Is the Seiko Presage SARX017 one of the best everyday watches no one has ever heard of?
In a nutshell, most probably but first, a little bit of history. Introduced sometime before 2010, the Seiko Presage SARX017 is a JDM (Japan Domestic Market) model which should make it a bit rarer (and cooler) than the current crop of Seiko Presage models you can find at any Seiko dealer. Not only that, the SARX017 was discontinued during the first quarter of 2017. Consequently, there are only two popular ways for you to get one in 2018.
First of all, one can look for a used SARX017 or search for a NOS (new old stock) unit. A quick search at the time of writing shows that there are several units on sale from RM1,600-2,150. This exact Seiko Presage SARX017 here cost me roughly RM1,100 in 2014. Yes, this is my Seiko Presage SARX017. The relatively low price was probably due to the fact that I got it in Japan – you know, tax reliefs for tourists and all.
So, what do I get for the money?
Now before I explain why I think this is a fantastic everyday watch, let’s get the technical details out of the way. The case has a diameter of 40 mm (43.4 mm, including the crown) and a lug width of 20 mm. Meanwhile, lug to lug measurements are 47.5 mm and the watch itself weighs 83 g including the strap.
The movement within is Seiko’s in-house automatic 6R15C calibre. Beating at 21,600 vph, Seiko claims an impressive power reserve figure of 50 hours thanks to the Spron 510 mainspring. With that said, my SARX017 has kept itself ticking way into the 55-hour mark on several occasions. By the way, Seiko rates the 6R15C at +25/-15 seconds per day.
The 6R15C calibre features hacking, hand-winding capabilities and a quickset date function. For those not too familiar with hacking, it basically means that the seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled. This, in turn, allows for a more accurate setting of the time. In addition, the movement contains 23 jewels.
Okay, enough tech talk. What about the looks?
Now, on to the watch. As far as looks go, you can’t really call the Seiko Presage SARX017 hideous, can you? Maybe some might find it a bit too simple. However, look closer and the more minute (pun intended) details are bound to fascinate. The red-tipped seconds hand and the textured dial give off a slightly sporty character without being overly, well, sporty. This aspect, as you’re about to find out, really sets the tone for the SARX017.
As I spend more time studying the Seiko Presage SARX017, it becomes apparent that this watch has both sporty and dressy undertones to its overall design. To the optimist, this sets a nice balance in terms of aesthetics while the pessimist might take it that Seiko did not have a clear direction when designing this timepiece. To each his own but I’m willing to bet most of you would fall under the former with me.
As we’re still on the dial, I should mention that it does remind me of the current Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra models. The luxury yacht-inspired teak dials on the Seiko Presage SARX017 feature vertical lines instead of horizontal lines on the Omega. However, older Aqua Terra models had similar vertical lines as well. Taking a much closer look between said lines will reveal a subtle kind of graining.
Now I may be starting to sound like one those guys that go, “NOTHING BEATS A SEIKO! A SEIKO 5 IS ALL YOU NEED!1!!!1 (true only to a certain extent)” but when it comes to dial designs, Seiko knows how to put out a great one. The ‘Automatic’ and ’23 Jewels’ wordings are the only text you’ll find save for the applied Seiko logo at 12 o’clock. Elsewhere, you’ll find rectangular steel hour markers and a date window at 3 o’clock.
What else? How’s the lume? What about legibility?
At the base of each hour marker, you’ll find tiny lume pips with a slightly different shape for the ones at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock point. Now, the hands are a bit of downer for me, to be honest. I’ve always been a fan of simple, dauphine- or leaf-shaped hands and even sportier designs but the hands on the SARX017 are, well, unique, to put it kindly. The only term that seems to fit these hands are probably fruit skin peeler-hands.
The hour hand gets a shorter, thicker lume application while the minute hand receives a thinner, longer design. Naturally, Seiko’s LumiBrite luminous paint is used. As for the stainless steel case, we are once again reminded of the SARX017’s unique dressy/sporty theme as both brushed and polished surfaces are present. Brushed surfaces include the lugs and lower half of the case. The bezel and upper half, on the other hand, are polished.
Further reinforcing the dual nature of this watch is the existence of a crown guard. The crown itself features a ridged design with an engraved ‘S’ logo for Seiko on the surface. Operating the pull-out crown, I find the action acceptable for this price point. It is a tad unrefined with quite an audible clicking noise and certainly not as smooth winding as some of its competitors. Also, the flat, sapphire crystal does not have anti-reflective (AR) coating.
Does it look decent the other way round?
Turning the watch around reveals quite the visual treat. For instance, the SARX017 features an exhibition back made out of Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex crystal instead of a solid caseback. I find the 6R15C movement a tad under-decorated but that should be forgiven considering its workhorse nature, right? At the very least, the rotor possesses a pseudo Geneva Stripes motif that plays nicely with the light.
The back of the watch also reveals that the Seiko Presage SARX017 has a water resistant level of 10 bar (100 metres, 10 ATM). More than enough for an everyday watch, I reckon. Put it on a steel bracelet and you should be able to take it for a swim every now and then – which brings me to the next point of this review.
Come on! There has to be at least ONE flaw, right?
Yes, and it’s quite a big one on this otherwise brilliant watch – the quality of the strap. Putting it on, I can tell that this is one area where Seiko had definitely cut a corner. The faux, alligator pattern borders on tacky and the strap has little to no padding. Also, the initial shine of the leather is showing signs of fading even though this watch barely gets wrist time. Obviously, Seiko still has a lot to learn in terms of putting out quality straps.
Furthermore, the printed Seiko wording on the clasp cheapens it a little. In addition, I find myself wishing for engraved wording instead. Ugh, first-world problems. In spite of that, at least the deployant clasp locks with a satisfying click. To undo it, just push the two release buttons on the side.
In conclusion, the Seiko Presage SARX017 is a strong answer to the popular “If you could only have one watch… ” question. It manages to be both casual and business-like in appearance by marrying a clean, uncomplicated design with modest proportions. Besides, the movement is a renowned workhorse so that should mean reliable performance and ease of servicing. So, while the SARX017 is my answer to a one-watch collection, what is your choice when faced with the same question? Let me know in the comments below!