Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison
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  1. #1
    Member avusblue's Avatar
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    Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    I’ve seen this watch (ref. SBPG001) referred to by a couple of nicknames, including “Spirit Digital” and “Power Design Project Digital”. As one of Seiko’s very few digitals introduced during a 20-year hiatus, it’s generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm here at the G-Shock forum. I know it was well-reviewed and discussed HERE and HERE.

    Well, I’ve just purchased one, and after living with it for a few days, here are some initial impressions & review points:

    Glamour shots courtesy of Tanaka:




    It's very nice, and a great compliment to the Casio G-Shock GW-M5600 I own and enjoy. (Apologies in advance that I’m just not a great watch photographer. Caution, glare and reflections ahead!)





    Physical characteristics

    · The case and bracelet are large and stately -- a bold presence, but in a subtle way. It’s eyecatching, without shouting.

    · I don’t normally like wearing a large watch, but this one seems different, being the sleeker digital format with a tapered & beveled shape that makes its 41mm size very manageable for me.

    · The watch is hefty, dense, and very well crafted and finished. Seiko’s meticulous attention to detail is evident. And the lustrous, satin finely brushed finish give the watch an expensive look and feel that’s hard to capture in pictures.

    · The solid link bracelet, in shape and construction, actually reminds me a lot of the one on the Rolex OysterQuartz. Nice clasp with three holes for micro-adjustment. Conventional pinned links for easy removal.






    General operation and display

    · I very much like the setup and the "flow" of the features and screens, maybe even better than the Casio way (again, my reference point is the GW-M5600). Very well thought out and quick & intuitive to use.

    · The LCD display panel is large and "airy", as it takes up a higher proportion of the front of the watch than the Casio . . . which means the digits and information have more room to breathe. I never would have said the Casio display looked small or crowded, until now that I have a point of comparison that sort of makes it look that way.

    · The space surrounding the display is very clean and sparse compared to the Casio, which is festooned with words and decorations like a Nascar.

    · The words on the Seiko bezel sort of “float” above the smoked gray mirror-like solar panel that’s below the glass, a nice touch that you don’t appreciate from the pictures.

    · The little indicators for battery charge level and atomic synch reception are cool – they’re styled like those on a cell phone. Seiko provides dedicated “AM”, “PM” and “DST” indicators for main, secondary, and dual time displays, plus little blinking icons whenever the stopwatch and/or timer are running.

    · I like the line of dot-matrix text at the bottom of the display. It provides flexibility, and makes many of the modes that much easier to use and quickly interpret. Casio should consider implementing a similar concept.

    · There’s a fun “test” screen where you can see all the elements of the LCD display:





    Features and other aspects...

    · The alarm sound is plenty loud (unlike the GW-M5600, which has been compared to a gnat’s fart) and has a pleasant warbling tone, almost like a vintage cell phone ring.

    · It lacks an hourly chime option (an unusual omission).

    · The luminescence is adequate, but not quite as vividly bright as the Casio.

    · The dual time mode is very well done and it’s super easy to scroll through the zones, make your selection, and swap back & forth between home & dual time zones.

    · I appreciate that there are two separate time zones for UTC and for London – to account for the difference between “pure” GMT time and London’s daylight savings time.

    · And, finally, praise the Lord – the Seiko shows the time in the secondary display in all modes, and has a 10 hour countdown timer capability!

    · Here’s a link to the pdf owner’s manual.




    In summary, this is a very nice watch. I think it plays the role of a “business suitable” version of a GW-M5600, and is actually superior to it in several ways. It's not a bargain (like I would say the GW-M5600 is), but I do believe that its overall thoughtfulness of design, its heft, craftsmanship, and fit & finish, and frankly, its rarity & uniqueness, all combine to provide a level of quality commensurate with the price.

    Cheers,

    Dave

    PS - Talk about timely delivery service . . . I placed my online order on Sunday evening to Seiya in Japan, and Wednesday at noon it was on my wrist in Minnesota.

    Final glamour shots, courtesy of Molle:



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  2. #2
    Member bryanhayn's Avatar
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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    That's an awesome watch! I like How much did you pay?

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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    This Seiko has been at the back of my mind for a long time, but in the end I sprung for its German equivalent, the Junghans Mega 1000:





    The Junghans stands apart from the Seiko in being more of a forward thinking "avant garde" design rather than being "retro" as in the case of the Seiko. I feel, however, that both watches are well executed, and if you like "higher end" digitals, the Seiko and Junghans bring a lot to the table.

    The Junghans has sapphire crystal, while the Seiko comes with Hardlex. The Seiko is solar powered, while the Junghans is battery operated. The Seiko can display dual time in all modes, while the Junghans can only do it in one mode (Dual time, duh!).

    The Junghans only receives atomic clock sync signals from Japan (2 towers), USA(WWVB) and Germany (DCF-77). I understand the Seiko can also capture the newest atomic tower signal from China. The Seiko can also display world time for 26 cities. This feature is absent from the Junghans.

    The Junghans is nearly double the price of the Seiko Power Design watch, however, I think the price is justified. Not because it has less features than the Seiko, but rather the design, sapphire crystal and overall execution of the piece tells you the Junghans is a high end piece. It is solid, has wrist presence and after all it is made in Germany. The Junghans is rare too, as only 2,500 pieces are made per year for worldwide consumption.

    Rest assured that you won't see another person wearing the Seiko PDP digital or the Junghans Mega 1000. Another set of brownie points for both in the uniqueness dept.

    I feel both of these watches are great alternatives to the radio controlled Casio offerings.

    Enjoy your new Seiko in good health.
    Last edited by MINIDriver; August 31st, 2009 at 01:12.

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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    I am going to beat Archer6 to the punch here and ask "will it fit an 8" wrist"? :thanks in advance.

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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    Wow, that's an awesome review. The comparo shots with the GW-M5600 are superb! How do you get the test screen up?

    I managed to snag the black version recently to go with my silver one...they both get a lot of wrist time.



    Great post
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  7. #6
    opc
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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    I'm seriously thinking about getting one of these. I have a GW-M5600BC and would like something a little smarter to wear to work that has similar features. The Seiko looks like it could be the perfect watch for me.

    It also reminds me of an old Seiko 7016-5001 chronograph that I have.

  8. #7
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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    Excellent post. I agree with your remark about the digits and information having more room to breathe. Casio's displays aren't particularly good in this regard, except, curiously, on some Baby-Gs.
    ThomAsio likes this.
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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    great thread, thank you.

    sometimes, oftentimes, the right thing is not the easy thing. but it is right to recognize when you were wrong. and boy was i wrong. i thought this watch was goofy, like a early-teen girl with too-big glasses and bony elbows! now i see it's retro. i thought it was primitive, but actually it's refined! like you note, i love that they just threw a matrix across the bottom, and wish casio wasn't so skimpy. the bracelet looks great. and the 'airiness' of the digits is wonderfully described... i actually think they could have skipped the 'radiowave control solar' label.

    very nice work seiko, and thanks avus.

    :thanks
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  10. #9
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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    Thanks, guys, for all the kind compliments. As you can tell, I really like this watch; and even though I had high expectations for it, this piece has exceeded them.

    I'll try to address the questions that have been raised.


    Quote Originally Posted by bryanhayn View Post
    That's an awesome watch! I like How much did you pay?
    I purchased from SeiyaJapan and received a fair price and great service. I know there are other sellers, and they are available on eBay as well. This is a Japanese market watch, so to my knowledge you will not find them through "conventional" channels, in the U.S.


    Quote Originally Posted by bulldog15 View Post
    I am going to beat Archer6 to the punch here and ask "will it fit an 8" wrist"? :thanks in advance.
    I have a relatively compact wrist, about 7.25 inches, and I took out three links. I think it should fit an 8 inch wrist.


    Quote Originally Posted by WorldTime643 View Post
    Wow, that's an awesome review. The comparo shots with the GW-M5600 are superb! How do you get the test screen up?
    While in the main screen (home time), press and hold the lower left button to enter setting mode. Then press and hold the upper left button, and everything will light up. This is mentioned on page 165 of the owner's manual.


    Quote Originally Posted by opc View Post
    I'm seriously thinking about getting one of these. I have a GW-M5600BC and would like something a little smarter to wear to work that has similar features. The Seiko looks like it could be the perfect watch for me.
    That's exactly why I purchased it. It goes beautifully with business clothes, yet has all the features the GW-M5600 spoils us with.


    Quote Originally Posted by a-Tom-ic View Post
    great thread, thank you.
    the 'airiness' of the digits is wonderfully described... i actually think they could have skipped the 'radiowave control solar' label.
    I agree! But I still love it.

    One thing I forgot to mention in my original post. I had lunch on Thursday with a friend who is a former work colleague. Within 30 seconds of us sitting down, my friend noticed the brand new SBPG001 on my wrist and burst out, exclaiming, “That’s a COOL watch! That’s AWESOME! Where did you get that? It reminds me of what I had as a teenager, but nicer! I LOVE it!” Seriously, this guy was enthralled by the watch, and wanted to know all about it.

    This was the first time I’ve ever had someone spontaneously show enthusiasm about any watch I was wearing. In contrast, I’ve never had anyone express an outward reaction while I have been wearing Rolex. It was fun. And, it happened on the first full day I owned this watch? I'll take that as a good omen!

    Cheers,

    Dave
    Last edited by avusblue; August 31st, 2009 at 04:12.

  11. #10
    Member Maine's Avatar
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    Re: Seiko SBPG001 Spirit Digital -- Review and Comparison

    Many thanks for the review. I was just yesterday trying to find more threads about this! It's definitely, definitely in my future.

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