Ever faced with the seemingly trivial task of picking two or three (or more!) watches to pack into your luggage for a business or holiday? Well, if you were to ask a non-WIS they would give you the same look when their girlfriend or spouse asks you which clothes they should bring to accompany you to the trip.
I’m one of the doomed WIS folks who actually gets a little stressed up planning which three of my watches (I usually take along three) for the journey. One would definitely be my trusty Casio Pro-Trek PRG110V for its high tech electronic compass, atmospheric barometer/altimeter and temperature gauge. The remaining two are likely to be a diver and a chronograph.
Then I’d get even more indecisive – should both watches be vintage or modern…or one each? Would my vintage 6105-8110 diver be more appropriate for tonight’s dinner out in company of good friends? Or should my Citizen AV0030-59 Eco Drive be a better choice instead?
Wouldn’t it nice is someday a watch company would invent something that manages to cram as many features into a watch, plus the proverbial kitchen sink?
Well, we’ll see won’t we?
Prototypes which never made it to the production line
It’s not unknown that in the past, Seiko’s designers have come up with interesting concept watches that never got off the ground. Which is sort of a shame as if the company went ahead to produce and market them the watches would receive a warm response from the WIS community.
The first watch below was a prototype white dialed, 300m diver, which appeared in the forums a few years back. It was the result of an internal competition within Seiko in 2006 to see who could come out with a winning, fresh design. Seiko watch pundits lauded and loved it, wondering if the company would actually go ahead and produce it. And hopefully price it at down-to-earth, affordable prices too.
If you examine the dial closely, you will see absolutely no dial markings or text whatsoever. This is perhaps consistent with Seiko’s pre-production watches, having no final dial markings. Which means it’s anyone’s guess whether the movement would be automatic or quartz.
Top: A winning prototype design of 2006, which was an object of desire for many collectors, including me.
Going by Seiko’s current tradition that their timepieces are always quartz by default unless stated otherwise on the dial, my personal prediction is that this particular diver, should it had become a reality would have been fitted with either the heavy duty 7C46 or the cheaper 7N36 caliber used in the SBBN007/SBBN011 and Sawtooth divers respectively.
Worse comes to worst, a 7s36 automatic movement would have been used instead – making it Seiko’s first 300m diver’s watch based on a 7s-caliber (at the time, the new 22-jeweled 4R16 automatic caliber had not been introduced).
The watch would have been a sure fire winner if the company actually produced and sold it. The “Diver’s 300m” moniker suggests that if it ever made it to production, it would not be a Japan Domestic Market (JDM) model (JDM models always use the word Scuba in place of Diver’s).
Anyway, this 300m diver is just a prototype and Seiko’s designers can print whatever they want on the dial.
Top: The Type III may pave the way towards future sports dress Seikos with a retro touch
The second watch, dubbed the “Type III”, looks more like a nondescript sporty-dressy Seiko. It reminds me of one of the discontinued Seiko 5 Superiors from several years ago and this one has a very nice clean, relatively uncluttered dial.
A design like the Type III would deserve a caliber such as the hacking and auxiliary winding, 6R15. The integrated case and bracelet molding is a throwback to some of Seiko’s famous mechanical sports watches from the early 70s, like the 6119 and 6106 for example. I kind of like it too.
Umm. The Type III is definitely a watch on my “hit list, if it ever comes out. Hopefully it would be in automatic guise instead of quartz.
Enter the Mediocritist
Thanks to a few sources in the Japanese watch industry who declined to be named, preliminary photos of the Seiko Mediocritist leaked and a good “bird” promptly forwarded these prototype blueprints to me for my perusal and analysis.
Reportedly, the Mediocritist wasn’t part of Seiko’s internal design competition. It was an “unofficial” major joint collaboration of a 500-strong force of twenty-something male Japanese volunteers who spend twenty of their waking hours in front of their computers playing games, subsisting on Western fast food instead of their traditional Japanese fare.
Top academic qualifications were non essential as a qualification but a volunteer must excel in online PC gaming, graphics design and preferably be a couch potato. That combination pretty sounds quite strange to me but then the most outrageous-but-successful ideas often emanate from total “out-of-the-box” thinking. Just ask Steve P. Jobs of Apple Inc!
In a sort of a low key “Skunk Works” project, the design volunteers were asked to incorporate the following characteristics in a watch:
World time function
And any other function they could think of
By early January 2009, the results were collated and and a six-member jury panel decided on this particular design. The official name hadn’t been decided yet but some insiders nicknamed it the Seiko “Mediocritist”, in the likes of Seiko’s existing sub-lines such as the Criteria, Alpinist, Brightz, Sportura and Arctura.
Top: The leaked photo of the Mediocritist. (Original artist unknown)
Here’s a better closeup of the Seiko Mediocritist. Note that it incorporates influences and design elements of several existing and discontinued Seiko watches, including the:
- SBDR001 Sky Professional (H023)
- SLT109P Milemarker (8F56)
- SLQ017J Sportura Kinetic Chronograph (9T82)
- SNL017J Sportura Kinetic Chronograph (7L22)
- SNA411P “Flightmaster” Alarm Chronograph (7T62)
- and many others
Top: A better view of the Seiko Mediocritist’s dial. Note the extended Swiss Army knife.
The dial is a bit too cluttered for my taste, but should satisfy the most demanding tech savvy watch enthusiasts. You get a dual-display here – the conventional analog hands plus the digital display, which can be set to a different time zone to your liking. Not to mention 30-odd international time zones too, perfect for the travelling jet setter!
A 1/10sec chronograph counter ensures precision stopwatch timing and a fan shaped 45-minute totalizer and legible 60-second register completes the chronograph department.
In case you’re wondering what the text “BS” beneath the “Seiko” logo stands for, it’s not what you normally think it is. It actually stands for ”Brightz-SUS”, two of Seiko’s renowned Japan market sub-ranges.
Now, I’m not sure why the Swiss Army tool kit is integral to the Mediocritist – but after all, if you need just one watch and no more, this is THE watch to own! Use of the extendable tool kit is self-explanatory; if you already have a Swiss Army knife there’s no need to elaborate what it’s for.
Promo material for the Mediocritist
Like the existing international line Arctura, Sportura, Premier and Velatura models, a promotional newsprint ad for the Seiko Mediocritist also followed suit. It adheres to the Seiko’s world famous advertisement tag line:
“It’s Your Watch That Tells About Most Who You Are”.
Top: Pre-release newsprint ad for the Seiko Mediocritist
Seiko is tight lipped on the Mediocritist, which is not to be unexpected of a watch company that often gives cryptic, canned responses to the enquiring public on the intimate details of their products. One can only play the guessing game as to what sort of caliber Seiko will come out to power the Mediocritist.
A Seiko spokesperson, who spoke on condition of using the alias Ms “Pikachu Tamagotchi”, hinted that the Mediocritist would ultimately pose a serious headache to their movement engineers, who will have to figure out how to mate an automatic movement to a Kinetic one which will power the LCD display for the digital time readout – at the same time incorporating solar panels to recharge the internal lithium ion cell.
The good news is that with the Kinetic and solar charging technology, there would be no need for battery replacement, ever.
When pressed further, she admitted that Seiko’s engineers will need more research to develop an electro-mechanical Swiss Army tool knife extender but refused to divulge beyond that.
Ms Tamagotchi was however confident that, should this prototype prove to be a resounding success in field trials by the third quarter of 2009, the Tokyo based watch manufacturer will be introducing several models initially marketed in Japan by the year 2020.
Although preliminary estimates of the Mediocritist’s MRSP were not available, I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be selling for approximately 480,000 Yen (USD4,861) when it finally hits the stores in Japan. Nah, I’d rather buy a Grand Seiko for that kind of money.
No physical dimensions were supplied by the spokesperson, but from the looks of the print ad, I’d estimate the case being something at least 65mm in diameter, without crown. Only God knows how thick or heavy the Mediocritist would be.
In a final question to her, when asked why the Mediocritist didn’t come with features like built-in digital camera, GPS, WLAN, HSDPA (3.5G) broadband connection and Bluetooth, Tamagotchi merely said “We are a watch company and always has been. We did experiment with a Seiko Bluetooth enabled digital watch, but it wasn’t selling that well. Probably too big for the wrist” and added with a grin, “Anyway, you can always buy a Sony Ericsson watch for Bluetooth and telephony!”
Pre-release advance booking of the Mediocritist will commence in January 2019.
Top: A Sony Ericsson Bluetooth analog-digital watch, model MBW-150
Originally posted 2009-04-01 10:23:00.