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A treat to me from...well me!
Santa forgot to bring me this at Christmas, so I took matters into my own hands and snagged myself one while they are still readily available in the shops.
This is the Seiko Sportura Chronograph SNAE95P1. I've already had the same model in black & blue, model SNAF25P1, but I think the black and lime green looks ten times better! (the only thing in the favour of the '25 is that it wasn't a UK release, you have to buy them from Europe or America, so you don't see many about).
If you've read any of my watch reviews in the past you'll know I quite like big and brash watches. Well, this is no exception!
It's a 44mm diameter case in "black steel" (more on that below) with black leather strap, highlighted with lime green stitching and green dial detail. Nice!
As above, it's a 44mm diameter case which is above average given todays watch trends (40mm/42mm is about average) but by no means unwearable. It's 11mm thick, so it does sit quite low on the wrist and passes my 'does it slip under a shirt-cuff' test!
Features and functions:
60 minute Split-second chronograph
100m water resistant
Slide rule (pilot computer) bezel
The case is high grade but lightweight none-corrosive stainless steel with a black coating.
I have been unable to get to the bottom of just what the black coating is. I assume it's PVD, but Seiko have used powder coating in the past.
PVD (physical vapor deposition) is much harder wearing. It is an electrical procedure where black metallic elements are actually bonded to the case, meaning it is extremely difficult to scratch or scuff - it means you have to really gouge deep into the metal for it to show silver. Most of the newer black case watches use this method, and I hope that this is one of them (especially for the price!). I suppose I won't know until I bash it against something. :-D
Powder coating is just a thin coating of black powder which is sprayed over then baked onto the steel case. It's quite easy to chip and scratch, and wears off with standard wear. I've had those in the past and they look awful after a few months wear.
The movement is quartz (battery powered), using the modern Seiko 7T63 alarm/chrono calibre. Easy enough to set, though I do prefer the 4 button versions of the 1990's - they are much more user friendly.
The glass is a sapphire crystal, meaning it's very resistant to scratches. The Sportura watches I've had (this is the fifth) have all had sapphire glass - this being a sports/racing watch, they tend to use the tougher materials so it stands up to plenty of wear.
A two-piece leather strap sets the watch off - it's made of two thick sections of leather held together with four rows of green stitching and bonded at the sides. It's slightly shaped so it wears more as a cuff than an open watch strap, and it's VERY comfy!
Spell check tells me that's not a real word - I contest!
The watch is very comfortable. Despite the size it's actually not too heavy, probably because it's on the light leather strap rather than a chunky steel bracelet.
The buttons are easy to access while the watch is on, they are slightly fluted so the heads are fine to get hold of when on the go - even wearing gloves.
To be honest I just bought this watch because I liked the style. I will rarely use any of the features, with the exception of the stopwatch perhaps.
It's comfortable and stylish and attracts a good few comments when out and about.
I have some reservations about the black steel. It looks excellent, but I'm a bit worried it'll rub off! If it is a PVD case then no worries on that front, but if it's a plated case I might end up disappointed, my watches do tend to attract door-frames and pebble-dash walls!
The strap is perfect - it fits like a glove. The design means it wraps around the wrist comfortably without feeling stiff or awkward. Sadly, I had another model (SPC003) with the same style strap and it lasted less than 12 months, and was then a £70 replacement from Seiko!!! Fingers crossed this one fares a little better, because it's such a unique strap it will have to be another replacement from Seiko if ever it fails.
Price and availability:
RRP is £375, and I've seen this stocked at most high street Seiko dealers. Some places reduced it to £299 in the January sale, but not all.
I have seen the model on the internet as cheap as £260 (Creation Watches) so they are out there on the discount sites despite being pretty new.
There are red and a blue versions of the watch, but not UK standard models so you'll need to get online and have one shipped from overseas, again expect to pay between £250 and £400 depending who has them in stock at the time!!
As with most of the livelier Seiko watches, this is likely to be a limited run. They don't sell in huge numbers so I would recommend getting one sooner than later if you like it - the last Seiko like this was a Velatura, which lasted a couple of years before being pulled from the catalogue and is now near impossible to source (trust me!) :-(
I've not owned it long enough to comment on durability, but assuming it's a PVD case then this definitely one of the best watches I've handled in a long time. Accurate, smart looking and sturdy without being cumbersome.
Seiko Sportsura Men's Chronograph (SNAE97P1) / Shape of the case: Round / Glass type: Sapphire glass / Casing material: Stainless Steel / Wrist band material: Leather / Colour of the dial: Black / Black coloured strap/bracelet / Digits: Arabic / Batteries: yes / Water resistant: yes / Water resistance: max. 10 bar