Just occasionally, a watch comes along with a back story that just leaves you captivated and charmed...
One example is this new release (or rather, two new releases) from Seiko: the Presage Porco Rosso.
In Italian, ‘porco rosso’ means ‘red pig’, which you might think is an unconventional name for a watch. But the red pig is exactly what makes these watches so special. They are inspired by a feature-length film “Porco Rosso,” created by the famous Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli.
As the names suggest, this is where Japan meets Italy, at least when it comes to popular culture. “Porco Rosso” is a swashbuckling tale of old-school aviation bravado, perhaps loosely modelled on the tales of the red baron. The film features an early pilot who can transform himself into a seaplane that looks like a flying pig (complete with Italian tricolour on the back) and chase flying bandits all over the Adriatic sea. It’s a beautiful bit of whimsy, combining the romance of the first days of flight with the freedom of chasing your dreams.
The bright red fictional aeroplane is called the Savoia S-21; Savoia (in English, Savoy) being the name of one of the ruling families of Italy, pre-unification. The film also features a real enthusiasm for engineering and pushing the boundaries, reflected by these two new watches: one with a white dial and one with a black dial. The watch with the white dial carries Seiko’s innovative spring drive movement while the black dial version pays respect to Seiko’s contribution to traditional horology with an automatic chronograph. But it’s the details that make it really beautiful: the face, for example, is inspired by the 1920s design of Porco Rosso’s aviation dials.
The history of the Presage Porco Rosso
Seiko is a brilliant ambassador for Japan and its culture with the Presage collection, and this latest special edition showcases yet another well-known export of this fascinating country: animation. The original Porco Rosso animated film dates back to 1992, with an English dubbed version coming out 10 years later. The Presage collection itself was born in 2016, with two stated aims: to highlight Seiko’s respect for Japanese craftsmanship and the company’s skill when it comes to traditional mechanical watchmaking. In the past, Presage watches have showcased Shippo enamel and Arita porcelain. This, however, is something entirely different.
Now to look at the specifics
- 42 millimetre case (black dial) or 40 millimetre case (white dial)
- In-house movements: 8R48 chronograph calibre with 45-hour power reserve (black dial), spring drive 5R56 calibre with date and 72-hour power reserve (white dial)
- Stainless steel case with super hard coating
- Sapphire crystal display case back
- Alternative strap available for each watch, in black and red
- Special presentation box, complete with message from Hayao Miyazaki: the film’s writer and director
- Only 600 pieces of the black chronograph to be released, 400 pieces of the white dial watch
- Priced at €5800 (chronograph) and €4100 (spring drive white dial)
Some of the most gorgeous details of this watch, in addition to the Porco Rosso motifs on the face (such as his tail colours) are found in the straps. They contain prominent red, white and green stitching, recalling the Italian flag. The result is arguably the most striking watch that Seiko has produced in the modern era, and the box and message from Miyazaki that comes with it are sure to make both pieces highly collectable.
“The two watches capture the passion for mechanical engineering and technology that underpin the film and explore the interface between function and design that the film’s director, Hayao Miyazaki, describes through the affectionate way that he depicts Porco’s airplane, the Savoia S-21. The artistry of traditional Japanese craftsmanship has been a central feature of the Presage collection since its introduction. Today, Presage introduces two new watches that reveal a completely different and more contemporary form of Japanese artistry.”
Some personal thoughts:
“As an owner of two of their most iconic models, I’ve been a huge fan of Seiko and their philosophy for as long as I can remember. However, one thing that the brand has perhaps been lacking up to now is an element of playfulness – their watches are pretty straight down the line – so it’s fantastic to see them take such a fun theme and pay tribute to it with so much enthusiasm. It’s expensive for what it is, but likely to turn into a wise investment over time. The best part of the watch? I love the engraving in Italian on the back: “a pig that doesn’t fly is just a pig.”
About Seiko Watches
Where do you begin to describe Seiko? The story started in 1881 and since then it's grown to become one of the most recognised companies in the world. Seiko is well-known among watch collectors for its extraordinary value but make no mistake: it can do premium too.
If you would like to explore more about this watch you can check out the Seiko website here.