Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review of Seiko SARB021

This is a review of the Seiko SARB021. The fantastic pictures shown in this review were all taken by jbdan and used with his permission.

The SARB021 is a member of the Seiko Mechanical Line. Other models in the line include:





SARB021, SARB023, and SARB025 were released late of 2007 while the SARB045 and SARB046 were released the next year. All have an MSRP of 60,000 Yen except for the SARB046 which is priced at 68,250 Yen. All SARB models are available as Japanese Domestic Market models.

The dimensions of the SARB021 are as follows:

Crystal Diameter: 32mm
Bezel Diameter: 37mm
Case Diameter: 38.5mm
Case Diameter to crown: 41mm
Lug width: 20mm
Lug to lug: 45mm
Thickness: 11.8mm
Weight (with bracelet): 129g

Hands, Dial and Crystal

The hands on the SARB021 and related models are very similar to those used on the first SARB models, SARB001, 003 and 005. Remember those ones with the funky star burst dial and faceted crystal?

The hour and minute hands are fairly wide and highly polished with a very slight bevel to them. They have no lume, but do have a thin white line running down the center of the length of each hand. This white line appears to be the only difference with the hands on the earlier SARBs as it is much thicker on those models. The hands are an interesting design. They are so reflective they will catch even the most dim light. In bright daylight at certain angles, they can seem to disappear, but the white stripe still makes them visible.

The index markers are double bars at all hour marks with a triple bar at 12 o'clock. The markers are beveled on the edge facing the center of the dial and the tops of the markers are nicely finished. Quite impressive actually. The index markers are bold and somewhat blingy. In between the large index markers are small markers measuring 1/5 of a minute with the full minute marker slightly longer than the rest. I find these markers to be difficult to see as they are quite small. I suspect they were designed to be small to balance the large index markers.

I think the dial is the most impressive aspect of this watch. The best I words I can use to describe is that it is the most perfect glossy black. Like a pool of black ink but with the infinite depth of a black hole. The truly amazing thing about the dial is that in bright sunlight, it transforms to a dark brown color with a satin finish. I don't know how Seiko made this dial. I have read chatter that it is enameled. However it is made, the result is very impressive.

The chromed Seiko logo is applied to the dial and “Automatic 23 Jewels” is printed. Nice and simple. The date window is framed in chrome and the date wheel is white lettering on a black background. The crystal is sapphire without an anti-reflective coating.


The stainless steel case on the SARB021 is impressively finished. Rather than the gentle curves seen on the other SARB models, the case on the 021 is very angular with edges that invoke a feeling of precision. The case is predominately a brushed finish with the bezel and the top of the case highly polished. Crown guards protect the reasonably sized signed crown. I enjoy watching the light bend over the top of the lugs and in the inside curves of the crown guards.

The SARB021 has an exhibition case back displaying the standard finish on the 6R15 movement. There's not much to say about the 6R15 that hasn't been said already, however, I can comment that mine runs within 2-3 seconds per day which is very impressive for a factory unadjusted mechanical movement. The movement seems to run forever with the specified 50 hour power reserve.


The bracelet is a 5 link oyster style. Pins and collars hold the adjustable links together. There are no partial links and the small styled clasp has a total of 2 adjustment holes. The clasp is a forged style which is nice to have at the price level of this model. Solid end links attach the bracelet to the case. The bracelet has a brushed finish with the edges being polished along with the skinny links. Overall it is a nice bracelet. Subtle in design but well finished and balances the rest of the watch.

Final Comments

I have owned this watch for almost 1 year at the time of writing this review and in that time it has been a primary member of the collection. I selected this model because I wanted a mid priced, poor man's Grand Seiko with some classic, evergreen Seiko styling but with some flair. The large index markers may not be for everyone, but I like them as they provide some character. It will be interesting to see how well this style ages over time. So if you are looking for a dressy piece with super nice finishing that won't break the bank, then consider the Seiko SARB models.

Now I will leave you with a few more wonderful pictures from jbdan.


Anonymous said...

As a poor man's option to a GS ,this looks like a fine choice.
Nice review ,great photo's.
Thanks ,W-P

Thomas Lanvers said...

Awesome watch. I'm hooked.

How much for your's John?


Spin Doctor said...

Au contraire my Franco friend. Mine has been sold to Ohio John a few months ago and he has already passed it alone to someone else.