Seiko Silverwave

Jedde Reuters
1 March 2021
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With the recent revival of the Seiko 62MAS line vintage Seiko divers have been under a spotlight. The Seiko 62MAS has been a great hit for obvious reasons; a design true to the original but with modern specs. The thought of having one has crossed my mind more than once, I might still pull the trigger in the future. With all this attention for Vintage Seiko divers I feel that the original Seiko diver, the Seiko Silverwave has been overlooked.

-Seiko 62MAS reissue.

Seiko released its first dive watch in 1961. Today, however, we would no longer call this a dive watch; in fact, you could not dive with Seiko’s first dive watch. The first Seiko diver, the vintage Seiko Silverwave J12082 was in fact water-deep to 50 meters. Swimming was possible, presumably it was used a lot because these watches are often in (very) used condition. The watch was really meant for the water, despite the 50 meter water resistance, the watch also had an internal (rotating) bezel. The Seiko Silverwave was a first in many areas. It was Seiko’s first diver, 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-on lid.

So the Silverwave was really the predecessor of the Seiko 62MAS, the first dive watch from Seiko that you could actually dive with. The watch is extremely rare and one of the more collectible Seiko’s. Particularly because of its rarity; copies in good condition are much rarer still. The watch also has a modern size of 37 millimeters including large crown for ease of use while diving. The watch was produced from 1961 to 1964 with black dials and white sunburst dials among others. 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 therefore may be a little less known, except to the true 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 was additionally used (with a different name) for the famous vintage Seiko 62MAS. The watch also originally came with an original steel strap, these can still be found but are extra rare. A handy 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 every Seiko collector’s list; they are rare and getting rarer, especially in good condition. Plus, it’s an interesting milestone in Seiko history. If you have trouble finding one you are in luck though, a few years after that they released a (very) similar watch, the Seiko Silverwave 697990.

Seiko SilverWave
The Seiko Silverwave ref. 697990.

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

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 really can’t be missed.

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