Seiko Hi-Beat Diver

Seiko Hi-Beat Diver

The quest to produce a water-resistant wristwatch dates almost to the advent of wristwatches themselves. The First World War saw the advent of watches being worn on the wrist instead of tucked safely in waistcoat pockets, and they were exposed to the dusty, wet, and violent conditions of the battlefield to a far greater degree. Rolex was one of the first brands to tackle the problem of water-resistance with their Oyster case, which crossed the English Channel with British swimmer Mercedes Gleitze in 1927 and saw combat during the Second World War. The 1930s brough water-resistant offerings by Cartier and Omega: the Pasha de Cartier and the Omega Marine in 1932 and Omega's Marine Standard in 1939. But the introduction of the Aqua-Lung in 1942 and SCUBA in the 1950s necessitated a watch that could endure exposure to depths far deeper than ever seen before.

With the advent of SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) in the late 1950s, skin-diving as a sport became much more accessible to amateurs. Before electronic diving computers, watches were a crucial tool for divers, who needed them to calculate dive and decompression times, and they needed specialized, easy-to-read watches. Rolex and Blancpain's iconic dive watches were released during this time, the Submariner and Fifty Fathoms, and both have become the stuff of legend.

The success of Swiss divers such as the Submariner and Fifty Fathoms in the 1950s and 60s prompted another brand on an entirely different continent to follow suit. Since the 1880s, Seiko had been producing timepieces to rival their Swiss counterparts, but were relatively unknown to Western consumers. But the 1960s saw increased exposure to the Seiko name on a worldwide scale, in part due to the 1964 Summer Olympics, which were held in Tokyo. As official timekeeper for the Olympics, Seiko had produced its first chronograph, The Crown, and their participation in the Olympics inspired a sense of heightened pride in Japanese engineering and manufacturing. 

So when Seiko sought another category to prove its competitiveness with the Swiss, it was natually a a diver. Seiko released its first dive watch in 1965, the Reference 6217, which was water-resistant to 150 meters and, like the Submariner and Fifty Fathoms, had a rotating bezel, luminous hour markers, and a 17-jewel movement (Calibre 6127) with a beat rate of 18,000. It was an excellent effort, competitively-priced compared to Swiss divers, but for Seiko, it was only the beginning.

The successor to the 6217, was the watch we have here, a Reference 6159-7001. Introduced in 1968, the 6159 was powered by the Calibre 6159A, a hi-beat (36,000 bph) movement that was also used in the Grand Seikos of the time. The monocoque case  gave the 6159 increased water resistance to 300 meters and laid the groundwork for the wildly successful Seiko Marine Master divers of today. 

With a chunky-yet-comfortable stainless steel case and a bi-directional bezel with gold accents, the 6159 is a departure from most divers of the era, but works surprisingly well with modern aesthetics. Produced for only two years, 6159s are wildly collectable, and we have only landed a few in all of our years of collecting - this one being the nicest example by a broad margin. Don't wait, catch this one before it disappears into the deep!


Stainless steel monocoque case is approximately 44mm (excluding crown). Seiko Reference 6159-7001. Calibre 6159A Hi-Beat automatic movement. Circa 1969.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in excellent condition with signs of light wear and use in keeping with its age. Some light scratches on the sides and case back are visibly. Dial is in similarly excellent condition with no signs of discoloration or hand drag. No signs of refinishing are apparent. Unsigned crown. Signed case back is in very good condition, with only minor signs of wear.

Includes one 18mm rubber "tropic style" strap and two 18mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle

SKU: AS01512

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