Archive for seiko monster

Good Gear – The Seiko Monster 2

Posted in Gear, Saltwater, Uncategorized, Watches with tags , , on March 22, 2018 by stflyfisher

I’ve revealed my dark side here before. Besides my penchant for everything fly fishing, including good outdoor clothing, I’m a watchie. My collection of watches is right up there with the number of fly rods I own.

Loyal and steadfast readers of this blog will likely remember a post I did on the Seiko Monster and the Monster’s little brother, the Seiko 5. I concluded in the post on the Seiko Monster that the Monster is a great fly fishing watch, and my experiences afield, astream, and in the salt continue to validate my initial take on this watch.

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Yours truly with a nice steelhead caught some years back. Note the Orange Seiko Monster with rubber dive strap on my right hand.

Most recently, however, I caught the phrase “Seiko Monster 2” out there in the blogosphere. I investigated and was delighted to find that Seiko had improved what I had already considered a horological masterpiece.

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The Seiko Monster 2 continues the Monster tradition with its legendary water-tightness of 200 meters thanks to the same screw-down crown. It also retains the essentials of the original with an excellent bracelet, case and bezel, and only slight changes to the dial. The dial’s hour markers are shaped like shark teeth with the Monster 2 instead of the mostly rectangular shapes and the inner sixty minute markings are no longer displayed making for a cleaner, less cluttered look. But it’s what beats buried deep in that stout stainless steel casing that makes the Monster 2 an even better watch: the new 24-jewel Seiko caliber 4R36 automatic movement.

An improvement over the original Monster’s 7S26 movement is that the new Monster’s 4R36 movement can be hacked and hand wound. Hacking is handy for synchronizing the watch with another timepiece; just unscrew the crown, pull it out to the 2nd position and the second hand will stop while you set the time. Hand winding lets you power up the watch manually after it has sat unworn for a few days. The 4R36’s 24 jewel movement runs at 21,600 vph with a power reserve of 41 hours.The new movement is also more accurate than the caliber 7S26 used in the original Monster.

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The heart of the Monster 2 – the 4R36 24 jewel movement…

The powerful Seiko LumiBrite luminescent material is of course still used in the Monster 2 and it retains the same brilliant glowing properties that made the original Monster such a huge worldwide phenomenon with watch enthusiasts and scuba divers. It is a very slightly different shade of blue-green this time but is still an awesome sight in the dark after charging it with a bright light source. You will also notice a new nicely machined crown that is a bit easier to grip than the previous version.

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The lume on the Seiko Monster 2 is impressive and comes in handy for fly fishers who like either of the darker ends of the fishing day…

The new Monster comes in a total of five versions spanning a standard black dial (SRP307K1), orange dial (SRP309K1), black case with an orange/brown sunburst dial (SRP311K1), black dial with red markers (SRP313K1), and lastly with a black bezel and chapter ring over an orange dial (SRP315K1). All models continue to feature a unidirectional countdown bezel, screw-down crown and a Seiko-traditional day/date display.

I agree with one watch review that noted that while the included Seiko rubber strap is fine, it tends to be a little long. I’ve always found the rubber strap to be very durable and comfortable and of course better for fly fishing in that there’s no flash. Having said that, the stainless steel bracelet is beautiful and rock solid. Models SRP307K1, SRP309K1, and SRP311K1 come standard with the bracelet. There is even a blacked-out version available which would be more suitable to fishing conditions where stealth is important.

And so, if there was ever a time to own a Seiko Monster, now is that time. With the new Monster 2 in the market, prices of the original monster may soften a bit, for one. That means the uninitiated watchies out there can get a great fly fishing watch and still fly under the girlfriend’s or wife’s finance filter (as in, “you spent that much on a watch?”!). And if you really want to own the more improved version, you’ll have more choice in the Seiko Monster 2 in terms of colors and you’ll end up with an even better fly fishing watch that should perform for decades to come…

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I’ve worn my original Seiko Monster while fishing under a range of demanding conditions. Whenever and wherever I fish, my Monster is there. It has never failed me and this includes the very rough and tumble world of party boat fishing for yellowfin tuna.

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The Seiko 5…

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized with tags , , on March 9, 2016 by stflyfisher

In 1968, the Seiko watch company had a great idea for a watch that would surely appeal to a mass market. The company decided to make a watch that had 5 key attributes: 1) Automatic winding, 2) Day / date displayed in a single window, 3) Water resistance, 4) Recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position, and 5) Durable case and bracelet. The watch was originally titled the Sportsmatic 5, but all watches that have these very basic characteristics are considered “Seiko 5’s”.

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A classic Seiko 5 – everything that makes a good watch…

From the start, the Seiko 5 was designed to reinvent watch performance and to bring to the 1960’s generation a watch that belonged to the age and that fitted into their lives. As perhaps never before, the Seiko 5 needed to be a watch that could go anywhere and everywhere and therefore it had to be very durable. To be durable, the watch needed to be impervious to water and shock.

Water resistance was built in as standard to every Seiko 5 watch, and metal bracelets were used so that, from “buckle to buckle”, the watch was resistant to water and sweat. Shock resistance was assured with two Seiko inventions. First, the mainspring was made from “Diaflex,” an unbreakable alloy, and the “Diashock,” system was created to protect the movement from shock within the case.

Legibility was the next vital attribute. Today, it’s taken for granted that day and date are presented in a single window but, in fact, this was an idea built into the Seiko 5 to enhance the legibility of the dial. The genius was to create a unique system that allowed both day and date to be shown in one plane.

The final challenge was to create a distinctive look that defined the brand. Thanks to the extraordinary Seiko invention of the ‘Magic Lever,’ the winding efficiency of Seiko 5 is very high, and the wearer rarely needs to use the crown. So the designers made it smaller and hid it under the lip of the case at 4 o’clock, giving Seiko 5 its signature look.

Inside these watches beat several different movements. The 7S26 features 21 jewels while some improved versions feature 23 jewels (the 7S36, for example).  The caliber 7S25 automatic movement is featured in watches where only the date is displayed. All of these movements beat at a rate of 21,600 bph (beats per hour).

There are currently many versions of this great watch in the marketplace. They range from basic “beaters” to sports watches…

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A military green version of the Flieger (German for pilot) Seiko 5

I own a black-faced Flieger and it’s been a steady companion around the house, in the yard, on walks, and while fishing.

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The glass back casing reveals the simple but reliable inner workings of the Seiko 5’s automatic movement.

The Seiko 5 does a lot of things well and that is its genius. In fact, if I was asked to wear only one watch that was reasonably priced (< $150, and some can be found as low as $50), this would be the one.

And besides being easy on the wallet, most Seiko 5’s are also easy on the eyes, light on the wrist, and feature luminescent hands and dials. What you won’t get with a Seiko 5 are features like hacking, manual wind, extreme water resistance via a screw down crown, or a bezel.

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A dressy version of the Seiko 5

For fly fishing and general fishing use, I prefer the Seiko Monster, which I posted about in this blog some time ago. The Monster is essentially a Seiko 5 on steroids, and features incredible ruggedness, reliability, and superior water proof qualities, at an albeit higher price. It is a not-so-distant cousin of the Seiko 5, though much heavier on the wrist.

For everyday use, reasonable cost, and a great all-rounder of a watch, it’s hard to beat the Seiko 5. And even if you do slip on the Monster for on-water fly fishing duties, you’ll be glad to have the humble Seiko 5 when drinks are served back at the lodge…

 

Good Gear – The Seiko Monster

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 31, 2009 by stflyfisher

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…

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Seiko monster steel - WEC Extreme Cage-fighting certified (pic courtesy of thepruists.com)

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.

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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.

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

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…