Top positive review
125 people found this helpful
Good product with great value for the price
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, intended to prevent accidental operation while in the water (the chronograph and time setting functions should not be used when the watch is wet) and to ensure water resistance. 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 (mine gains about 60 sec./year) 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 links covers 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.
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 dealer promptly exchanged the 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.