Seiko Presage Style60’s – What’s Not to Like

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Seiko Presage Style60's leaning

What’s (Not) To Like About The New Seiko Presage Style60’s? That’s the question posed by fratellowatches.com. You may notice that the word “not” is in parenthesis. It’s a heads-up that author Lex Stolk isn’t about to bite the hand that feeds. In fact, his introduction to the Seiko Presage Style60’s contains a single direct criticism, buried at the end of the article. It reads as follows . . .

The automatic 3Hz caliber 4R35 [link added] takes care of the time and date and Seiko claims that the accuracy of this movement is between +45/-35 seconds per day. A dealbreaker for some, but probably not for the majority of the large target group Seiko is aiming at with its presage models.

Mr. Stolk is right: accuracy-minded consumers won’t like that stat one bit. Nor do they have to. While COSC-certified mechanical chronometers (or their equivalent) start at around a grand, there are more accurate alternatives at and below the Seiko Presage Style60’s price point.

The $749 YEMA Navygraf (above) boasts an in-house movement accurate to +/- 12  seconds per day. twobrokewatchsnobs.com rated the $495 Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical’s movement’s accuracy at +2.7 to +4.7 seconds per day. Like it or not, accuracy is a benchmark for any mechanical watch. The Style60’s sets the bar limbo low.

Seiko Presage Style60's close up

The Seiko Presage Style60’s has a far more obvious kvetch-worthy feature: its entirely unconvincing attempt at retro style. (Don’t get me started on on the “open heart” versions.) A style deficit that somehow evades the Fratello writer’s notice. Mr. Stolk claims the Style60’s is “retro done right.” Sorry, “guesses.”

So, what’s (not) to like about the new Seiko Presage Style60’s? Not a lot to dislike, I guess, and much more to like. The Style60’s feel is middle-of-the-road retro that speaks to a large audience. Retro has been king for quite some time and I don’t foresee a speedy ending to its reign. All four new presage models are retro done right with nice color shades and subtle details like the applied indexes.

1964 Crown chronograph

According to the Style60’s manufacturer – unctuously echoed by Seiko’s journalistic toadies – the timepiece takes its name and design cues from the Seiko 1964 Crown chronograph – the brand’s first stopwatch (a mono-pusher at that). Hello? The new watch is a time-and-date three hander.

Clearly, there’s no clear connection between the Presage Style60’s and the ’64 Crown. Not the new watch’s size, case (“slightly slanted inward to ensure comfort on the wrist”), dial or indices. Not its bezel’s size, shape, markings or movement (missing). Nor the date (added) or the bracelet (three-link vs. five).

Seiko Presage Style60's box crystal

“The new series incorporates the Crown Chronograph’s characteristic box-shaped glass, faceted indexes, and sharp hand designs,” Seiko’s website avers. Fair enough. But good enough to evoke its storied ancestor? Hardly.

As someone who remembers the 60’s (too young for LSD), there’s nothing 60’s about the new Presage. I’m not sure if that means I don’t like the marketing, the watch or both. If Seiko brought back the Crown 24 in its original form, DOXA style, I’d be all about it. The new version is about as authentic an homage as a 1979 Mustang is to the 1965 debut model.

Seiko’s promo video attempts to bolster this tenuous connection by presenting the Style60’s as the horological equivalent of vinyl records and film cameras for men who prefer vehicles without airbags, scruffy jackets and designer haircuts. Maybe so, in the sense that any mechanical watch is a throwback these days.

I accept that. I like that. But I don’t like this. What’s not to like about Seiko Presage Style60’s, the latest addition to “a collection that still has to prove itself”? There are thousands of more interesting, evocative, attractive and accurate mechanical watches for sale at or around the same price, and definitely slightly above. Just ask Mr. Stolk. Off the record.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Are mechanical movements like performance automobiles in that higher specs are inversely correlated with durability? In other words, if I opt for “less” movement, do I at least get less hassle and lower total cost of ownership?

    • It’s generally fair to say that quartz-powered watches have a lower overall cost of ownership and require less maintenance than mechanical watches. They generally cost less than mechanical watches, too. But you will have to change the battery every few years. On the other hand, quartz watches are generally considered by collectors to be less desirable than mechanical watches and won’t hold their value as long. And mechanical watches can be very tough.

      • If I’m not mistaken, Sammy wasn’t comparing quartz to mechanical / autos.

        I think he was comparing more expensive / higher end autos to cheaper / lower end autos. The question being whether “lesser” mechanical movements also incur less maintenance costs or durability issues.

        But maybe I’m wrong.

          • Accuracy is more of a quality thing than a complication. Precision means tolerances and that means less leeway for contaminants or other problems. The metaphor I’ll use is the sloppy loose mechanism of an AK-47 rifle that is forgiving about grime whereas the smooth and well-fitted M16 needed to be kept clean or it would jam. Of course watches should be sealed…
            Precision fit parts will be more vulnerable to appreciable damage from deteriorated lubrication or damage from shocks or whatever as opposed to a cruder movement.
            Complexity will generally mean costlier maintenance, and usually more of it needed. More parts, more things to go wrong, generally speaking. Of course I’m being very general and don’t really have any experience in such matters.

  2. It’s blandly handsome, but I’m not sure what case it makes that a Timex reissue or any number of microbrands at around half the price doesn’t make better. I have no idea why Seiko so seriously sandbags their accuracy specs.

  3. Most of the articles (and reviews) on the other watch blogs are simply regurgitated and re-packaged marketing copy from the manufacturer. To wit…

    From the Seiko website:
    In some models*, the Lumibrite has a slightly faded color to enhance the vintage feel.

    From the Fratello article:
    When it comes to the dark-dialed versions, the luminescent Lumibrite has a slightly aged color, adding another pleasing aesthetic wrinkle to the package.

    From the Seiko site:
    The gently rounded case is slightly slanted inward to ensure comfort on the wrist.
    The lugs are carefully polished to a mirror finish giving the watches a sharpness to their overall calm and gentle appearance, creating the perfect balance of modern and vintage.

    From the Fratello article:
    Presage still stands for attention to detail and finishing, and the carefully mirror-polished surfaces prove that. Brushed surfaces take on more “meaning” if they are paired with contrasting shiny surfaces. It brings light and life to an otherwise calm-looking watch.

    Seiko:
    The new series incorporates the Crown Chronograph’s characteristic box-shaped glass, faceted indexes, and sharp hand designs. The inner circular area of the dial and the outer area with indexes are applied different finishing techniques, creating enhanced legibility, and a warm vintage feel with varying expressions depending on the angle of view.

    Fratello:
    So what you get is a watch with a box-shaped glass, faceted indexes, and dials with applied indexes. The resulting timepiece gives off that warm retro glow that Seiko is starting to make something of a calling card.

    I have nothing further, your honor.

    These guys are getting PAID to RE-write this crap???

  4. Seiko has been increasingly disappointing. Some (a number) of their movements are simply not competitive and should have been replaced quite some time ago.

    It should be embarrassing to the company when a humble NH35 movement of their own manufacture outperforms so many of their own much more expensive movements in watches which are more costly than the so-called micro brands which use the NH35 as a baseline movement.

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