Not all sports watches need to look the same...
When you’re a watch brand with as many milestones and historical relevance as Seiko you have a lot to celebrate. In fact, the watch we have with us today isn't the brand's first celebration of an important happening for the Japanese watchmakers.1964 was the year and with the Olympics coming up in the summer, a watch was needed. Tokyo was the location of the games and in doing so, resulted in Seiko being chosen as the company to create the piece. The result was this model, the Seiko Crown Chronograph, officially Japan’s first chronograph watch.
In 2019 we saw the release of the SRQ031. A conventional three register, two pusher chronograph which through the use of the champagne coloured dial, black bezel, multi-piece hour markers and dauphine hands hinted at this original model. But, to be totally honest, this watch felt visually quite distant to its original design. Its 42.3mm size and vastly detailed dial brought the watch away from the charming simplicity of the original model that made it so appealing. It didn’t quite wet the appetite of those in love with the ‘64 model.
Fortunately, there was more on the way, the SARX069. This creation is a little more faithful to the original and although it's not perfect, there is a lot to enjoy in this watch available for around £600...
Note: this model also has the reference number SPB127 which is the reference used for non-Japanese markets. However, in our research, we’ve found SARX069 to be the more commonly used number.
The Seiko Presage SARX069 - What It Does
Seiko has done an excellent job here of faithfully capturing the essence of the 1964 chronograph’s design. Take a look back at the original model and then come back to this new one. Sure, they have made some adjustments which we’ll get into, but first impressions of the SARX069 are positive, with an array of closely matched features to the OG.
The case width has now increased to 40.5mm with a lug to lug of 48.5mm but you’ll be pleased to hear the design of the case is the same as the original.
From a profile view, you’ll notice that those deep almost chunky lugs remain with each contouring to the central body of the watch case. This is a reduction in size from the SRQ031 but an increase on the original ‘64 model. It's a middle ground choice and although the piece is very comfortable thanks to the 11.5mm thickness, a lot of the 40.5mm width is dial with just a 2.5mm wide bezel skimming the edge of the case.
This watch is all about the visuals and more specifically, the dial and bezel. A large aspect as to why the original 1964 is so gorgeous is down to its mixture of elegance and visual delicacy with purpose and reasoning.
The champagne sunburst dial with those polished multifaceted indices on top and the dauphine hands I did find to be quite difficult to read in certain light but they do undoubtedly inject some class to the occasion. But then, almost at a complete 180°, you find a black rotating sporty frictionless bezel.
There is quite the mash-up of styles here and it's certainly not necessarily something you’d normally expect on a Seiko. Nowadays most of the watches that get called versatile are divers or sports watches at their core. The reason they’re now very versatile is partly down to the shift in styles and dress sense of the modern-day watch wearer. Previous generations regularly donned a suit and tie in a week, whereas nowadays suits may be dusted off a couple of times a year for a few weddings. We’re moving the goalposts on what is versatile thanks to the evolving way we live our lives and our dress sense habits.Our 21st-century rules are less defined on what you should or shouldn’t wear. If you’re confident enough to pull it off, almost any watch can look great in a variety of occasions. The SARX069 still retains that old world charm without any of the niggling frustrations that can arise with genuine vintage watches.
Yes we see lume in the hands and on the dial, yes there is a date window at 3 o'clock and how could we forget that bezel? With the clever choice of handset, dial colour, sunburst dial texture and elegant appearance we’re actually left with the watch being the driving force of versatility and not the generalised acceptance of an evolving style to determine ‘what is right and wrong’.
Powering the SARX069 is the 6R35 Seiko movement. Although it only vibrates at 21,600 vph, the trade-off is an increased power reverse which sits right at 70 hours. That's a big advantage over other watches at this price point using Swiss movement that can only offer around 40 hours. This automatic movement is also hacking, can be hand wound and comes with a quick set date. All useful, practical features we’ve come to expect from brands.
With only 100m of water resistance and no screw-down crown, the likelihood of this being able to survive a diving trip is unlikely. Fortunately, Seiko has this covered in some other well-known watches…
Watch straps for the Seiko Presage SARX069
Let’s take a look at a few strap options for the SARX069 as we aim to give this watch a fresh new look.
Kington Croco Dress Quick Release Watch Strap in Chocolate Brown
The SARX069 undoubtedly has an elegant side to it and if it wasn’t clear enough to you already, check it out on the Kington Croc. We offer a few leather straps with an exotic animal print, but this strap specifically works because of the soft mat finish. Many of these straps can have quite a shiny, glossy look to them but where this strap shines is down to its toned-down appearance.
Geckota "Oblique" Milanese Mesh Stainless Watch Strap
Maybe you’re looking at the SARX069 and thinking you’d actually love to dress the watch up even more than the previous Kington strap. Well, look no further than the Oblique Mesh to perfectly answer your call.
Mesh straps have a touch of the marmite effect, but if you’re an advocate of metal straps and want something with a little more elegance than your 3 link bracelet, they’re one of the best options. This Milanese mesh has a brilliant thickness of 2.75mm offering a middle ground between super-thin options or heavy chunky pieces.
If you regularly wear a shirt on a working day, or you want to use the SARX069 for more special occasions this is the strap for you.
Edwyn Genuine Leather Deployment Buckle Watch Strap in Light BrownFinally, we have the most versatile pick of the bunch, the Edwyn Leather Watch Strap. This particular choice in Light Brown uses a beautifully soft leather complemented with a ridiculously comfortable addition of padding throughout. This strap also comes with a deployment buckle as standard which really ties the whole package together.
If you’re after a strap that will never look out of place and be your perfect daily look for the SARX069, this would be our suggestion.
So wait, why isn’t it a chronograph?
You may have noticed that the original 1964 model was a monopusher chronograph but the SARX069 is simply a time and date only.
Let’s be honest here and say it how it is, Seiko has made a watch that is a tribute to a historical model with one of the most important features (and why it was created in the first place) not being present. So why isn’t the modern equivalent also a chronograph?
From a purist point of view, this could frustrate, but there are a couple of main reasons in my eyes. To start with Seiko only uses in house developed movement. A monopusher isn’t exactly the most common of executions for a chronograph nowadays so this would mean the Japanese brand would have to modify an existing double pusher chronograph. That’s going to get expensive quite quickly. And this is without even mentioning the increased size of that the chronograph movement would be let alone how usable that investment would be in other new models.
The other reason simply comes down to demand and customer expectations. Seiko is a brand adored by every type of person with any sort of relationship to watches across the world. The guy who has only ever owned one watch at a time will more than likely have the applied Seiko logo on his wrist. It's a familiar story when discussing the 100+ watch collections of watch enthusiasts at your local RedBar; 9/10 Seiko is going to appear. The point being that Seiko is one of a few brands who are all things to all people so going through all of that effort to modify a mechanical chronograph movement so it works flawlessly as a monopusher is at best only going to appeal to one slice of the Seiko fandom pie. For a proportion of Seiko lovers, it might feel like a missed opportunity but in that case, the SRQ031 is your only option.
Seiko has done enough with this modern execution of this watch for it to not be overly missed. In an ideal world would I personally have loved to see this watch as a monopusher? Of course, but the price tag would have ultimately been enough to turn me off. It’s a ‘nice to have’ feature, but without it, the watch isn’t a failure.
Things we would change
As always with our reviews, we like to be totally honest. If there are some aspects of the watch that don’t quite sit well with us, we mention them. Commonly these aren’t points that we feel should stop someone adding the watch to their collection if they love it, they’re more ‘good to be aware of’ points.
Two micro-adjustments on the buckle - It feels too obvious to comment on Seiko’s bracelet making skills as for the most part the SARX069’s oyster style bracelet is pretty good, but the presence of only two micro adjustments is a shame. That robbery of vital adjustments feels extremely ‘un-Seiko’ and it is one that did impact my time with the watch.
Legibility issues - in bright light or daylight, it is not uncommon for the dial of the SARX069 to be extremely washed out and difficult to read. It feels like the piece could benefit from some more contrast on the dial, perhaps a deeper champagne tone for the dial and quite possibly an extension of the radial concentric lines to the edge of the dial, where at the moment just the indices sit.
This is a watch from Seiko that will stick in my mind for some time. It’s one of those pieces that simply challenges everything you thought you knew about a watch type, all while not actually offering vastly different features. Not all sports watches need to look like an Aqua Terra or an Explorer and this SARX069 is the proof.On the wrist, it blends old world charming style with new world versatility and function. And all of this is available from a brand with genuine storytelling and meaning.
The Seiko SARX069 Presage is now available with an RRP of $825 (approximately £606). To find out more, click here to see the Seiko website.
Looking to learn more about Seiko including their history as well as our other articles covering the brand? Everything you need to know about Seiko here!