THAT Seiko and design god Giorgetto Giugiaro (or his studio, at least) have made interesting watches together is no secret to the Japanese watch brand’s sizeable number of fans. Well, even if Seiko was still not the watch planet-favorite that it has now become, its early adopters have long lusted after the 7a28-7000 piece strapped to Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character in the 1979 sci-fi flick Aliens. The “Ripley” watch’s 2016 remake, the SCED035, also delivered quite a treat to the Seiko faithful. Both watches came from a Seiko x Giugiaro collab job. And there have been other pieces, too.
Giugiaro, as most gearheads know, penned the original Golf, the Renault 19, the Maserati 5000 GT and Merak, the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB, the De Tomaso Mangusta, the BMW M1, the Lancia Delta, among a host of other car porn.
Significantly, Seiko turned to another automotive designer — a compatriot, no less — in creating its new Prospex LX line. The LX line is composed of three models, each of which available with a blacked-out rendition. All are spun by Spring Drive movements. They cost as much as $6,000 plus. Announced at Baselworld 2019, it is expected to hit showrooms in July.
A notable thing about the LX is that it was designed by the same man whose ministrations have helped shaped the Porsche 911 996 generation and the original Boxster; a smattering of Ferraris including, well, something called the Enzo; the Maserati Birdcage 75th; and the fourth-generation Chevrolet Camaro. This is one solid automotive CV — which lists a lot more, by the way.
Lugging the weight of this CV is Ken Okuyama, who before getting poached by Pininfarina in 2004 headed the Transportation Design Department of the prestigious Art Center College of Design in California for close to four years. Well, he is a product of the school, graduating in 1986, from which point he promptly went on to work at General Motors and Porsche.
Okuyama in 2006 started his own studio to work on other projects, which included apparel and eyewear. But his passion for automotive design was apparently hard to shake off. Because two years later he brought out a car bearing his initials — the K.O. 7 Spider, a concept made from carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer and unpainted aluminum. It was displayed at the Geneva Motor Show.
The car supplied a hint Okuyama is a watch guy; fitted on the dashboard was a TAG Heuer Grand Carrera. The cabin itself was inspired by the design of the watch.
Now, Okuyama has penned the three models (including the three blacked-out renditions) of the Seiko LX line. Each model is meant for either land, sea and sky use, but all three take Seiko’s 1968 Professional Diver’s piece as the takeoff point in terms of inspiration. And the line’s LX name, Seiko explains, hints at the Latin word for light — which is “lux”— and refers to the way light reflects on the broad, flat surfaces of the watches. All are housed in 44.8-millimeter-wide titanium cases fitted with titanium bracelets.
Aesthetically differentiating the watches from one another are their hour indices, hands and bezels. The land versions (SNR025 and SNR027, which is the black one) have GMT hands. They also have compasses on their bidirectional rotating bezels, which is intended for navigation. The SNR025’s yellow GMT hand makes the function more legible. Both land versions are water-resistant to depths of 200 meters.
The sky versions (SNR033 and SNR035) also have GMT hands; in red for the SNR033 which isn’t blacked out, and whose bidirectional rotating bezel is in blue and black to denote daylight and nighttime hours. The watches are water-resistant to 100 meters.
The LX land and sky pieces are powered by the Spring Drive GMT 5R66 calibre while the sea versions get the Spring Drive 5R65. The difference here is that the diver’s pieces (SNR029 and SNR031) do not have a GMT function.
But the two sea versions boast professional grade water-resistance ratings — 300 meters. Their bezels also rotate, but only counterclockwise, of course. Along with the bezels, their indices and hands are obviously the closest in looks to the 1968 Professional Diver’s.
Any resemblance to the iconic Seiko piece is certainly not coincidental. Okuyama says he aimed to take the integrity with which Seiko sports watches have been known over the decades and infuse this into a “design that has simplicity, harmony, power and presence.”
“The Prospex LX is a true Seiko with a thoroughly contemporary feel,’’ Okuyama says.
And who will argue with a designer who has had a hand in the Ferrari Enzo?