After Conquering The Land, Serica Explores The Ocean’s Depths With The 5303 Dive Watch
Can a microbrand impress with only one release under its belt? Based on essentially one release, the Parisian brand Serica greatly impressed many of the Fratello team members (myself included). The Serica 4512 won me over with its charming presence characterized by some very distinct choices that set it apart from the stream of new brands that flood the market. Now Serica has released their second model, the 5303 diving watch. Equally impressive in its presence but also a step up in many ways. Time to check out what the 5303 is all about.
If you are a music fan, you know that the second album is supposedly always the hardest. The first album is often a labor of love that had been years in the making. But if that first album gets picked up and a second album is in high demand, the stakes are higher, the process a lot shorter, and you often don’t get to test out all the songs live. Essentially the sophomore album is the true test of musical skills. More than once, artists have failed to make a lasting impression after their first try. Having said that, there are plenty of artists that have shown it’s not a universal truth. Within watches, different laws apply, but a second try after a successful first try can be just as challenging. How does Serica’s Jérôme Burgert master that challenge?
The story of the Serica 5303
To start with, Burgert did not start the creation of the new Serica 5303 after he was done with the 4512 field watch. The 5303 has been in the making for three years and shows how specific the Serica founder is in finding his way in the world of watches. With a stronger focus on the product rather than the brand, great respect for some of the iconic timepieces of the past, and his own distinct conception of how to give his watches a great sense of character, Jérôme has made the brand stand out quickly.
It has lead to the creation of a dive watch that takes queues from the past without copying them. The 5303 has a distinctive design. It’s a breath of fresh air amidst the cookie-cutter dive watches that we see far too often. A dial that stands out, a bezel that adds both functionality and style, and a bracelet that also gives the watch a great deal of character. Add a great movement, and at first glance, the new watch delivers on the same promises as the 4512 does. Could it be even better?
The design of the 5303
The Serica 5303 features a 39mm stainless steel case that is 12.2mm thick, has a lug-to-lug of 46.5mm, a 20mm lug width, and is waterproof up to 300 meters. The twisted lugs are very elegant, with polished uppers and brushed sides. It’s been a long time since I was so impressed by lugs. Not only do they look great, but they also feel great because of their sharp lines. Overall the case features a nice mix of brushed and polished parts that perfectly emphasize its sculpture. It has plenty of character, just like the dial and bezel, but they balance each other out perfectly. Additionally, there’s the oversized 8mm crown that adds plenty of character as well. As with the 4512, you have the choice of the crown being placed on the right or left side of the case.
The watch features a stainless steel twin-scale bezel with a ceramic insert indicating minutes and a stainless steel ring indicating hours. The design reminds me of the first Seamaster 300 CK2913, a watch that I happen to love. But this one has a bit more purpose because of the two scales. It allows you to time elapsed minutes by aligning the lume dot with the minute hand. Secondly, you can time elapsed hours by aligning the lume dot with the hour hand. A third function is timing a 15min countdown by aligning the lume dot on your target time. Finally, you can use the bezel to set a second timezone on the 12-hour scale that doesn’t distinguish between night and day but still, it’s a nice feature to have.
A dial with plenty of character
The 5303 comes with a choice of two dials. The first is a fully black dial with white printing and vintage lume. The second is a white dial with a black outer ring and black printing with a hint of red and the same vintage lume. Upon seeing the two dials, I was most intrigued by the white dial version. The black dial seemed like going down the familiar road for me personally. But during the two weeks, I wore the watches, and I went back and forth all the time. It shows that both have their own distinct attraction. As you can see, there is no big logo on the dial. Instead, the Serica name has been subtly placed just beside the 6 o’clock marker. It makes sure a logo doesn’t distract from the overall design and has become a signature Serica touch that we also saw on the 4512.
I love seeing something different, as long as I can get used to it when it comes to the overall design. At first, you might think that the combination of the big rectangular hour markers at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock clash with the lume dot hour markers for all the remaining hours. The charm reminded me a bit of the quirky Aquastart Deepstar dial. It’s another dial that might feel a bit out of the ordinary at first, but both of these dials feel very comfortable once you see them from up close. I can now say that I absolutely love the dial’s design. The handset is the same broad arrow handset used on the 4512. It’s white on the black dial version and black on the white dial version. This style of hands is a perfect match for the style of the 5303.
The Serica mesh bracelet
As you can see in the pictures, the bracelet is another element where Burgert chose to do something different. While we are used to seeing steel mesh bracelets on dive watches, the one we find on the Serica is rather different. Jérôme left no stone unturned to add more character to the watch. The mesh bracelet is connected to the case using a fitted end link. Not only does it allow for more flexibility and, therefore, a more comfortable fit. It quite simply looks a lot better as well. I have seen some people compare it to Tudor’s P01 design, but this is more elegant and integrated into the overall design.
The bracelet tapers down from 20mm to 16mm and uses a pressure clip to fasten into the indentations on the inside of the bracelet. To put the watch around your wrist, you have to slide the tail inside the clip and push it along the inside. So the tail is placed against your wrist to avoid any excess mesh from becoming annoying. While the chosen solution definitely looks stylish, it is hard to get used to. Even with a lot of practice, it’s still a hassle to quickly get the watch around the wrist. While I don’t mind the ritual in the morning of putting a watch on my wrist, it should not become a nuisance. I have to be honest that I was disappointed by how impractical this system was to use daily.
The Soprod Movement
Inside the case, we find the automatic Soprod Newton movement. It was introduced only last year, so it’s a fairly new caliber. The movement operates at 28.800vph and comes with 23 jewels and a power reserve of 44 hours. Furthermore, it is fitted with a double-cone Incabloc as its shock absorber while incorporating additional protection to its balance with a cross-through bridge. The Newton can be hacked and hand-wound.
Soprod offers the movement in two qualities of adjustment. Serica has opted for the Top Flight quality that offers an accuracy of +/-4 seconds per day. Those are specs up to COSC-standards, which is pretty impressive. It’s more proof that Serica is all about getting the best in terms of design and technical specs to come up with something truly special.
Wearing the Serica 5303
When it comes to wearing the Serica 5303, there are two big takeaways for me. The first is putting the watch on your wrist and sizing it. As already mentioned, although I like the intentions behind the chosen solution, the impracticality in daily use makes it hard to love. That being said, it does make the watch look amazing, and this look just isn’t the same without the bracelet. The longer you spend with the watch, the easier it gets putting it on your wrist. But I doubt I would ever fully get used to it.
The second is wearing the watch. Once on the wrist, the watch is an absolute peach. It looks absolutely stunning. It is like nothing else out there. There are so many elements that stand out. The case with its wonderful twisted lugs, the dial, the bezel, the bracelet with its end link, the oversized crown. There is so much to enjoy! I particularly love that Burgert managed to make it all work together perfectly, therefore creating one of the best-looking dive watches currently out there.
Additionally, the case is perfectly sized at 39mm and has a slim 12.2mm profile defined by the double-domed sapphire crystal. And what I do love about the mesh bracelet is that it is comfortable once on the wrist. Additionally, the pressure clip is also humble in size, so it’s never really in the way. So wearing the watch is a true joy, once you manage to get it on your wrist.
I am impressed by what Jérôme Burgert has pulled off with the Serica brand. In a relatively short time, he has managed to introduce two watches that are unique in their presence and have both become recognizable as true Serica watches. What it proves is that Burgert knows exactly what he is looking for. The signature style connects both of the watches and shows that it is possible to stand out in the crowd of young microbrands.
At €1,290, the Serica 5303 is almost twice as expensive as the 4512 that comes in at €690. But what you get in return is a great step up in materials, design, and movement. At this price level, hardly any other watch provides the same quality, specs, and presence. It truly is something special. But what about that bracelet? While I’m not necessarily a fan of the bracelet, we also tried the watch on a NATO strap and a leather strap. It looks stunning either way. Serica offers a fine selection of leather and rubber straps that show how great this 5303 looks on anything you might put it on. The bracelet is no reason not to want one for me.
If anything, Jérôme has avoided the sophomore slump and came up with another hit. It’s a sign of true artistry, and it makes Serica the best young brand currently out there, in my humble opinion. The only problem is whether to pick the 5303 or the 4512? But that is a luxury problem I can live with.
The Serica 5303 is available now through the official Serica website.