UPDATE: In zeal, we missed that this product, while new to the USA and likely all places outside of Japan, has already been released (recently) as a different model in Japan, and is not likely a smartwatch (yet). The non-Seiko-branded Epson WristableGPS fitness watch collection (here) is a “smarter” activity watch with a neat new easy-to-see screen technology. The J-300 models and the J-350 models which are going to be released in Japan (no prices yet) will come to the USA likely re-branded as Seiko. Though we still don’t know what the J-367 series is all about. My statements below about Seiko’s strategies remain salient, but this product is not likely to be a fully fledged Seiko smartwatch (for now). In the North American market the products will likely go by the name Seiko ProSense GPS Sport watch.
Japanese Seiko will soon enter the smartwatch market with the upcoming Seiko J-300, J-307, J-347, and J-367 “GPS Sport” smartwatches. Actually, these are product names Seiko has registered with the FCC for sales in the United States, but it is unclear if all these models will be released at the same time or if some of them might be available only in certain markets. Moreover, it is possible that Seiko might even change the names prior to their release. My theory is that Seiko is about to release two different smartwatches, each that comes in two different styles (such as colors).
Also Japanese competitor Casio already has two smartwatches that it has released with the WSD-F10 and the newer for 2017 WSD-F20. Casio was the first of the “big three” (Citizen, Casio, Seiko) Japanese watchmakers to enter the “modern” smartwatch market which means fully connected touchscreen devices. Despite the Japanese watchmakers each being diehard competitors of one another, they also tend to follow each other’s lead and offer similarly-equipped products. This is especially true when it comes to the most modern timepieces they make. For example, each of the three companies has aggressively competed with one another when it comes to having GPS-equipped (non-smart) watches. Seiko’s GPS watch collection is known as the Astron, but it doesn’t look like the upcoming Seiko GPS sport watches will carry the Astron name.
All we have to go by now are a few caseback shots that Seiko needed to submit to the FCC. As is normal, Seiko requests that the rest of the information about the upcoming products be confidential so that nosey watch nerds like ourselves need to wait for their official announcement. Speaking of official announcements, unlike the vast majority of products released by Seiko, I do not believe the GPS Sport smartwatches will be released at Baselworld 2018, but rather much in advance of that in the later summer, fall, or winter of 2017.
Seiko seems to be going by two different possible product names for their upcoming smartwatches, and those are Seiko WristableGPS and Seiko ProSense. It is possible that the same product might have different names depending on the market in which it is released. It is rather common for Japanese products in Japan to have totally different titles and even reference numbers than those sold outside of Japan – though I’ve never quite known why.
While we don’t yet have many details, we can deduce a lot about the upcoming Seiko GPS Sport smartwatches from the available information. Two things already jump out as being distinct from the Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F10 collection of smartwatches. First is the placement of caseback heart rate sensors on the J-300, J-307, J-347, and J-367 watches – which the Casio smartwatches lack. Of course, many other smartwatches available today have heart rate monitors including the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S3, and more. This should further add fuel to the notion that Seiko is specifically intending for the ProSense and WristableGPS watches to be for fitness tracking and activity purposes (i.e., a sports activity watch).
Let me be clear – that information does not specifically indicate that these upcoming Seiko GPS Sport watches are in fact smartwatches. Indeed, it is possible (although not likely, in my opinion) that these are more traditional watches with enhanced sensors including GPS, Bluetooth, and a heart rate sensor. Having said that, I really can’t imagine Seiko getting close to offering a smartwatch, and then actually not doing so. It is true, for example, that the Casio GPW-2000 has both Bluetooth and GPS but is mostly like a traditional watch versus a smartwatch.
What the Casio GPW-2000 doesn’t have however are exposed metal connectors which are the hallmark of where a charging cradle/cable/dock attaches. This feature implies that the Seiko ProSense and WristableGPS watches will need to be recharged on a regular basis – which is unlike the de rigueur practice of many other Japanese “intelligent” watches (such as the Astron) being powered by light versus battery changes or other means. Further, the overall case shape, perceived thickness, and width (of at least 45mm wide), as well as case design and cladding all seem to point to a smartwatch versus traditional watch case construction.
Speaking of the ProSense and WristableGPS cases, Seiko seems to have a more durable and slightly less durable option. The J-300 and J-307 have a case which is water resistant to 50 meters, while the J-367 and J-347 models have cases which are water resistant to 100 meters. This latter spec would exceed Casio, Samsung, and Apple’s water resistance rating of 50 meters. The only other smartwatches I know which have 100 meters of water resistance (which more or less means they are for for light diving and pretty much all swimming) is produced by Garmin in the Fenix smartwatch collection.
“Made in Japan” fans will be happy to see that Seiko is building their smartwatches in Japan, and not other parts of Asia as they do with their less expensive models. The cases appear to be mostly plastic, which to me implies that they are built to be as light as possible, durable, as well as not too expensive. I am fully expecting prices of around $300 – $600 for the ProSense and WristableGPS smartwatches. Note that while we can’t tell for sure, the case appears to have five buttons on it. Seiko likely will include a touchscreen, but buttons make a good case for themselves (especially in water).
Seiko also seems to include quick-release straps, which is not something I’ve seen them do in the past. This implies they are following current trends by allowing customers to not only change straps in order to match their style, but presumably also to purchase some of those straps from Seiko directly. I’ll be honest that if these watches didn’t actually say “Seiko Epson Corp.” on them, they would have pretty much no hallmarks of being a Seiko product based on my experience with the company.