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Horology at less than $500

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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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3 Responses to “Apple Watch”

  1. Trouble is the Smart Watch is an electronic gizmo that it’s not really meant as a watch at all. The watch part is added purely as a sop to watch wearers. There IS no comparison in my opinion between a true watch and any Smart device. However once the mainstream watch brands start to push their models with built-in Apps, which are on their way – so a watch + smart, rather than the other way around – then I think the so called Smart Watch will come of age. Then I might be interested myself – but until then – NOT interested, I’ll stick to my true watch thank you.
    At the moment Smart and Watch are two different worlds.

    John Bosartis

  2. I have to agree that it is a gizmo that happens to tell time. I also agree is until real watch companies start producing a smart watch, that is a watch first, then a smart device, the market segment will stay very small. I think watch companies are going to the ones to figure out the battery life problem. I know TAG is working on one, along with quite a few other companies.

    admin

  3. The SKX007 is worth every penny you pay for it, an ISO 6425 – certified dive watch which costs you less than $200. Moreover, Seiko’s craftmanship is No.1 in affordable price ranges

    Brian J. McClure

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