Since Seiko launched its mid-range Presage line in 2016, it has made some serious waves in the watch world. While Grand Seiko is home to the Seiko Group’s most revered watchmaking techniques and most intricate designs, the Presage line is bringing some of this technological and design know-how to a wider audience. Last year’s Reference SPB073 and Reference SPB075 introduced enamel dials at an accessible price point, each under $2,000.
Now, Seiko has released the limited edition Presage Urush Byakdan-nuri Reference SPB085. First, the name. Urushi and byakdan-nuri are both Japanese lacquer techniques, considered to be the most elaborate and difficult among the plethora of techniques used. Seiko employs an aritst to administer the technique by hand, which takes two weeks to complete. The process involves adding layer after layer of jet-black laquer to the metal dial, polishing with a charcoal powder before each new layer is applied. After the black dial is completed, the byakdan-nuri process is used to create the rich colors of the subdials. Another coat of laquer is applied, followed by metallic powder, until the correct dial color changes. If that’s not enough, a third type of lacquer process is used to create the crescent moon power reserve indication.
The end result is an extremely interesting dial that takes on different colors in different lights and at different angles.
Like many other Seiko and Grand Seiko (and as is common in Japanese design), the watch takes its design cues from nature. The rich colors developed by the intensive laquer process should evoke the colors of a sky just before dawn. The dial is a deep midnight blue with the two subdials a chocolatey-burgundy color (how’s that description?). The power reserve resembles a golden crescent moon.
The dial sits in a 40.5mm stainless steel case and the watch is powered by Seiko’s automatic 6R21 movement, which features a 45-hour power reserve.