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on March 27, 2014
DESCRIPTION: The revised Seiko SRP309 "Orange Monster" with the new 24 jewel 4R36 mechanical automatic movement replaces the legendary SKX781 "Orange Monster" with the venerable 21 jewel 7S26 movement. Externally, the two watches are very similar, with the most notable changes being removal of minutes/seconds numbers from the watch face and use of a knurled rather than ridged stem on the new version. Internally, the changes are much more dramatic. The new 4R36 movement adds the ability to stop or "hack" the watch at any seconds position, allowing precise time setting, and it also adds the ability to hand wind the watch, both of which were missing in the 7S26 movement. Just as important, the 4R36 movement appears to have much better accuracy (ability to keep good time) and isochronism (changes in timekeeping due to state of wind and watch position), right out of the box. For those not familiar with this iconic and inexpensive timepiece, the Orange Monster is an armored stainless steel dive watch advertised as waterproof to 200 meters (658 feet). It is both rugged and reliable, but was not particularly accurate - until now. Its markers and hands rest under a domed mineral crystal on an orange watch face and are coated with a generous amount of LumiBrite, allowing them to glow perceptibly for hours after exposure to light. Hours, minutes, seconds, day and date are indicated - day and date through a window in the watch face at the 3 o'clock position. The crystal is further shielded by a sloped and very rugged unidirectional, stainless-steel timing ring whose inner ridge is lower than the outer ridge - the exact opposite of most dive watches - to protect the crystal. The timing ring moves only counter-clockwise, 120 clicks per revolution, and is very smooth and well damped in operation. Massive ridges on its outer edge provide ample grip, even with gloves on. Timing marks are deeply engraved into the steel and filled with black paint for better contrast. The 12 o'clock timing position features an inlaid LumiBrite dot, for readability in complete darkness. Surrounding the timing ring is a ridge of stainless steel armor protecting the upper and lower thirds of the ring from accidental movement or impact - another unique feature of the "Monster". The watch stem, used to set the time, day and date is at the 4 o'clock position and is protected by its own ridge of armor at the top and by the timing ring armor ridge at the bottom. The watch stem is large and knurled in a fine diamond checkerboard pattern that provides excellent grip and screws down to provide a positive water seal. The watch back is domed to resist pressure and screws onto the watch case as one piece. The model and serial numbers are stamped onto the back along with Seiko's "breaking wave" logo for its dive watches. Overall the watch body and timing ring feature a mixture of polished and machined matte finished steel. The metal bracelet is equally robust, with solid machined stainless steel links, including solid end links. It is attached to the watch body with conventional spring pins. Links are fastened to each other using the Seiko pin-and-collar system that is quite difficult to adjust, but very strong and reliable once correctly assembled. The clasp is made of stamped stainless steel and is of the double fold-over type with twin squeeze-to-release locking buttons on the inner catch. It features four micro-adjustment positions set by spring pin and a rather flimsy looking snap-out diver's extension that is reinforced by a steel hook when not deployed.

PERFORMANCE AND IMPRESSIONS: This watch is called the "Monster" for a very good reason - it looks like one. With no concessions to popular style, it defines a unique and iconic look all its own, written in the robustness, boldness and practicality of its design. And it takes some getting used to. Perhaps that's why its appreciated even by collectors of much more expensive timepieces. If ever there was a tool watch designed by an engineer, this is it, particularly with the new 4R36 movement, whose performance now matches the very high standard set by the watch case and bracelet. My previous experience with the old 7S26 movement (in two Seiko SKX173 style dive watches) was that accuracy out of the box was 20-30 seconds per day with a variance of about +/- 12 seconds - not stellar. I purchased two of the new "Monsters", the SRP309 orange faced version and the SRP307 black faced version ("Black Monster") at a 2-for sale in December 2013. Both have the Japanese built version of the 4R36 movement. The Orange Monster has so far shown an accuracy of -5.5 seconds per day when on a winder and +5.5 seconds per day in normal use. The Black Monster is even better at -1.0 seconds per day on a winder and -4.0 seconds per day in normal use - meeting several Swiss COSC standards - a remarkable performance for a low-cost, mass-produced mechanical timepiece. After three and a half months of alternating wear, both watches look almost new - a tribute to the quality of their materials, finish and protective armor. And if you don't like the orange watch face, the Monster is also available with a black face (SRP307 - "Black Monster") and in other variations that can include a rubber strap, PVD coated body and timing ring, etc.

GOTCHAs: Three potential issues exist with this watch, all controllable by the owner. The first involves band resizing. The Seiko metal bracelet uses a system where links are connected to each other using stainless steel pins inserted from one end only and secured by a very tiny metal collar inserted from the opposite end. Removing and inserting these pins and collars is a very exacting process that is difficult to do at home and requires a magnifier and precision tools. Many watch shops will improperly assemble the pin-and-collar arrangement (most often losing the collar), causing the bracelet to come apart later, at the worst possible time. So make sure the person resizing the bracelet knows how to work with the Seiko pin and collar system. The second issue is the knurled stem, which in some ways resembles a metal file. Clearance between the stem knob and surrounding armor is so tight that sufficient play exists to allow the knob to grind and bind frustratingly against the armor ridges when loosening or tightening it. Fortunately, the grinding action that causes the problem in the first place also solves it - after a few months of use the interference points have apparently worn down and binding is minimal. The third (potential) issue is owner expectation. This is a mechanical "automatic" watch. It has about 41 hours of reserve power when fully wound. It will simply stop if not worn or wound within that period. Compared to an electronic quartz watch, it is inaccurate. A quartz watch will usually drift no more than a half second per day. So expect to reset the time on the Monster weekly. This is very good for a mechanical watch.

SUMMARY: At this price point I've seen no other mechanical watch that can match the Monster's robustness, quality, precision (build and timekeeping) and practicality of design. It is an excellent first mechanical watch for any collector. Several people have walked up to me, pointed at the watch and said "Monster!", with a smile - so there is a community of aficionados out there. As backup to a dive computer, it is eminently practical, and it works as a daily beater, too. As for style - well... that's in the eye of the beholder. It is a heavy, bold watch that stands out. Generally speaking, it is NOT a dress watch :)

RATING: Overall, for excellence in design and execution, its unique and bold look and incredible value, I give this watch five (5) stars. It is simply outstanding in its price class.
128 helpful votes
129 helpful votes
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on February 8, 2016
As a Scuba instructor since the 1980's, I have dreamt of owning a classic orange dive watch for a long time. What I really covet is a DOXA, but that's way out of my financial reach. Well, it turns out that the Seiko Orange Monster is the next best thing, and has a lot of unique qualities and conveniences all its own.

The size, weight, build quality and finish of this watch are just superb for the price. I returned another orange dive watch I ordered because it just felt like a fashion statement to me, instead of a watch for a real diver. Not so with the Orange Monster, this thing is made to go to work.

Aesthetics are a personal thing, but for me, the indented aggressively notched bezel, the build and finishes on the shroud and bracelet feel just right. The expanding bracelet link that gives you extra room for your wetsuit is actually a useful feature for a real diver! The bezel movement is exquisite and precise. There's a proper lume dot at 0/60 on the bezel. (I wish all the numbers on the bezel were lumed, but I may take care of that on my own.)

As for the face and hands, they are well designed to be both readable and attractive to me. The Lumibrite on the hands and dial indices is well known and some of the brightest lume on any watch at any price. I can charge it up before bedtime or at the start of a night dive and read it easily for hours in the dark. I really like the design change on the v2 version of the Orange Monster where the lumed indices are outlined in black instead of silver. This really sets them off from the orange watch face and makes them more readable when not in the dark.

Hacking. Windable. Day of week as well as date, large enough to be readable to my aging eyes. ISO certified to dive watch standards. Accurate. Automatic. Orange! Classic!

This is a real watch for real divers, not just a fashion statement. The fact that it looks awesome and classic is a bonus. Oh, and if you want it to be a fashion statement, it's great for that too!
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on January 15, 2016
This was purchased for a birthday present- he had seen someone with a similar watch and could not find one like it. I was thrilled to find it and his face lit up when he saw it. The watch is beautiful then he put it on - he has had several watches like this and has no problem setting the day and date until this one. You can not set the date no matter what you do - he even took it to a jeweler to see if they could set it. To our disappointment I sent it back. It is a very attractive watch but we needed all of it to work not just the time. I am not sure if it was only that one watch that didn't work or what but after taking it to the jeweler and hearing what he had to say about it , I didn't want to take a chance on another one.
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on April 21, 2015
I have always been a fan of Seiko divers and had my 1st about 40 years ago! The timekeeping wasn't great but I loved the look. My next was a Kinetic titanium divers that I've had for over 13 years - great watch. I started looking at the automatics again and bought a SKX009J1 - classic beautiful divers. I saw the SRP309, fell in love with the orange face and got it. The watch is beautiful and someone had said before that the pictures don't do it justice and I can't agree with them more. It's a handsome, rugged, well made piece of art. So the "sharks teeth" takes a little getting used to (pretty different to the conventional SKX009 dots) but adds to the rugged look of the watch. The way the bezel concaves in to the glass is fantastic. I resized the band myself (i do all of them myself) and yes, you have to be very careful with the collars but I wouldn't let that detract from the experience of the watch. Do it once and you're done. I've only had it less than a day but it's +5 secs of my regulated SKX and I'll see what it is like after a month. I expect it to be as accurate as my regulated SKX (+2 sec/day). This is a man's watch, absolutely gorgeous and I 'd buy it again in a flash.
1 week Update: I've been wearing it continuously for a week now and wanted to share some comments: When I first starting wearing it, it ran ~20secs/day fast. I usually lay it down with the crown UP for the night. This morning when I checked (as a true watch geek, I check daily), it was +6secs. I'm completely happy and would be ecstatic if it stayed like this. I'll see what it is after the "break-in" time, 1 month. I still can't get over how gorgeous & manly it is.
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on March 5, 2016
It HAS to go back. I got one with a bad movement. I have two Seiko automatics SKX007 and the SKX009 so I know how to handle an automatic watch. It will run for 15-30 minutes and the second hand always stops at the 25 second mark. I think I got a dud. Hopefully the seller responds to my return request. If they do or don't I'll come back and update this review
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on March 9, 2015
When I bought this watch, I already had the new black vampire monster. But when I bought the vampire, I really wanted the orange, however it was way more expensive than the vampire. When I saw the OM price drop to $170 I immediately pulled the trigger and I'm glad I did. I just love the orange dial but it is really more the color of a tangerine than an orange-- but "tangerine monster" sounds rather silly does'nt it? Both of my monsters tend to run a little fast. After reading about C.O.S.C. accuracy tests conducted to determine whether a watch deserves C.O.S.C. certification, I learned that each tested watch is placed in various postions over a period of time in order to determine accuracy at each position. After reading several C.O.S.C. certified watch reviews, it seems that each watch placed in the "crown down" position had near perfect accuacy.So I decided that every nightwhen I removed the monster I would close the bracelet and place the monster crown down on the nightstand. After doing this, the monsters were spot-on accurate. I also ownan Omega Seamaster Pro and I must say that the monster bracelet is every bit as good as the mega-dollar Seamaster. I have heard others complain about the bracelets pin and collar connection system but I just spend $20 and have my jeweler worry about that
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on July 13, 2015
Love this watch. I love the orange dial, the sweeping minute hand, and that it's automatic. I have used it for my swimming routine (3x/wk for about 50 minutes each time) and it has held up beautifully. It has kept good time. With it being automatic, I can leave it off for about a 1.5 days without having to reset the time. I really like that the bezel is raised higher that than crystal on the outer edge because it helps to protect the crystal form scratches. One thing to note on the bezel is that when you turn it, you can only grab it well in the areas around 8-10 o'clock and 2-4 o'clock. that is because the bezel sits in this sort of "track at the bottom and top of the face. Those top edges (right at 8 minutes and 52 minutes) of the "track" have been honed very sharply; in fact when I try to run the bezel, it pokes my fingers. Not a big deal, but if you have large hands, it is not easy to turn the bezel. I still love the watch, and look forward to many years of use.
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on July 14, 2014
One week since arrival - - Love the Orange Monster so far. I can't add anything to the hundreds of favorable reviews. It is unbelievable that anyone can manufacture a heavy, accurate, waterproof, gorgeous mechanical watch and high-quality, beautifully designed and finished band, and sell it for so little.
Go ahead and buy it!
UPDATE 8 months later: Seriously, if you are toying with buying an Orange Monster, just do it. I wear this watch every evening and all weekend -- I rotate much fancier watches at work. The Seiko LumiBrite really glows; the timekeeping is amazingly accurate. Setting is easy. And the rotating bezel is far easier to use as a timer than the push-button electronic timers on my electronic watches. You will love it.
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on July 23, 2014
I have had this watch for just over 2 months. I wear it nearly every day, it still looks perfect. It gains about 7 seconds per day. It will run for about 30 hours on a full wind. I swapped out the bracelet for the Super Engineer II found on Amazon. The watch would hang on the diver's extension on the original bracelet, causing a bit of discomfort to the same spot on my wrist. I do not scuba dive, so the extension served no purpose for me, so no loss of function with the new bracelet. The original bracelet can be re-installed if I ever decide to get scuba certified.

This is the "go to" watch in my box, I really like the look and feel of it.
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on February 6, 2015
I've been wanting to get an automatic dive watch for quite some time, going back and forth between a Victorinox, Oris, and the seemingly countless Seiko choices. I wanted something durable, dependable, well made, and if possible, distinctive. I also wanted an automatic, which would be my first since my dad handed me his 60's Rolex Datejust back in High School. After much research, including reading every Amazon review, I decided on the Monster, and thus far, it has proven to everything I'd hoped for. It feels very solid on the wrist, easy to set, and the lume is really amazing - bright and long lasting. I have not tested the power reserve, as it has been my everyday watch since I got it. I had two links taken out when I first got it, but I had a jeweler do it, so I can't attest to the difficulty in removing links. I can attest to the quality of the bracelet, alternately polished and brushed, very solid and put together. For the price point, you cannot get a better dive watch. Come to that, you can't get a better dive watch at 5x the price point!
1 helpful vote
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