Hands-On With The Seiko Presage SSA411 and SSA413
Over the last couple of months, Seiko has graced us with quite a few new Presage releases. The Presage line is known for its incredible craftsmanship when it comes to the dials of the watches. Recent releases featured beautiful enamel and porcelain dials, created by Japan’s extraordinary craftsmen. But great craftsmanship also comes at a price. If you are not willing to spend a thousand Euros or more, the new Seiko Presage SSA411 and 413 might just be the watches for you.
Seiko has focused quite a bit in 2020 on extending its Presage line of watches. We have covered quite a few of them here at Fratello. The main aspect that stands out with all the releases is the incredible dials. Rob wrote an article about the Presage SPB171 with a great Arita porcelain dial. Bert wrote a review about the Presage SPB163 with a stunning dark blue enamel dial. And I did a review of the limited Presage SPB173J1 that has a green enamel dial. Add the Porco Rosso limited editions with their enamel dials and it’s a great celebration of Japanese craftsmanship.
For all budgets
But another thing that ties them is that you have to spend a bit more to enjoy them. All of the mentioned watches have a list price above €1,000 with the Porco Rosso’s being vastly more expensive. Although it is completely understandable because of the crafts involved, it puts it out of reach for many. But what if you would like to enjoy a great looking dial and don’t want to spend over a thousand Euros?
My first option would be the Cocktail Time watches. Great looking watches with colorful dials that are inspired by the rich global bar culture. What more could you ask for? With a list price between 400–600 Euros, they are a great offering. With the new Seiko Presage SSA411 and 413 Seiko has added another two watches in the same price bracket. And with a case size just over 38mm, these three-handers might be a tempting offer to people looking for a dressier watch that is a little less extravagant than the Cocktail Time watches.
Seiko Presage SSA411J1
The first of the two is the Presage SSA411J1 that is characterized by its dark blue “Open Heart” dial underneath its sapphire crystal. The dial has a big hole at the 9 o’clock position that allows you to see the balance of the Seiko Caliber 4R38 in action. My first reaction to this “Open Heart” dial was, “Is this really necessary?” It’s not exactly a new design detail as Seiko uses it for quite a few of their Presage watches. But I’m conflicted about the impact of it on the watch’s overall looks.
In all fairness, I have to say the pictures obviously make it all look quite static. And there is definitely a certain charm to seeing the movement in action when you have the watch on your wrist. But then again, the watch also features a Hardlex display case back so you can actually see the movement in action by simply turning the watch around.
A stylish bracelet
The watch features a round 38.3mm stainless steel case that makes it suitable for quite a few wrist sizes. At just 11.2mm thick, it makes the Presage SSA411J1 very comfortable to wear. The blue dial is contrasted by silver Roman numerals and applied hour indexes. The deep blue and silver colors contrast well, guaranteeing good readability of the classical looking dial.
When you put the watch around your wrist the 5-link design stainless steel bracelet immediately stands out. Admittedly, it has to fit your style but I like it a lot. I was impressed by both the style and the quality of the bracelet, especially considering its €550 price tag. And with a mix of polished and brushed links, it is as much an eye-catcher as the dial. The bracelet features a butterfly clasp with a push-button release that was easy to operate and is also a step up from some of the previous less qualitative clasps on several Seiko releases of the past.
Seiko Presage SSA413J1
The second of the two watches is the Presage SSA413J1 that comes with a cream-colored dial. Overall I find this the more attractive of the two watches. The main reason is that the dial is a lot more interesting. The circular pattern that originates from the “Open Heart” is far more pronounced on the cream dial. You can just about see it if you squint at the blue variant, but on the cream, it is very prominent. What it does is that it gives the open-worked dial some purpose. And I must say that the hole in the dial is also a lot less intrusive than on the blue dialed SSA411. It simply blends in a lot better making it a bit easier for the eye.
The SSA413 has the same 38.3mm steel case that is also 11.2mm thick. The watch comes on a brown leather strap with a three-fold clasp with a push-button release, giving the watch an overall more classical look than its blue-dialed counterpart. And that’s also exactly how it feels when you put the watch on your wrist. This is a watch that is suited for people looking for a watch that is a bit more on the dressier side of things.
Once on your wrist, the patterned dial is an eye-catcher. We’ve come to associate the Presage line with striking dial design. This is the perfect example. Once you wear the watch there is no escaping the almost hypnotic effect of the dial. You get sucked into the magic of the movement and that’s a clever concept that works very well visually. And at a list price of €530 the SSA413 is also the cheaper of the two options.
Seiko Caliber 4R38
Both watches are powered by the automatic Seiko Caliber 4R38. The movement has a 21,600 train count, features 24 jewels, and comes packing a power reserve of approximately 41 hours. The movement’s main feature is the previously mentioned open heart balance at 9 o’clock and it also features hacking seconds, which allows for manual winding. Seiko specifies the accuracy of the movement to -35/+45 seconds per day.
Both watches feature a Hardlex display case back that allows you to see the Seiko Caliber 4R38 in action. The finishing of the movement is basic but it’s not about that when it comes to watches in this price bracket. The purpose of a display case in this price range is a lot more focused on the magic of a mechanical movement and that’s what these watches display perfectly.
If you are looking for a dress watch for a reasonable price, both these Seiko Presage watches are very good options. My personal preference goes out to the SSA413 with the cream-colored dial. Overall it is the more balanced option of the two and it features a striking dial. The blue-dialed SSA411 is the more contemporary of the two and offers a great looking bracelet. So both have something to offer. What it all comes down to as always is your personal preference.
Speaking of personal preference, I’m not quite sure what to make of the “Open Heart” concept. I understand it adds the attraction of being able to see the balance of the movement in action. And I’m sure there are plenty of watch enthusiasts who would like to see the heart of the watch as it is the magic of a mechanical timepiece. And that is who Seiko makes these watches for.
In the end, both watches represent what the Presage collection stands for perfectly: a display of Seiko craftsmanship in both the movements and dials. And at this price point, I’m sure both will find their way to enthusiasts because both offer great value for money. We’ve come to expect nothing less from Seiko.