This will be my first watch review ever written and out of all the good watches out there, I am extremely excited to lose my watch review v-card with a Seiko SRPA25 Review! I recently ran into this reference, while studying more about the Grand Seikos, concluded that this reference checked most, if not all boxes I was personally looking for in a beater dress watch, and chose to pull a trigger. Yes, I will definitely use this time to rant about any minor pet peeves I have with this watch, and some of my contents will be subjective. However, I will do my best to give the watch a fair review it more than deserves, which I intend to do so with a combination of actual word descriptions, and numerical scale ratings.
Before I get too verbose, here is my terse(?) summary of my review of Seiko SRPA25:
Seiko SRPA25 is a wonderful alternative to an affordable Japanese automatic dress watches, such as Orient Bambinos, Orient Symphonies, or Seiko Cocktail models, although for only larger wrist-ed (7.5 inches or greater) souls.
Allow me to explain in terms of Design, Dimensions, Value, Versatility, Fit and Finish. Numerical scaling, pictures, references to watches I have either owned or previously handled, as well as my humble biased opinion, will be utilized throughout my review. Viewer discretion is advised =).
Design and Versatility (8/10; 10 being greatest)
The. I love the color of the dial! the dial is more of a slate/blue-grey dial, rather than a true UCLA blue, so I think the dial color allows the watch to be both suitable for dressy and casual applications. As far as the color match goes, I think this watch can go with many different colored outfits, no problem! The "domed" crystal does make the watch look a bit flat, but when reflected under light, that dial makes it just shine! I personally find this watch pop with either grey or tan NATO strap, or a brown calf-skin leather strap, although I can also see myself rock it with black leather no problem. Sure, the dial itself may look a bit too mundane, but this "bland" dial, to me, is the key element that makes me feel confident enough to rock this "Dress watch" with a nato strap. Furthermore, there are wonderful blend of polished and satin finish across the case, with satin finish applied on the lugs and side of the watch, which I thought was well thought out. Lastly, the crown is big, so hand-winding is easy, but the crown is literally a domed crown with coined edges, which basically makes it, well, plain looking.
Disclaimer: if your wrist is not a larger size (7.5 inch or larger), I do not think this watch is for you. On my 7.5 inch wrist, however, the 42mm diameter case makes this watch a perfect proportional fit! The lug to lug is reasonably short for watch this size, so I think maybe someone with a 7 inch wrist can pull it out as well! Furthermore! 20mm lug width! This makes aftermarket strap finding such a breeze, making this watch into a strap monster! As a Dress/Casual watch, this watch will slide under a cuff for jackets and will happily slide under some barrel-cuff dress shirts (some dress shirts barely, as this watch is around 13mm thick). I do not own any french cuffs, but considering this watch is quite thick (~13mm), I think french cuff fitment may be a bit challenging.
Fit and Finish (8/10)
For a watch of this caliber, SEIKO definitely has one of the nicest finishes on dials! The applied indices and logo are neatly applied, and dauphine hands are also quite sharp looking, considering I have seen worse finishing in watches of this caliber. Furthermore, the date wheel matches the color of the dial! How sweet is that! You do not see that in other colored dials in even some higher end pieces!
The caseback finishing movement is nothing to write home about, but I say the finishing of the movement is clean. I say the fit and finish is similar to that of Hamilton Khaki's ETA movements, especially considering the lack of Geneva stripes and other movement decorations. However, this movement is not really an eye-sore of a look at, so I say the fit and finish is just as you should expect in a watch of this price range. Just like Hamilton, the movement is held by a plastic, which can be seen through the caseback. Considering these factors and the thickness, I think this watch could have ditched display caseback, especially since the caseback is not a sapphire glass either. That way, this Seiko may have been slimmer looking, which I do wish it was the case.
The way the serial number is laid out is not "perfectly aligned" on the caseback. This annoyed me a bit, and I was hoping the "straight" serial number would be curved like rest of the number, or in different font or a different location, but this I am just being unreasonably anal here. Otherwise, other fonts and labeling are neatly done.
The bracelet, ah, well...that was my biggest gripe about this watch. I find this bracelet to rob away the watch from its clean, modern, youthful look, and the links, clasp, and end link very cheaply made. Yes the bracelet is extremely wobbly as well. The links are also connected by pins, but what do you expect from a watches made on a budget, right? Seiko's bracelet and straps (same applied to Orient from my experience) are not the best quality, and this should be expected for anyone buying a watch in this budget range (sub $300). In fact, I applaud Seiko for intelligently cost-cutting on the bracelet/strap and putting higher priority on the watch case, dial and movement. Another kudos for making a lug width 20mm! Otherwise, strap changing could have been a major pain! However, the moment I pulled a trigger for this watch, I had an intention of removing the bracelet anyways, which I did immediately, when I got this watch. Therefore, I did not factor in the bracelet for the review of this watch, but if you insist, I give bracelet a (6/10) rating.
I think this 4R35 is a decent movement for what you pay for! hand winding, quick-set date, 21600 vph, 23 jewels, 41 hr power reserve, with hacking seconds. 28800 vph movement would have been nice, but 21600 does not seem that lethargic to me, and 41 hr power reserve is similar to that of an ETA 2824 movement. I would like to think of this movement as a Japanese version of a marginally bigger, chunkier, and slower version of ETA 2824, no disrespect intended. Time keeping is not COSC-accurate, but is reasonable, and I see no irregular beating of time either. My eyes are maybe wonky, but the second hand at least seemed to sweep smoother than that of the Orient Symphony I had, so...
The handwinding action is not as smooth as you would expect in JLC, Omega, or a Rolex, but the feedback is clicky, albeit mushy, similar to the winding motion I experienced in a Hamilton Khaki Auto. Comparing to driving a stick shift, hand winding feedback is similar to that semi-vague feeling rubbery shifter of a hyundai accent or a toyota corolla. To extent, I wish it was a bit more crisp, with more audible clicks, to give it a more live feeling. As far as the rotor winding, if you shake excessively (Don't try this at home), it does wobble, but you are likely not to feel and hear the wobble, during your daily motions. Hey, at least they do have handwinding though!
I paid around 100-200 USD new at the grey dealer. Considering Hamilton would have ran around approximately double the cost by my sheer estimation, I have no complaints here. Some Orients are definitely more affordable, but having owned an Orient Symphony and having handled newer Bambinos, I say Seiko's better fit and finish on dials basically offset the cost imho. I also find this to be a wonderful alternative to Seiko Presage lines, if you wrist is up for the size, as I personally find Presage's superior dial finish and hand design too dressy for my tastes.
Predicted Reliability (8/10)
First of first, this is just my prediction. Movement-wise, I do want to give a 10 out of 10. We heard about how Seiko's movements are rugged as Toyota pickup trucks. Furthermore, if a movement does go wrong, I can source a 4R35 parts (maybe a whole movement itself) from fleabay and try amateur watchmaking on my own.
If you wanted to service it through Seiko directly, Seiko Service Center website quotes 149 USD + S&H + Taxes + other misc.
Great thing is, there are multiple ways to affordably service the movement, if you need to! Yes, it may not be worth the repair, but that also means, you can maybe try working on the watch yourself as a hobby with minimal risk, if you just want to be a handyman and try learning new things.
Only reason I gave myself the 8/10 was the Haldex/Mineral Crystal, as Mineral Crystals are cheap but more scratch prone than Sapphire crystals. I will def. update on how my crystal lasts as a daily beater. I had once incident of gnarly Mineral Crystal scratch experience on a cheap fashion watch, so opinion may be biased, but we shall see on this regard.
I forgot to mention, Water resistance is 100m, with no screw down crown. the lack of screw down crown tells me I probably won't swim with it, but I probably would not trip out about a water splash or a rainy day ruining the watch! So far, I bathed my baby, washed my car and some dishes with this watch on a nato couple times, but provided I did not touch or pull the crown by accident, all seems well =)
I will attach the pics of my Seiko, so you get the feel of how it looks on the nato strap, or on a leather strap, or how it look on my wrist. Also, I will also take pics of the bracelet, for the reference sake. Overall, this is definitely a niche watch that should be serious consideration, if you are in a market for an Orient bambino, or the Seiko Cocktail model.
Likewise, I am no seiko expert, so if there are additional comments, it will always be appreciated!
I hope you enjoyed my review and hope you have a good day!