Ginza Prospex Boutique - Polar Exploration Display
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Seiko Prospex Boutique in Ginza again. This was the first dedicated Prospex Boutique that was opened at the start of August 2019. I first visited the boutique in October last year and details of my visit can be found in an article here - Visit to the Seiko Prospex Boutique Ginza
During the first time I visited the boutique the new LX series of Prospex models had just been launched. This range was designed in conjunction with the famous Japanese industrial designer Ken Okuyama, and to show off the range the three tall cabinets on the right of the store had design sketches and examples of his previous works. When I visited the boutique this time the store window and display cabinets had been updated to include a display on Japanese Polar exploration and the connection with Seiko. Apparently the Boutique will change the contents of these display cabinets to match the different seasons, so it is definitely worth visiting the store again even if you have been before.
Front Window Display
The Polar exploration display was divided between the three major cabinets. The first of these cabinets, located closest to the front door, was dedicated to the famous Japanese mountaineer and adventurer Naomi Uemura. Uemura-san enjoyed outdoor activities while growing up and participated in the Meiji University mountaineering club in the 1960’s. In April 1965 he was in the first group of climbers to ascend Ngojumba Kang (Tenzing Peak) in Nepal. The following year he successfully made solo ascents of both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn and followed this with a solo ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro. In 1968 he successfully solo summited Aconcagua (the highest peak in South America) before beginning a solo 6,000km adventure down the Amazon river. In 1970 he became the first Japanese climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest and during this climb he wore the Seiko 6159-7001 divers watch. Divers watches are designed for extreme situations and consequently were often used for extreme sporting activities such as mountaineering. The same year he climbed Mount Everest Uemura went on to become the first solo person to climb Denali (Mt. McKinley).
Uemura Display Case
Watches & Historic Items
Watches & Historic Items
In 1971 Uemura-san participated in team expeditions to climb the north face of Grandes Jorasses and Mt. Everest, but both of these attempts ended in failure so he decided to concentrate on solo adventures. In preparation for a future Antarctic expedition he became the first person, in 1976, to complete a solo dog sled journey from Greenland to Alaska totalling 12,000km. For this expedition Uemura-san wore the Seiko 6105-8110 and became associated very closely with this model. The 61MC 022 is commonly known in many countries by the nickname “Willard” after the watch was worn by Martin Sheen when he played the character “Captain Willard” in the 1979 Apocalypse Now. In the Japanese market the 6105-8110 is commonly referred to by the nickname “Uemura”.
6105-8110 & 6195-7001
Two years after his Arctic journey Uemura became the first person to reach the North Pole via dog sled as a solo expedition in 1978. Six years later during the winter of 1984 Uemura-san disappeared on Denali while descending the mountain after successfully solo summiting the peak.
In the display cabinet there are numerous actual items owned by Uemura-san including a portable stove and cooking items, an axe, and backpack. There are also examples of the two watches that he was associated with that have been provided by the Seiko Museum.
Stove & Cooking Items
Book & Camera
The cabinet also houses the 2019 GPHG Divers Watch Prize that was awarded to the Seiko SBDB027 alongside an example of the actual watch.
GPHG Divers Watch Prize
SBDB027 & SBDB021
The second cabinet in the boutique is dedicated to Japanese adventurer Masatatsu Abe. So far in his journey he has travelled more than 30,000 on foot or manually powered means. In 2006 he transversed South America over a distance of 11,000km. In 2010 he completed the American Continental Divide Trail totalling 5,400km. In 2012 he travelled the Amazon by raft for 2,000km during the dry season. He has also walked 500km around the Canadian North Pole and then did it again on a longer route of 750km the following year. This was followed by a 1,200km journey on foot in Greenland. All of these achievements were accomplished solo.
Masatatsu Abe Display
LX SNR025 & SNR027
Snow Shoes & Jacket
In 2019 Abe became the first Japanese to successfully reach the South Pole on foot following the 918km Messner Route. During this expedition he wore the Seiko SBEJ001 Prospex Land Master automatic GMT and photos of the watch in action can be seen in the cabinet.
Photos from South Pole
Also in the cabinet are a set of snow shoes, jacket, ski poles, camera, maps, notebook, satellite phone, and signed flag from his most recent expedition. This year Abe is attempting to make a solo trek to the pole by attempting the Shirase route that is longer than either the normal or Messner routes and it involves crossing a mountain range with an elevation of 4,000m. This route has never been completed by a solo adventurer.
Signed Mission Flag & Satellite Phone
The third cabinet has a number of items from famous Japanese photographer Tsutomu Endo. From the 1990’s Endo-san travelled the world photographing snowboarding and extreme winter sports. As his career grew he also began to focus on the various indigenous people of the northern regions including Greenland and Siberia. During his travels he has worn a SBDX014 automatic Marinemaster tuna that appears to be on a leather bund strap that matches the one provided on the Seiko SBDC021 Prospex Fieldmaster. The SBDX014 Marinemaster is obviously evolved from the original 6159-7010 tuna. This watch can be seen in action in a couple of photos in the cabinet. Other items from Abe-san include gloves, a camera, and various indigenous tools and artefacts from the groups he has visited. Also in the cabinet are a pair of LX series GMT watches, the SBDB031 and SBDB025.
Tsutomu Endo Display
SBDX014 & 6159-7010
Gloves and Skin
It is fantastic to see all of these actual items from the different adventurers that have used Seiko models in their activities.Seiko has a strong history of involvement with polar exploration beginning in the mid-1960’s when the original Seiko diver the 62MAS was selected by the Japanese Antarctic Observing Winter Corps for four consecutive years from 1966. Since that time both Seiko mechanical and quartz watches have been selected by the team continuously, with the 62, 61, 63, 75, and H5 series divers all selected and utilized in the harsh conditions.An article detailing the testing of the 300m 6215-7000 by the Antarctic team can be seen in the November 1967 Seiko Sales issue.
Seiko Sales 1967.11 In addition to re-purposing the tough divers watches for polar exploration Seiko has also a proven history with the development of specialised watches for this application. For example for the 1994 attempt by Mitsurou Ohba 1994 to cross arctic on foot he needed a reliable watch that could assist with his navigation. As every gram counts on the journey Seiko produced a Landmaster model that utilized a new metal injection moulding (MIM) technique to produce a titanium one piece case. This technique reduced the watches weight from 140 grams to just 95 grams. The watch also had 24 hour GMT hand added to assist in quick confirmation of navigation to the pole. After his successful Arctic crossing Ohba-san made a special request for his Antarctic attempt to the pole. To meet his needs Seiko developed a special version of the Landmaster where the 24 hour hand rotated in an anti-clockwise direction. This model was later released as the Limited Edition SBCW023 Landmaster South Pole.
SBCW023 In 1997 Ken Noguchi became the youngest person to have climbed the highest peak on all 7 continents at age 25. When climbing Everest he was wearing the Prospex Landmaster Summiter. After this achievement he provided feedback to Seiko on the watches design and for his climb of Everest the following year he used the SBCW021 Landmaster Sagarmatha (Everest) that had been designed specifically for him. A Limited Edition SBCW027 based on this watch was also released in 1999, and a very similar model the SBDW003 was released in the same year but this had an upgraded 5M53 movement vs the 5M45 used in the SBCW021/027.
A brief history of the polar Landmaster models can be seen here - The History of Seiko Adventure Watches Landmaster
It is clear that Seiko has a very long and successful history being involved with polar exploration. When the Prospex Boutique changes their seasonal exhibits for winter next year they will have a wide range of options as to the models they can display.
As the Seiko Museum is currently closed, due to its relocation to Ginza, it is great to be able to see some historical models in the Prospex Boutique. In addition to the historical models and the special exhibits it is a great way to be able to see the complete Prospex line-up in a single location.
Model Display and Photo
If you are in the Tokyo region you should definitely stop by the Prospex Boutique in Ginza, in addition to checking out the Seiko Dream Square and Wako store. I would like to thank the Prospex Boutique manager Keita Chiba for his support during my visit to the boutique.
Boutique Manager Mr. Chiba
Seiko Prospex Boutique Ginza
Address: 4-5-4 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Opening hours: 10:30~19:00 Monday – Sunday
Languages spoken: Japanese, English, Chinese (Mandarin)
 Tokunaga, Ikuo. Seiko Divers Watch Evolution. World Photo Press, 2015, pp.70
 Seiko Sales. K. Hattori & Co. Ltd., November 1967, pp.37
  Goodall, John. A Journey in Time, The Remarkable Story of Seiko. Seiko Watch Corporation, 2003, pp.88-89