I’ve been itching for a cushion case watch for a few years now, but unable to justify $9,000 (USD) of scratch for a Panerai PAM00320. Luckily, Seiko brought out a handsome example with their Recraft collection and my lovely wife gifted me with one for Christmas.
I love my TAG, still lust after the Panerai, look fondly on Tissot, and may yet try to finagle a Montblanc Timewalker UTC into my collection, but let’s make one thing clear: Seiko is not a brand to dismiss. Sure, they may make too many models and/or variants, and keeping track of them all can be a mess. But amidst all that clutter are some real gems of innovation, a history of horological contribution including a long list of world firsts, and in-house movement manufacture. Even the Watch Snob regards Seiko well.
The cushion case makes listing the dimensions a bit awkward. The crystal covering the face is a conventional circle, and 38.5 mm in diameter. Because the case resembles a bulging square, I hope the rest of dimensions are adequately descriptive. The case (with crystal) is 11.6 mm thick, and measures 51mm diagonally. It is 50.2 mm from lug to lug, 42.1 mm across the “flats” of the case at their widest point, and 47.7 mm if you include the crown, which is 6mm in diameter. The leather strap is 24mm wide and 4mm thick.
It’s a mechanical movement, so less accurate than quartz but a whole lot more interesting and fun. This is a watch you buy for love of gizmology. For the soft, rapid ticking like the titles of a 60 Minutes episode. My particular watch runs a bit fast- I’d guess it gains about a minute per week. It is also a “non-hacking” movement, which means the second hand keeps ticking away when you have the crown pulled out on its stem to adjust the time and it cannot be hacked to sync perfectly with an outside clock. The day-date function works well, and is set by pulling the crown out one click to its first position. Rotating the crown one direction advances the date, and the other direction advances the days, which can be set to either English or Spanish on my model. They alternate Sun-Dom-Mon-Lun-Tues-Mar-Wed-Mie, etc. Some models of Seiko apparently alternate day name and Roman numeral, which would have been cool but c’est la vie. It takes roughly three hours (from midnight to 3 am) for the day to transition through the alternate language and back to your setting of choice.
So what’s it like to wear? Not as heavy as I would have thought, considering how much bigger it was in person than I expected. Because of how large it is, and flat on the bottom, I have to ensure the strap is well tight or it has a tendency to roll toward my pinky. That stainless steel case can put a lot of painful pressure on my wrist bones if that happens! And speaking of making sure the strap is tight, remember when I listed it as 4mm thick? Yeah, this thing took about two solid weeks before it could start to be considered broken in. They didn’t chintz out on the bracelet and I really like that. The whole package feels very solid.
Looking at the details of the design, this definitely strikes me as a retro watch. It looks like something out of the late sixties or more likely early seventies. I like the indexes to mark the hours rather than numerals- they’re raised, cut very precisely, and polished. One detail I didn’t care for are the white boxes visible underneath the indexes at 6, 9, and 12, but I figure this is historically accurate to how it would have been made “back in the day” and it strikes me as charming now. As with my 5, I wish Seiko would find a more elegant solution than printing black text on the underside glass since it’s mostly redundant information, but it’s not the end of the world since one rarely tends to gaze at the back of a watch.
This particular model is currently selling for under $150 USD on Amazon, but there are other face and case color options, along with other bracelets, too. There are also other styles within the Recraft Series, all with a distinctly retro vibe. If you long for the era of feathered hair and Roger Moore as James Bond, I highly recommend them.