Where I’ve been

I was expecting to have at least 3 new watch posts up, but life had other plans.  About 3 months ago my mother in law died.  Six weeks later my father died.  Heavy stuff for a watch review blog, but I just wanted everyone to know I am alive and hope to have some reviews coming along when my heart gets back into it.  I have a Swatch Chronograph and 2 more Vostoks, one of them in an Amphibia.  Spoilers, the Amphibia is the best sub $80 watch I have ever bought.  

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Vostok Komandirskie #211428 “Battle cruiser”

Vostok Komandirskie #211428 “Battle cruiser”

This is my first Vostok watch.  I have heard they are simple, reliable watches that come in hundreds of styles.  The Komandirskie (Commander) watch is a 17 jewel, hand wound watch.  Now that I have a Vostok, I understand why they are so collectable:  They are inexpensive and stylish with a certain retro charm to them. 

This model has star at the twelve o’clock position and a cruiser along the bottom of the dial.  From the outside to the center, the color fades from light blue to white.  The printing is very clear.  There are hour markers at 1,2,5,7,9,10, and 11.  There is no chapter ring, but there are minute markers all around.  I do appreciate the lack of words on dial, just Commander and Made in Russia.  The hour and minute hands are simple batons, with lume.  They are a nice length, with the hour hand about 2/3rd the length of the minutes hand.  The second hand is blood red and extends all the way to the minutes/seconds marks.  The date window is at 3 o’clock, with clear black printing on a white dial.  There are 2 lume pips at 12 and 6, and single pip at 9 o’clock.  The lume is pretty weak, but not as useless as I have read online.  Overall, it is a clean, well laid out dial.  Easy to read, but attractive.

The case is chrome plated brass, with a stainless steel back.  The back is held in place with some sort of spring, not screw down.  The case back has a well stamped Russian coat of arms.  The case is well sized at just shy of 39mm and is fairly thin at 12mn, with the domed crystal.  The crystal is made of mineral glass and emulates the high domed acrylic crystals of the past.  The lugs are 18mm.  There is a rotating bezel, but it is not marked and there are no detents.  The crown, 3 o’clock, is screw down and is very wobbly when winding, but this is to be expected.  This was actually done on purpose to prevent excessive side loading on the stem.  It does screw down easily.  Water resistance is rated at 20m, but this may be a dynamic rating, as opposed to the static rating on most watches.  The owner’s manual says you can swim with it, which would be unheard of on a normal 20m watch.  I don’t think I will test that claim.

The movement is the in house Vostok 2414A, hand wound mechanical.  The watch has 17 jewels, so it is fully jeweled for a non-automatic, and beats at a relaxed, very Russian, 19,800 BPH, 5.5 BPS.  Not quite as smooth as the Seiko 21,600, but noticeably smoother than the 18,000 BPH of traditional watches.  The relatively low beats will allow the movement to run for 10 years without service.  Accuracy is surprisingly good on my example, +/- just a few seconds a day. The watch is rated at 36 hour power reserve, but I wind it every morning, so I have not tested this.  Winding is quick, just about 5 or 6 turns.  The movement is not hacking, no surprise here.  The pseudo hacking trick of applying backwards pressure to the crown works, but I don’t want to push it.  From what I have read, it is a very old design, but works very well.  The date function is semi-quick set. You have to rotate between 8 and midnight to advance the date.  The date does change instantly at midnight. 

The ‘leather’ band that comes with it is just terrible.  I swapped it out after 3 minutes with a calfskin with deployant.  I did my homework and bought the band 4 minutes after I bought the watch on eBay, they arrived on the same day.  On the wrist, the watch is very comfortable and thin enough to easily hide under your cuff. 

I have been wearing this watch for almost a week straight, and I still smile when I look at it.  It is the finest watch in my collection?  Far from it.  Did they create a fun, practical to wear watch?  You better believe it.   For less than $40 shipped, I have a mechanical watch, with an in house movement and a rich history behind it.  If you are looking for a practical, reliable, reasonably sized and priced watch, you will love Vostok. 

Case: 39mm diameter, chrome plated brass.
Back: Stainless Steel, wire spring retention.
Crystal:  Mineral Glass, domed.
Movement: Hand wind mechanical, Vostok 2414a, 17 jewel, 19,800 BPH, 36 hour power reserve.
Complications: Screw down crown, date.
Other: Luminous Hands and markers.

 

     

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Site coming back to life

Getting back into the swing of my watch collecting, I discovered I have 2 watches I have not reviewed since getting my grail watch, the Seiko Alpinist, the SARB017.  It is a fine watch, but recently the watch collecting itch is coming back.  I have always loved watches, and that will never change.  As an interesting side effect of my other hobby, retro video game repair and manufacturing new controllers, I have fun money to collect some new pieces. 

In the coming weeks, expect three new reviews, in addition to the Parnis Marina Militare I just posted.  The next review will be for simple, very affordable Seiko 5.  In the mail, I am expecting my first Vostok Komanderski (Commander), a very retro looking 17 jewel hand winding watch.  I liked the first Vostok so much, I picked up another gold plated watch as well.

I am also doing a general cleanup of the pages, deleting old wish lists, fixing missing images, etc.

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Marina Militare

When is a Panerai not a  Panerai?  When it is a Parnis Marina Militare.

More than a year ago, I purchased a Parnis Marina Militare 42mm, with power reserve, automatic watch.  I purchased this model specifically because it has the round style crown guard, as opposed to the hard angle version that is currently available.  I am sure this is due to copyright infringement, but I really wanted the older style homage.  

This is a great homage to a great styled watch, that is totally overpriced.  This is the 42mm model, with power reserve.  Ironically, Panerai does not make a model like this, but they really should.  The case is very well finished, all brushed.  The lug width is 24mm and is the perfect size for this diameter watch.  The watch does not use a spring pin, but a solid bar that is released with a button.  This is a nice touch, and exactly how it is done on the real deal.  The bezel has a high polish and tapers nicely into the domed crystal.  The crystal is domed mineral glass with decent magnifier for the date.  The magnifier is on the inside of the glass, which I did not expect.  

The dial of the watch is a deep black.  The hour and minute hands are simple, pointed sticks, with lume.  The seconds sub-dial is at the nine o’clock position and has a baton style hand.  The second hand sweeps very smoothly and I suspect this a 28,800 BPH watch.  The power reserve indicator is at the 5 o’clock position and has the same style hand as the seconds hand.   It indicates from 0 to 40 hours, and in real world use, the watch has about 41 hours reserve.  There are Arabic numbers at 12 and 6, with stick markers at the hour positions.  They are luminescent.  The lume is pretty good for a Chinese made watch, on par with something like a Fossil or fashion watch.

The movement appears to be a Seagull automatic, I have not bothered to open the case to check.  Power reserve is excellent at 41 hours, and the watch is surprisingly accurate.  I have been able to wear it for a week without adjustment!  The watch is also an automatic and hand-winds.  On the left side of the watch is what looks like a helium escape valve, but what it actually is is the quickset date function!

The back of the watch is a solid, stainless steel back, marked with Marina Militare, Stainless Steel, 300M.  I don’t doubt the stainless, but I am little dubious about the 300 meters.  Other than some rain and hand-washing, I have not really tested this claim.  If I do intend to swim, I always switch to my Seiko Diver’s.  

The band is an after market, hand stitched leather.  The original was black, but did not compliment the watch well.  It is actually a decent band, but I like this look better.  On steel, I think the watch would be too heavy.

I am very happy with the watch.  It has been very accurate, easy to read, and a good daily wear watch.  The size is not too large and the weight of the watch is just right.  The watch is a close as you can get to a replica, without being an actual fake.  Panerai does not make a model with this combination, (42mm, automatic, with power reserve indicator) so it is in a grey area of the law.  I do want to pick up another Parnis, maybe a Milligaus homage.

Case: 42mm diameter, stainless steel, 300m claimed water resistance.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw down.
Crystal:  Mineral Glass, with magnifier.
Movement: Automatic,  Seagull, ST2555, 28,800 BPH, 40 hour power reserve.
Complications:  Power Reserve, locking crown guard.
Other: Luminous Hands and markers.

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How not to open a watch

 

Whatever you do, don’t open a watch like this. They are delicate machines; hammering into one, jammed up against a door frame, makes a watch collector cry.
The proper tools cost about $10 to $15 on eBay or Amazon.

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Watch of The Day

This is a feed of my instagram photos of my watch of the day.

 

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Orient Day Date CEV0J002B

Orient Day Date CEV0J002B

day_date_dial

I had my birthday a couple months ago and received a watch. It was not quite me, so I went ahead and bought this one instead. For years I really admired Orient’s homage watches. Sadly, since Seiko now controls Orient, they politely told them to stop producing the Rolex homage watches. This is good and bad. Orient produces some really unique, mechanical watches and I am glad their in house design team is up to the task of producing their own designs. The down side is Orient made a damn good homage watch that could pass for the real deal and in some ways surpassed what they were an homage to. Invicta makes homage watches, but they really stick to the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster lines. In the sub $300 range, there are not too many Datejust or Day-Date homages with sapphire crystals and solid build quality. So, I finally snapped up this watch before they run out of stock.

The dial of the watch is a black sunburst, which is a pattern I have not seen before. The hour markers are sapphire, and are at all hours except for the twelve and three o’clock position. They do look like diamonds and are set into gold, applied markers. The minute chapter ring is a simple affair, printed in gold on the dial. The full day of the week window is located between the eleven and one o’clock markers. The date is at the tradition three o’clock position. Both day and date wheels are white, with black printing. The dial is not verbose, which I like. I hate when the dial of a watch is printed like a novel. There is the Orient name with dual lion logo at twelve o’clock; at the six o’clock is Automatic SAPPHIRE 100m in muted gold printing. The hands are simple, gold plated sticks. I wish all three were a little longer, but they are still very visible against the dark dial. The reason this watch is not a fake or slavish homage is the fact the combination of black dial, diamond markers, jubilee bracelet, day-date was never done by Rolex.

side_view

The crystal is sapphire and flat. There is a cyclops magnifier over the date. It looks to be about a 2.5x magnification. The bezel is gold plated and fluted. Not quite as sharp as the real thing, but very well done.

dd_back

The case is oyster style and very close to the original. It is a small, for modern standards, 36mm. Thankfully the case is also thin, at 11mm, it slides easily under long sleeves. The top of the case is brushed, the sides are very highly polished. The crown is gold plated, deeply knurled, and screw down. There are no crown guards. The threading on the screw down feature is very well done. All of the screw down Orient watches I own share this feature. The case back is solid stainless steel and laser etched with Orient, movement and case name, stainless steel, and 100m water resistance. The case back is screw down and has imitation Rolex style case back grooves, but also has the traditional 6 notch indentations for opening the case back. The movement is an Orient in-house design, automatic, with quick set date and semi-quick set day. It keeps excellent time and has over 40 hours of power reserve.

bracelet

The bracelet is very very high quality, solid link jubilee style. Most jubilee bracelets I have encountered are folded links in the center, this has solid links everywhere except the end links. The center of the jubilee is gold plated. The steel is brushed on top, polished on the sides, identical to the case. It is very comfortable to wear and does not rattle or squeak. The deployant is a two button design with no safety. The clasp is embossed with the Orient name and twin lion logo. There are only two adjustment holes, but with the small links, it really does not matter. It defiantly has a better bracelet than most older Rolex watches.

I am very happy I was able to acquire this model before it disappears forever. It cuts very close to the original, but is not a fake. The build quality is amazing and it feels a lot more expensive than it is. If you can find this model, or one of the other combinations, grab it while you can. For Rolex lover’s out there who don’t want to pay for the style, this is the way to go.

Features:
Case: 36mm x 11mm, stainless steel, 100m water resistance.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw down, Orient makers mark, water resistance and serial number.
Crystal: Sapphire, flat, with magnifier.
Movement: Automatic,  Orient in-house design and manufacture.
Complications: Full Day of Week, Date.
Other: Solid link bracelet. Sapphire markers.

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Watch of the day.

image

Watch of the day.  Orient day date homage on jubilee bracelet.

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Apple Watch

A couple of days ago, Apple announced the Apple Watch.  To be honest, I think they are just the ugliest things out there, but I wanted to do a more objective comparison of what you get when you buy an Apple watch, as opposed to a Seiko.  Since Seiko’s line is so huge, I decided upon the most popular automatic watch line available in the United States, Seiko Diver’s and Prospex Diver’s.  I could compare to a 5 or Presage, or Superior line, or even Grand Seiko but I wanted a line or type of watch that went from entry level to professional.  Apple has 3 tiers:Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition.  For Seiko I chose SKX, Prospex 200m Diver’s aka Sumo, and the Prospec Marinemaster 300M Automatic.  I was tempted to do the Springdrive, but I wanted to go with conventional, mechanical watches for all three Seiko.  All are readily available.

The competitors, entry level:

Apple Watch Sport, Aluminum on Silicone.

Apple_Watch_Sport_38mm_Silver_Aluminium_Case_with_Blue_Sport_Band_600_lq_0001

Seiko SKX007 on silicone rubber.

DSC_0030

The first comparison is the cheapest Apple Watch Sport vs. the cheapest SKX007 on silicone.

 

Attribute Apple Watch Sport Seiko SKX 200M Diver’s Advantage
Price $349 Rubber $156 Rubber, $167 Steel Seiko, half the price
Size 33.3×38.6×10.5mm 42.5mm x 45.5x13mm round Personal preference
Material, Case Coated Aluminum 316L Stainless steel Seiko, longer lasting, Corrosion resistant
Material, Crystal Coated boron-silicate glass Hardlex Seiko, probably.  Unknown in real world
how Apple glass performs. Hardlex is well proven.
Weight 72grams 2.53 oz 149.7 grams 5.28 oz, on rubber Apple
Band Silicone, Proprietary interface Expansion Silicone, 22mm standard Seiko, thousands of off the self bands.
Water resistance 1M, short immersion IPX7 200M Divers, ISO 6425 Seiko
Power reserve/battery life 18 hours 40 hours Seiko
Recharge/wind Daily, attaches to back Winds while being worn, no charger needed. Seiko
Expected Life 2 to 3 years.  Obsolete in 18 months. 20 years without service, lifetime with
service.  In production over 20 years.
Seiko
Required Accesory iPhone 5.0 or above $549+$50 month plan. None Seiko
5 Year cost $(349+549)x2+60×50=$4796 Assume replaced ever 2.5 years. $167 on steel, about the same one rubber. Seiko

The only category that Apple won in was the weight, but even that is debatable when it comes to personal preference.  I like a heavier watch.  What really stunned me was the 5 year cost of ownership. A watch you just buy, that’s it.  If you like the band or bracelet it came on, that is all you will have to pay for.  If you are anal retentive, you can get the watch serviced every 5 to 7 years, but even that is less than $100.  So, at least for the entry level, the Seiko wins hands down for being used as a timepiece.  It can be debated you can do a lot more with an Apple watch, but dollars and cents wise, it is hard justify that kind of expense.  There are things the Apple watch can never do, like go swimming or diving in, or run for years without winding or charging.

Next up, the 42mm Apple Watch, steel case, on steel bracelet.

Apple_Watch_42mm_Stainless_Steel_Case_with_Stainless_Steel_Link_Bracelet_600_lq_0001

Seiko SBDC001 on Steel

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Attribute Apple Watch Seiko SBDC001 Sumo Advantage
Price $999 steel link $499 steel Seiko, half the price
Size 35.9mmx42mmx10.5mm 45mm x 52mm x 13.5 Personal preference, Sumo is a BIG watch.
Material, Case Stainless Steel, unknown ANSI number. 316L Stainless steel Draw.  Stainless steel is a traditional watch material.
Material, Crystal Sapphire Hardlex Draw, Hardlex was chosen for impact
resistance.
Weight 125grams 4.49 oz 210 grams 7.4 oz Apple
Band Link steel, Proprietary interface Stainless steel with Diver’s extension, 20mm
standard
Seiko, the Sumo’s bracelet is almost
legendary.
Water resistance 1M, short immersion IPX7 200M Divers, ISO 6425 Seiko
Power reserve/battery life 18 hours 50 hours Seiko
Recharge/wind Daily, attaches to back Winds while being worn, no charger needed.  Can be hand wound.  No battery. Seiko
Expected Life 2 to 3 years.  Obsolete in 18 months. 20 years without service, lifetime with
service.  In production over 10 years.
Seiko
Required Accesory iPhone 5.0 or above $549+$50 month plan. None Seiko
5 Year cost $((999+549)x2+$50×60=$6096 Assume replaced ever 2.5 years. $499 on steel. Seiko

Again, the Seiko is ahead on many counts.  Even though the Seiko almost tripled the price of the humble SKX, Apple did the same between the Sport and the Watch.  The Sumo is a massive watch, so it will get just as much attention on the wrist as the Apple Watch will.  The 5 year cost of ownership is creeping towards Rolex territories, and already above many TAG or Omega watches.  At $101 a month, you can buy a new SKX every two months or a new Sumo every year and still be cheaper!  The 5 year cost is over 10 times higher.

Finally:

Apple The Edition

e42yg-sbbk-sel-v1

 

Seiko Marinemaster 300M SBDX001

56370d1184864837-new-diver-seiko-marinemaster-mm-2

 

Attribute Apple Edition Seiko SBDX001 300M Marinemaster Advantage
Price $9999 on leather $1999 steel Seiko, one fifth the price
Size 35.9mmx42mmx10.5mm 44mm x 50.3mm x 15.4 Personal preference.
Material, Case 18K gold. 316L Stainless steel, helium proof. Apple, maybe?
Material, Crystal Sapphire Sapphire Draw
Weight 125grams 4.49 oz 210 grams 7.4 oz Apple
Band Link steel, Proprietary interface Stainless steel with Diver’s extension, 20mm
standard
Seiko, the Sumo’s bracelet is almost
legendary.
Water resistance 1M, short immersion IPX7 300M Divers, ISO 6425 Seiko
Power reserve/battery life 18 hours 50 hours Seiko
Recharge/wind Daily, attaches to back Winds while being worn, no charger needed. Can be hand wound. No battery. Seiko
Expected Life 2 to 3 years. Obsolete in 18 months. 20 years without service, lifetime with
service. In production over 5 years.
Seiko
Required Accesory iPhone 5.0 or above $549+$50 month plan. None Seiko
5 Year cost $((9999+549)x2+$50×60=$24096 Assume replaced ever 2.5 years. $1999 on steel. Seiko

This was the hardest comparison to make.  The Edition is a dress watch, the Seiko Marinemaster is a tool watch.  An expensive tool, but still a watch that was purpose built for professional, saturation divers.  The $10K price tag puts The Edition above a good chunk of timepieces.  What is disappointing is that there is no way this can be an heirloom watch, like a Rolex or Patak Phillipe. 3 years, it is junk, unless Apple has some sort of refurbishment plan.  The Seiko will last you a lifetime, the Apple won’t even get you through college. Another disappointment is the ‘movement’ of the Apple Watch really is no different across all the price points.  $349 to $14,999 essentially have all the same guts.  All the 42mm versions have the same hardware inside.  The Seiko (and all watch brands) increase the quality of the movement from one tier to the next.  The SKX use the entry level 7S26 movement.  The SBDC Sumo uses the mid level 6R15 that adds features like longer power reserve, hacking and handwinding.  The Marinemaster uses the 8L35 high end movement, beating at 28,000 beats per hour and is chronometer rated.  The guts of the watch are consistent with the price point.  It is like buying a Rolex with a Timex quartz movement.  Nothing wrong with the Timex, but you expect a hand assembled precision machine at that price point, not the same machine assembled electronics as a $25 watch.  That is exactly what you get with the Apple Watch.  Fancy case, same guts.

The five year cost is about the same as buying a car.  Other than showing off, I have no idea who this watch is aimed at.  Watch collectors stick to mechanical.  A Rolex, Panerai, TAG, Cartier, or Omega are just as much of an eye catcher.  Well, enough opinion.  From a utility standpoint, any other smartwatch does about the same thing at a far lower price point.  As can be seen, from the lowest to highest price point, a Seiko will win in almost every category.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  Any watch collectors out there interested in the Apple Watch?  If so, why?

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Seiko Alpinist SARB017

Seiko Alpinist SARB017
IMG_7768
The Grail.  For every watch collector, there is a ‘grail’ watch.  The one watch you have wanted for years, but could never justify the expense.  Some collectors shoot so high, they will never own that Rolex or Bell&Ross.  Me, I fell in love with the Seiko SARB017 Alpinist.  By no means a ‘luxury timepiece’, but still significantly higher priced than what most people would pay for a watch.  In this case, a little under $400.  For years I pined for this watch.  What made me pull the trigger?  Well, to be honest, I just left a job I spent 10 years at.  If I stayed on till later in the year I would of received an anniversary watch, but I know it was just a quartz watch.  Nothing I would pick for myself.  So this is a reward for finding a new position (that I really like so far) and actually having enough wherewithal to actually go through the whole process of changing jobs.  Enough of me, on to the watch.

sarb017_dial

The dial.  The dial of this watch is what really makes it.  A sunburst emerald green shifts in color with different lighting. In all my years of watch collecting, I don’t think I have ever encountered another emerald green dial.  The markers are gold plated, Arabic at the even hours, triangles at the odd hours.  Very easy to see.  The minutes chapter ring is white with 1/6 of a second tic marks, with luminous pips on each hour.  The outer chapter ring is a compass that is turned with the crown at the 4 o’clock position.  It turns easily and north is marker with a red arrow.  A gold pated Seiko is at noon, and Automatic Diashock 23 Jewels 20BAR is at the six o’clock position.  The date is displayed at the traditional 3 o’clock position and has a black background with white Arabic numbers.  The dial is not cluttered at all and has a field or military air to it.  The hands are cathedral style, very traditional and have a healthy coating of luminous material.  This watch has very good lume and appears to have a high grade of lumibrite, that glows for at least 4 hours.  It rivals my Seiko Diver’s and Omega.

left_side right_side

The crystal, bezel, and case.  The crystal is sapphire and flat with anti-reflective coating.  As you can see in the photo above, it is almost invisible in some light.  The bezel is a high polished stainless steel and is chamfered to 45 degrees.  The crystal is about the thickest sapphire I have ever seen.  This is probably due to the 20 bar water resistance rating.  That’s right, it is a sport watch that you could swim and dive with.  The case is a classic ‘oyster’ style with down turned lugs.  The fit and finish are nothing less than amazing.  The crown is at the 3 0’clock position and is signed, deeply, with an S.  It is a screwdown and threads and unthreads easily.  The crown at 4 o’clock turns the compass bezel.  Both crowns have deep teeth and are easy to turn.  There are no hard edges and the polish is about the best I have ever seen.  All stainless steel, of course.  Even on leather, the watch feels quite substantial, and feels like a diver’s watch.  The lugs are 20mm, so a lot of options when it comes to straps and bracelets.

A word on the included band.  I have to agree with other reviewers, it is pretty awful and I just don’t understand what Seiko was thinking.  I replaced it immediately with the calf skin strap seen in the photos.  I also added a deployment as well.  You can get it on a oyster style bracelet, but I like the look of leather.

backCase back and movement.  The case back is solid, as with every Japan domestic model Seiko I have encountered so far.  The center is embossed with the Alpinist logo with 3 mountains.  The watch is Made in Japan and is the first Alpinist made in July of 2014.  It has a 0001 serial number.  The case is this and heavily built and the watch wears much larger than the 38mm diameter would lead you to believe.  The movement is Seiko’s mid grade 6R15 with 50 hour power reserve.  Considering it only has one spring barrel, that is a lot of power reserve.  Right now it is running about -4 seconds a day, which is acceptable for any mechanical watch that is not chronometer rated.  The movement also hacks and hand winds.  It has 23 jewels, anti-magnetic, and has Seiko’s Diashock protection.

With the exception of the included band, the watch is nothing less than amazing.  I have worn it almost every day and quality wise, I would say it rivals my Omega.  It exceeds the Omega for water resistance and the lume is just hair better as well.  The accuracy out of the box is excellent and everything about it screams quality and attention to detail.  It is easy to get lost just staring at the green dial.  It can be worn with a suit or a t-shirt, so a great everyday wear watch.  It has a style that only borrows the oyster case, but little else.  Everything else is all Seiko style.  I really love this watch and I feel like it was money well spent.

Features:
Case: 38mm diameter, stainless steel, 20 Bar water resistance.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw down.
Crystal:  Sapphire, flat, anti-reflective coating.
Movement: Automatic,  6R15,  Seiko in house design, Japan Made.  Hacks, hand winds, 50 hour reserve.  21600 BPH.
Complications:  Date, compass bezel.
Other: Luminous Hands and markers.

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