Thursday, May 5, 2011

Seiko Izul Chronograph Video

The Izul chronograph is not mentioned much these days.  Released in 2007 and it is a marvel to look at.  Spring Drive chronograph.  Super cool rotary case design.  Check out the subdial hands.  They are the exact same shape used on Seiko stopwatches from the 1960's.


JapanWatchConnection said...

The reason why you do not see much, if any at all, discussion about these watches is because Seiko Japan suddenly discontinued the line in March 2009.

The rotary case models were the coolest of them all but they also had massive 51mm cases and did not sit quite well in smaller sized wrists. These also paid homnage to the stopwatches that Seiko developed for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games.

Another interesting tid bit about the Izuls was that they are the only known Spring Drive watches to offer the caliber 5R85 with no GMT function and 49 jewel count. The calibers 5R86/9R86 used today in the Ananta, GS and Galante lines all have GMT function and 50 jewel count. As far as I know, the 5R85 was made only for the Izul line and it is no longer produced.

Finally, the Seiko Spacewalk SD chronograph bullhead case design was borrowed directly from the defunct non rotary case Izul models. Next time compare both both and you'll see the same exact Chrono pushers, etc.

The Seiko Center in Paris, seems to carry the very last NOS stock of Seiko Izuls anywhere in the world:

JapanWatchConnection said...

Izul was also the fourth "Premium Brand" in Seiko Japan's product portfolio. It was positioned alongside the likes of Grand Seiko, Credor and Galante lines.

The 2007 launch of the Izul line coincided with the market debut of the Spring Drive chronograph movement, making it the most complicated mass market Spring Drive movement to date (Not counting the uber exotic Spring Drive grand complication movements used I'm the Credor Sonnerie watch of the time).

In 2007, three distinctive calibers of the SD chronograph movement were released:

5R85 - No GMT function and 49 jewel count. Exclusive use for Izul watches.

5R86 - GMT function and 50 jewel count. First launched in the international SD watches and subsequently used in the Ananta and Galante lines.

9R86 - GMT function and 50 jewel count. Used exclusively today in the Grand Seiko range of SD chronographs.

Seiko Japan intended Izul to be an exclusive line of ultra innovative and right down cool high end SD chronographs. Unfortunately, the rotary case models as well as the more standard bullhead models proved to be unpopular in the Japan domestic market. Prices were dangerously similar to the more conventional looking but equally more refined Grand Seiko Spring Drive chronographs, so buyers opted for the latter.

The final nail in the coffin came with the worldwide financial recession of late 2008. By then, the Izul brand was a money losing proposition and with the advent of the new Seiko Ananta line, Seiko decided to completely shutdown production of Izul SD chronographs in the Spring if 2009.

The brand was indeed short-lived and noe these watches are fairly rare and not well known making them sought after collectibles for those in the known.

As a lover of bullhead chronographs I would have liked to see Seiko further developing the concept and brand beyond the Japan domestic market. Unfortunately, lukewarm market response and the global financial crisis ultimately killed the Izul brand.

As the proud owner of a new Seiko Ananta Spring Drive GMT Chronograph SPS007J1, I can tell you that the 5R86 movement is perhaps the best and most accurate mechanical chronograph in production today. The Swiss watch industry has yet to produce a movement that matches or surpasses these Spring Drive calibers.

Highly recommended.

Spin Doctor said...

Seiko discontinues better pieces than most manufacturers sell.