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Japanese Soul Highlight: Seiko Spirit Special Pick of The Week
For their 35th Anniversary celebration, Seiko quietly initiated a fire partnership with a reputable Japanese retailer in late 2019. They were a dress watch (Ref. SZSB006) and a vintage-inspired field watch (Ref. SZSB006) (Ref. SZSB007). The latter model has sparked an entirely new Seiko series for 2020. The key features of this collection illustrate how Seiko updated the design of the prized SARB line with new case geometry and dial arrangement. Today, we'll check at the most recent Seiko Spirit.
Seiko Spirit Automatic Classic White Ref. SZSB011
The Seiko Spirit Automatic Classic's 100m water-resistant, 40mm stainless steel case resembles the preceding SARB character at first glance, but it begs to differ. The case has been sharpened, with a more dynamic profile visible through the middle of the case and a thicker bezel. Seiko also keeps the lugs to lugs distance at 48mm and the height at 12mm, resulting in a well-balanced overall appearance when worn on the wrist. The 2mm increase over the previous SARB line gives it greater presence, allowing you to appreciate the more remarkable multi-finished case, which is available in both satin-brushed and high polishing finishes. The satin case top contrasted nicely with the mirror-polished case band and bezel, creating a pleasing case profile.
Although the design aesthetics place this squarely in SARB territory, there are several notable variances. The dommed hardlex crystal is a rare find. The 4R35 is a simple calibre. The 40mm case diameter and sharper angles on the midcase. It looks familiar, but upon closer inspection, I wouldn't blame you for thinking this was a step back; after all, when comparing specs on paper, the SARB comes out on top. However, as with most of Seiko's current offerings, the new entry level is a significant upgrade above previous Seiko 5 models, and as such, Seiko is attempting to reset our expectations of what an entry level Seiko should look like (and costs). Regardless, the piece's beauty cannot be denied. It's incredible.
The beauty of the SARB line was that you could get a Seiko with one of their midrange 6R movements, a sapphire crystal, perhaps one of their better straps, a comfortable 38mm case diameter, and an all-around Seiko classic for under $350 USD.
The SZSB011 is presently available for purchase at Gnomon Store for $488 USD. Despite the fact that I have no involvement with the site, I can confidently recommend it as one of the best. DHL Express provided excellent after-sales service and quick dispatch.
Seiko Spirit Automatic Sport Green Ref. SZSB018
Under its first-of-its-kind flat Hardlex crystal with a magnifying Cyclops, the Seiko Spirit Automatic Sports watch sparkles brightly. The SZSB018 is a one-of-a-kind product that carries over part of the appeal of the prior SARB017 Alpinist Green. It went in a different path than the "dressier" part of the Spirit line. Markers were applied to everything from the semi-skeletonized handset to the one-of-a-kind capsule. The Spirit Automatic Sport SZSB018 is a sportier version of their Spirit Automatic Sport range.
Starting with the markers, the sunburst forest green dial features eleven capsule-shaped marks, one of which is doubled up at 12 o'clock. All of them have high polished trims that are nearly comparable to those on the GS. The shine created by the lights reaching each marker was only accentuated by Seiko's Lumibrite, which glows brightly in the dark for night readability. The same execution can be seen on the new sword-shaped handset, with one half skeletonized and the other illuminated, all in the name of Seiko's elegance. Both the applied index and the handset are hand polished to a high grade, with a stronger emphasis on the GS Zaratsu polishing technique.
The date display includes the gorgeous "GS" fat lettering in black on a white background that blends perfectly with the rest of the dial, as previously indicated. The numbers will continue to fill up nicely, and the "bubble" magnifier will be easy to read.
The attached "Seiko" emblem, as well as the inscriptions on the top and bottom of the dial, are directly borrowed from prior SARB versions, and appear to be in line with their ethos. Furthermore, the sunburst dial uses a "GS" idea, which allows it to dance in various shades of green depending on the illumination, ranging from a quiet deep forest green in low light to a dazzling vibrant green in brighter light. Their athletic indices and handset only add to this, resulting in tight elevated execution and a pleasant design.
Another unique feature of the Spirit Automatic Sport is the "eagle's beak" crown guard that flanges the knurled crown. The delicate curves of the curved lugs toward the wrist meet the screw-in case-back flush. Oh, and Seiko really outdid themselves with the drilled lug holes, which allow the wearer to swap over their existing strap for a different one (as long as its 20mm).
Case & Bezel
At first look, the Seiko Spirit Automatic Sport's 40mm stainless steel casing recalls the preceding SARB character, yet it begs to differ. The bezel has been thickened and the case has been sharpened, with a more dynamic profile visible from the middle of the case. When worn on the wrist, Seiko retains the lugs to lugs gap at 48mm and the height at 12mm, resulting in a well-balanced overall appearance. The 2mm increase over the previous SARB series offers it greater presence, allowing you to appreciate the more remarkable multi-finished case, which comes in satin-brushed and high polishing finishes. The satin case top contrasts sharply with the mirror polished strap and case bezels, creating a pleasant case profile.
The caseback of the Spirit Automatic Sports Watch reveals Seiko's original 4R35 automatic caliber. With very slight differences, the 4R35 is a straight replacement for Seiko's long-running 7S26 movement. The reliable movement is capable of hacking and hand winding and runs at 21,600 BPH (3 Hertz). It features 23 jewels and a Spron 110 mainspring with a power reserve of about 41 hours. The Gnomon Store has this fantastic clock.