapphire back case shouldn't be a problem (even for divers, with the 30ATM, it shouldn't be a problem), but Seiko chose differently. Maybe they feel that watches in their 'Professional Specs' (Prospex) series shouldn't offer this.

What really strikes me, positively, about the new Prospex LX collection, is the new bracelet. I've been complaining about Seiko and Grand Seiko's bracelet for a long time, and this bracelet has finally shut my mouth. Amazing work, so comfortable and so beautifully finished. Kudos to Seiko for making a lovely bracelet like that. It may look like an Oyster bracelet, but it is not. The bracelet has a beautifully shaped link. If you take a closer look, you can see the angle that starts at 1/3 of the link.

As well as bracelets, you'll find the same quality of finish (and design) on the case. It was designed by Ken Okuyama, as described here, who had to redefine some of the forms Seiko had been using for some time. It's not an easy job, I'm sure. On the new Prospex LX SNR033 you'll find the angles are slightly wider, for example, so a polished surface captures more light.

This watch is made from the same factory as the Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch.

Price and Conclusion

I could go on for a moment about the high finish on this watch, or the Spring Drive movement, or the beautiful, sharp markers on the dial. The new Seiko Prospex LX SNR033 is a very good watch. This watch is made from the same factory as the Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch.

The distinction lies fundamentally in the completion of the movement. With automatic watches, there may also be differences in tolerance for the Prospex watch compared to the Grand Seiko, but with the Spring Drive the accuracy is already on the same level as quartz. It also means that the price difference between the Prospex LX SNR033 (or any other LX model) and Grand Seiko is getting smaller. Reference SBGE201 sells the cheapest Grand Seiko sports watch, with the Spring Drive GMT movement, for 6,000 Euros. The Seiko Prospex LX SNR033 sells for 5600 Euros. Grand Seiko is not made of titanium, but for me, using titanium is not a plus. However, I don't think there is much difference in quality between the two. Not only is the price difference getting smaller, but with the recent Prospex LX SNR033, the gap in the degree of finishing and overall quality is getting smaller. 

Seiko Prospex LX Skymaster Blackout Ref. SBDB025 / SNR035J1

In 2019, Seiko launched a new Prospex range - the Prospex LX collection. Before getting into individual models, let's cover the entire philosophy of the growing LX collection.

The acronym "LX" basically means "light" in Latin, according to Seiko, devised by renowned Japanese designer Mr. Ken Okuyama. He may be a stranger to many watch enthusiasts, but not those in the motorbike world, where he worked on the Porsche 911 (specifically the 996), and while he was at Pininfarina his designs included the Enzo, 456M, and California from Ferrari.

All of this "classic" revival shows that Okuyama's efforts to preserve the brand's DNA are continuous, which is why it can be seen in the new Seiko LX collection. I strive to bring the unique history and dignity of Seiko's sports watch to life in a style that has simplicity, harmony, strength and presence over the decades. Prospex LX is a true Seiko with a contemporary feel .." Call the Japanese designer.

The fan-shaped power reserve indicator reflects the movement of the SpringDrive below it. Now in the series, both Seiko and Okuyama offer professional diver designs from the 1960s and tooling watches from the 90s, such as the iconic Ref. 6215 and 6159 pair. We can certainly see this on the Prospex LX Blackout Skymaster Ref. SBDB025 / SNR035J1. What's more, Seiko made it super cool with a full blackout makeover, which we mean it's done in full black all over.

The sky variation SNR035J1 features a case with a wide, flat surface, all made of titanium to keep it light, then covers it in full black on the bezel and case. The cases are 44.8mm wide and 14.7mm thick, although done in sleek black, all feature Zaratsu's high-end polishing modus operandi, a combination of satin brushed and polished surfaces with Seiko's Dia-shield super-hard finish. The use of titanium means this watch is very comfortable because of its weight or lack.

Okuyama knew his stuff, because he paid tribute to the "oceanographers" of the 1960s (Refs. 6215, 6159). The new SNR035J1 features a titanium 24-hour bezel with bi-directional friction, no background and an all-black marker, though it's still legible to read. Themes follow the dial. Below the sapphire crystal displays the total GMT hand for displaying the third time zone, according to another 24 hour marker on the edge. The dial in matte black is elegantly crafted and well-planned, as, for example, to have a contrast to the hour markers applied with elegant metal trim all around, paired with the distinctive fan-shaped applied power reserve at 8 o'clock. The date has the font. the Grand Seiko date, and it doesn't stop there. The date window frame has a really nice satin finish, and one might not find this effort and detail on the majority of other watches, even those that cost much more.

Since having the power reserve indicator on the dial, Seiko's collectors are quick to recalculate the motion that's tucked neatly behind. Ref. The Prospex LX Skymaster SBDB025 / SNR035J1 is powered by Seiko's iconic Spring drive GMT move, 5R66. The Spring drive dual-time (GMT) 30 jewel movement features a specified power reserve of 72 hours (3 days) with an accuracy of ± 1 second per day and is used primarily in high-end Grand Seiko and Marine Master collections which have GMT Function.

Let's digress a little here and take a moment to understand (or try) the Spring drive concept. The Spring Drive is a conventional automatic movement with several important components replaced. Namely, the functional timekeeping parts are missing, namely the palette fork, the escape wheel, the balance wheel, and the hairspring. Replacing it is a tri-synchronous regulator, which is a new way of very precisely controlling the amount of power discharged from the mainspring. The tri-synchro regulator converts the kinetic energy from the mainspring to electrical energy, which drives the quartz crystal and the electromagnetic brake, which slows down the motion following the information from the quartz crystal.

Finally, the SNR035J1 Skymaster Blackout, with a black leather harness and absolute Seiko titanium blackout clasps, completes the all-black look.

To conclude, the new Prospex LX opens a new line for the Seiko sports line, and with impeccable movement, a spectacular finish case with a smooth blackout effect and a band, the SBDB025 / SNR035J1 works. To understand the amount of work Seiko watchmaker has done, packed with GMT functions, date, power reserve counter and Dia-shield, its black titanium case is something you have to see and feel in person. If you're looking for the best Prospex sports watch from Seiko, this is the watch to consider. That being said, we believe many watch enthusiasts are delighted by Okuyama and Seiko's efforts to revise and improve their professional tool watches from their archives, such as the Singer with their Porsche, and Pininfarina with the Ferraris.

These designers have truly created the Prospex LX line with Seiko's leading uniqueness and integrity in combination with innovative new designs that are simple and robust and give a contemporary twist.

Seiko Prospex LX Landmaster Ref. SBDB029 / SNR025

Basic features

This particular SNR025 model belongs to the Soil variation of the LN Prospex line and is the GMT version. This is a rugged and attractive sports watch that won the award for best sports watch of the year. This is a contemporary version of the classic Professional Diver from 1968 enhanced by advanced spring propulsion technology with an accuracy of 1 second per day, high temperature levels and resistance to shocks. Apart from having sports features, it's also a great choice for all adventure addicts. Examples include Yuichiro Miura who climbed Mount Everest three times and the astronauts on the Space Station.

It has a wide flat titanium case and thanks to this material, the watch is lightweight. The casing size is 44.8 mm and 14.7 mm thick. The surface is polished by Zaratsu and ultra hard-coated. Its light weight contributes to excellent comfort when wearing this watch. This watch also features a water resistance of up to 200 meters.

The Prospex LX SNR025 features a two-way compass bezel which is also made of titanium and has smooth motion. This watch has a second hour hand or GMT hand, which shows a time zone that is different from your home time zone. It is nicely finished in a yellowish tint and conforms to a marker indicating 24 hours. This is very legible because all important dial signs, as well as the hour hand, are covered with Lumbrite. Knob positioned at 4 o'clock.

Seiko LX SNR025 Press

The dial has been elegantly designed with a metal trim that elegantly frames the hour marker and power reserve indication positioned at 8:00 am. The pattern is gray to black from sunburst and really makes a perfect match with the GMT hands' mustard yellow and the GMT hours added to the ring. This time Seiko also has a typical date font with a satin finish on the date window frame. There is a Seiko logo applied to the dial along with a marker.

Seiko LX Spring Drive moves

Seiko displays an indicator for power reserve on the dial. The power reserve of up to 72 hours or converted into days is 3 days and the movement is one second every day with precision. The LX SNR025 has a caliber 5R66 with a Spring Drive characteristic of 30 gems and a dual movement. Spring Drive is also labeled with an S mark on the dial itself.

Many may ask what Spring Drive understands and what this concept means. The spring drive concept is actually a classic automatic movement combined with a tri-synchro regulator. This is an innovative way to accurately control the power coming from the mainspring. Such a regulator converts kinetic energy into electrical energy and this drives crystals made of quartz. What basically means to watch enthusiasts is precision and flawless movement.

Strap

The SNR025 model belongs to a sports line which is equipped with a bracelet made of titanium like the case. One of the great features about this watch is the possibility of extension in the Marine Masters style, which makes length adjustment simple and easy. Bracelets are primarily brushed with some polished details.

Price

The timepiece offers great performance but it doesn't stop there. Apart from its size, it also provides great comfort and a beautiful design. On our site you can buy the ProspexSNR025 at a very affordable price for such a watch. It is currently offered for around $ 4,860 USD.

Closing: Seiko Prospex LX SNR025 Review

In summary, we highly recommend the Prospex SNR025 especially for watch lovers who are interested in sports models. Seiko has created a case that is spectacular not only in design but in function, so there is a power reserve indicator, date and GMT function. This version of the model is one of the best sports watches from the Prospex LX range, so you definitely should consider this one if you are looking for a sports model.

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