I've had this watch in hand for only a few hours, so please take my enthusiasm for it with a grain of salt. Only after a watch has survived many years in and out of rotation can it truly be called a "keeper". But given that this watch is relatively new, and is not widely available yet, I want to share some of my thoughts on it and to point out its features.
Arriving in pristine condition from Arizona Fine Time, it was cardboard-boxed and protected by an appropriate amount of bubble wrap inside. Inside, a slipcover white cardboard box was wrapped nicely in brown paper nestled in aforesaid bubble wrap. Removing these disclosed a brown box, which itself contained the display box, holding the watch on a pillow, together with a nicely produced owners manual, and warranty card, one on each side.
The display box is nicely constructed and has a leatherette top, and highly polished ebony-like surrounds for the pillow. Its always pleasing to me when the manufacturer gives this kind of attention to what might be classified as "throw-away" items, while not going over the top; AFT's attention to the packing materials ensured it arrived in unruffled condition.
Most of the press given to the Ananta lineup at this point has focused on the design of the cases, which are shared by all models in the lineup. This can be characterized as an inner case housing the movement, face, hands and crown, which inner case is then placed within the striking second base case structure. It is the combination of these two elements that highlight the Katana (practice of traditional Japanese sword making) influence on the watches. The hour, minute and second hands also evoke the Samurai theme and are highly polished. Both inner and outer cases are constructed of stainless steel, using a combination of brushed and polished finishes. The sides of the base case, in particular, suggest the sword, and are highly polished. The bezel is plain, and has a brushed finish, except for a tiny polished ring adjacent to the crystal. The sides of the inner case are also brushed and contrast nicely against the high polish on the base case and the crown.
The watch has sapphire crystals front and back. It is unclear to me whether the display back is affixed to the inner or outer case, but it is flush to the back surface of the watch. The two cases are held together by 6 polished screws, recessed in the case back. The use of sapphire is a departure for Seiko, and should be met with approval by many who prefer it over their proprietary Hardlex (mineral) crystals. An anti-reflective coating has been applied to the inside of the front crystal.
The movement (31 jewels) is nicely finished, the rotor being constructed of an anodized-looking material, with Seiko's version of perlage applied to it.
The unsigned crown does not lock, and the watch is wound in the ordinary number 1 position. The crown is easily held in two fingers and the movement gets to full charge relatively quickly.
The owner's manual indicates that the power reserve has a maximum 45 hours, and that the 6R24 movement will not be harmed by winding past the full charge point on the dial face. Nice to know. It is also water resistant to 10 bar (330 feet), and is so indicated on the back of the watch. The crown operates freely in the direction opposite to winding, and winds with satisfying micro-clicks which can be felt through the hand, rather than heard. Position 2 allows adjustment of the date, and day, in opposing directions. Position 3 hacks the movement, and allows for setting of the precise time.
Complications, then, are the day and date functions, both being retrograde, and the power reserve indicator. These 3 functions have recessed elements as part of their design. The face is brushed stainless and the hands and indices are applied polished steel. In direct sunlight, the face is not as legible as another design might yield notwithstanding the use of anti-reflective coating on the crystal, however this is minor when taking the face as a whole: it is stunning; bold without being flashy.
This is a substantial watch, weighing in at 146 grams on strap, with deployant. The top case is 46mm in diameter; lug to lug distance is 50 mm, and lug width is 24mm. The deployant is one of the nicest I have used, lying flat on the wrist when the watch is worn. Adjusting for strap length, you use the same release button used to take the watch on and off, and looks at first glance like a divers extension. In the closed position, this plate holds the strap against the nipple which extends into the hole in the strap. Taking the watch off, and depressing the release button on the side, this plate drops away exposing the nipple and allowing you to drop the strap down to readjust for length. This is a far superior arrangement to that of removing a screw to change holes. The deployant mechanism is polished, sturdy and works flawlessly.
The strap itself is unusual in that there are lug ends embedded within it. And so the strap does not pivot at the lug end as with most straps. Removal of the strap from the case is easy with cut-outs on the leather allowing easy access to the spring bars. A steel bracelet like the one offered on the black-faced variant will be available for purchase eventually.
The majority of you will wear it as it was designed: on the right wrist.
But then again, you might be a southpaw like me, and wear it the "wrong way"!
Despite its heft, this watch is extremely comfortable on the wrist, its fit belies the mass of the watch. I'm wearing 7.5 inch wrists in the above shots.
The lume on the Double Retrograde is applied only to the hour and minute hands, and above the 5 minute indices on the chapter ring. Nevertheless, a 2 minute charge under halogen gave me the following shot:
As to the movement's reliability, time-keeping and overall robustness of the design, it is too soon to tell. If properly adjusted at the factory, it should provide more than adequate timing. However Seiko's attempts to provide up-to-the-minute design cues in a watch lineup meant for export markets have, in my view, been very successful. This watch is beautifully finished, stunning in effect, and, together with the other features I mention, add up to a very nice watch, competitively priced. I am very pleased to have it.
Post Script: There is a nice overview of the Ananta range of watches in the Nov/Dec issue of Watch Time, written by Norma Buchanan . It is Part 1 of a 2 part series and the 2nd one will apparently focus on how the Seiko group of companies is organized. If I had looked at today's mail rather than writing this review, I'd have seen it!