Some refreshing Seiko newness
Seiko, as a brand, needs no introduction. It’s become a household name brand for affordable, reliable watches. Even before I became watch enthusiast I’ve already heard of Seiko, and having never owned one till this year, I always knew that they were the go-to brand if you’re looking for an affordable and reliable timepiece.
What Seiko is to the affordable watch market is, dare I say, what Rolex is to the luxury watch market--it’s the Mercedes Benz syndrome, I guess. Looking for a posh luxury car? Get a Benz. An expensive luxury watch? Rolex. An affordable watch that will last you forever? Seiko.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, not even remotely. A reputation like this isn’t something that is built overnight, it’s earned through years of producing fantastic, reliable timepieces that offer incredible value for your money. But with all that said, there’s more to Seiko than just affordable timepieces.
The more seasoned enthusiasts among you may know that Seiko holdings corporation not only holds the Seiko brand that we’re familiar with but also hold brands that can stand toe to toe against the best Swiss luxury watches such as the Grand Seiko and Credor. Which all opinions aside, are some of the finest luxury watches available in the market today. And I’m not talking about watches that cost several hundred or thousands, the prices of some of these higher-end pieces from GS and Credor could easily settle the down-payment of a really posh car.
I believe the more accurate term for Seiko wouldn’t be the brand to turn to for an affordable watch, but rather, the brand that offers the best-valued watch. Whether they’re in the price bracket of a few hundred dollars or several thousand, Seiko’s watches offer high-quality fit, finish and thought that far exceeds the price that you paid for. And that is what we’re here for, whether you’re looking for an entry-level piece or a true high-end timepiece, what are the best new Seiko watches you can get today?
The first of the lot will be the S23635J1 Quartz Tuna, this design is the direct descendent of one of Seiko’s most iconic and recognizable models; The 1975 6159-7010. With its heavily protected case made for use in both the roughest depths, and the professional environment too. With the ceramic shroud protecting the titanium case, the watch quickly earned the moniker ‘Tuna can’. The one we have today is much more simplified and wearable, while still retaining the design hallmarks of its bigger brothers.
This rather special Tuna is a watch that will certainly bring the smile back for the purists who love the iconic design of the watch, and its heritage too. The watch is powered by a quartz movement, and before you mechanical purists start marching out with your pitch forks, this isn’t any old off the shelf quartz movement. It is the upgraded 7C46 high-precision quartz movement that powered the original 1986 Tuna, which has an impressive battery change interval of about 5 years.
It comes in a rather chunky 49.9mm case with a ceramic outer shroud protecting a titanium inner case. Striking is what we would use to describe the case of this watch, and paired with the gorgeous sunburst-blue gradient dial, the Tuna is as cool in its appearance as it is a serious performance diver. With a 1000m water resistance rating, it wasn’t meant for just taking a simple splash or dip in a pool or lagoon, but is really meant to be an essential tool for saturation divers.
It is a properly technical construction too, omitting a helium escape valve for something a bit more innovative. Instead of a valve, the boffins at Seiko opted for an L-type gasket and a one-piece case to keep helium out. Because almost no helium gas can enter the case, the inner pressure of the case does not turn into high-pressure when diving, hence nullifying the need for a helium escape valve.
While the S23635J1 Tuna is an expensive watch, for what it is; a proper performance saturation dive watch with innovative features and a highly precise movement. It is a rather nice collector’s item for those in the know, and for those looking for an alternative luxury dive watch.
The dress watch is a staple in every man’s wardrobe, it is the most quintessential timepiece a man can ever own. Traditionally simple, telling nothing but the time and not even the seconds, but if you’re the sort who has ever looked at a dress watch and wondered; is that all? Then fret not because the Seiko Presage SPB111J1 Green Enamel might just be the saving grace to your woes. With a dress watch conventionally having only two hands, and simple markers on a simple dial, the SPB111J1 would visually fit the bill perfectly. With just 3 hands and a date window at 3, it is as classically correct as a dress watch should be. It’s a properly functional and legible timepiece with contrasting markers and dial, but functionality isn’t what we’re here for, at least for most of us.
As the name suggests, this watch has a dial that isn’t just a plain sheet of metal with applied indexes, but one that is incredibly complex to make. It is an enamel dial. Which, as is often with most of watches in this collection, is inspired by Japan’s landscapes and artistry. The green dial is a reference to Japan’s lush cedar forests. For those of you who aren’t sure of what exactly enamel is, it is essentially a piece of soft glass or porcelain that is heated and painted by a craftsman to perfection in a process that often yields more failures than success. Needless to say, it’s a pain in the ass to make. Each dial alone is the result of painstaking efforts over a number of weeks because of the immense complexity and artistic skillset required for the completion of such a dial. Meant to reflect the colors of the lush green forests of Japan. Powered by an in-house 6r35 automatic caliber and paired with that stunning green dial, the SPB111J1 is a worthy testament to fine Japanese watchmaking and craftsmanship.
An essential type of watch that every collection should have would have to be the field watch, and we can’t talk about classic field watches without looking at the Seiko 5 SNK series. Those watches, on paper, are pretty much the perfect military-style field watch; compact 37mm case, durable nylon Nato strap, 100m water resistance, simple muted legible dial with bold numerals applied with generous amounts of lume and a robust automatic caliber. There's only one gripe that I have with the watch, and that it's 7s26 movement does feel a bit too dated especially in our time now.
But thankfully, Seiko did give us a replacement in the form of the new SRPG line-up. A series of handsome 39mm affordable military style field watches, that in my opinion, are the perfect modern replacements of the iconic SNK series. The one we’ll be looking at in particular will be the SRPG39K1. With a lovely navy-blue dial, applied Arabic indexes and a neat day-date display tucked at 3 O’clock. It’s a properly refined field watch that is perfect for every day wear.
It also comes with a nice exhibition case-back for you to enjoy the otherwise spartan looking 4r36 caliber. It isn’t a nicely decorated or finished movement but then again it was never meant to. It’s a tool watch after all, and the almost industrial looking movement perfectly complements the nature and character of this watch. If you’re looking for a classic, timeless and rugged everyday wear/beater with plenty of character and an easy-to-change strap, then you can’t go wrong with the new SRPG39K1.
Inspired by the classic 62-MAS, Seiko’s original dive watch that made its debut in 1965, the Seiko SPB239J1 is, in my opinion, one of the nicest looking divers you can buy today for under two thousand dollars.
There’s plenty to like about this watch right off the bat. From the uniquely subtle tropical gradient dial to the immaculate finishing around the entire watch and of course, the in-house movement that is powering it.
Though it is really the look of the watch that sells it for me, harking back to the 62-MAS, it’s also one of the prettiest and most accessible representation of that classic piece so far.
Powering the SPB239J1 is Seiko’s proprietary in-house 6R35 automatic caliber. It operates at 3Hz (21,600 VPH) offers a whopping 70 hours of power reserve and can be hand-wound with hacking seconds as well. The watch comes in a very comfortable 40.5mm diameter which fits nicely on most wrists, has a water resistance of 200m and is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal as well for added sweetness.
Of course, no Seiko diver is complete without a generous application of the brand’s proprietary Lumibrite luminescent material. And this results in an incredibly legible and visually enjoyable time-telling experience when the lights go out.
The SPB239J1 exemplifies everything there is to love about Japanese watchmaking, which is often stereotyped as a very spartan and utilitarian no thrills and frills affair. With a beautifully finished dial, multi-colored lume pips and the performance of a proper professional diver, the SPB239J1 is a properly excellent timepiece to own whether you’re looking to add a classic design to your collection or looking for a companion for your next deep dive.
Coming from personal experience from owning the classic SRPD27K1 4th generation Monster, I think it’s safe for me to say that the 4th generation design of Monsters is one of the best and most unique affordable dive watches that you can get today. For those of you unfamiliar with the community’s rather unconventional nicknames for Seiko’s watches, the ‘Monster’ was aptly named due to well, it’s relatively monstrous-looking appearance.
Though with this modern iteration it’s a much tamer and more restrained brute compared to its predecessors. The SRPH13K1 is part of Seiko’s Prospex Black edition that features that same black and orange colourway as the previous Black edition models. The bezel is a cool affair too, it’s a concaved bezel, that slopes inwards giving the watch a bit more depth when you look at it. The case design is much more complex too, with ridges along the flanks to match the notches on the bezels, along with the case shrouds too, from 10.30-1.30 and 3.30-7.30.
The case comes in at a reasonable 42.4mm with a rather long lug to lug of 49.4m, but still fits comfortably thanks to the nuanced case and lugs. Power comes from the trialed and tested 4r36, with 41 hours of power reserve, hand winding and of course a day-date display.
On paper, it does sound like there’s quite a lot going on with this watch, but in person, it’s a totally different story. The blacked-out case, strap and dial makes it a truly stealthy Monster. Paired with the classic 4th generation Monster handset and markers, both generously coated in lume of course, makes the SRPH13K1 a very cool and affordable diver for the masses.
Refreshing picks for a not so refreshing year
So here they are, our five new refreshing Seiko watches for a not so refreshing year. Whether it’s a sharp elegant piece you’re looking to wear with a suit and a pair of monk straps or a professional tool to don against your wetsuit and dive computer, Seiko certainly has watches suited for everyone. With the quality of the fit and finish that they offer countered with their prices, it’s small wonder that they’ve earned such a reputation of making watches that are great value for money, and you’ll certainly find the right watch for you here.