OK Monster

My new Citizen Diver unfortunately has not yet arrived, I thought I’d show my other model – my Seiko diver, which may not need any introduction, but for those who don’t have one, here it is.

Seiko Orange Monster

Seiko Orange Monster

And this is a real favorite amongst many it seems – the Seiko SKZ781K3 “Orange Monster”.  It’s one of those “tactile” models, you know the thing – once you wear it and really see it close up, it is one very solid chunk of stainless steel and yet it somehow just “feels” right.  Mostly and deceptively, because it is NOT large – not at all!  So don’t be put off by those massive looks, because in reality it is remarkably compact, though looking like it’s title – a Monster!  The case is a very clever and dare I say, almost extravagant, stainless steel that really does give a great feeling of solidity.  There is absolutely no doubt it has that something about it and the specification’s pretty decent too.

As I say – this is a compact diver at 42mm x 13mm so a great size for those if us with normal size wrists 😉 and the band/lug width is a tight 20 mm, so easy to source an alternative bracelet or strap.  (See my wrist shot – and I only have 170mm wrists).  Unfortunately no screw in lug/strap bars, which would be my preference, though Seiko do use really heavy weight spring bars between the lugs for strap or bracelet fitting

Monster fits my 170mm wrist just fine!

Monster fits my 170mm wrist just fine!

My Monster here sports a non Seiko ladder flexible rubber strap though is due for a change, but that’s no reflection on the watch of course.

The large 120 click uni-directional bezel is very “in your face” with sharp black clear markings and a luminous dot @12.  It also slopes down slightly towards the Hardlex Crystal, which is gently domed for optimum viewing under water, so the eye naturally is drawn to the super clear orange dial.  Large luminous markers and a minute track on the perimeter, broad black edged Lumibrite hour and minutes hands complimented by a black luminous tipped arrow head seconds sweep hand.  An excellent and very clear day and date window @3 with edge highlight in black plus contrasting white background discs with black letters, means it’s easily read without the need for a magnifying bubble.

Monster dial

Monster dial

At the 18 minutes position the well defined Screw Down Crown sits, very well protected by a crown guard above and below by the very clever extended steel case lug.

The movement is the 21 jewel mechanical automatic (self winding with movement of the your arm) Seiko 7S26, so will never need a battery and is a reasonable accuracy for a mechanical engine.  It is also a very well tried Seiko Japanese movement so there should be no surprises with it.  It is also a non-hacking movement, which means when the crown is pulled out to adjust the time, the second hand does not stop. (I understand newer model versions use Cal. 4R36, which is hacking).  However with a mechanical watch I’ve personally never needed such split second accuracy anyway, so I’m fine with that.  Accuracy-wise the 7S26 at 21,600 bph is maybe +/- 5 secs per day with a power reserve of up to 40 hours.  The movement also doesn’t hand wind but simply waving it about a bit, starts it off easily, so just put it on and your away!

Steel screw back and crown protection

Steel screw back and crown protection

Overall impressions with this watch is that it’s a built like a tank and is very solid and reassuring.  And as any Diver should, it has a 200m Water Resistance rating and a good sized screw down crown.
So overall in my opinion and that of many others apparently, this is an exceptional watch for the money, of that there is no doubt – and whilst it may be a bit of a statement, indeed almost a cult watch, it actually does the business, does it very well and looks stunning.

Seiko Monster - looks the part, but only 13mm depth

Seiko Monster – looks the part, but only 12.9mm depth

Just a word about the luminous quality of the dial.  There is no question that if exposed to daylight for any length of time, the light “charge” is bright and very effective.  If you then put the watch in a dark place soon after, the luminous markers and hands etc. are outstanding, very bright and clear so you could almost read a book by it!  This image is taken in a darkened room (not fully dark) and shows the luminous quality – note the black outlines accentuate the hands rather well.

Luminous effect after about 10 minutes (after the initial charge dies off).

Luminous effect after about 10 minutes (after the initial charge dies off).

Of course this brightness does not remain as the image above and does fade, though I’m happy to say the “Monster” performs well enough to tell the time in the dark even after 6 hours or so.

5 am - luminous dial still readable

5 am – luminous dial still readable (Sorry – not my best photo!)

Whilst the luminous dial does fade and dependent on the initial charge as to how long this fading takes, it could just glow a little by early morning.  However your eyes will be well adjusted to the dark and should still be able to make out the time.  So overall not bad and almost as good (though not quite!) as my old Breitling, which always manages to retain a luminous quality, regardless of light exposure.

So in conclusion the Seiko lives up to it’s reputation very well and especially with this model, which really represents excellent value as a Diver class model.  And as soon as my Citizen turns up I hope to check it out here and perhaps do a comparison.  Anyway it’s nice to have two different takes on a theme from competing brands – should be interesting.

Update – Thursday 5th December 2013

I noted that the non-Seiko ladder rubber strap on my Monster was needing replaced.  I did this the other night and used a twin button over locking deployment type in Silicon rubber.  It was 20mm width and apart from the fact I had to coax the heavy weight Seiko spring bars into the strap fixing holes with a touch of WD40 (they slid in easily then) it fitted just great.  Gives a much lower profile on the wrist and more comfortable too.

Replacement Silicon deployment strap for under £12

Replacement Silicon deployment strap for under £12

As you can pretty much guess, I don’t do diving these days so my simple lume test was basically day time/bed time and see what I could see on wake up.  But from that it’s pretty obvious that underwater, what with the light before the dive and the initial descent, the Lumibrite will absorb more than enough light to manage the task.  As to the strap; if I was diving or scuba/snorkeling or whatever, I’d fit a full rubber strap, as it’s long length would allow me to wear it over a wet suit and so on.   I’m unsure if the bracelet version of the Monster has an extension (like my Breitling) to extend the wrist length just for that purpose, but whatever, this does show that strap and bracelet wise this watch will take almost any standard item, no problem.

Update –

You may be pleased to note that the Orange Monster series is still going strong. v2 appeared in 2012 with the upgraded 4r36 hacking and hand winding movement.  Series 3 appeared in 2014 with the 6r15 automatic movement with a 50 hr reserve.  I note that the latest 4th version has reverted back to the 4r36 movement for reasons unknown.

Personally I love the Series 1 and wouldn’t consider parting with it – it’s iconic, great to wear, smooth as silk and never lets me down – ever. Personally I’m always on the lookout for limited edition series 1, which feature different dial colurs, but they are tricky to find. But always hopeful.

Categories: Watch reviews

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