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Old 13 August 2019, 11:44 AM   #1
Travelller
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Icon17 Seiko's SLA033 (SBDX031): And then there were three...

Then there were three...
I bet you were all just as surprised (and blown away) back in 2017 when Seiko announced their 62MAS re-edition, the SLA017 (SBDX019). The timing however made a lot of sense, given it coincided with the 62MAS' 50th anniversary. An amazing tribute and to be sure, Seiko made a lot of WIS happy. Price was a bit higher than say, their SBDX017 "MM300", but quite in line, given the LE of 2000. Having reviewed the history of Seiko's divers, I had hoped they would bring out a tribute to the 6215-7000 or similar 6159-7000/1, the origin of today's MM300s. Sure enough, we saw the SLA025 (SBEX007) make its debut at Baselworld 2018. For those of us comfortable with the MM300's geometry, the SLA025 marked another great tribute. The pricing was not as appealing as that of the SLA017, however with the marked increase, we were getting the venerable Seiko Hi-Beat 8L55 movement.
Checking once again with Seiko's chronology, the next logical tribute could only be one based on the 6105-8000/9 or 8110/9 - the inspiration behind Seiko's popular "Turtle" series. So with less of a surprise but with just as much excitement, the first image of Seiko's SLA033 (SBDX031) was in circulation even before Baselworld 2019 rolled around!


click-the-pics for hi-res goodness


The SLA033
Of all the vintage Seikos out there, the 6105s are certainly up there in popularity. Apparently, it's not that hard (or even that expensive) to source one in relatively good condition. Hence many 6105 owners didn't really understand "the need for" the SLA033. The proposed retail price of the SLA033 (over $4K) certainly does nothing to counter their viewpoint. Nevertheless, the advantages of owning a new (and improved) iteration of the 6105 represents the other side of the debate. As a limited edition of 2500, I suspect it won't take long until each has found a home.



Speaking of 6105 owners & fans, I distinctly recall the disappointment when that first image of the SLA033 appeared. The biggest issue seemed to be the fact that Seiko didn't reproduce the case contours 1:1... . Another complaint had to do with the crystal; the SLA033 having a flush crystal (in appearance only*) whereas the 6105s had a box crystal, which gives the 6105 its pleasant optical (dial) distortion. Then we have the ultra-fanatics that are livid because Seiko "rounded" the dial-markers' edges... . As for me, my only wish would have been an applied logo, same wish I had for the first two tributes. Well I guess we can't have it all (... unless of course, we source a 6105... )

*The SLA033's crystal is actually "double domed" or curved on both sides. As far as I can see, it's the same crystal design used for the SLA025.

The SLA033 vs. 6105-8110 c/o Fratello Watches' M.Stockton



Regarding the case contouring; this is where we have to get more specific and assume that Seiko had the 6105-8110 in mind when they shaped the SLA033. The 8110 is much more rounded than the 8000 and resembles more of it's namesake, the turtle.

The 6105-8110 vs. 6105-8000 c/o Fratello Watches' M.Stockton

c/o Fratello Watches & M.Stockton

What the 8000, 8110 & SLA033 do share is the integral crown guard. The latter two are more "protective" with zero protrusion of the crown when fully screwed down. A bit overkill, if you ask me (or anyone that's tried to wind the darn thing...). One aspect of the case that caught me by surprise was the "thinness" of the SLA033. At 50x45x13mm, the SLA033 is a whole mm thinner than the SLA017, despite both having the same 8L35 movement. Or is that 1 mm simply due to the SLA017's domed crystal... ? Perhaps the thinness is perceived, simply due to the ratios (45mm width vs. 40mm of the SLA017)... . Not that it matters much in real-world use. Either you have it over a wet suit or on a sleeveless arm. A business-shirt's cuff will have a much harder time contending with the rubber / silicon straps than any additional 1 mm in height... .



As noted above, the SLA033 can indeed be considered the "new & improved" 6105; 8L35B movement, sapphire crystal, functional lume & an additional 50m of depth-rating. If you're feeling very generous, you can toss in the Dia-Shield coating (which I have come to hate with a passion) and while you're at it, the "Zaratsu" -polished bezel-rim (...at least that's what Seiko wrote; I'd like to think that the case sides are also zaratsu-polished... hmm).



It's not all good news, though. As faithful as it may be to the 6105, once again Seiko has stuck to the 19mm lug-width making the hunt for third-party straps a bit of a challenge. Fortunately I've a couple of years behind me, given that the 2017 SLA017 (as well as SLA025) are also 19mm... . As for the supplied silicon strap (same as supplied with the first two); it's definitely a love and hate relationship. Love the immediate suppleness, could do with a shorter length and can certainly do without the lint-magnetic properties of silicone... sigh



Still... I can live with that. What's really an issue for me is that while the dial, dial markers, hour and minute hands have a high-quality finish, Seiko did the unthinkable and dropped in a second-hand similar in finish to their standard-production fare... ! Let me remind you we are talking about a $4K Seiko here, one that is produced (assembled) in Seiko's esteemed Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio. What a shame. Although it has no real-world impact (in other words, not visible to the naked eye), I have to wonder why Seiko skimped on this one component... . If you're now wondering what all the fuss is about, you will find an image of the culprit further below. I didn't want to "spoil" this section of the pictorial, particularly for those that only glance at the text and prefer to simply enjoy the imagery...




Captain Willard's Seiko
I know that most of Seiko's diver series have been given nicknames (..., Shogun, Sumo, Tuna, Turtle,...) but I'm not sure how many vintage Seikos have been associated with a person or film character (a la Newman & Rolex Daytona, McQueen & Heuer Monaco, Stallone & Panerai,...). Thus reading people commenting on their 6105 wristshots with "wearing my Willard today" or similar had me scratching my head. Sure, I've seen Apocalypse Now many times (and yeah, almost every version incl. the Director's cut, the uncut-director's-cut, etc.) but I'll be honest here, it took some Googling to make the connection. Speaking of which, although I've no "deep" connection with either Willard, the character or Martin Sheen, the actor, I'm fine with the 6105's nickname. However seeing as this is Seiko, the JDM (Japanese domestic market) may have even less of a connection. I would imagine their connection is with Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura who wore the 6105 during one of his major solo challenges. I certainly can appreciate a Japanese owner's preferred association with Uemura than Sheen-Willard; having personally met explorer Mike Horn at a recent Panerai event was certainly one of the event's highlights for me! The fact that Uemura "disappeared" on his final adventure, the solo-climb of Mt. McKinley (Denali) must make it all the more deeper... .


note the LE# has been masked


What's next?
Let's assume Seiko's adhering to actual original release dates - the 62MAS in '67, the 6215-7000 in '68 and the 6105-8110 in ...the 2nd half of '69 (the first iteration, the 6105-8000, came out ~6~12mths earlier). Thus all three would have been released on their inspirations' 50-year anniversary. That does make a further "re-creation" in 2020 rather tricky, given that the next diver references were released years later. The venerable 6159-7010 Grandfather Tuna came out in 1975 and the 150M 6309-7040/9, in 1976. Therefore, your guess is as good (or better) as mine...

I'm pretty much set though, having the luck of owning the three 50th tributes. The SLA033 certainly holds it's own among these stellar references and anyone on the fence should make a move - and yes, imho, even die-hard 6105 owners should try to get a closer look at one. Maybe their stern opinions will soften once they catch a glimpse of that awesome lumibrite...






~~~~


click-the-pics for hi-res goodness


The crystal's dual-curved profile becomes very apparent at sharp angles...










devil in the details ...well done, Seiko!











note the LE# has been masked

triple decker...




My four oh-so-awesome Seiko divers





~~~~


Sidebar
Regarding the It's not all good news paragraph above; as noted, a serious issue for me is that while the dial, dial markers, hour and minute hands have a high-quality finish, Seiko did the unthinkable and dropped in a second-hand similar in finish to their standard-production fare... ! Let me remind you we are talking about a $4K+ Seiko here, one that is produced (assembled) in Seiko's esteemed Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio. What a shame. Although it has no real-world impact (in other words, not visible to the naked eye), I have to wonder why Seiko skimped on this one component... .
The second-hand used in both the SLA017 and SLA025 have a polished finish, whereas the (not-even-that-cheap) $2K+ SBDX001/17 has a similar-finished second-hand. So yeah, for $4K+, I do expect better... !















~~~~
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Old 13 August 2019, 11:56 AM   #2
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Hey great article. I believe it is, but to confirm, is the 025 second also of the same low manufacture quality as the 017 and 033?
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Old 13 August 2019, 01:39 PM   #3
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Great write up and pics as always. Both connections are cool, but Uemura was the man. I have a little booklet about him somewhere.
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Old 14 August 2019, 10:36 AM   #4
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Very nice writeup and pictures...My AD called today and said the SLA033 is in and she saves it for me in the back. Not an easy decision to get it or not.
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Old 14 August 2019, 11:52 AM   #5
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The sla017 and the sla033 make the perfect companions... both are great given the price point.

And then there were three...

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Old 14 August 2019, 12:20 PM   #6
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I also swapped out my factory strap for a padded Shark Leather made in Germany...


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Old 14 August 2019, 01:57 PM   #7
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Yes!!! Glad to have the third write up. Stellar job again. It’s gonna be fun hunting one down next year after they’ve been sold on the second hand market to complete my trio!


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Old 14 August 2019, 10:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by leicashot View Post
Hey great article. I believe it is, but to confirm, is the 025 second also of the same low manufacture quality as the 017 and 033?
Thx I don't know where you got the impression that the SLA017 is of low quality - it's my best "SLA" so far As for the SLA025 - excellent materials used & excellent finish. Unfortunately mine was very dusty... as if they had to rebuild it. I wrote about the issue extensively.... I saw another example recently and while it also had some dust (as all watches do, regardless of manufacture), it was quite within acceptable limits.

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Great write up and pics as always. Both connections are cool, but Uemura was the man. I have a little booklet about him somewhere.
Many thanks I mentioned recently meeting Mike Horn and guess what, it was in HK

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Very nice writeup and pictures...My AD called today and said the SLA033 is in and she saves it for me in the back. Not an easy decision to get it or not.
Thx I would certainly recommend you go give it a try! Just be warned, when you're starring down at it on your wrist, it will be very hard to take it off and almost impossible to leave the AD without it...

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The sla017 and the sla033 make the perfect companions... both are great given the price point. And then there were three...
Agree! You have yourself an awesome trio there,
T4S

Quote:
Originally Posted by Txkill View Post
Yes!!! Glad to have the third write up. Stellar job again. It’s gonna be fun hunting one down next year after they’ve been sold on the second hand market to complete my trio!
So many thanks
I know that the hunt is much of the fun! I spent about four years looking for my PAM 111G when I finally managed to find a decent one earlier this year. I certainly imagine you'll find your SLA033 much sooner than that - looking forward to hearing about your adventures
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Old 14 August 2019, 10:33 PM   #9
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Great review/write up with unreal photos.

You know what they say, "Don't sweat the small stuff." While others say "The Devil is in the detail."

Impossible to win, just enjoy

Still waiting to find the perfect alternative strap/bracelet for the SLA033
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Old 14 August 2019, 10:34 PM   #10
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Yet another impressive review, thank you! Congratulations on this trio.
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Old 15 August 2019, 04:45 AM   #11
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Superb write up! Thank you!

The Seiko threads are really setting itself apart here.
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Old 15 August 2019, 11:05 PM   #12
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^Thanks for your kind words, lads!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lol-x View Post
You know what they say, "Don't sweat the small stuff." While others say "The Devil is in the detail."
Tru dat


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lol-x View Post
...Still waiting to find the perfect alternative strap/bracelet for the SLA033...
Regarding straps, @Leicashot managed to fit a 20mm OEM rubber (as found on the SBDX001 for example) and it looks like a perfect fit! I even asked him and he says fitting it (without any alterations) was easy. I'm not sure what spring bars he used but maybe he'll chime in...
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Old 16 August 2019, 12:51 AM   #13
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Travelller I just got my SLA033 and the second hand is clean on mine.

You might have a case to get that replaced if you want to push it.

I had an issue with the dial alignment on my 1978 Golden Tuna Re-issue and Seiko fixed it because they don't want LE out there with problems...so the usual "naked" eye standards aren't as rigid with the special editions.
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Old 16 August 2019, 01:05 AM   #14
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Travelller I just got my SLA033 and the second hand is clean on mine...
Congrats Looking forward to a wristshot

I had two units in front of me at the same time and (only) my 6x loupe and I noted that both had the very same finish. Ditto for my SBDX001 as noted in my pics above. Perhaps it was a "batch" of bad hands but I believe that once again Seiko wouldn't consider this an issue. I tried that route once and it didn't go well, so I'm not willing to go through that again. For sure I'll add a comment when getting it fully-serviced in 5~7 years' time.
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Old 18 August 2019, 10:13 AM   #15
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In action this weekend...



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Old 18 August 2019, 09:32 PM   #16
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Nice picture.
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Old 7 September 2019, 11:01 AM   #17
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Nice picture.
Thx

TGIF

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Old 29 September 2019, 11:19 AM   #18
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Lovin' it - #SeikoSaturday





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Old 29 September 2019, 11:51 AM   #19
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LOVE IT
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Old 27 October 2019, 12:34 AM   #20
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...LOVE IT


Yesterday's TGIF shot
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Old 27 October 2019, 10:00 PM   #21
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Good picture. I really like the SLA033.
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Old 9 November 2019, 12:52 PM   #22
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Regarding straps, @Leicashot managed to fit a 20mm OEM rubber (as found on the SBDX001 for example) and it looks like a perfect fit! I even asked him and he says fitting it (without any alterations) was easy. I'm not sure what spring bars he used but maybe he'll chime in...
That sounds interesting, I'd like to see that. If 20mm fits the SLA033 then that opens the door to a much wider range of strap options.
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Old 10 November 2019, 08:31 AM   #23
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19mm is it... unless your strap is thin and can be bunched up at the spring bars
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Old 10 November 2019, 09:33 PM   #24
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That sounds interesting, I'd like to see that. If 20mm fits the SLA033 then that opens the door to a much wider range of strap options.
Quote:
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19mm is it... unless your strap is thin and can be bunched up at the spring bars
I'm also surprised, tbh but here is one of his pics with the SBDX001's OEM strap on the SLA033....

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SLA033 for me today
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Old 11 November 2019, 11:39 AM   #25
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I'm sure if one was so inclined a skilled watchmaker could take 0.5mm off the inside of each lug to make the lug opening 20mm and that would be barely noticeable. The only thing is I don't know if the lug holes would still be long enough to take the spring bars.
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Old 14 November 2019, 09:22 PM   #26
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I'm sure if one was so inclined a skilled watchmaker could take 0.5mm off the inside of each lug to make the lug opening 20mm and that would be barely noticeable. The only thing is I don't know if the lug holes would still be long enough to take the spring bars.
Id definitely be more inclined to cut the strap at each ends than the watch case!
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