The Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition — A JDM “Alpinist” Offering Every-Day Perfection
I first wrote about the Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition in the fall of 2021. It was as part of a list article compiling the best Seiko JDM releases. I called it the “love baby” of a Seiko Alpinist and a Rolex Explorer. Essentially, I labeled it a design construct. Generally, I do not believe in design constructs. But something with this SZSB006 is different. While I still stand by my words, the watch grew more on me every time I saw it. This led me to write a longer thought piece on the watch earlier this year. After that article, I knew I had to get one myself. And I can say it’s lived up to its expectations.
This story is not necessarily about a perfect watch—far from it. It is about the perfect watch for me. Because I do understand that it’s not the perfect watch; it comes with its flaws. Of course, it does. But something special happens when you accept a watch’s flaws and they eventually grow into elements you love. That’s exactly how I feel about the Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition after wearing it for a month. Let me explain…
The story of the Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC
Let’s start this story where I left it back in April. That’s when the Dear Seiko, Bring Back The SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition article came out. In the article, I explained why this particular Seiko grew on me so much. If you want to know the whole story, I advise you to read the entire article. I won’t get into all the technical details in this article as this is more about the wearing experience over this past month. But it comes down to that every time I saw the watch online, it drew me in. And where, at first, the visual presence was a mixture of a Rolex Explorer ref. 1016 and Seiko’s famous Alpinist series, after a while, it started leaning more and more toward the latter.
While it still is a love story about one watch, the context of this limited edition sparked the thought of why Seiko should create an Alpinist collection rather than make it part of the Prospex collection. As I explained in the article, the Alpinist is one of the few official Seiko names that the brand could and, in my opinion, should use to build a collection around. There is a very specific history around the Alpinist series that is ownable for Seiko. And the lineage of Alpinist watches has been one of my favorites of the brand. So this wishful thinking—that realistically will never happen—is part romance, part celebrating the brand’s history. Along with several potential improvements for a future follow-up, that’s where I left it.
Getting a limited edition from 2019
But not long after, our copy editor Brandon texted me and said: “you know they are still available from TiCTAC, right?” While I was aware of that, I never thought about getting it from Japan. While I loved the design, I had doubts about the money I would put into it, compared to the quality I’d get in return. As our Fratelli Andy remarked: “The SZSB006 feels very cheaply made when compared to the SARB017.” Getting a JDM model with all the involved shipping and taxes would increase the costs significantly. Would that be worth it, knowing it might not meet my high expectations?
But after Brandon texted me, I knew getting one was the only way forward. And I genuinely thank Bradon for that! Especially knowing that I have a soft spot for watches with jangly bracelets, as long as they are easy to wear and give off excellent vintage-style vibes. I could only find this by trying it out and getting a feel. And knowing I love the design, the watch having a list price of €375 (official price ¥55,000), there was not much holding me back. Over-rationalization is often my arch nemesis when it comes to buying a watch. But what can be more effective than taking it for a spin and seeing what it’s all about? That turned out to be the only and the right solution.
Getting a first glimpse of the Seiko SZSB006
So after the watch first arrived, I was genuinely excited. Not about the packaging, because that was underwhelming, to say the least. But the design spoke to me as it did in the pictures. That was a great relief because, as most of you will know, all of my Fratello team members will agree: seeing the picture versus seeing the watch in the metal makes all the difference. But I was glad that the watch lived up to its expectations. By that, I mean it doesn’t feel like a Rolex Explorer. It very much feels like a Seiko Alpinist or, at least Alpinist-adjacent watch.
As I explained in the previous article, the hand-set is the main hint at the Alpinist line. Seiko also used the cathedral hands for its Alpinist and Baby Alpinist models, so the link is obvious. The dial with its numerals is not the same as a Seiko Alpinist. The font used for the numerals differs, with a little more character in its open ‘6’ than the Alpinist font. Another great thing is the matte black dial. It is not an intense black dial but a black that feels dark grey in many conditions. It’s a nuance I love because it fits the heavily vintage-inspired lume perfectly. It also works well with the Seiko logo on the upper half of the dial. It doesn’t create a lot of contrast but adds a very comfortable feel that I love.
Looks that bring a story to life
I also explained in the previous article how the text on the lower half of the dial could be optimized. The mix of font types feels somewhat clumsy. The “10 BAR” text has a different font than the “23 JEWELS” text right above it, where it doesn’t necessarily need that. Then again, I loved seeing the font used for the word “Automatic,” as that is the font that has character and links it to the Alpinist family. The date window is another one of those things where I would prefer a black disc with white printing to math the great minute/seconds track that adds great character. But overall, I was happy to find out that it’s about the details of a true Seiko rather than the feeling of being a design construct.
The SARB-inspired case measures 40mm wide, 48mm long, and 11mm thick. It has a lovely profile, and immediately after putting it on my wrist, it felt great. The watch has a nice and elegant profile that feels slightly smaller than its 40mm size might implicate. As a result, the watch wears like a charm. But the bracelet had to be sized before I could walk away with it. A bracelet that is indeed not up to par with many of today’s bracelets. Additionally, a bracelet that I assume played a big part in Andy’s statement that the watch feels cheaply made. And I would agree with this statement. The bracelet feels rattly, like a bracelet from the 1970s—something you would not want or maybe even expect from a modern Seiko. Then again, we all know Seiko’s history with bracelets is not great. Talk about an understatement.
Getting a feel for the Seiko SZSB006
But once sized, the clasp closed comfortably, and I could start wearing it. But not after setting the time and the date. The Seiko Caliber 4R35 that powers the watch is super easy to operate thanks to the push/pull crown. Once again, many modern watches come equipped with a screw-down crown for improved safety against water and humidity entering the watch. But the great practicality of a push/pull crown quickly brought great satisfaction. It makes setting the time and date easy without any hassle. And that is the crux of why I started loving the watch.
The Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition has become a great daily wearer. I love the looks of the watch. As I explained, the dial and hands design feels rooted in Seiko’s history. The case design is slim and precisely the right size for my wrist. Additionally, the finishing is straightforward but fits the everyday tool watch perfectly. The watch mixes an overall brushed finish with a polished bezel. The one thing that might be a turn-off for some people is the contrast between the circular brushed finish on the lugs versus the straight brushed finish of the bracelet. It’s a detail Fratello senior Gerard immediately pointed out and I had not actively paid attention to.
What makes the Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition the perfect daily wearer for me?
Why didn’t I? Because I love the overall charm of the watch. And the charm is much greater than the overall sum of its parts. I have had the watch on my wrist for a month, and in a steady stream of watches I have reviewed for Fratello, the SZSB006 has given me the most joy. A lot more than some other watches that cost ten times what the Seiko costs. Admittedly, there is the story of the Christopher Ward C65 Dune GMT. But they go hand in hand as two watches in a similar style at a different budget that I had great pleasure wearing over the past few weeks.
After a month of wearing the SZSB006, I can say that its perfection is in all the small details, mostly imperfections. What starts with the design is quickly followed by the elegant profile that leads to a great lightweight and comfortable wearer. An aspect also backed up by the jangly bracelet has the charm of a vintage bracelet with a small but practical clasp with a button on either side to pop it open. It’s not a good bracelet, but it has the right charm to fit this type of watch. On top of that, it is light because it features hollow links and folded end links. But that also increases the fun and ease of wearing the watch. I know that is not what many watch fans are after nowadays. And it’s the part I also feared the most. But it has also turned out to be the greatest contributor to my overall fun with the watch.
My perfect affordable daily wearer is imperfect, and I love that
The Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition is my perfect affordable, worry-free daily wearer. After a month of wearing it, I am still genuinely excited to put it on my wrist every single time. It has picked up its first ‘scar’ on the bezel rather quickly, but I have accepted that without any frustration. There are definitely more to follow, and they will add to my story with the watch. I haven’t kept track of the movement’s accuracy—I will do that at a later point—but it has run reliably as far as I could keep track of—even more of a reason to be happy with this perfect affordable daily wearer.
In addition, I have become an even stronger believer that Seiko should celebrate its Alpinist line with much more pride. While this is technically not a Seiko Alpinist, visually, it does belong to that same family of watches. It’s a family with a history that is as strong as the brand’s dive watches. Dive watches should be the Prospex line, and explorer-style watches should be the Alpinist line. But that is an observation as personal as my love for this Seiko SZSB006. But both run equally deep.
For more information on Seiko, visit the brand’s official website.
Also, let me know what you think of this lovely JDM Seiko in the comments below. Love it? Hate it? I’d love to know your thoughts.