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.

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Seiko SKX007 on silicone rubber.

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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.

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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

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Seiko Marinemaster 300M SBDX001

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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 SAR017

Seiko Alpinist SARB017
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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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