We don’t often get excited about athlete-watch LEs – but like Ohtani, this one is different.
Shohei Ohtani is more than just a famous baseball player – he’s a generational star. For decades, fans of the game have grown up on tales of Babe Ruth, famously as good a pitcher as he was a hitter – and he was one hell of a hitter. He was the sort of larger-than-life character that simply doesn’t exist in today’s sporting world – that is until Ohtani took to the mound and the plate. A phenom and superstar in Japan, he was 24 when he made his Major League Baseball debut and proved that his abilities as both a pitcher and a slugger were no myth. This season alone, he’s had six games with 10 strikeouts and currently leads the entire league in home runs at 31.
Ohtani is the sort of star that more than warrants any endorsement deal he has. And it just so happens that one of those deals is with a watch brand. Given his Japanese heritage, it also just so happens that that brand is Seiko. Today, the brand is launching the presale of a special, limited edition – JDM only – Shohei Ohtani watch. History dictates that brand/sports figure watch collaborations usually leave a lot to be desired. Ohtani has changed the game in that regard.
Take a look at the Seiko SBDC191, a very thoughtful – and insanely cool – riff on the modern Prospex diver design theme. Taking pages right out of the SPB14XX playbook (if you haven’t, check out James Stacey’s A Week on the Wrist with the SPB143), this one is quite the looker.
Effectively identical to the aforementioned SPB14 series lineup, this watch offers all of the upper-level features of the higher-end Prospex divers from Seiko: the 6R35 movement with 70 hours of power reserve, 200m of water resistance, a dial inspired by the iconic Seiko 62MAS diver, the three o’clock date, the o’clock guard-less crown, and the comfortable bracelet with milled clasp.
Every aesthetic feature from bezel text to applied markers are the same as you’ll find on the SPB14 watches. And that’s what makes this so good – the SPB143 (and its brethren) was something of a smash hit upon its release in 2020. What this watch does is take that platform and add Easter eggs that relate to the LA Angels three-time All-Star and 2021 American League Most Valuable Player.
The most obvious element is the red accent color, which the SBDC191 takes from the Angels’ color scheme. You get it on the seconds hand and the red “Diver’s 200m” text. A neat little addition – which you could argue teeters on being hokey – is the inclusion of Ohtani’s signature as an engraving, but it’s not on the caseback where you’d expect it. Rather, it’s on the clasp, which I happen to think is pretty thoughtful and adds to the uniqueness of the limited model.
In terms of production numbers, the watch will be limited to 1,700 pieces and cost around $1,200 (187,000 Yen with tax included). Pre-orders open today, and it will officially go on sale on August 11 – the same day as the MLB All-Star Game in Seattle.
Even if you’re not a fan of Ohtani, baseball, or even sports, this is a really handsome take on a known Seiko dive aesthetic. If you are, however, an Ohtani fanatic and you happen to be a watch lover (which, come on – you’re here), you may want to jump on this pre-sale while there’s still time, though the fact that it’s only for the Japanese market may make that a little bit more difficult. And no, I won’t be making some low-hanging-fruit joke like “Seiko hit this one out of the park.” I just won’t do it.
Lead image: Getty/Ronald Martinez
Model: Prospex Diver Shohei Ohtani Limited Edition
Reference Number: SBDC191
Lug to Lug: 47.6mm
Case Material: Steel
Dial Color: Silver
Lume: Seiko’s LumiBrite
Water Resistance: 200m
Strap/Bracelet: Steel bracelet with fold-over safety clasp
Caliber: Seiko 6R35
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date.
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Price: $1,200 (187,000 Yen including tax)
Availability: August 11, 2023 only in Japan
Limited Edition: Yes, 1,700 pieces