Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review of Seiko SKA369 Pepsi BFK

This summer I decided I needed to focus on finding a quartz diver. Although I liked the Citizen BN0085, the lack of a bracelet option reduced the long term satisfaction and versatility. Citizen EcoZilla is a bit much for my tastes. Then one day while surfing I managed to spot a Pepsi version of the BFK and instantly fell for it. I was familiar with the BFK models, but had no idea that there was a Pepsi model. A little research showed that not only the Pepsi model international and easily available, it was also very reasonably priced.

BFK is a forum nickname for “Big Freakin’ Kinetic”. Although not as gigantic as the name would imply, it is on the large side for a Seiko and indeed it is a kinetic quartz. There is a family of models which differ by dial color or are PVD coating. These models are SKA371 (black dial) SKA367 (yellow dial) SKA369 (dark blue dial, Pepsi bezel) SKA427 (black dial, PVD). These models listed were all released internationally. Subsequently a SBCZ015 (orange dial) SBCZ013 (Pepsi) and SBCZ011 (black dial) were released to the Japan market and were also were also Prospex models. The Japan models only differ by the printing of SCUBA on the dial.

A fellow Hittori Ronin once told me that the Seiko Sumo is a large watch designed to look smaller than it is while the BFK is a small watch designed to look larger than it is. Although the crystal on the BFK is 30mm and the bezel diameter is under 42mm, the big fat chunky lugs give the impression that the case is larger than it actually is. The 3 o’clock crown with unique looking guards also add to the girth. For an inexpensive diver, the case is well finished. It is mostly bushed with a bevel of polish around the top and bottom edges of the case. There are also these grommet looking things which surround the drilled lug holes which are unique looking and provide some character to the case.

The lug width is a narrow 20mm which some people have complained about because of the difficulty in finding after market straps that look right. Many will resort to cutting notches in leather or rubber straps to fit something wider. I have yet to make a custom strap for this one as I am more than pleased with the stock bracelet. It is heavy and chunky but balances out the case well. The links are an oyster style but rather than three separate links pressed together, these links are milled from a single piece of steel. Kinda a cheap way out, but it works fine and looks good too. Fortunately the clasp is a proper size at 20mm as opposed to the 18mm used on the Monster, but the construction is the stock stamped steel clasp which hopefully Seiko will retire some time soon. It dos the job fine, but conveys a unnecessarily cheap feeling to the bracelet.

I’m not as experienced with divers as other folks, but I will say that hands down, the bezel on the BFK is the best I’ve ever felt. It has a wide surface for easy reading, an aggressive cut to the edge for proper grip and a very smooth 120 click action. Really a pleasure to operate. Makes you wonder why all bezels can’t be like this. The bezel also has an interesting shape in that it slopes down and away from the crystal rather than the other direction which is more commonly seen with Seiko divers. The color of the insert on this Pepsi model has a metallic shimmer look to it. It is not obvious in all lighting, but I can see it and it looks nice.

The crystal is the standard Hardlex and is flat and is ever so slightly recessed below the bezel. Not much else to say about it other than there is an aftermarket sapphire available from a nice guy in Hong Kong. My stock crystal has held up fine over the couple of months I’ve owned it, but I will probably pick up the sapphire sometime in the future if this guy looks like it will be a keeper.

The dial has a traditional Seiko look. Matte dark blue in color. Chrome lined index markers with a chapter ring that surrounds them somewhat similar to the Monster. Dial text is minimal and printed onto the dial. The dial is layered in two pieces which is a nice touch of something different to make the dial interesting yet still have a purposeful look.

The hands are probably the most contentious aspect of this model. First they are skeleton which is not so popular because of the limited lume. Second the shape of these hands don’t sit well with some. I personally don’t mind them at all. I think they provide identity and character to this model. Sure they are a bit of a challenge to read in the dark, but with a little practice I’ve gotten used to it. With good lighting, the skeleton design actually makes an excellent contrast with the dial and the silver colored hands used on the Pepsi model are matte finished which looks so much better than glossy polished hands.

The caliber is Seiko’s 5M62 kinetic powered quartz. Kinetics represent a problem for folks with a large collection of watches because they require regular wear to keep charged. Since my collection is not so large and this is my only kinetic, I have not have any problems keeping a maximum charge of 6 months power reserve. It is likely that as the cell ages, its reserve will diminish to the point where it won’t keep a charge and a battery replacement is inevitable. With some simple google searching several DIY tutorials for the replacement can be found and the part itself costs about $20.

In conclusion I have to say that I have been very pleased with the BFK. It has a good build and is easy on the wallet so it seems I’ve found a quartz diver I can live with.

Nuts and Bolts
Caliber 5M62
Crystal diametrer 30mm
Case diameter 42mm
Case diameter to crown 48mm
Lug to Lug 50mm
Thickness 14.5mm
Lug width 20mm
Width at clasp 20mm
Weight 298g adjusted bracelet


jgbuckeye31 said...

Excellent review... thanks Spindoctor.

Panco said...

Very cool as always.

Anonymous said...

Nice review! thanks... I feel alot better about my purchase!