16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2012
After nearly 2 decades of near daily use, my Fossil Blue AM-3111 diver watch has gotten to the point where I can no longer acquire spare parts to repair it, and the hunt for a new watch began.
After much hemming and hawing about what I wanted, I decided a chronograph was key. An alarm was nice, but rarely used, especially with my cell phone nearby anyway. I looked at standard quartz, kinetic, automatic and solar movements and decided that the accuracy of quartz provided a more reasonably priced option, while the benefit of minimal battery changes or maintenance that either Kinetic or Solar gave was an especially nice feature. I eventually wandered back into the diver style realm, and soon found the Seiko line.
All their watches are highly regarded, and at this price point the best options are either Seiko or Citizen. It comes down to personal preference in the end in terms of band style, colors, and watch options.
The new SSC0xx line came out at the end of 2011 (SSC015 017 019 021 and 031), and was soon marveled by many as a combination of nice features and design looks, leading some to consider that this is now the new leader in the solar chronograph field (divers too!). The differences among them are just the band style (steel or rubber) and color options (black dial w/yellow, blue, or red highlights, or blue dial w/red highlights)
I was concerned with the size of the case and dial (47mm total width, with 42mm bezel and 32mm dial), but all was well once I took the beauty out of the box. This is not overly large, but definately on the larger and heavier side. If you have thin wrists I might suggest a smaller option, but for average to larger wrists this will do just fine.
I have only had mine for a few days, having picked it up at the local Costco for a hair under $200, and love it so far.
The glow lume is wonderfully bright and marked at all 12 points around the dial, the hands are easy to read and thicker than most and contrast well with the black dial, and the blue highlights are a great touch. The bezel turns easily, and a nice addition are the screw in crown and buttons that can only be used when unscrewed slightly so as to minimize accidentally setting it off (and to keep water out I imagine.)
The solar power reserve is a great addition and it can hold a charge for as long as 6 months in between direct exposure to sunlight (full recharge within 5 hrs)
About the only downside is the thickness (13mm) of the watch, and the weight is a bit heavier than I might like, but otherwise it is a great piece of manly jewelry I am proud to show off.
If you need to resize the band as I had, make sure the jeweler is familar with the pin & collar style this has. The typical 'bang them out with a hammer' method is not the best way to go about this and often loses or damages the tiny collars by accident.
NOTE: all measurements are ones I myself have made, and are not taken from another site or description
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2012
This watch feels substantial, the steel giving it some heft. It feels comfortable on the wrist, I wear my somewhat loose, and the clasp is secure. The bracelet is not as long as other watches I own, so if your wrist is 8-inches around or larger you may need to look for extra links. All 3 crowns screw down securely, a nice feature which should help keep it dust and water-resistant. (I live in the desert so the former is more important than the latter.) The watch is a combination of polished and brushed steel, similar to many other watches of this style and price. This watch feels more than rugged enough to meet the needs of this office dweller and weekend warrior.
I'm big on having strong contrast between the hands and the dial, and this watch definitely meets my needs. The hands are wide enough that you won't mistake their positions. The luminous hands and markers are very visible in the dark, provided you've been in daylight or under strong indoor lights for a while; as good or better than most other watches I've seen or already own.
The date is displayed between the 4 and 5 dial positions. It is somewhat small and the crystal does NOT have the "bubble" feature to make it appear larger and easier to read. Considering the multi-dial configuration, this actually helps simplify the watch's appearance. Having a date display is not a make or break decision for me, and it actually requires you to adjust it 5 times each year. More maintenance I just don't wish to bother with. Otherwise, you should never need to make an adjustment.
The chronograph dials look clean and are easy to read. The passing seconds display at the 9-o'clock position, 24-hour clock at the 3-o'clock position, and the minute timer at the 6-o'clock position: nothing unusual there. The large second hand functions when using the timer/chronograph, and not when the watch is running normally: it just locks in at the 12-o'clock position or where-ever you left it last.
Watch width is 42mm across the bezel. Add another 3mm for the crown. A good size for me, your mileage may vary . . .
My only concerns: if you look hard enough, you can find a watch with comparable quality and features with a sapphire crystal. "Hardlex" is a name that means little to me, but I'm hopeful. And as noted earlier, some might need more length to the bracelet.
Less of a concern: the solar power. No, I don't expect the sun will die any time soon, but this technology in a Seiko is an unknown to me. I've had good experience with 2 other brands featuring solar (both begin with "C"), and their tech has improved over the years, so I anticipate Seiko has leveraged what others have already learned. 1 hour in direct sun and I expect this should run for 2 months or more. Check the specs for details.
And a serious diver might want a release valve, but then if I were a serious diver I likely would have looked elsewhere in the first place.
I didn't buy mine here, found a comparable deal at a brick & mortar store where I could examine this watch up-close. It is definitely worth a look. Only a chump would pay MSRP. For anything.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2012
DESCRIPTION: The Seiko SSC017 Eco-Drive watch is a diver's style quartz/electronic chronograph (a watch with stopwatch functions) that is water resistant to 200 meters and whose battery is continually recharged by any strong light source. Available in three color variations, the cal. V175-0AD0 version presents a dark black dial with large white, luminous hours and minutes hands and large white, luminous dot, dash and keystone-style hour markings, under a simple, uncoated tempered glass ("Hardlex") crystal. The unmagnified date is shown as small white digits on a black background, between the 4 and 5 o'clock positions on the watch face and requires resetting for any month that is not 31 days in length. The crystal is recessed very slightly below a surrounding beveled timing bezel, which helps to protect it against scratches. Three smaller sub-dials in the lower half of the watch face display seconds, elapsed minutes (for the chronograph function) and 24-hour time (locked permanently to the main hour hand). Since the 24-hour time display is not independently adjustable, this watch does NOT support a second time zone (so-called GMT function). The seconds and 24-hour indicators are stark white and the former also has a luminous dot, making them readable despite their small size. The chronograph minutes indicator in the center sub-dial is sky blue, which blends in with the black watch face, and is more difficult to see. The large second hand on the main dial is used for the chronograph function only, to display seconds/fifths of a second, and is finished in sky blue, also blending in with the watch face. Surrounding the watch face is a 120 click-stop, ratcheting timing bezel, beveled so that the inside circumference is slightly higher than the outside. The bezel rotates counterclockwise only (normal for a dive watch) and is finished in sky blue (from 12 to 3 o'clock position) and black (from 3 to 12 o'clock) with matte silver digits for 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 minutes, a luminous dot at 60 minutes and silver minute tick marks in between. Bezel operation is very smooth and well damped and it is easy to find a good grip on the serrated but rounded bezel edges, making setting quick and easy, even with (wet suit) gloves on. On the right side of the watch is the crown, for time/date setting. Above the crown is the chronograph "start" button and below is the "lap/reset" button. Both crown and buttons are of the screw-down type, preventing accidental operation and ensuring water resistance (the chronograph and time setting functions cannot be used during a dive). Crown and button edges are serrated for good grip, but are also elevated off the wrist enough by case thickness to prevent skin irritation. Crown unlock/lock operation is smooth, but button locking collars require significant torque to lock or unlock, are loose when in between lock/unlock and are not very refined in operation. The watch case itself is a very solid piece of stainless steel, with well rounded corners, making it comfortable to wear despite its significant mass. The top of the case is matte finished to match bracelet side links while the sides and back are polished. The solid stainless steel circular back case cover is domed to resist pressure and screws tightly into the case and (most likely) o-ring seal to provide robust water resistance. The cover lists the watch caliber and serial numbers, plus the usual Seiko "breaking wave" dive watch logo. The heavy stainless steel bracelet has a very secure double locking, push-button clasp and a flimsy, difficult to deploy wetsuit extension that does not inspire confidence. Center and side links are solid (rather than stamped/folded) stainless steel, but the end link covers and wetsuit extension are stamped/folded steel. Links are held together by the overly complex Seiko pin-and-collar system, which makes resizing this bracelet a chore. Center links are polished while side links are matte finished.
KEY FEATURES: 1. Very legible luminous hours and minutes hands and markers with excellent visibility day or night (lume lasts for hours), 2. Solar/available light recharging of built-in Lithium-Titanium battery, with a 6-month power reserve (means no battery changes needed - just leave it in the sun for a day to recharge), 3. 60-Minute stopwatch/chronograph function with 1/5 second resolution and lap (second parallel event timing) capability, 4. Timing bezel with very smooth operation, for longer, lower resolution timing of events, 5. Water resistance to 660 feet (200 meters), ensured by screw-down crown and buttons and a robust, domed case back, 6. Double locking bracelet with a push-button clasp, wet suit extension and sub-link, spring-bar adjustable sizing, 7. Quartz accuracy (gains 60 sec./year on my watch) that minimizes resetting of watch time.
GENERAL IMPRESSIONS: This is a handsome, robust and very practical watch that looks much more expensive than it is. For about two C-notes, it is impressively built and, with a few minor exceptions, very easy to read and use. Seiko obviously spent considerable engineering effort making sure this watch had the features and quality to back up its stated purpose. For example, the timing bezel on most dress "dive watches" in this price range is an afterthought and functions poorly. They are often stiff and difficult to set or read. But the bezel on the Seiko SSC017 is as smooth as any Rolex or Breitling, only better damped and easier to set. Competing chronographs in this price range (and some priced 10x higher) have buttons and crowns styled to look as if they have screw-down positive locking, but do not. This Seiko has the real thing. The rounded case edges, sturdy domed back cover and very bright, long-lasting lume on the hands and time marks of the watch face round out a very practical and attractive timepiece. Solar/available light recharging with a very long 6-month reserve is a significant bonus Seiko appears to have thrown in free - goodbye maintenance! Some have quibbled that the 24-hour sub-dial would be better used for a GMT or chronograph hours function. Yep. GMT capability would have been very useful. But it would have also added lots of internal complexity and cost to the watch. So the 24-hour sub-dial function remains marginally useful as an AM/PM indicator for watch date setting, and also as a "% of day complete" indicator.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:
As good as the watch is, the bracelet (though adequate) is overly complex, clumsy and inconsistently engineered. It is difficult to add/remove links due to the complex Seiko pin and (minute) collar system that uses sand-grain size collars to lock pins in place. Try resizing this at home and you'll wish you'd gone to a (good) jeweler, after you've lost the collar(s) while trying to put them in place using tweezers, with aid of a microscope. The links are solid machined steel and seem bullet-proof. So why did Seiko include a tiny stamped steel diver's extension that looks like a soda can pop-top? Not that you'll ever use it, because it takes a screwdriver or pair of pliers to deploy (maybe a safety feature?). Even the designer of the extension must have had second thoughts, because when NOT deployed a sturdy steel hook makes sure this structural bomb is bypassed by substantial metal and does not compromise the strength of the bracelet. And the stamped/folded end link covers, which seem strong enough, do not fit flush in the watch ends, leaving the sharp watch case finger edges slightly exposed. Nonetheless, the push-button, double locked stamped-steel clasp is precisely adjustable and secure while remaining attractive and functional in normal use. A second minor area for improvement is the button locking collars, whose rotation and lock/unlock should be better damped and operate more easily - they loosen unless tightened down securely and too much tightening will strip them (see below).
CONCLUSION: Even with its minor shortcomings, this watch is a keeper and outstanding value, hence my five-star rating. There simply is not much else this solidly built, attractive, readable and functional in the price range. Except for the diver's extension, it does exactly what it promises to do. Other style variations have yellow (model SSC021 with black rubber bracelet) or red (model SSC015) chronograph hands which increases visibility of these functions, though the sky-blue version is striking. Model SSC021 with its adjustable (buckle) rubber bracelet and highly visible yellow chronograph hands is likely the most useful for diving with a wet suit, should this be contemplated.
UPDATE: After one week of use, the bottom chronograph "pusher" button's screw-down collar stripped its threads. The supplier promptly exchanged the damaged watch for a new one, and this second one has had no problems. I treat the pusher collars much more gingerly now, though. And after 3 months of swimming, boating and other activity, the watch still works and looks great. Yeah, there are scratches on the polished center links, but these are only visible very close up - so no real issue there.