Although I always had an impression that the SARZ series of sporty automatic watches were sold only on the Japanese domestic market, it looks like this mildly refreshed MY 2013 Seiko SARZ033 collection will actually make it across the Pond and will probably make landfall not only in North America but, hopefully, here in Europe, too.
As it often happens with Japanese watches, this particular specimen features a somewhat controversial design of its dial.
While undoubtedly readable thanks to its highly contrast color scheme and broad hour and minute hands that are covered with some unspecified luminous compound, the face may make you raise an eyebrow with its huge stencil-type Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock and the bold white hour markers that, too, bear smaller Arabic numerals in the same military 24-hour format.
Another source of controversy is, of course, the “21 H” sign placed at 9 hours. Positioned there to serve as a counterweight to the day/date aperture at 3 o’clock, the sign looks somewhat confusing and, to some, even stupid. Personally, I somehow like the design, but there is also a good chance that a great number of enthusiasts will hate it.
The rest is standard here. The SARZ033 is presented in a medium-sized stainless steel body 43 millimeters in diameter (or just 40 millimeters if you don’t include its prominent crown that, by the way, offers a confident grip even to those with short stubby fingers) and less than 13 millimeters thick and its matte-finished stainless steel bracelet adds greatly to the feel of solidness and reliability that this new Seiko SARZ033 radiates into the universe. Measuring just over 46 millimeters lug to lug, it will also look nice on normal and even narrower than average wrists although you should probably try one on your hand if possible before ordering one since its lugs may be a bit too curvy for persons with wider (and flatter) wrists.
The rotating bezel with its aviator-style slide rule somewhat compensates the toy-like styling of the dial, however, the serrated notches still look a little strange to yours truly. Of course, I get the idea behind the design (the rotating bezel with its Breitling-style logarithmic scale is definitely a lot grippier than those with more traditional shape,) but it still reminds of circular saw blades and those, in their own turn, remind me of hordes of zombies in the haunted town of Ravenholm and we don’t go to Ravenholm, do we?
According to the Japanese brand, the Seiko SARZ033 is powered by their in-house 4R36A automatic movement with the “A” letter meaning that this is a first-generation mechanism. The choice of movement allows Seiko to lower the price, but don’t expect much from this entry-level workhorse. It doesn’t have hacking seconds (a must for many) and it cannot be wound by hand: you will need to actually wear the watch for a while (or put it into a winding machine, or just shake it gently) to get it going. Another problem with the movement is that Seiko uses cheap plastic parts in it (at least, to drive the calendar module, but who knows how far did they go this time to drive costs even lower) and the mechanism is installed in your watch unregulated so its out of the box accuracy may vary quite a bit.
Well, first-generation or not, the movement is reliable and is still accurate enough for a timekeeper, which is priced significantly below the $400 mark and is actually made in Japan, not assembled in China like a lot of other watches in this price range. Of course, when considering one for purchase, you should probably factor in the price of initial servicing since there is still a good chance that the watch will be either gain or lose time during first weeks of operation.
So far, the watch is available only with black, blue and khaki dials, but I am almost sure that there will be more color variations in the future.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Photos: Seiko / www.isozaki-tokei.com
Seiko SARZ033 specification
Movement: Automatic, caliber 4R36A, Made in Japan
Number of jewels: 24
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 40 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, slide rule
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 43.00 mm
Case height: 12.80 mm
Lug width: 21.00 mm
Dial: Black / Blue / Green
Hour markers: Luminous
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Crystal: Hardlex strengthened mineral glass