New Watch Alert: Seiko, Ambush, Sinn

Seiko Prospex LX SNR031 – $6k

Seiko Prospex LX SNR031 - new watch alert

Seiko. Seiko Prospex. Grand Seiko. Makes sense, right? Good movements with durable cases and dials; better movements with fancier cases and elegant dials; best movements with immaculate cases and perfect dials. Cheap, not-so-cheap, expensive. New watch alert! If you think a $6k Prospex dive watch fits this brand matrix it’s time to stop taking the blue pill. The catchily named LX SNR031 is a Grand Seiko in all but name, and quite the babe it is too . . .

The blacked-out 44.8mm diver is a member of the Seiko Spring Drive team, built inside a case that offers “nearly doubled hardness” of normal titanium. With 300m water resistance, saturation divers need apply. Sure, the gi-normous, glove-friendly crown sticks out like a Pornhub protrusion. And the black-on-black bezel markers display a dearth of underwater street cred [sic]. But the LX SNR031 is a perfectly proportioned Prospex prospect – even for the power reserve indicator averse. But six grand for a Seiko? Two words: Volkswagen Phaeton. Three more: cheapest video ever.

Ambush Timeless Watch Bracelet – $655

Ambush Timeless Watch Bracelet - new watch alert

New watch alert! Or is it? This blank-faced bracelet is brought to you by Korean-American fashion designer Yoon Ahn under her Ambush brand. It’s meant to evoke and parody Casio’s A168WG-9EF Vintage Retro Gold Digital Dial Stainless Steel Unisex Watch. Just as the faux gold Casio wanders on the line between tacky and ironic, the Ambush version . . . wanders on the line between tacky and ironic. Aside from the obvious disparity in function sets, the big difference between the two is price.

Ambush Timeless Watch Bracelet caseback

You can buy the Casio on Amazon for $60.79. The Ambush runs $655. Huh? Without obvious branding, you can round down the number of people who’ll get the fashion joke to zero. Mind you, someone’s laughing. The 26mm Ambush bracelet is sold out. “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak,” reality TV star and fashion guru Rachel Zoe pronounced. I have a few ideas about the nature of an Ambush bracelet buyer, but discretion is the better part of valor. For once. 

Sinn U1-T DS LE – $2850

Sinn U1-T DS LE beauty shot

On the other side of the value equation, $2850’s not a lot of scratch for a scratched dial Sinn UT-1 DS. The über-legible Sinn offers a U-boatload of tool watch technology for the money. The case, bezel, bracelet and locking clasp are all made of corrosion resistant tegimented steel – the same hardened material Germany’s six stealthy submarines depend on to not sink (unless ordered to do so). Panerai-shunning Kampfschwimmers will be pleased to know the UT-1 is water resistant to 1000m. Best of all . . .

Sinn U1-T DS LE caseback

“No two dials are alike,” Sinn promises. “The result created through the machining process cannot be repeated,” they add in computer-translated German, in case you’re worried about running into another UTR-1 DS owner. More intriguing: “While the dial appears grey from afar, up close it becomes more evident that the base material can change color depending upon the angle of the light.” At 44.8mm, the UT-1 DS catches a lot of light. But it ain’t light, tipping scales at well over four ounces. A small burden to bear for a pre-scratched scratch-proof watch? We report, you deride.

12 comments

  1. Ha!! I knew a guy with a VW Phaeton. It was a very nice car. But, if I recall, it was $80k+. For a VW.

  2. Today’s crowns were brought to you by the letter Q.

    I don’t understand why Ambush went to the trouble of making mock pushers while getting the lugs and clasp totally wrong.

    1. Those off center crowns (on a tool or sports watch) are a great way to say, “Not riffing on Rolex!”

      1. And they tend to go with crowns that are not, how you say, huge protuberances. I always understood it to be a way to avoid gouging the back of the hand or protecting the crown. Here it seems to solely be about slightly improved access, I guess.

        1. I’ve got a Seiko field watch and can confirm that is the case. Asymetrical placement and not oversized.

  3. Spring drive in a regular Seiko is silly; there’s a business school named after Alfred Sloan who mapped out the tiered brand strategy and yet no one seems to understand this.

  4. I am certain the Ambush isn’t made for me, but I don’t see why you couldn’t buy the Casio and some paint.

    1. I’m not the fashion victim target either, but if I didn’t think of it, I doubt they will. And I’ve seen the modders that paint the underside of the crystal, usually for blacking out all the text, which would be the more durable way to do it. IIRC, they pop the crystal out, scrape the backside clean, spray paint, then glue back in place. I kind of want to do this now. Wait, vinyl wrap would probably be easier still.

  5. Seiko already had poor branding with Grand Seiko. It’s not like a Grand VW Phaeton would have had more cachet. Seiko Prospex LX just adds to the confusion.

    The Spring Drive Rolex GMT-Master II homage (ref SNR033) is branded as a Seiko Prospex LX and costs $5,500. It has somewhat premium features like titanium construction and a backlit sapphire bezel insert.

    The Spring Drive Rolex Explorer II homage (ref SBGE253) is branded as a Grand Seiko and costs $6,200. Compared to the other watch it has slightly less premium steel construction and ceramic bezel, but arguably nicer hands and dial (and in typical Grand Seiko fashion still a pretty chintzy clasp).

    Pricing within a couple hundred and overlapping feature sets is not a way to manage branding.

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