How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

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How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by conjurer on 2012-11-21, 14:36



Nice watch--Now go get your fucking shinebox.

And so we come to the final part of my humble public service reviews looking for a decent automatic watch for around a hundred bucks... And here's the last one, the Seiko 5 Sports SRP125K1:



In this series, I delved into the lower depths of horology; I reviewed watches that were bad (Stuhrling Original, Stauer) pretty good (Tiger Concept, Orient) all right (Sea-Gull) and just plain horrible (Invicta.) All were street-priced around $100 US, except the Sea-Gull, which was considerably more. Now, bringing this thing full circle, I decided to review the Seiko 5 (MSRP $325, bought from WorldofWatches for $124) which is very, very good indeed.

This is one of the newer Seiko 5er's that are more fashionably sized than most of the early ones. In this one too Seiko takes a bold step forward to the 1960s and supplies it with the 24-jewel 4R36 movement that both handwinds and hacks better than a bum with TB. It's got all the things you expect from a 5er, Hardlex glass, Lumabrite, stainless steel, pretty good accuracy and is insanely value-oriented.

I've heard that the Seiko 5 line was introduced to sell in Third-World countries where it might be difficult to find a jeweler or watchmaker who could change quartz movement batteries. As a result, the Seiko boffins came up with inexpensive automatic watches that were accurate (for cheap autos, at least) and would last for a long, long time without any service. Unexpectedly (to Seiko) these became popular among Western collectors, and there are many available out there, some for very, very cheap (Long Island Watch, for instance, was carrying some of the basic models for around $60-70).

As I said, this one is a bit larger, measuring at 41.5mm across, 45mm with crown, and 14mm thick. The lugs measure out to 22mm. While not a vulgar-hockey-puck size of an Invicta, popular with the baller crowd, it's a great size for most out there. This particular model has a bi-directional city bezel that works as a world-timer:



It works this way; you take your local time and convert it to 24 hour military time, move the bezel to line up the city you're closest to and line it up with the 24 hour marker on the chapter ring, and badda-bing, you can tell the time in every other major time zone. Admittedly, this isn't the most horologically advanced way of doing it, but it works well and is certainly (to me) an attractive and elegant way of measuring world time.

The bezel is covered with some sort of transparent material with the world cities printed underneath; I don't know if it's made of Hardlex or what, but it's attractive and hopefully won't scratch too much:



The dial is very nice, with a dark blue sunburst look, applied markers, and good printing:



The crystal is Hardlex, Seiko's version of mineral, and from my experience with it on various Monsters and quartz chronos, wears like iron. It's also domed on this piece, which is nice.

The lume, while not absurdly bright, does the job, lasts all night, and even (rather surprisingly) passes my patented quick-glance-inside-a-dark-car test.

The movement, as I've said, is the 4R36, and it's visible through the exhibition caseback:



While not the most beautiful movement out there, it's well finished, and even has a metal movement holder, which is unusual at this price range. With the hacking function (I first thought swell, now I can precisely tell how inaccurate it is) is actually quite accurate, about +10 seconds a day, which is far better than any of the Monsters I've owned. Like so many Japanese automatics, it seems to run better on a full wind, and loses or gains time, seemingly at random, when the power reserve falls off below half.

The bracelet is quite good, too, much better than the old Sports 5 I owned way back that had folded links, which were so difficult to size that I had to take it to Aram, the Jeweler to Royalty, who sweated and grumbled over it like my dentist when he yanked out my wisdom teeth. This one:



has sold links, which are about 3.75mm in thickness, and are held together, very thankfully, with simple friction pins that makes it a piece of cake to size. The clasp is simple, too, with a press-button deployant that has, regrettably, only two micro-adjustments. The endpieces are folded, too, but are tight and there is a minimal amount of rattle.

The case and bracelet are well finished, and the polishing is good. The fit on the wrist is perfect on my 6.75 inch wrist:







Drawbacks? I'd have preferred a screwdown crown, which the 5er ain't got--although it's rated to 100m WR, and when the Japanese slap a water-resistance rating on a watch, you can usually take it to the bank. I'd have liked a couple more micro-adjustements on the clasp, too, but I got a good fit on it, so go figure.

In terms of pricing, you generally find these 5er World Timers at around $150-200--I lucked into the WoW pricing, but then, like good WISs, we should shop around. I'm not sure if this was a close-out price, but finding a good price on one of these shouldn't be a problem.

So what's the bottom line with this Seiko? It's bloody good. It's a far better watch than you're going to find at anywhere close to this price point. It's nicely made, it's accurate, it's attractive. It's made right, by a big company that inspires trust and brand loyalty. It would be a great gift watch for somebody who's young that you're trying to lure into the hobby, or for an older guy who doesn't want to screw around with his watch and remembers the Old Days when there weren't any quartzies around. I strongly recommend it.



And finally, what have we learned with this humble series? Well, first, the watches that are worth the money are simple--three hands, a date, nothing fancy. Orient, Seiko and Tiger Concept fill the bill. They'd rather not do something than do it wrong. The watches that are garbage (Invicta, Stuhrling, and Stauer) try to look like watches that they are not (complications, too big, skeletonized) and, of course, they screw it up royally. My recommendations for a cheap automatic: look for a brand with a good name, shop around for the best price, and don't expect to get something for nothing.

Also, buy from a good dealer--for some reason, watches sold on late-night TV or from the backs of inflight magazines don't make the grade.

Good hundred-buck-autos are out there. I'm sure there are dozens that are available that I didn't have time (or funds) to review, and probably never heard of. Have fun shopping. Thanks for reading.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by itfc1959 on 2012-11-21, 16:00

The best price I can find in the UK is about £150. Your price is equivalent £77. Huh?

Beautifully written again, John. You git.

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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by eddiea on 2012-11-21, 16:39

Great review John, to the point as usual...and like you say, can't go wrong with the Seiko "entry level" line ... Seiko/Orient/Citizen got me into start collecting back in the 70's and still a valid, excellent starting point for any collection.

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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by conjurer on 2012-11-21, 20:11

itfc1959 wrote:The best price I can find in the UK is about £150. Your price is equivalent £77. Huh?

Beautifully written again, John. You git.

Thanks, Pete. I cheated a bit with this one, as WoW sold it pretty far below what most etailers were pricing it at. I've seen this one on some of the Japanese sites running pretty close to the MSRP.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by conjurer on 2012-11-21, 20:12

eddiea wrote:Great review John, to the point as usual...and like you say, can't go wrong with the Seiko "entry level" line ... Seiko/Orient/Citizen got me into start collecting back in the 70's and still a valid, excellent starting point for any collection.

Thanks, Eddie!
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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by wottime on 2012-11-21, 23:50

Always enjoy your reviews and pics, John. Great "value" watch. Me thinks this is the best watch of the "How bad can it be?" series. Great job. As always.

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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by conjurer on 2012-11-21, 23:52

wottime wrote:Always enjoy your reviews and pics, John. Great "value" watch. Me thinks this is the best watch of the "How bad can it be?" series. Great job. As always.

Thanks for the kind words, wot!
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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by Ocean on 2012-11-22, 08:29

Great review John. When looking around it was on sale at longisland or creation for 125. Like Eddie said you can't go wrong with Seiko or Orient. Thanks for the review.

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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by Mortuus on 2012-11-22, 16:59

Based largely on your recommendation, excellent review and fine pix, not to mention the fact that WoW currently has it at $124, I think it's time for an early burfday gift to self...

Great job, John, as always!

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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by conjurer on 2012-11-22, 17:07

Ocean wrote:Great review John. When looking around it was on sale at longisland or creation for 125. Like Eddie said you can't go wrong with Seiko or Orient. Thanks for the review.

You're welcome, Ocean! Thanks for the kind words.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by conjurer on 2012-11-22, 17:08

Mortuus wrote:Based largely on your recommendation, excellent review and fine pix, not to mention the fact that WoW currently has it at $124, I think it's time for an early burfday gift to self...

Great job, John, as always!

you Shuld order too, Mortensce. they Will give you a Bonar. thank Ewe for the kinde wordes and So fourth.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be?--The Final Part-Seiko!

Post by Mortuus on 2012-11-22, 18:39

jon, tew mini bonarZ at are age iz uh invitayshun tew kornary enfarkshuns n sich. Eye dunno, buttchew mite evin Be sitting yoreself up fur uh STROAK un So fourth. U bettur B reel kerrfull!!

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