Friday, August 10, 2018

Seiko Criteria Automatic SRPC73K1 "Submersible" (similar to SRPC69K1, SRPC71K1, SRPC75K1 & SRPC77K1) - Stylish yet basic, A Review (with Videos)

The Seiko Criteria line has never caught my attention until now. The range has traditionally been viewed as having a flashy yet sporty styling. Powered by quartz technology (battery and solar), the line's most common complication is the chronograph function.

For 2018, Seiko decided to add a simpler design to Criteria's repertoire. Powered with a basic automatic movement, the three handed timepieces come only with day and date complications as well as a display case-back. Importantly, the glass is sapphire crystal for the extra touch of quality.

When I saw it for the first time, I did a quick search on the internet about this particular line but nothing came up. The only information I was able to get is the reference number of the 5 timepieces that makes up this particular series under the Criteria line. Out of the five, I find the SRPC73K1 to be the most catching of the lot and I immediately took possession of one.



The MSRP in Kuala Lumpur was RM1,310.00 but I was able to get it for RM950.00. I bought it from Style Watch in Mid Valley, Megamall.

The stainless steel casing on the SRPC73K1 has a two-stage design that starts round shape at the upper half and morphed to a tonneau cushion shape for the bottom half. Seldom seen now but this is one of the more common design found in vintage timepieces. I love this design.


The Watch

The SRPC73K1 is a fashionable sports watch. You either love the styling or hate it immensely. When it comes to sports watches, the Seiko lines that come to mind are the Prospex as well as the Seiko 5 Sports. Seldom would one equate the Criteria line for a sports watch. To be honest, I have yet to make a conclusive opinion on this watch. The only reason I got it was because this would be the first Criteria in the collection and the design does call to me somewhat. More about this later.



By using a caliper, I got the following dimensions. The watch has a diameter of 44.0 mm if we exclude the crown (Seiko officially states it as 43 mm). With the crown included, the diameter extends further by 3.5 mm to 47.5 mm. The height is 13.5 mm. The lugs has a width of 22.0 mm while the lug-to-lug is 51.5 mm. The standard strap provided tapers from 22.0 mm at the lugs to 20.0 mm at the buckle.



The dial design is very stylish. The combination of the colour blue as well as a sun-burst texture makes the dial simmer in any lighting conditions. With white as the other contrasting colour on the dial, despite the shine, it is very easy to refer to the time.

The chapter ring has two stages. From the edge of the crystal, it is polished metal with a near vertical angle. It than transition to a gradual slope painted in blue and marked with a minute scale. The minute scale has a combination of line markers and Arabic numerals painted in white.

The dial surface is even more intricate with three separate levels. The lowest or bottom level is at the center and this where the main texts are located. There are also thin hour markers in white apart from a larger cross that bisects the surface in a North-South and East-West alignment. The Seiko brand is applied on the dial at the upper quadrant while the rest of the texts consisting of the words "AUTOMATIC", 24 JEWELS" and "100M" are painted white on the lower quadrant. It is also interesting to note that the lowest level of dial is not circular. Due to the way the second lowest level was constructed which overlay a portion of the lowest level along the date and day aperture, the area looks like 'Pacman' or a spanner head. Visually, the blue paint used on the lowest level is darker compared to the next level.

The second lowest or middle level is ring-shaped of approximately 4.5 mm wide with the exception where the day & date aperture is situated. At this unique position, it extends like a rectangle platform all the way to the center of the dial. Visually, the blue paint used on this level is lighter than the lowest level as well as the highest level. On this particular level, the hour scale is made out of Arabic numerals as well as a large applied triangle marker framed with a center line at 12 o'clock. This particular marker is painted with Seiko's Lumibrite. At this position as well, the middle level cuts into the top level following the shape of the triangle peak right up to the chapter ring wall. It is also worth noting that the Seiko designers uses white dashes to frame the day & date aperture. At first I cannot see the rationale behind the white dashes. After a while I realised the justification of doing so. If there is a solid white frame around the aperture, it will overwhelm the symmetry of the dial. Anyway, if given the chance, I will elect not to put any framing around the aperture. The number and letters on the date is more than sufficient to provide a balance to the missing hour numeral at 3 o'clock. 

http://westernwatch.blogspot.com/2013/11/aristo-flieger-automatic-3h114-pilot.htmlThe highest or top level is an even thinner ring, just 3.0 mm wide. On this level, Seiko designers added applied square-shaped hour markers with Lumibrite paint.Visually, the blue on this level appears to be the same tone as the lowest level. At 12 o'clock, where the ring breaks, you will find two painted white dots. Coupled with the applied triangle, it has the same design philosophy of German Flieger watches (see picture of my Aristo Flieger on the right). 

The hours and minutes hands on the watch is semi-skeletonised and has a polished frame. The design follows that of a Roman short sword. The non-skeletonised part is painted with Lumibrite. I have not seen such designs in Seiko's other watches before so this must be new. Meanwhile, the seconds hand is thin and polished at the front section and painted black at the back section with a ball painted with Lumibrite at the end.

The day and date complication is painted white with a black background. For the day complication, you have the option of English or Roman numerals.



Just looking at the coin edge of the bezel, it would not be wrong to expect the watch comes with a timing bezel. In reality, the bezel is in fact fixed in place. The fixed bezel is marked with hours markers in Arabic numerals starting from '13' to '24'. The numbers are stamped into the metal and painted black. After looking at the watch for some time, it suddenly dawned on me where I have seen something similar before - the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanio or PAM01305 by Panerai. You can see that there is a strong resemblance in case design, the style of bezel and the main hands.


SRPC73K1
PAM01305


The push-in crown is located at the contemporary 3 o'clock position. Nothing spectacular about the crown. The crown is sterile without any stamping or artwork.

Like many of Seiko watches, the SRPC73K1 uses short and curved lugs to minimise wrist overhang especially for those with smaller wrists. As you can see in the photo below, the lugs have drill-through lug holes to facilitate easier strap changes.



The screw-down display case-back in protected by Hardlex crystal and allows one to see the 4R36A movement. Around the outer edges of the Hardlex crystal, basic information about the watch can be found. Anyway, I am actually surprised that Seiko allowed a none decorated movement to go with this watch. Criteria, as a fashion line should have something visually stunning to show (similar to a Presage line). At least get the rotor painted in either black or blue. If that is difficult, perhaps the clear Hardlex could be tinted with a similar colour as the dial. In the case of the SRPC73K1, a shade of blue perhaps.



The watch has been water rated to 100 meters. It also has a magnetic resistance rating of 4,800 A/m (60 gauss).

The 4R36A is the current automatic caliber workhorse of Seiko. Operating at 21,600 BPH or 3 Hertzs, the movement uses 24 jewels with seconds hand stop capability. It can be hand-wound and it has a power reserve of approximately 41 hours with an error rate of +45 seconds and -35 seconds per day. Below is a video of the movement of the seconds hand.



The watch is paired with a hybrid blue nylon and leather strap. The upper surface is nylon with a contrasting white stitching on the perimeter. The bottom surface is leather. A leather strip has also been put over the buckle holes for reinforcement. It comes with two strap guides and the metal buckle is stamped with the brand. The strap is stiffer than either a pure nylon strap or pure leather strap yet comfortable.



Some parts of the watch have been painted with the luminous Lumibrite paint. Below is a photo of the watch after getting a good dose of black light. As you can see from the photo, the watch has more than adequately illumination for nighttime use.




The Wearing Experience

I have a 7.25 inch circumference wrist and the SRPC73K1 fills the wrist to the brim. To those of you that prefer big watches, this is one good option. The thick hybrid nylon & leather strap does add to the bulk of the watch. It is also the part of the watch that snags the most especially at shirt cuffs. Having worn it in an office environment, it is not as smooth to wear compared to other sports watches from Seiko.



In a more relaxed atmosphere, the SRPC73K1is fun to wear. Below is a video of the watch on my wrist.




Conclusion

As a sports timepiece, the SRPC73K1 does have a number of weakness. 

The first is the dial clutter. As a dress watch, the multiple levels on the dial is very intriguing and a good conversation starter. There are so many interesting aspects on the dial to be discovered. However, you don't want too many things going on the dial as it distracts the user from referring to the time quickly while engaged in a physical activity or while in an active environment. 

The second is the 'phony' timing bezel. The SRPC73K1 only has time, day and date functionality. I would have preferred the bezel to move like a diver watch as it will add another two important functions - timing as well as dual timezone reference. To me, this watch feels like a 'replica' with a non-functioning complication.

The third and final issue is the non-decorated movement. For the Criteria range, this should not be acceptable. At least dress up the rotor or even the display case-back to give that premium feel to the watch and justify it having the Criteria badge.  

Nevertheless, after having said all those thing, I still need to relate the watch to the most important variable - price. For the price point, this watch is not bad at all. It has the general shape that I like and it took some cues from more expensive sports watches to make it feel more exciting.

Since no one has yet provide a fitting nickname for this series, I hereby proclaim the moniker "Submersible" for the SRPC73K1 and all its siblings. This is to reflect its similarity to Panerai's Luminor Submersible 1950 series.




The Series

There are five example in the Criteria Automatic series. Only one is a limited edition piece and only one comes standard with bracelet.

The standard run examples are (L-R) with the reference number SRPC69K1, SRPC71K1, SRPC73K1 and SRPC75K1.



The SRPC69K1 has a black PVD plus bracelet. The SRPC71K1 comes with a leather strap while the rest comes with a hybrid canvas and leather strap in various colours. Meanwhile, the SRPC77K1 (bottom) is a limited edition timepiece. At the time of writing, I have not found information about the number of units being produced for this particular reference.






The MSRP in Malaysia are as follows:
  • SRPC69K1: RM1,605.00
  • SRPC71K1: RM1,290.00
  • SRPC73K1: RM1,390.00
  • SRPC75K1: RM1,440.00
  • SRPC77K1: RM1,605.00

Specifications

Case Material - Stainless Steel
Glass - Sapphire Crystal (front); Hardlex (back)
Band Material - Hybrid Nylon & Leather
Clasp - Signed Buckle
Case Diameter - 44.0 mm (43 mm as stated by Seiko)
Lug Size - 22.0mm
Lug to Lug -  51.5 mm
Height  -  13.5 mm
Movement - Seiko Automatic Caliber 4R36A
Complications - Day & Date
Water Resistant - 100 Meters



Photo Gallery




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