Seiko is confusing us a lot with their sub brands, reference numbers and model names, but this can also be the result of the lack of availability of them here in Europe. Especially watches from the Grand Seiko range or the Prospex (Marinemaster) collection we are discussing today, are very hard to get in Europe. Authorized dealers of brands like – let’s say – Breitling, Omega, Rolex, IWC etc. do not carry them at all. We don’t know whether this is Seiko to blame or the jeweler’s businesses, but it seems that they are just not on the haute horology map (yet).
Undeserved, as you will see after reading this review on their SBDX011 Marinemaster 1000M. Also undeserved as there seems to be quite some demand for Seiko watches in here Europe. Based on statistics of Chronolytics, we read that Seiko takes a 26th position in the Top 50 most popular watch brands in Europe of Q3 2012. If we compare that to the previous quarters (rank 27 in Q2 2012, rank 29 in Q1 2012, rank 35 in Q4 2011), we could say that Seiko gains popularity among European watch consumers.
Digging a little deeper, Chronolytics shows us that the Prospex range of watches was even more popular among European watch consumers in Q3 2012 than the cheaper Seiko 5 models or even – with a slight advantage – than the Grand Seiko range.
We managed to handle a Seiko Prospex Marinemaster 1000M (or ref. SBDX011) watch – as you probably need to buy them over the internet as they are officially only available in Japan – and were absolutely impressed with it. This approx. 3150 USD / 2500 Euro mechanical diving watch wipes the floor with a lot of Swiss made watches in that very same price category in terms of finish, quality and specifications.
The Marinemaster 1000M has a 50mm diameter titanium case with special coating (hence the dark color) and a height of 17.4mm, we immediately understood its nick name. When looking at the watch from the side, it looked like it had to be very uncomfortable.
After giving it a try, we had to admit that it was actually quite comfortable. Mainly due to the strap and the fact that there isn’t a 50mm gap between both strap ends (as you can see above, the space between these ends is much smaller). The only down side – especially for normal wear or non-professional use – is that the watch is very thick. It makes it a fun watch to wear, but would you wear this to your office doing desk work all day or having meetings where you have to (or want to) wear a suit? On the other hand, watches like this are meant for professional use.
Looking at the dial, it is very legible and perfectly finished for professional use. Big luminous hour markers – Seiko uses their own Lumi Brite product for that – and large hands that will tell time (and remaining oxygen time) under almost all circumstances. Although the case has some sort of metal outer case, the bezel is still very easy to operate due to the opening in this outer case and the bezel slightly sticking out of it.
Although we wouldn’t mind a no-date watch, Seiko chose to have a date aperture on this Prospex SBDX011. Just like we are used from its Swiss counter parties, there is a lot of writing on the dial. It tells us the model name, water resistance level (1000 meters) and the fact that it has an automatic movement. It also tells us proudly that it has been made in Japan.
The automatic winding movement inside is a Seiko caliber 8L35. From various other sources on the internet, we read that this movement is an undecorated version of a movement (caliber 9S55) that is also being used in the Grand Seiko range. We think very highly of the Grand Seiko collection and their movements and are happy to read that this 3150 USD / 2500 Euro watch has a decent movement inside, based on the more expensive Grand Seiko collection. Should it be nicely decorated? Is a Rolex movement nicely decorated? No, these are work horses and should function accordingly. Only the necessary level of finish should be taken care of by Seiko in order to keep it running error-free for years to come.
Safely tucked away under its titanium case back, this movement – if as reliable as other Seiko calibers – should perform perfectly. A transparent case back doesn’t make sense on a diving watch, especially not with a depth rate of 1000 meters and with this level of finish of the movement. So instead, Seiko added a nice engraved wave to the case back surrounded with the necessary information for the owner of the watch.
As with a number of other Seiko diving watches, the screw-down winding crown of this Prospex MM1000 is located between 4 and 5 o’clock. It is actually a nice location for the large crown, as it won’t stick into the top of your hand when wearing it.
In short, the Seiko Prospex Marinemaster 1000M (or SBDX011) is an awesome timepiece for diving professionals or just watch enthusiasts who are willing to spend this money on a Seiko tool watch. It is definitely worth its money, by far even, but our concern would be the wearability for such a large watch. For divers, professional or amateur, this Seiko makes a great companion and will do the job just as fine as its Swiss competition that has a doubled price tag.
Besides that, it is a fun watch to wear and definitely a conversation maker among watch and / or diving enthusiasts. More information can be found here on the official Seiko Japan website or at Seiya Japan (seller of Seiko watches and also ships internationally).