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A Month on the Wrist…it’s ’51MAS’ Time!

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  • A Month on the Wrist…it’s ’51MAS’ Time!

    The Seiko SBDC051, the JDM version of the SPB051, is the modern interpretation of the iconic 6217-8000/1 or the 62MAS—its common name after autoMAtic Selfdater. So, could it have as easily been nicknamed the 62MAD or 62UTE or 62TOE? Whatever the provenance of its ‘MAS’ moniker, it sure is catchy and has a distinctly Yuletide feel.

    I have worn this one watch daily (and nightly, but more on that later) for an entire month. Sure, it’s come off my wrist for brief moments of respite, but more for the timepiece’s own care than for my personal comfort. Such as when I’ve showered, played active, hard-knock sport, or washed the car. I’m not a monster. I would never subject one of my beloved watches to that kind of environmental abuse.

    By my account, this watch has been on my wrist for 31 days straight, or 744 hours, or 44,640 minutes, or 2,678,400 seconds, more or less, faithfully keeping (exceptionally) good time.

    I can’t recall the last time I’ve worn the same watch on the wrist for such an extended duration. Maybe before I started to amass any kind of personal collection?

    It was definitely way back when my beloved Citizen Eco Drive Titanium—now forever lost on a Wellington mountain-bike track due to a critically-failed bracelet link (may it rest in eternal peace…no doubt still ticking away keeping time if it has any sunlight exposure)—or my classic Omega Speedmaster Professional, or my yellow-accented Tissot PRC200 quartz chronograph, were my sole daily grails and beaters.

    The small nicks and gouges (ouch!) on my Speedmaster’s polished case are truly a testament to times when harder, and more indifferent, wearing of time was the norm for me. I didn’t know any better. (And lets not get into here the matter of wearing your watches hard. I’m all for that, but only when the timepiece can safely withstand the beating due to deliberate Diashielding or TEGIMENTing or Duratection or ice-hardening or submarine-steeling or <insert proprietary case-hardening method of choice>. And even then, I just like to keep my shiny things shiny.)

    I fondly remember that long ago time. A time when I hadn’t yet begun ‘collecting’ (because, let me be clear, it sure hasn’t been ‘investing’) but when I most definitely appreciated the aesthetic beauty and sheer sense of specialness and cachet of a thoughtfully-designed, solidly-engineered and exquisitely-crafted wristwatch. Sigh. Those were the days. A simpler time.

    Nowadays, a single watch is damn lucky to get 24 hours straight on the wrist before it’s tossed aside (okay, wiped clean of daily grime and the body’s essential oils, and then placed gently in its rightful place in a cushioned watch box) in favour of another timepiece waiting impatiently to take its turn.

    What watch should I wear today? A decision that’s entirely at the fanciful whim of a capricious watch owner possessing far more timepieces than is reasonable for any sane human being…but never quite enough pieces to satisfy the desire from an endless parade of watches out there in the Universe. It’s a sickness, an obsession, an addiction—one must admit. Always looking for a new ‘drug’, scrounging funds for the next ‘fix’, pulse quickening in anticipation of wrapping the newest infatuation around the naked wrist, neglecting lifelong relationships for the novelty of a new love. But it’s safer (and surely less destructive) than meth or heroin, am I right?

    Which finally brings me back to the SBDC051, or let’s just call it the 51MAS, as a contemporary homage to the venerable 62MAS. It’s a truly handsome, solid and fun watch to wear. It has just enough of the retro vintage 62MAS vibe to remind one that you’re wearing something with some real horological backstory, and with enough contemporary design and engineering cues to stand out as a totally competent Seiko Prospex diver that is built to last. And shine. Because this little piece’s case and bracelet has plenty of facets, angles and surfaces—some polished, some brushed—that will reflect and sparkle more than a unicorn dancing on a rainbow. I like shiny things.

    When I first learned of the classic 62MAS, it was another of those love at first sight experiences. Something about its unassuming case shape, its radiant dial, rectangular markings and the slender handset just felt simple and right. But I knew that I’d never own an original, nor was likely to want to put down the high stakes for the recent reissue. But, the modern interpretation…well, yes, that was within sight but just wasn’t a priority. I was taking a break. It wasn’t until I’d had a hiatus away from Timekeepers and watch-fanaticism—and an opportune semi-regular meet up with Hammers, Deerworrier and Anzac1957 in Kapiti—that this timepiece was ultimately delivered straight onto my bare wrist (after some hasty and risky bracelet adjustments at the restaurant table!) And it’s been there ever since.

    Can the contemporary 51MAS scratch the itch left by the ghost of the 62MAS? No. But then, it’s probably not trying to. It’s trying to be its own watch with its own identity and unique wrist-feel. I’m okay with that because it looks and feel great. The bracelet is a particular star because it draws the ample case to my wrist, counterbalancing the head with secure-articulation around the underside. Did I mention it’s shiny?

    This piece has the best dial lume of any watch I own. The latest generation LumiBrite from Seiko is a stand-out success to my nighttime vision and middle-aged myopia. I’ve been wearing the 51MAS on the wrist at night when sleeping because I can depend on the markers and handset lume to continue shining legibly through an entire nocturnal sleep-cycle. No more squinting at the bedside clock or stabbing at the iPhone screen to check what weird hour of the night I’m not sleeping through. A convenient relief.

    And these last words draw to an end for me this Month on the Wrist experiment that I’ve been conducting. It’s taken all my self-discipline to not wear another beloved timepiece for the day, or even a few hours, but it has helped me bond again with all the watches sitting expectantly in their cases. I’ve wound them, even wiped and polished them, but have denied wearing them. That all changes from now. Merry 51MAS!


  • #2
    Nice write up Spock!

    Comment


    • #3
      Bravo! Great read. I've a new piece coming and have promised myself I'll give it a month on the wrist, but it'll doubtless end up being a day or two! The 51MAS sure is a lovely piece, and every bit the future classic.
      If I think of something witty, I'll be sure to write it here.

      Comment


      • #4
        You like it then
        'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' - but lets face it some people have better eyesight than others!

        Comment


        • #5
          Spock, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on the SBCD051. A brilliant write-up with lots of insights into the man-machine connection, sprinkled with enough humour to make an informative read an entertaining one. I like that you’ve aptly named the Seiko “51MAS” ...but in Paragraph 9, seeing the words desire, obsession, pulse-quickening, infatuation, naked, and love within the space of two sentences really made me pause to think whether this watch-thing is still a good idea

          Just in case the name “62MAS” still keeps you wondering from time to time though, it’s actually a very interesting aspect to ponder, and here’s my take on it. You are right that, in our current time, “62MAS” is indeed a nickname or moniker, like how enthusiasts and collectors have given names like Tuna, Monster, or Sumo. That is, these commonly-referred-to names were not those that Seiko came up with when the watches first sold, but rather reached by popular consent over time. However, how “62MAS” originated was different—it was adopted from a Seiko-derived name.

          To us enthusiasts and to the current Seiko Watch Corp, “62MAS” refers to a watch, Japan’s First Diver 6217-8000/1. In 1965 however, “62MAS” was not a watch at all, but what I term the Reference Type of the movement Calibre 6217A, i.e. “6217A” is the Movement Number, while “62MAS” is the calibre’s Reference Type. These Reference Types existed in the 1960s and 1970s. So, what is a Reference Type, and why are there no longer Reference Types for Seiko movement?

          In modern times, Seiko manufactures a handful of movements, and their watch designers have a job of “purposing” these movements into watches to offer to the market. It is why we see entry-level automatics like the 7S26, 4R35/6, and mid-range automatics like the 6R15 equipping a large array of watches, from dress and gents’ to outdoor sports and ISO diver’s watches. In the 1960s and much of the 70s, things were different and Seiko only produced movements to meet specific purposes specified by the designer, i.e. back when engineers, not accountants, ruled the world For instance, Cal. 6217A and 6105 were specifically for divers and nothing else, so in a way (that it is not nowadays), the movement was the watch.

          We no longer see this practice among mainstream Seiko nowadays. Quartz Cal 7C4x series comes to mind, though its hosts are hardly mainstream… The funny thing is that, beyond collector’s familiarity with the “62MAS” name, vintage Reference Type for other popular Seiko movements are hardly known, even among hardcore Seiko fans. If I mention to a Seiko enthusiast that I picked up mint original 61SPM and 61NT for a hundred each, he is unlikely to be impress. I would get a much more positive response by saying mint original Seiko Chronograph 6139-7010 (61SPM) and Navigator Timer 6117-8000 (61NT).

          The source of “MAS” have most people scratching their heads, but that’s the fault of the reference literature on-line not thinking a step further (autoMAtic… seriously?). You see, in the mid-1960s when automatic self-winding movements were becoming mainstream, Seiko did not call their watches “Seiko Automatic” (implying an alternative to other Swiss and Japanese automatics, made by Seiko), but instead, “Seikomatic” (implying not just any ordinary auto ). In Japanese, the pronunciation for “Seikomatic Self-winding” would be along the line of Seiko-MAtikku Serufuwaindingu (Seiko-MAS).

          By 1970, the nomenclature for the Reference Type had changed, and “MAS” was dropped, in favour of “A” for Automatic, but still following the Movement Series (61, 70, 56, etc.). “C” is for Date, while “W” is Day/Date. So, if we were to follow the last nomenclature of the 70s, the current Cal 6R15 would have a Reference Type “6R” + “A” + “C” = 6RAC ...But of course, there’s nothing wrong with choosing the superseded 60s nomenclature, which would make the 6R15, a 6RMAS.
          Last edited by Don; 18-12-18, 22:14.
          On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.

          Comment


          • #6
            Nice one Spock.
            I completely agree about the lume...there is something fluid about it that I cannot explain.
            I enjoy the lume on my SBDC053 more than my Pelagos and it is more legible at a glance without the bezel glowing.
            I was a one watch guy until I got my first SEIKO

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Don View Post
              Spock, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on the SBCD051. A brilliant write-up with lots of insights into the man-machine connection, sprinkled with enough humour to make an informative read an entertaining one. I like that you’ve aptly named the Seiko “51MAS” ...but in Paragraph 9, seeing the words desire, obsession, pulse-quickening, infatuation, naked, and love within the space of two sentences really made me pause to think whether this watch-thing is still a good idea

              Just in case the name “62MAS” still keeps you wondering from time to time though, it’s actually a very interesting aspect to ponder, and here’s my take on it. You are right that, in our current time, “62MAS” is indeed a nickname or moniker, like how enthusiasts and collectors have given names like Tuna, Monster, or Sumo. That is, these commonly-referred-to names were not those that Seiko came up with when the watches first sold, but rather reached by popular consent over time. However, how “62MAS” originated was different—it was adopted from a Seiko-derived name.

              To us enthusiasts and to the current Seiko Watch Corp, “62MAS” refers to a watch, Japan’s First Diver 6217-8000/1. In 1965 however, “62MAS” was not a watch at all, but what I term the Reference Type of the movement Calibre 6217A, i.e. “6217A” is the Movement Number, while “62MAS” is the calibre’s Reference Type. These Reference Types existed in the 1960s and 1970s. So, what is a Reference Type, and why are there no longer Reference Types for Seiko movement?

              In modern times, Seiko manufactures a handful of movements, and their watch designers have a job of “purposing” these movements into watches to offer to the market. It is why we see entry-level automatics like the 7S26, 4R35/6, and mid-range automatics like the 6R15 equipping a large array of watches, from dress and gents’ to outdoor sports and ISO diver’s watches. In the 1960s and much of the 70s, things were different and Seiko only produced movements to meet specific purposes specified by the designer, i.e. back when engineers, not accountants, ruled the world For instance, Cal. 6217A and 6105 were specifically for divers and nothing else, so in a way (that it is not nowadays), the movement was the watch.

              We no longer see this practice among mainstream Seiko nowadays. Quartz Cal 7C4x series comes to mind, though its hosts are hardly mainstream… The funny thing is that, beyond collector’s familiarity with the “62MAS” name, vintage Reference Type for other popular Seiko movements are hardly known, even among hardcore Seiko fans. If I mention to a Seiko enthusiast that I picked up mint original 61SPM and 61NT for a hundred each, he is unlikely to be impress. I would get a much more positive response by saying mint original Seiko Chronograph 6139-7010 (61SPM) and Navigator Timer 6117-8000 (61NT).

              The source of “MAS” have most people scratching their heads, but that’s the fault of the reference literature on-line not thinking a step further (autoMAtic… seriously?). You see, in the mid-1960s when automatic self-winding movements were becoming mainstream, Seiko did not call their watches “Seiko Automatic” (implying an alternative to other Swiss and Japanese automatics, made by Seiko), but instead, “Seikomatic” (implying not just any ordinary auto ). In Japanese, the pronunciation for “Seikomatic Self-winding” would be along the line of Seiko-MAtikku Serufuwaindingu (Seiko-MAS).

              By 1970, the nomenclature for the Reference Type had changed, and “MAS” was dropped, in favour of “A” for Automatic, but still following the Movement Series (61, 70, 56, etc.). “C” is for Date, while “W” is Day/Date. So, if we were to follow the last nomenclature of the 70s, the current Cal 6R15 would have a Reference Type “6R” + “A” + “C” = 6RAC ...But of course, there’s nothing wrong with choosing the superseded 60s nomenclature, which would make the 6R15, a 6RMAS.
              Thank you Don for that fabulous background information and context. I love learning about that kind of arcane history! Wonderful stuff.




              Live Long & Prosper!

              Comment

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