Seiko Solar Dress Watch ($85)


Seiko Solar close-up

Back when I was a kid, $85 bought you a small house in the suburbs. Not really. But it wasn’t nothing. These days, you can’t buy a lot with $85. O.K., sure, a gram of cocaine. In terms of watches, you’d be scraping the bottom of the barrel marked “made in China by poor people in wretched conditions.” Unless you bought a Seiko Solar SUP873. Now let me be VERY clear about something . . .

The Truth About Watches is not Hodinkee. We don’t sell “reviewed” watches in an online store. We don’t write “sponsored” posts, or pimp “special edition” collaborations with friendly watchmakers. The following paean to the Seiko Solar dress watch comes from a place of love, not avarice. But if you ‘ave a wrist, you need this watch.

Seiko Solar in the waiting room

At the risk of ascending the heights of hyperbole fast enough to give you a nose bleed, the Seiko Solar dress watch is the watch Grand Seiko should be selling. As wonderful as GS hand-finished watches are, Seiko’s high-end horologists don’t offer a timepiece with the Solar’s maximum minimalism.

Credor Eichi II

Actually, Grand Seiko’s rival sub-brand does: the Credor Eichi II. Only that watch costs $52k. And look at that quarter-moon-on-a-cocktail-stick second hand. It’s so jejuene. Less pretentiously, we don’t need no stinkin’ second hand!

Side view Seiko solar

The Seiko SUP873 strips the dress watch down to its most basic basics: round case, white dial, twelve indices, two hands, one logo. It meets the genre’s mechanical anorexia mandate (7mm thick) and passes the shiny-but-not-too-shiny-metal test. And then there’s the Seiko Solar’s trump card: its V115 quartz movement.

Seiko Solar dress watch caseback

In a world of smart watch domination and super-accurate quartz pieces, it’s easy to forget Seiko solar’s supremacy. The super-slim rechargeable battery’s continually topped-up by any light source. While the V115’s battery will perform at its full potential for “only” ten years, it’s an ideal movement for a dress watch – a timepiece that waits weeks if not months for a suitably swanky social event.

At this point, you may be wondering why Seiko discontinued the SUP873 and SUP872 (gold-tone). Why it’s been discounted from $215 (original retail) to $84.99. Simple. It’s a Seiko.

As Grand Seiko’s sub-Rolex prices indicate, the brand has no gravitas. Dress watch buyers want a super-slim dress timepiece that projects Jesse Jackson’s old mantra: I am somebody! The Seiko Solar is too quiet, too reserved and too expensive – yes, even under 90 bucks. It’s too . . . Seiko.

Seiko Solar dress watch and Blancpain dress watch

Equally, the minimalist aesthetic that informs a mega-buck Blancpain two-hander doesn’t find a lot of favor at the low-end of the market. The small percentage of buyers who swing that way want something funky fresh with street cred. The Seiko Solar is unable to compete on either price or props with cheap-ass Armani, Guess, Michael Kors and Calvin Klein quartz watches.

The Seiko Solar dress watch has one major flaw: the leather strap (not shown in these pictures). Like the wristborne hairshirt accompanying the Seiko Diver, it’s a piece of shit: nasty, flimsy and foul (a good name for a Dickensian law firm). The SUP873 deserves a leather strap worthy of its beauty, so figure another $40 to make it so.

Seiko Solar with Marshall amp

And there you have it, if you want it. If not you, the Seiko Solar SUP873 makes an excellent starter watch for a youngster developing an appreciation for the look and feel of high class horology, who won’t take it off when knocking about, swimming or showering (it’s water resistant to 100 feet), and just might leave it unattended.

Meanwhile, the Seiko Solar is The Truth About Watches‘ Minimalist Watch of the Day. A timepiece that stands outside of time, telling time, for a long time to come. It’s the bargain of a lifetime for the right customer, a hard pass for buyers who don’t appreciate the fact that less is more. More or less.

Model: Seiko Solar White Dial Black Leather Mens Watch SUP873
Price: $84.99 [Click here to buy. No commission paid.]


Case: Stainles steel
Diameter: 38mm
Case thickness: 7 mm
Dial color: White
Crystal: Scratch Resistant Hardlex
Hands: Silver-tone
Functions: Hour, minute
Movement: Seiko caliber V115, quartz
Strap: Leather, 20mm wide, clasp and tang
Water resistance: 30 meters / 100 feet

RATINGS (our of five stars):

Design * * * * *
Minimalist perfection.

Legibility * * *
Perfect! Except for zero lume. I like lume.

Comfort * * * * *
So light – a single ounce – only the strap keeps it from floating off your wrist. Yes, about that strap . . .

Tactility *
Seiko keeps selling watches with hideous hairshirts masquerading as watch straps. The Seiko Solar’s strap should be deep-sixed upon arrival, if not sooner.

Overall * * * * *
If you love minimalism, respect Seiko as a brand and money’s too tight to mention, the Seiko Solar SP873 is the bargain of a lifetime. Just make sure you budget for a new strap.

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