Why the SSK and NH34 GMT are Game Changers for Seiko
Today, we're diving into the captivating world of Seiko's GMT watches and the game-changing release of the Seiko SSK line and the NH34 movement. Seiko, a name synonymous with innovation in watchmaking, has always stayed ahead of the curve. The appeal of their watches lies not just in their functionality, but also in the rich legacy Seiko has carved in the horological landscape.
From pioneering automatic chronographs to pushing the boundaries of precision, Seiko's journey has been nothing short of remarkable.
As travelers and jet-setters know, GMT watches have become an essential companion for traversing time zones with style. In this article, we'll unravel the fascinating evolution of Seiko's GMT watches and how the NH34 movement has shaken things up.
So, buckle up, as we look into some of Seiko’s most notable GMT watches, why the Nh34 is arguably their most important GMT release to date, and what our predictions are for the future.
Evolution of Seiko's GMT
From the iconic wrist companions that have graced globetrotters' wrists to groundbreaking innovations, Seiko's legacy in GMT watches is a tale woven with precision and style.
Starting back when jet travel was still a novelty, Seiko recognized the need for timepieces that effortlessly keep pace with changing time zones. It all starts with the World Timer.
Seiko World Timer 6217-7000
Source: Seiko World Time
In the vivid landscape of horological history, the Seiko World Timer 6217-7000 emerges as a beacon of innovation and a tribute to a significant moment in time. The year 1964 marked the Tokyo Olympics, and to commemorate this grand event, Suwa Seiko unveiled their inaugural World Time watch.
The catchphrase "know the time everywhere on earth, instantly" echoed through advertising campaigns, capturing the essence of this timepiece's purpose.
Crafted with stainless steel, the 37mm diameter watch featured an Olympic flame motif on its case back, symbolizing the spirit of the games. It featured a bi-directional rotating inner bezel adorned with the names of 24 cities, representing global time zones, complemented by a day/night indicator bezel and an auto-setting GMT hand.
Source: Seiko World Time
1964 saw the release of two variations: a silver dial with a black/blue day/night indicator and a white rotating 24-hour timezone bezel, and a gray dial with a silver/brown day/night indicator and a black rotating 24-hour timezone bezel. Powered by the automatic 17-jewel cal 6217A, the MASWT (Matic Self-date World Time) brought forth the famed 6217-8000 (62MAS) diver's watch, shaping Seiko's trajectory.
Distinctive features like the fluted crown, non-luminous hands and hour batons, and the embossed Olympic flame on the case back marked the first-generation 6217-7000. These traits set it apart from subsequent iterations. The watch's legacy continues, cherished not only for its functional prowess but also for its representation of an era when timekeeping and the world united in harmony.
Seiko Presage SPB223
Source: Right Time Watches
Seiko's Presage collection emerged from a Japan-only collection to global recognition in 2016. With craftsmanship and technical expertise, the Presage Sharp Edged Series delivers a sporty dress watch featuring a bold, angular case reminiscent of Grand Seiko's distinct forms.
Launched in 2020 with sleek 39.3mm time-and-date models and textured dials, the Sharp Edged series expanded in February 2021 to introduce GMT models that retained the striking angular lines and hemp leaf pattern of the original. Featuring a large 42.2mm stainless steel case with super-hard coating, the Presage GMT watch offers a sturdy build.
The watches had intricate finishings, vertically brushed steel bracelets, and the distinctive Asanoha hemp-leaf pattern dial inspired by Japanese culture. The Seiko automatic calibre 6R64 powers the watch, offering accurate timekeeping with a power reserve of 45 hours.
Due to its size, the Seiko Presage SPB223 is a better match for larger wrists, with its inviting bright dial that catches the sunlight beautifully in its mesmerizing pattern.
Seiko Prospex SNRO33
Source: Fratello Watches
While Grand Seiko is the Japanese brand’s high-end sister company, the design and features of some of its top offerings sometimes trickle down to the mid-end lineups, exemplified by the SBGE001 and its successor, the SNRO33. Sharing the same Spring Drive movement and features as its predecessor, the SNR033 also boasts a sapphire crystal-capped bi-directional rotating GMT bezel, offering exceptional scratch protection.
The SNR033 embraces fully hardened titanium for both case and bracelet, ensuring durability. The material choice also keeps the watch extremely light and a comfortable wear, even with a sizable 44.8mm-wide case to cater to Prospex enthusiasts. It is rated for a 100-meter water resistance.
While Seiko has always been referencing Rolex in its higher-shelf products, this Spring Drive GMT watch embraces Seiko's design DNA, veering away from Swiss-inspired elements. The mechanism behind the piece is the Seiko Spring Drive caliber 5R66 automatic movement, a hybrid of mechanical and quartz systems, delivering a three-day power reserve and accuracy of around +/- 15 seconds per month.
The Significance of the Seiko SSK Line and the NH34
Just last year, another trickle down happened with Seiko’s technology when they released a much more affordable GMT watch lineup: the Seiko 5 Sports SSK001, SSK003 and SSK005. Seiko fans are obviously excited, but this has garnered the attention of everyone. It combines the reliability of the “5KX” with the convenience of a GMT function which was based on the 4R caliber. And with this big upgrade, it only adds an impressive 0.1mm thicker than existing 4R movements.
And how big was this release for Seiko, you wonder? Just check the Google trendline for “Seiko GMT” in the chart below.
Watch modders are no doubt one of the big contributors to this spike as well. The GMT function has long been a dream for this community, with 24-hour bezel inserts existing long before the release of the NH34, or maybe in anticipation of it. And now that we have our hands on an affordable GMT caliber, multi-timezone modding will be much more accessible.
What Comes Next?
Source: @finemods on IG
The new Seiko SSK watches have undoubtedly attracted a lot of interest in Seiko GMTs, and we anticipate that this trend will continue for some time. For many years to come, the Seiko 5 SSKs will be a solid suggestion for entry-level GMT watches, and NH34 builds will come to be considered a standard offering by many expert watch modders. People who still want to modify a GMT but don't want to start from scratch can now find SSK-compatible parts. Additionally, we anticipate that an increasing number of micro-brands will create their own models based on the NH34.
The journey of Seiko's GMT watches has been marked by continuous refinement and innovation, shaping a legacy that captures both precision and style. From the iconic Seiko World Timer 6217-7000 to the contemporary Presage SPB223 and Prospex SNR033, Seiko's commitment to excellence remains unwavering.
The introduction of the Seiko SSK line and the NH34 movement represents a significant step forward, democratizing the coveted GMT functionality and opening new horizons for enthusiasts and modders alike. Whether you're an enthusiast seeking a reliable entry-level GMT or a watch modder eager to craft a unique timepiece, the Seiko SSK line and NH34 movement offer a realm of opportunities waiting to be explored.
For those intrigued by the world of watch modding and eager to engage with Seiko's GMT legacy, you can check out our NH34 and SSK modding parts and see if they’ll inspire you to come up with a custom GMT watch. Our high-quality modding parts allow you to infuse your personal touch and creativity into the world of horology, whether its for personal use or for professional builds.
As Seiko's GMT watches continue to evolve, our advice to you: keep your eyes on the scene, things are going to be even more interesting. Happy modding!