Buying a watch below £200 represents, for many, a purchase that is designed for trips to the beach, occasional wear and for when you need a ‘beater’. This term means a watch that you do not worry about damaging because the price could be considered throwaway or because the watch itself is tough enough to cope with adventurous activities.
Of course £200 is not throwaway and for many even that amount amount feels very expensive for a watch. I know countless people wearing watches that cost less than £30 and they have been wearing them for years. Put simply, they want to tell the time and do not care on what brand they are doing so on. Sensible if you ask me.
For those, however, who have a passion for watches it is all too easy to be consumed by very well crafted products that cost upwards of £1,000 and in some cases way above that. It’s all too easy to get hooked on the brand, the quality of the movement, the scarcity and of course the marketing. The watch industry is easily more than 50% marketing for most people and if it wasn’t the likes of TAG Heuer would have gone out of business years ago.
Anyway, I digress because here we have a watch that can be purchase for just above £150 if you look hard enough and for below £200 if you are happy to jump to Amazon and no further. It’s a Seiko which literally guarantees a well-made product with excellent lime and enough care and attention to make it feel more valuable than the asking price.
We have a Seiko 4R36 movement inside which is a tried and tested workhorse that will offer 40 hours of power reserve, manual winding and which is also hackable (second hand stops when you pull out the crown for accurate time setting). It’s not a special movement by any means and is likely the main reason why this watch is at a fairly low comparative price point, but in 1 week of use mine is currently 2 seconds out. Now, that is highly unusual and most watches settle over the first couple of weeks so time will tell (get it?) as to if it remains accurate on a daily basis. So far, however, it is matching my Longines Hydro Conquest and Oris Aquis Date for accuracy which is most unexpected.
Accuracy is not important though, unless it is woefully poor, because we expect variances in mechanical watches and price is no precursor to what to expect in this regard. £10,000 will not get you much improvement over a £300 mechanical watch, but that is not why luxury watches are bought. And this is the crux of the matter when it comes to the SRP713 K1.
I asked to review this watch after happening upon a YouTube video showing a few new Seiko releases from some time back and it jumped out at me. Hard to explain, but a cream dial, excellent legibility and a classic military aesthetic are an enticing combination for me.
The strap is not the best, a very stiff brown leather number that feels harsh on the sides of your wrist. It may soften over time, but I immediately slapped on a metal mesh strap and the difference is stark.
At 44mm this is a big watch, but it wears small thanks to the sloped lugs and a bezel that is not dominating in any way. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that the non-rotating bezel is a disappointment, but the jury is out for me at the moment on that particular aspect. It really does suit the watch and adds to the military appeal, but the markers are pointless and thus there is little to it apart from being a mechanism to hold the Hardlex crystal in place.
The crystal itself is slightly domed and very clear, almost sapphire level, and suits the dial perfectly. In theory the hands should not stand out on a cream dial like this one, but legibility is quite superb for quickly glancing the time when needed. And the day and date windows are also just big enough to make them visible in a second. Thrown in a black and red second hand, and lumibrite hands and you get a watch that is highly practical on a visual level. The hands glow all through the night, in a subtle way, and there is no moment when the time is not available.
100m water resistance is more than enough for daily use, even without a screw-down crown, it is all topped off with a see-through case back which I admit to not liking much. The 4R36 movement is not ugly by any means, but it does not warrant looking at in my opinion and I would personally prefer to see a fully cover back.
The most surprising aspect of this watch for me is that from the moment I received it, it has not left my wrist. I actually prefer it to the Longines Hydro Conquest in many ways. The Hydro Conquest costs £840 and offers pretty poor lume which is very hard to read thanks to the design of the hands and lack of a true coating. It is also uncomfortable when worn over extended periods and doesn’t offer a look that is noticeable in any way. That last point is not important, but when you consider the price difference it’s hard not to like the Seiko, a lot.
This watch has grabbed me in a way I did not expect and I am genuinely considering losing the Longines in deference to it. The SRP713 K1 is one of Seiko’s hidden models that many people are unaware of, but it is a gem that deserves attention if £200 feels like a reasonable budget to you.