Friday, November 15, 2013

Seiko 5 Sports SRP145K1 Military Watch - New Engine And A Handy Complication Thrown In, A Review

A few years after I got my first Seiko 5 military watch with the 7S36B engine (click on this link to see that review), Seiko came out with a new Seiko 5 military watch with the latest 4R36A engine. The Seiko 5 SRP145K1 has a similar concept with the same coloured dial and canvas strap. However, there are fundamental differences.

The Seiko 5 SRP145K1 is made out of stainless steel. With a watch case diameter of 41 mm (45 mm with crown), it has a thickness of 13 mm and the lug width is approximately 20 mm. Predominantly in green, this watch, apart from the day and date functions, also has a bi-directional bezel with a compass function. More about this later.

Similar to the older military watch, the glass is Hardlex, an artificial crystal made in-house by Seiko. The tip of the seconds hand is painted red for ease of reference. From this point onwards, this watch has its own design philosophy.

This watch has Arabic numberings at the 12, 6 and 9 o'clock positions and markers for the rest. The hour and minute hands are broad and fully lumed with lumibrite paint. The markers and numbers are also similarly painted.

An interesting complication is the compass bezel. By using the time and the direction of the sun, it is possible for a person using this watch to locate relatively accurately North.

Below are two explanatory diagrams on how it is done.

Also note the inner wall beside the dial face is devoid of any markings. This watch is water rated to 100 meters. Nevertheless, I do not recommend you use the watch for swimming.

The display case-back provides a clear view of the 4R36A caliber movement.This new caliber has winding and seconds hand hacking capabilities. With 24 jewels, Seiko now has an affordable work horse that could compete with the ETA2824 and Miyota 9 series movements. I have watches with the other two engines and I got to give it to Seiko, they have design a series competitor to the other two movements that has become the standard engine for a lot of brands.

The winding is smooth and the engine comes alive almost instantaneously like the the Miyota. Accuracy is surprisingly good. Power reserve is estimated to be approximately 40 hours. 

The crown in positioned at 4 o'clock. This is one part of the design that I cannot appreciate. The placement of the crown disrupt the symmetry of the watch in my opinion.

The crown is not a screw down arrangement. There are 3 positions. The first is the rest position when yiu can hand wind. The second position adjust the date and day. The third and final position adjust the time. 

In the photo below you can clearly see the double-layered canvas strap. Interestingly, the strap guides are metal rings.

The straps are very flexible and pliable. It is comfortable wearing the watch with the strap. At just 93 grams, you won't noticed it on your wrist after a while. To protect the holes from fraying, Seiko added a leather strip over the holes to strengthen it. You can see in the second photo below.

Side profile on the wrist. The height of the watch is not excessive and can easily slip into shirt cuffs if you want to wear it to office or for a formal dinner function.

The buckle part of the strap does need a design rethink. The metal strap guide does make a noise when you put your wrist on the table as it was designed to be loose on the strap. If I am a military procurer, I will have to reject this watch as a potential military issue watch as such noises can be dangerous to the troops.

Below is a short video of the movement of the seconds hand.

Overall, a satisfying watch to own. Although the opportunity to use the compass function is close to zero with the availability and ability of mobile phones to provide such a service to much more accurate degree, it is nice to know that you can. At the price point this watch is sold at, it is a bargain in my book.

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