Monday, April 7, 2014

Seiko Prospex 300MM SBDX001 Marinemaster - In a league of its own, A Review

This is one of my grail watches. The Seiko Prospex 300MM SBDX001 Marinemaster as been touted as the most versatile dive watches that can rival the best the Swiss industry could muster. This watch is capable on land, sea and air in all situations such as casual or even formal functions.

This watch is the only Marinemaster watch that actually says "Marinemaster" on the watch. As this is a JDM (Japan Domestic Market) watch, you can only obtain it in Japan from official dealers. Nevertheless, if you cannot make it to Japan, you can still get one via online. For me, my source of JDM watches is www.higuchi-inc.com.


The Marinemaster uses a Seiko in-house 26 jewel calibre 8L35 self-winding movement that is the base movement for the higher end 9S55 calibre Grand Seiko. With manual wind and hacking second mechanisms, 28,800 vph, 50 hours power reserve, it is unadjusted, rhodium plated and has an accuracy rating by Seiko of +15 ~ -10 seconds per day. The 8L35 is one of Seiko's best automatic movements. Accuracy easily matches certified chronometer levels, and often exceeds them.



A number of people have questioned Seiko's unwillingness to subject its movement to COSC's measuring standards as proof of poor accuracy and design. However, in reality, Seiko's internal standards are even higher than that of COSC's!  


The dial is immaculate. The date in the date window at 3 o'clock stays perfectly centered. The hands are finely brushed. Despite the many words printed on the watch face, Seiko chose the right font and size and they don't crowd out the dial. Inside the face you will also notice a sloped chapter ring with minute increment marks that make the watch easy to read. This effect happens to add a nice 3-dimensional look to the watch. Meanwhile, the large individual markers with stainless steel borders contained a generous amount of LumiBrite paint, a proprietary luminous paint by Seiko. What is more amazing is that it is all hand applied.
 

This watch is not small. Excluding the crown, it measures 44 mm across. Its thickness is 14.6 mm. Interestingly, the weight is a massive 210 grams. Part of the reason for the heavy weight is the one piece monocoque case. This design assists in better water resistance as the less openings on a watch, the less chance for water to enter. This is not a problem for me as I am used to large and heavy watch. The case curves out below the bezel, and is nicely designed with strategically polished and brushed areas.

Seiko put a lot of thought into the detailing to an extent that the Marinemasters are individually hand built. They start with the case and build it from the bottom up and ending by capping it with the crystal. The Crystal is Hardlex, a proprietary synthetic crystal made by Seiko. Hardlex won't tend to shatter easily which is important for dive watches. Nevertheless, Seiko should consider sapphire crystal as an option. I know a lot of Marinemaster owners modify their watches with after-market sapphire crystals.

The unidirectional bezel is superb. It has a high gloss black finish with serrated edges and numbers around the dial. It rotates very smoothly with 120-click increments and the depth adds nice protection for the Hardlex crystal. The build quality is so good that you would easily mistaken the bezel to be ceramic even though it is just painted stainless steel.


The crown is situated at the 4 o'clock position. The top is unsigned and like most professional dive watches, it is a screw-down. Unscrew it and the winding is firm, pulling it out the first notch changes the date, second notch sets the time. The seconds hand stop when the crown is set at time adjustment mode.



The famous 'tsunami' logo is etched in the centre of the case-back. Information about the watch are also etched here.

The stainless steel bracelet is solid with solid end-links. It is 20 mm wide and matches nicely with the watch casing. It adjusts with the typical Seiko Pin-and-Collar system. The clasp is fold over with push button release. The end-links are recessed between the lugs If you want to switch the bracelet out, Seiko conveniently have holes outside the lugs for easy release.


For a professional diver with a bracelet, Seiko provides an in-house ratcheting divers extension mechanism within the clasp. This system easily adjusts in and out to give a maximum 1 inch and a bit additional length to the bracelet. I like this feature more than the traditional divers extension of a fold over release that Seiko have on its other diver models such as Sumo or Monster. Above is a picture of it before extension, below is a picture of it after extension.


This watch is comfortable to wear despite the weight. It looks good and quite at ease in formal wear as well. The bracelet is able to balance the weight of the watch casing nicely. Although I have yet tried out the watch with a leather strap, I believe it would look brilliant on the wrist based on some photos I have seen of such modifications.


Below is the lume shot in half-light.


Below is the lume shot in total darkness.


In conclusion, this watch is in a league of its own. I own an Omega Planet Ocean and a Rolex Deepsea Sea Dweller. This watch has a lot of things going for it that puts it in the same category of the two Swiss brands mentioned earlier.

4 comments:

  1. excellent watch, good review.
    may i ask how much did u get it for? us or ringgit doesnt matter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. About RM8k. However, now there is a new version out.

      Delete
  2. I concur with the review. I've got the new Rolex Explorer 2 42 mm with the easy link extension and think the Seiko Marine Master to be on par with it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I concur with the review. I've got the new Rolex Explorer 2 42 mm with the easy link extension and think the Seiko Marine Master to be on par with it.

    ReplyDelete

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