The first diver from Seiko; the Seiko Silverwave.

8 March 2021

With the recent return of the Seiko 62MAS, vintage Seiko divers have received a lot of attention. The Seiko 62MAS is a big hit, which is understandable. It is a watch with a timeless design but with modern technology. Even I, as a vintage enthusiast, have hesitated to buy one. Maybe one day I will. With all this attention for vintage Seiko divers, I do notice that the original Seiko diver, the Seiko Silverwave, is often forgotten. In this blog I will tell you more about Seiko’s first diver.

-Seiko 62MAS reissue.

Seiko introduced its first dive watch in 1961. Today, however, we would no longer call it a dive watch; you could not dive with the first Seiko dive watch. The first Seiko diver, the vintage Seiko Silverwave J12082, was water-deep to 50 metres. Swimming was possible, probably because it was used a lot as these watches are often in a (very) used state. The watch was really meant for the water, despite the 50 meter water resistance, the watch had an internal (rotating) bezel. The Seiko Silverwave was a first in many areas. It was the first diver from Seiko, it was the first Seiko watch with an internal rotatable bezel, the first watch with the tsunami logo on the back and Seiko’s first watch with a screw cover.

The Silverwave was thus really the predecessor of the Seiko 62MAS, the first dive watch from Seiko with which you could actually dive. The watch is extremely rare and one of the more collectible Seiko’s. It is one of the more collectable Seiko watches, especially because of its rarity. The watch also has a modern size of 37 millimetres including a large crown for ease of use when diving. The watch was produced from 1961 to 1964 with black dials and white sunburst dials. In fact, the watch is so rare that at the time of writing I can only find 2 examples for sale online. They don’t come along very often and are therefore probably less known, except to the real Seiko collectors.

The watch runs a Seikosha Seikomatic cal. 603 automatic. It is a typical ”workhorse” movement from Seiko with 20 jewels and 18,000 beats per hour. The movement has also been used (with another name) for the famous vintage Seiko 62MAS. The watch originally came with an original steel strap, which can still be found, but these are extra rare. A nice feature of the watch is that it has so-called ”drilled lugs” through which you can easily change the straps.

The Seiko Silverwave J12082 is the forgotten predecessor of the Seiko 62MAS. It seems to me that this watch should be on the list of every Seiko collector; they are rare and getting rarer, especially in good condition. Moreover, it is an interesting milestone in Seiko’s history. If you have trouble finding one you’re in luck though, a few years after that they released a (very) similar watch, the Seiko Silverwave 697990.

Seiko SilverWave
Seiko Silverwave ref. 697990.

This version of the Seiko Silverwave was launched in 1964 as a slightly more affordable alternative to the original. It was one size smaller, 35.5 millimetres instead of 37. In addition, this ”diving watch” was even less water resistant, it could only be submerged to 30 metres. The advantage of this reference is that it is more readily available. Diving is not recommended with a watch that is over 50 years old anyway, so the water resistance does not matter anymore.

The Seiko Silverwave is one of Seiko’s rarest models with a unique timeless look. Sometimes the Silverwave is skipped due to the popularity of the 62MAS but in my opinion the Silverwave was an even more important milestone for Seiko than the 62MAS. If you collect vintage Seiko’s, this one is a must have.

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