Monday, January 23, 2017

SEIKO 5 Sports 100M Retro Automatic Open Heart SSA327K1 (similar to SSA329K1, SSA331K1, SSA333K1 & SSA335K1) – A Flexible Watch, A Review (plus Video)

This Seiko 5 Sports 100M Retro Automatic Open Heart SSA327K1 is the latest model in a new series just recently launched by the Seiko Watch Company. It has the similar shape to the famous Seiko Pogue with the thick turtle case with a concave lug well and the tachymeter style bezel markings. Apart from these similarities, the watch is so much different from the icon. Seiko’s designers heard the fans asking for a reissue of the Pogue and has somewhat come halfway to meet the appeal.

This model is a simple three handed watch without any other complications. The unique design incorporated into this model is the open-heart cut through the dial that allows a direct view of the spinning balance wheel and hairspring. Apart from this, the watch also incorporated some bold paint design on the dial.

This watch is made out of stainless steel including the bracelet. It measures 44.5 mm across with a height of 13 mm. Lug width is 22 mm and the lug-to-lug length is 50 mm. The watch has a combination of brushed as well as polished surfaces. The dial is covered by Hardlex crystal and so is the display case-back. The fixed bezel is thin and is marked with minute markers. There are also Arabic numbers for the first 15 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter. The bezel is painted in two tones, the first for the first 15 minutes and the second for the rest of the bezel.  

The Series

There are five models under this series. Three comes standard with bracelets while two comes standard with leather straps. The series is rather colourful and you should find one that suites your fancy.
SSA327K1SSA329K1SSA331K1SSA333K1SSA335K1

I chose the blue version with bracelet, the SSA327K1, out of the 5 models. It is the first of the series. I was drawn to its colour as well as the lack of flashiness that is rather obvious with most of the other models. Although the last two models are not as flashy, the lack of a more vivid two-tone on the bezel didn’t call out to me.

The MSRP in Malaysia (for the bracelet models) is RM1,319.70 (with GST). I was able to get it for RM989 (inclusive of GST).



The concave lug well is one of three defining features of the watch. From the picture above, the rather awkward looking lugs requires an equally gawky end-link to be fitted. Nevertheless, the weird design has a very positive effect on the wearability of the watch. It makes the watch wears more like a 42 mm timepiece instead of a typical 44.5 mm watch.

The second defining feature of the watch is the thin bezel. This bezel is fixed in place and painted with minute markers. With a thickness of 3 mm, the bezel rises above the turtle shaped casing to give an additional impact protection. Seiko uses the bezel surface to create another timing scale which makes the watch looks much bigger than what it is actually is. However, the bezel is slightly lower than the top of the Hardlex crystal. The possibility of impact to the main crystal from a glancing blow from the size is still there.

The third and final defining feature of the watch is the open-heart aperture on the dial. I believe, after searching the internet, that this is the first open-heart Seiko 5 Sports watch to be issued by the brand (if someone can confirm otherwise would appreciate a shout-out in the comments section). The aperture is not a simple dial stamping. Instead, it is a sloping cut with the sides polished (including a small band around the edge of the dial and aperture). Blue lines and dots at 45 degree angles from the centre are also painted around the aperture. From the aperture to the 3 o’clock position, the Seiko designers also drew a white band with two thin blue strips. Honestly, I don’t understand the significance of that paint job apart from it looking like a “spoon”.



There are a number of timescales on the dial. In fact, I can count three obvious scales. From the outermost are minute scales in light blue markers. Next is a new set of 1/5th minute markers in white. Finally, large hour markers with white LumiBrite luminous paint are the third and final time scale on the dial. Due to presence of the open-heart aperture, the hour markers for 7, 8 and 9 had to be truncated. Adding the scale on the bezel, this watch has an astonishing four timescales!

One can find seven lines of text and logos on the dial. The first three are located on the top half, the second three on the bottom half and the seventh is located (in very small font) along the bottom edge of the dial. All the text and logo are painted in white apart from line three which is painted in red instead. Key information provided by the texts is the fact that it is automatic, uses 24 jewels in the movement and has a water rating of 100 meters.

There are three hands to this watch. The hours and minutes are simple straight sword-shaped hand and painted with Lumibrite paint with white borders. The seconds hand is thin and painted light blue.



Like many of the re-crafted designs by Seiko, the crown is rather small relative to the casing. Located at the 3 o'clock position, it is a simple push-in system. Since there are no additional functionality like a date or day complication, the crown only has two set positions: safe position (for hand winding) and adjust position (to adjust the time).



The lugs have pass-through pinholes which help facilitate bracelet or strap replacement. The standard bracelet provided is a stamped piece of metal folded on to itself to create the volume. In the photo above you can make out the thin line separating the folded metal piece. The bracelet has the standard 3-point safety feature, the fold-over clasp with double-push button safety and signed locking tab.



This watch is powered by the 4R38 movement. It is an automatic movement with hand wind features without any complication. It also has a second hand stop (hacking) function. The movement operates in the 21,600 bph or 6 beats per second (3 Hertz) range and has 24 jewels. Magnetic resistance is at 60 Gauss or 4,800A/m. Power reserve in the main springs is approximately 41 hours.

The Wearing Experience

The watch is comfortable to wear. The unique lug design helps placed the watch neatly on the wrist despite its size. For a watch this wide, the 44.5 mm wide casing feels like a 42 mm wide wristwatch.


There are a couple of issues that could have made it a great watch. The first is the bracelet. It feels light and not as tight between the links. If you shake your wrist, due to the uneven distribution of weight between the casing and the bracelet, the timepiece feels unstable.

Second is the size of the crown. If you have the watch on your wrist, even if you want to hand wind the movement, it is difficult turning the crown. A larger or wider crown would be better in my opinion.

The third and final issue is the use of the white strip on the dial. I can’t see any justification for making such a design. In fact, it distracts the user from referring the time especially if the hands are on top of the white strip. It becomes difficult to differentiate between the hands and the white strip due to the similarity in colour.

Overall, the watch is flexible enough to be able to blend itself in formal as well as informal settings. To make it feel even more formal, replace the bracelet with a nice leather strap and it would look perfect for the job.

Below is a short video of the watch on my wrist.



Photo Gallery

SSA327K1SSA327K1


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