Good Gear – The Seiko Monster

I’ll admit I’m a watchie.  I get the watchie genome from my Dad, and only discovered this mechanized-kronos addiction in the middle-aging of my life.  Dear old Dad, you see, kept showing up in retirement visits, wrist-clad with different timepieces – chronometers, hoitey-toitey dress watches, dive watches, sport watches – and they appealed to me…

One day I found this thing called ebay, and I might have well been a drunk living next door to a tavern, because over a few years I built a timepiece collection (true watchies would never call it a watch collection) of some 11 watches – err, timepieces.  It started with a basic Seiko design – the Seiko 5 (also recommended as a great, inexpensive, all-round beater watch) – and soon carried over to others in the Seiko brand, most notably the vaunted “monster” – a dive version of the Seiko 5 on steroids…


Seiko monster steel - WEC Extreme Cage-fighting certified (pic courtesy of

At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this diver watch.  I don’t scuba and I don’t snorkel, so why would I purchase such a mass of ticking steel? I tried to ignore it, but the watch grew on me.  I took a liking to its bullet-proof looks.  Could it be, I wondered, the “uber” fly fishing watch, if there were ever such a thing?  Eventually, I broke down and bought the orange monster, and after giving it a thorough field test for the past year, I contend this is a great fly fishing watch. Follow with me to find out why…

All monsters  feature, first and foremost, a screw-down crown for deep dive water-resistance – in this case good for 200 meters.  While it’s doubtful you’ll ever truly need 200 meters of water resistance while fishing (you could wear it scuba diving at the bottom of Seneca Lake – the deepest of the Finger Lakes at 600+ feet – looking for that Orvis Helios you dropped overboard), it is a nice feature that assures a huge margin of safety for any type of immersion that might be encountered – streamside or surfside.


Here fishie, fishie, fishie...

In addition to water-tightness, the heart of the monster beats to the tune of the legendary Seiko automatic 7S26 movement.  For the watchie newbies out there, an automatic movement never needs winding as long as the watch is worn.  Movement of the wrist causes the cams in the watch to move and in effect, wind the watch.  The 7S26 boasts a power reserve of over 42 hours, meaning the watch can continue to function without motion for just shy of 2 days. Some automatic movements offer features referred to as hand-winding, meaning the watch can also be mechanically wound (i.e., you can wind it by hand every day, never wind it, and the watch still ticks away).  Some also off a “hacking’ feature, meaning that pulling the crown outward stops the movement for time synchronization.  The monster offers neither of these, but then again, these features come at a serious price adder.

Deep in the monster’s steel-encased chest cavity, the 7S26 ticks away at a relatively slow 21,600 bph (beats per hour), a pulse that won’t get you the precision of the Omega on the hoitey-toitey Orvis and Hardy flyguy upstream of you, but one that is surprisingly accurate for its price; from +8 – +12 seconds a week to under +5 seconds a week after break-in, according to some reports I’ve read.  Some inaccuracy is very desirable for a fly fishing watch when you think about it, i.e., “gee honey, I couldn’t have been late for the opera – my watch said it was 9 pm, the time we agreed I’d leave the river”).

Where you really want this watch to shine is in its ability to withstand abuse, and it’s in this department that the monster really roars.  The 7S26 automatic uses Seiko’s patented Diashock shock protection which is based on the ingenious use of a soft plastic spacer ring in the movement and a relatively low mass rotor.  In combination with a massive steel case, this provides a great deal of additional shock resistance to the watch.  Bang it up while wading the boulder-studded pocket water of the West Branch of New York’s Ausable River, and you’re assured you won’t be late for happy hour at the local tavern.

the 7S26 movement - get your moter running...

The big heart of the monster - the automatic 7S26 movement - get your motor running...

The orange monster face is fishing-cool, and not coincidentally has been tested to show best under water (monsters also exist in black, blue, yellow, and most recently, red).  The monster’s watch case is 41.5 mm across and 12.5 mm thick, adding to its big, visible, and rugged looks.  The three hands and hour markers are filled with Lumibrite…

Lumibrite at work in low light conditions...

Lumibrite at work in lower light conditions (courtesy of John B. Holbrook II)...

What you'd see while fishing for those big nocturnal browns...

What you'd see while fishing for those big nocturnal browns...

Other monster features that make it a must-have in your fly fishing arsenal are a Hardlex (mineral) crystal, quickset day and date display, and a uni-directional bezel with minute marks.  My orange monster is equipped with the black ribbed Seiko dive watch band.  Besides its comfort and great looks, I found this band offers less opportunity to scratch that nice fly rod you might be cradling in your arm.

Orange monster with optional black rubber dive band...

But I’d suggest buying the monster with the standard solid-link brushed stainless steel bracelet that is both incredibly sturdy and heavy enough to balance the hefty watch it holds.  It is a very secure bracelet, featuring a two-button folding case with safety and a wet-suit extension clasp for those who fish and dive.


Monster bracelet with security clasp and wet suit diver extension - courtesy of

After taking delivery of your new fly fishing companion, hop on over to one of the many watch stores on the internet and purchase the soft rubber Seiko dive strap.  Change out the watch bands for fishing use, knowing you have a beautiful stainless steel bracelet for formal occasions.

The price of this watch is very affordable at $100 – $150 online.  You’ll find a lot of these watches on ebay auction.  There are other automatic divers out there with similar features, but there’s nothing like having a monster by your side…

Tight lines…


7 Responses to “Good Gear – The Seiko Monster”

  1. Bob,

    When I was a kid we lived on Guam. I had to have a dive watch I saw on base at the post exchange (plenty of diving among incredible coral reefs was to be had 60′ out our back door). I mowed lawns all summer saving up the $180 and went in to the PX and bought that thing. On my 12 year old wrist, that baby was a behemoth, but I felt pretty cool walking around with that puppy. One of the coolest features I liked showing off was the automatic movement. I picked up a couple of less-expensive watches in the few years after. The last watch I had was a $200 hoity-toity Citizen my then-girlfriend gave me for Christmas. Unfortunately, she inscribed the back, “To Scott, Love Lisa.” Once I got married, to Leisa, she wasn’t too happy that I had a watch from a previous Lisa. If only it wasn’t inscribed I could have kept that watch and claimed it was a Christmas gift from my parents. Anyhow, that was 23 years ago and I haven’t worn a watch since. Not even fishing (which is a much better excuse to miss the opera when I come strolling in five hours late).

    This is a good-looking watch, and I’d be tempted to plunk down the $$ if I was a watch-wearer. I love the big chunky buggers–rugged and manly things that they are. But, since I don’t, I’ll just admire the pictures.

    Thanks for bringing back the memories!

  2. stflyfisher Says:

    Scott – interesting little story. Maybe through this post, the “monster” will work on you the same way it did on me – and you too will eventually wear one!

  3. Wow.. I’m a watch junkie as well. That started for me while I was in the USAF. Now I have found (and own) the ultimate fishing watch. It’s a Casio 4732 with more features on it than a cell phone! But the two features I dig the most are the ambient outdoor temp and the “when to fish” mode. It calibrates the moon phase (solunar tables) and give a read out on the watch dial from 0-5 fishes. 5 being the best time to fish.

    So I just say… “Honey, my watch tells me it’s time to go fishing”

    Honey: “I’m buying you a Mickey Mouse watch instead…. ok, (sigh) go out fishing… have a good time.” No pun intended?

    • stflyfisher Says:

      Isn’t this interesting! I’ve heard about some Casio timepieces that pack some punch in terms of fishing features, but I’ve always been more of a traditionalist when it comes to watches. Nonetheless, I’ll have to investigate their product line – possibly material for a future post. Thanks again for the comment – tight lines…

  4. This is a fantastic watch, I am wearing one for 7 years now and its unbeatable! Rugged, heavy, solid and awesome.

    • stflyfisher Says:

      Thanks for your comment A.J. I own two – a black monster and an orange monster and they both are indestructible and reliable.

  5. brilliant watch had my seiko 11 years now.still runs and keeps time well.havent been serviced over those years.still brill time keeping. can almost read a book with the lumibrite hands.

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