Turn to page 64 in this month’s issue of Esquire. The one with Mila Kunis on the cover. Upper right hand corner. That Seiko chronograph catch anyone else’s eye?
$375 seems like a pretty steep price. But knowing Esquire’s penchant for full MSRP, a quick jump over to Amazon found it sitting there for a much more palatable $219. That’s a world of difference and well within the price range for most who like the looks, feel, and function of a light-driven chronograph. And at twenty bucks less than the well-known and sort of similar looking watch from Citizen, a head to head had to be done.
Both fueled by light, both a bit over $200, and both with some Pilot influenced looks
- + 43mm titanium case, Mineral Crystal, 200m water resistance.
- + Perpetual calendar means no need to reset date in February or months with 30 days.
- + The dressier Croc embossed strap looks great up against the outstanding casual/sport dial.
- + Has a second time zone function.
- -/+ It’s a complicated piece to operate. Lots of functions, but it’s not all that intuitive.
- – Unidirectional bezel that’s a little disappointing. Doesn’t feel so solid. No satisfying click.
Breakdown: It’s a pretty complicated piece and you’re going to need to read the instruction manual even to set the time. Setting the time/date, using the chronograph, seeing a second time zone, and setting the alarm, are all executed by way of the mode subdial at six o’clock. Each function starts with pulling out the crown one click, then rotating the crown so the arrow is pointing at the function you want to use. At that point it’s on to the next crown position, pushing buttons, etc. It’s a perpetual calendar too, so setting the date is a bit of a process at first, but once you set it, you’re good for… well forever.
The Challenger: Seiko SSC081 Solar Chronograph Compass
- + 41mm stainless case, Hardlex Crystal, 100m water resistance
- + Dial looks incredible. Big fan of those fatter, horizontally stretched flight-dial numbers.
- + Pushers feel terrific and have a more piston like look compared to the Citizen’s standard button type.
- + Leather band is soft & that color is something. The hardware is excellent if you like bigger stuff.
- + Intuitive. Just stupid easy to use.
- -/+ Rotating interior bezel makes it a bit easier to use your watch as a compass.
Breakdown: It’s not like it’d take a 6-week course to figure out the Citizen, but after futzing around with that one for a few minutes, picking up the Seiko and not having to think was nice (yes, hooray for not thinking). Each has a busy dial, but on just pure looks, the Seiko is going to win out for many. The squat, Bell & Ross-like font looks terrific on the black background and the light band. The compass function isn’t something most (okay, all) are going to use, but it’s part of that aviation panel influence.
Handing this one to the Seiko. Many will disagree and that’s understandable since the Citizen is an incredible watch. If you’re into the busier sport-watch thing, then either is well worth the price if you’ve got a little over $200 budgeted, but the Seiko has plenty of functionality wrapped up in one great looking package for $20 less.
Note: At post time the Seiko wasn’t being sold direct by Amazon, but was being fulfilled by Amazon for a 3rd party.