Editor’s note: today, we’ve got a reader-submitted review of the Seiko SARX035, which just recently hit his wrist. Read on to get Mr. Jose Contreras’s thoughts on the watch! And, if you want to submit your own, drop us a line or talk us up over in Slack.
The “Baby Grand Seiko” – A Value Proposition
Have you ever wanted a Grand Seiko, but just could not justify paying Rolex money for one? Many face this commumdrum, as they love the design, aesthetics and smooth sweep Spring Drive/Hi-beat movements. But when you are spending three to five thousand dollars for a watch, more “prestigious” options are available. This makes aquiring a Grand Seiko seem almost irresponsible. Enter today’s watch, the Seiko SARX035.
I believe Seiko has realized this, so they have developed the Presage line of watches. You can think of the Presage line as the mid-tier watch offering from Seiko, positioned above the Seiko 5 line, but below Grand Seiko. The Presage line takes everything that we love about Grand Seiko, such as the case finishing and intricate details on the case and dial, and puts it into a more affordable package by using movements that are resevered for the non-Grand Seiko watches. When I first saw the Presage line of watches released at Baselworld 2016 – specifically the Seiko SARX035 – I immediately fell in love. I knew that one day I would own one, and the day has finally come.
The SARX035 is a Japanese Domestic Market watch (meaning it is only for sale in Japan) that ticks many boxes for me. It is a watch that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Want a sporty look? Leave it on the bracelet or put it on a nice canvas strap. Want a dressier look? Put it on a nice lizard grain leather strap and you have a watch suitable for a black tie event. The versatility is undeniable, and what makes this possible are the case dimensions. This watch is 40mm is diameter, but only 11mm thick and 46mm lug to lug. So you have a modern sized watch that, given the lug to lug measurement, sits perfectly on any size wrist.
What also makes this watch special and a value proposition are the little intricate details that this watch contains. When looking at the case, it has a polished bezel, brushed lugs at top and a mirror-like finishing on the sides. This sort of case work is typical of what you would see on a Grand Seiko, the only difference being that Grand Seiko’s Zaratsu hand finishing and polishing is on another level. The case also has a nicely signed crown with the letter “S.” It is a simple push/pull crown (no screw down here) but the watch still carries a 100M water resistance rating, so you can take a dive into a pool and you will not have to worry about it at all.
The dial on this watch is also spectacular. Through the AR-coated sapphire crystal, which looks almost invisible, you are greeted with a black sunburst dial that plays with the light beautifully. It has polished indices that stand tall, and they have a small bevel on the end of it that also catches the light. There is an inclusion of a date, which is framed and does not look out of place.
The bracelet on this watch is also amazing. This isn’t your usual lower end Seiko 5 fare where the bracelet feels “Jingley-Jangley,” meaning it feels hollow, rattles rather cheaply and feels of a low quality. The bracelet has solid links and solid end links, it’s a five piece bracelet that is a combination of brushed and polished links. The sides of the bracelet are also polished, and again you can tell that there was a lot of time and thoughtfulness put into this watch. It feels expensive, and it feels like a Grand Seiko, but you are not paying the Grand Seiko Price.
Now let’s talk about the movement. The movement is the 6R15 in-house caliber, which is based on the bulletproof 7s26 movement. This movement has a 50 hour power reserve, hacking and hand winding. When you wind the watch, it feels smooth, definitely smoother than a base ETA 2824 or a Seiko Caliber 4r36. It does not have that grinding feel to it, but rather a nice smooth wind. The movement though is not decorated, and nothing like the decoration of the Grand Seiko calibers, which is how they were able to keep the price down. As for accuracy of the movement, I was getting +/- 3 to 5 seconds a day on a full wind and worn throughout the day. I did notice that when I put the watch down (on the crown), it would lose a bit more time.
Now after singing all of this praise for this watch, are there any negatives? Of course there are! First off, this is a fingerprint magnet. Throughout the day this watch is going to be smudged and you will find yourself cleaning it constantly, but you get over it after awhile. Another negative of this watch is something that I touched on before, which is the movement. There is no decoration at all, but that is one of the reasons the price is kept down. Is it a big deal? Not at all. As a consolation you can always refer to the fact that it is a true in-house caliber, and that is something that many people take for granted when it comes to Seiko. Another drawback related to the movement is that it beats at 21,000 vibrations per hour, so the sweep of the seconds hand is not as smooth as it could be. The date is also a non-quick set date, so the date will began to change at 10 PM and finally finish at 2 AM. It can be a little annoying but it is not a deal breaker. One last drawback is availability. If you don’t live in Japan, the only way you can get one new is if it is shipped to your country, as it is only available for sale in Japan.
So, would I recommend this watch? Of course! I am in love with it and I have not taken it off since I have purchased it. If you want Grand Seiko quality (movement aside) but want to pay a sub-1000 dollar price tag (editor’s note: pricing hovers around $800, depending on the retailer), this is your watch. This is a timeless watch and I am sure I will enjoy it for many years to come. seikowatches.com
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