In the early 1960’s, Seiko debuted its first range of truly submersible sports watches in the form of the Seikomatic 50m J12082 SilverWave – like this early example from 1961, the seldom seen starburst dial variant – with an internal rotating countdown bezel.
The introduction of the SilverWave watch in 1961 marked a number of firsts for Seiko: it represented their first diver’s watch, their first watch with an inner rotating bezel, their first use of the tsunami wave symbol on the caseback, and their first automatic watch with a screw-down case back. For a brand that’s arguably better known for its divers than any other class of watch, their first diver makes the J12082 reference significant - there also exists limited evidence United States Special Forces officers preferred it, as well.
Throughout its relatively brief production run from 1961 to 1964, the original SilverWave was offered with a variety of dials. Black dials, white/silver dials, dials with a unique set of sunburst lines (referred to as Mark 1’s), different color internal bezels, and font changes highlight some of the changes that occurred.
Per Fratello’s resident Seiko guru Michael Stockton, “I’d contend that the Seiko SilverWave J12082 – like several other early attempts at divers by Japanese brands that I’ve reviewed – is about as good as it gets when it comes to wearing a watch…it contains little that’s superfluous, it’s light, functional, relatively practical, and there’s a link to Japan. To me, that makes it nearly perfect.”
This Seiko J12082 Silverwave starburst comes with a vintage stainless-steel BOR bracelet, nylon strap, hard plastic travel case, and springbar tool.
1961 Seiko J12082 SilverWave Starburst, Seiko's First Dive Watch
DIAL: Silver starburst SilverWave-signed dial, no blemishes. Correct dauphin hands, with matching lume - lume fades quickly. Dial has a spectacular "starburst" design, with applied silver markers with lumed rectangles at the inside edge at each. White inner tachmeyer ring rotates smoothy, as designed, albeit at rare times with a bit of a stutter.
CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 37mm x 44mm, with matching caseback etched with Seiko's famous Tsunami motif. The caseback is atypical, a two piece design.
CRYSTAL: Seiko steep dome acrylic crystal, no cracks.
BAND: Vintage generic stainless-steel beads-of-rice (BOR) braclet, which will fit up to an approx. seven inch wrist (at full extension). This SilverWave also comes with a dark blue, with light blue spots, nylon strap.
MOVEMENT: Seikosha Seikomatic 603 calibre automatic movement, with 20 jewels and 18,000 bph frequency; watch serial (on inside of caseback) dates the watch to July 1961. Later renamed the 6201, it’s the basis of all 62xx movements used in legendary vintage Seiko watches - such as the 62MAS and early 6215 300 meter diver.
CROWN: Unsigned stainless-steel crown.