Three Kinds of Blue: 3 Cool and Relatively Affordable Limited Edition Watches Under $3000 from Seiko, Oris, and Union Glashütte
Many talk about “value propositions,” so here’s a little comparison of what the market offers under $3,000.
For this money, you could buy a Fender Stratocaster guitar, a pair of bespoke Tim Little shoes, an entry-level jacket by Brioni . . . or a Dolce & Gabbana Miss Sicily handbag for your girlfriend. So, not that much.
On the other hand, for under $3,000 you can get a pretty cool watch with an interesting story to tell. But which one: Japanese, German, or Swiss? Here are three possibilities from Seiko, Union Glashütte, and Oris.
Each of these three limited edition watches might find a home on your wrist, but which one would you choose? And why?
Emotions and stories that come with watches
It’s not just the watches we love, but also the stories they tell and the emotions they convey. So here are three short stories: one about adventure, another about business priorities, and a third about new trends in social responsibility.
Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver’s Modern Reinterpretation, aka the Blue Captain Willard Limited Edition
In recent years, Japanese giant Seiko has experienced an incredible wave of success across its diverse portfolio of timepieces. And Seiko’s Prospex diver’s watches are no exception.
The Prospex collection features new creations, but also re-editions originating in the exceptionally rich history of the brand’s diver’s watches.
Seiko introduced its first timekeeper for divers in 1965 and has been following its vision ever since. It is also interesting to note that the Japanese manufactory rates its diver’s watches to the ISO 6425 standard.
The aesthetics of this Prospex edition nicknamed the Blue Captain Willard are a continuation of the iconic Seiko 6105-8110 that cinema fans will recognize as having spent time on Martin Sheen’s wrist as Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now.
Admirers of history and real-world adventure might prefer to concentrate on the story of another of its owners, though: Japanese adventurer Naomi Uemura. After conquering the North Pole solo and then rafting on the Amazon, he disappeared without a trace in an avalanche while descending from the peak of Denali (previously known as Mount McKinley), the highest mountain in North America.
Following the success of the re-edition of the original model, in 2020 Seiko introduced an unlimited variant in olive green, which is now followed by this blue Captain Willard edition of 5,500 pieces.
Union Glashütte Belisar Date Sport Koscom 30 Years Anniversary Limited Edition
It is said that those who have not been to Glashütte cannot understand the purism of German watchmaking.
Actually I doubt that anyone has ever said that, but they well might. The city of Glashütte, where the Union Glashütte manufactory is located, is dedicated to the art of horology.
The stunning Union Glashütte Belisar Date Sport was chosen to celebrate 30 years of Koscom, the biggest retailer in the Czech Republic. It wasn’t easy for Koscom to find a partner willing to make design adjustments to existing models for a relatively small 30-piece run. Yes, it’s really that limited.
A sapphire crystal bezel in the exact shade of blue Koscom uses in its logo has become a characteristic element of this distinctive limited sports watch, which is dedicated to the shop’s first customers all those years ago – customers who probably bought calculators (the first goods sold at this shop) or Casio watches with integrated calculators.
Over the years, the portfolio grew to include haute horlogerie, and now Koscom represents such names as H. Moser & Cie., Carl F. Bucherer, Montblanc, and Grand Seiko.
The Belisar Date Sport Koscom 30 Years Anniversary Limited Edition is a tribute to youth. After all, 30 years old is still young, isn’t it?
Oris Aquis Clean Ocean Limited Edition
It doesn’t really matter where you live or what you do for living, clean water is a concern for all of us, affecting our lives, our environment, and even the quality of the fish we might be eating for dinner tonight.
So it’s time to highlight the serious problems of our modern society and start acting. We can can start in our own backyards – and even with the choice of watches on our wrists.
One of the pioneers in this field is Oris, who supports initiatives including the Coral Restoration Foundation, Reef Restoration Foundation, and Pacific Garbage Screening (now everwave). Oris is one of the most innovative and active watch companies in this respect.
In conjunction with everwave, Oris has made a special edition of the Aquis Clean Ocean watch limited to 2,000 pieces. This diver’s watch is remarkable because it offers a component made of recycled PET, symbolizing what this limited edition represents.
The case back of each watch in the limited edition is unique as its central medallion is made of recycled PET, which creates one-of-a-kind patterns. Each individually numbered piece is delivered in a special box made of algae with recycled plastic inlay as well.
Blue and sporty
RAL, the European color standard, has 25 different shades of blue, and it is hard to say which one is more fashionable today: each has its own magic, which is revealed in different spectrums of light.
All three of these watches are impressive with their own unique blue hues, each presented in an exceptional manner and giving each of the watches completely unusual characters.
In all three of these stainless steel watches, the blue details are either on the dial or the ring of the unidirectionally rotating diver’s bezel. And those diver’s bezels ares made of different materials on each of the watches: Seiko uses anodized aluminum, Union Glashütte scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and Oris ceramic.
All three of these watches are sporty, though in terms of functionality they offer just three central hands and a date.
Although all three offer almost all the attributes of a serious diver’s watch, one (the German) goes in a slightly different direction. Union Glashütte doesn’t follow the diving standards for watches so it isn’t officially a diver’s watch. The Belisar Sport doesn’t have a luminescent point on the second hand so it misses out on an accredited diver’s watch certification.
Despite that, the water resistance of the Belisar Sport is 200 m like that of the Seiko Prospex; the Oris Aquis is the only one rated to 300 m. LumiBrite (in the case of Seiko) and Super-LumiNova (for the remaining pair) maximize visibility of the bezel, hands, and dial indexes.
Reliable and sexy
Whenever you decide to wear a watch, it must match your outfit. That’s why more and more manufacturers have begun to supply extra straps.
Oris offers a steel bracelet or strap, Seiko a silicone strap in addition to the steel bracelet, and Union Glashütte a blue-stitched textile strap to complement the fitted rubber strap (a steel bracelet can be ordered separately).
However, only Union Glashütte’s Belisar Sport offers easy strap interchangeability, even if it’s only relatively common quick-release spring bars with pins.
Let’s not forget the clasps, either. While Union Glashütte goes easy with a tang buckle, Seiko and Oris secure their bracelets here with proper folding buckles with extensions. Seiko has its typical triple-folding clasp with secure lock, while Oris’ system contains a classic folding clasp with release buttons on either side. The extension system is similar with links that fold out.
Movement and precision
The screw-down crown, which all three of these blue representatives offer, controls a different mechanical movement in each of the cases; all three of the movements have similar features like automatic winding, date indications, and three hands with hacking seconds.
Seiko chose the 6R35 caliber from Morioka Seiko Instruments’ own manufactory. As this is a very affordable watch with full steel screw-down case back, only the rotor has been decorated. However, the 6R35 movement features a proprietary bidirectional winding system called Magic Lever as well as a hairspring and mainspring of Seiko’s own production. The balance frequency is 3 Hz and the movement offers a healthy 70-hour power reserve.
Union Glashütte reworked the famous ETA 2892 and called it caliber UNG-07.S1. It features new decoration on the bridges and ball-bearing rotor, which the Belisar Sport Date exhibits through a transparent sapphire crystal case back with a light blue anniversary logo and a silicon hairspring. Its frequency was dropped from 4 to 3.5 Hz, which saves energy, reduces wear, and extends the power reserve to 60 hours.
The red rotor became an Oris registered trademark in 2002 and is visible in the Caliber 733 powering the Aquis Clean Ocean. It is based on the Sellita SW 200-1, which comes with 4 Hz balance and offers a 38-hour power reserve.
Which would you choose?
My guess is that the majority would choose the Seiko Prospex out of these three, and that’s no surprise. It is the least expensive, has the best price-performance ratio, and high collector desirability.
However, I would choose the Union Glashütte because has a direct link to the shop that I grew up with in my home country, the Czech Republic. And it’s the first time here that a major watch brand has made a special edition in collaboration with a retailer.
And because watches should be fun!
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Quick Facts Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver’s Modern Reinterpretation, aka the Blue Captain Willard Limited Edition (Ref. SPB183J1)
Case: 42.7 x 13.2 mm, hardened stainless steel, water resistant to 200 m
Movement: automatic Caliber 6R35, 70-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds; date
Limitation: 5,500 pieces
Quick Facts Union Glashütte Belisar Date Sport Koscom 30 Years Anniversary Limited Edition
Case: 45 mm, stainless steel, water resistant to 200 m
Movement: automatic Caliber UNG-07.S1 based on ETA 2892, 60-hour power reserve, 3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds; date
Limitation: 30 pieces
Quick Facts Oris Aquis Clean Ocean Limited Edition
Case: 39.5 mm, stainless steel, water resistant to 300 m
Movement: automatic Caliber 733, based on Sellita SW 200-1, 38-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds; date
Limitation: 2,000 pieces
Jan Lidmaňský is a watch collector and journalist from the Czech Republic; follow him on Instagram at @watch_the_food.
* This article was first published 10 February 2021 at Three Kinds Of Blue: 3 Cool And Relatively Affordable Limited Edition Watches Under €2,500 From Seiko, Oris, And Union Glashütte
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