I recently found myself in need of a reliable three hand watch that could accompany me into the fields and streams during the early morning twilight hours and still be suitable to meet the wife for dinner later that night. With having a new addition to the family it needed to be affordable and so being the Seikoholic that I am (you should know that I am a bit biased) I began my search. What I found was a great hybrid three hander…part pilot watch and part field watch that is every bit as comfortable at the office as it is at play.
Lug width: 20mm
Movement: Seiko 6r15c 23 jewels 21,600 vph
Like many other Seiko’s in this price range the SARG009 punches well above its weight in terms of build quality. The top of the lugs and bezel are nicely brushed while the sides of the case are polished. Adding some nice detail is the area in-between the lugs and the bezel which is also polished. Upon close inspection the finishing is not as nice as my MM300 but still better than a lot of what you will see in the wild at this price.
The bracelet is typical SARB like quality. I happen to be one of the lucky ones that can get a great fit from it on my 6 7/8” wrist and so far the bracelet wears comfortably and the clasp feels secure.
The dial of this watch is what really makes it special. I choose the 009 vs 011 because I was uncertain if I would like the more charcoal tint of the 011 (despite really wanting the red-tipped second hand). What I was nicely surprised by was the fact that the dial is a deep black in normal flat lighting but has an almost chocolate brown sunburst effect when hit at the right angle.
No other watch in my ownership history has been as easy to tell time with as the SARG009. The hour markers are heavily lumed and stand out against the dark dial. The lumed paint is ever so slightly raised off the dial and with numerals at every even integer it is easy to orient one’s eyes at a quick glance (especially nice at night or in low light situations). For some, the large numerals at every even integer are off putting, but I find the font with the serifs to be quite attractive and in person the lettering is not as huge as in pictures. The applied SEIKO logo and tastefully discreet script lettering above 6 o’clock give a great balance to the dial.
Other nice details that standout and keep the watch interesting are the well framed date window at 3 (with a black date wheel) and a railroad track at the edge of the dial to mark the seconds/minutes. The later is slightly gray and almost disappears when you are not looking for it.
The hands are nicely done, with the tip of the minute hand perfectly grazing the minute markers and the white tipped seconds hand being easy to pick up at a glance (great for timing short intervals). It is hard to tell, but I believe the hands are made of plastic and in certain lighting they give a metallic silver reflection. Better yet, at other angles they turn black and almost disappear into the dial leaving the swords floating in a black expanse. At first I was disappointed that these hands where not metal but every time I see the effect of the framing on the hands disappearing I am quite pleased. One critic would be that the lume on the hands is substantially brighter than the hour markers and charge so easily that they can be a different shade of green when lit.
There has been much written about the 6r15c so I am going to spare everyone the details. The lower beat rate really does not bother me and I am glad that the watch can be easily serviced. Thus far, the watch is running roughly 7 second fast per day. Note that even after a day of fishing and sporting clays I did not see any meaningful change in timekeeping. I plan on regulating the watch myself as I have done with some of my other Seiko’s and I firmly believe that it should be possible to get it near COSC specs (though it might not stay there for long).
The movement is visible through a case back and while it is nothing special I do think the Geneva Stripes on the rotor are a nice touch. The crown is buttery smooth (better than I have felt on some more expensive watches) and still has enough of a tactile feel to let you know it is being wound. With the crown being 3x6mm it is easy to grip and has a nicely engraved “S” on the end. Moreover, while it does not screw down, the crown does feel very secure and takes some purposeful force to get it into position 1. With the 100m WR I am confident that the SARG can handle most of what everyday situations will throw at it and I am not afraid to dunk it while fishing. While the watch has not left my wrist since owning it, I know that this is going to be a rotation watch so I really like the fact that the crown does not screw down.
This watch tics a lot of boxes for me and is perfect for what I was looking for. While not as dressy as the SARB033/035, it remains restrained enough to wear at work under a cuff but has the legibility and build construction that make it a great field watch. As others have mentioned, the SARG somewhat channels the design elements of the Tudor Ranger or the Sinn 556a/856 without being exact copies (and a 1/6th of the cost). Having owned the 856 (a great watch in its own right), I can tell you I feel way more comfortable taking a watch at the SARG price point into a situation where I know it is going to be beat up (others may feel differently).
To be far though, there are some issues that need to be addressed. The one that stands out the most is the none A/R crystal which reflects off everything. Also, for a 3 hand watch I wish it was a bit thinner and might have even liked a 38mm diameter. Being selfish, I actually wish that the SARG009 had the red tipped second hand to add a little more pop to the design.
Despite those minor critiques, I have no problem recommending this watch to someone looking for a great all around watch that leans a bit sportier than some other options.
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it.