It’s hard to argue with a good Seiko. Affordable, well built and generally cool looking; they sort of define value in mechanical watches. Typically, we’ve reviewed watches from the Seiko 5 series, which range from absurdly affordable to incredibly affordable. Today, we’re going to take a look at a Seiko Superior, which is a couple of rungs higher on the Seiko product ladder. Coming in at $250, still quite low in the scheme of things, the Seiko Superior SSA059 is packed with features, looks wild and is a limited edition of 2500.
The SSA059 caught our attention for a few reasons; one was the intense look of the watch. With a black case and dial accented with acid green markings, interesting layering, texturing, compass functionality and a rugged nylon bund strap, this is a robust watch with a very aggressive attitude. It also is fitted with internal and external bezels, which is fairly uncommon. Lastly, is that this uses the relatively new Seiko 4R37A automatic movement, which we were simply curious to see in action.
Case: PVD Steel
Movement: Seiko 4R37A
Strap: Nylon and Leather
Water Res.: 100M
Dimensions: 44 x 48.75mm
Thickness: 13 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 7 x 5 mm screw down
Warranty: 2 Years
The beefy, tank-like case of the SSA059 has a complex design with lots of interesting guards and cutouts as well as an asymmetrical design. It’s a large watch at 44 x 48.75 x 13mm, though the black PVD and chunky shape make it look falsely compact. Looking at the watch from above, the case is dominated by the large external bezel, which is faceted and textured in various ways. The two large crowns, one for movement adjustment and the other for the internal bezel, jut out of the right side, which along with their respective crown guards create a large mass of black metal on one side.
The lugs then are relatively short, but quite thick. One very cool detail is that the lugs are connected by a sort of bridge that follows the edge of the case, which rises above the edge of the bezel. This basically creates the effect of the bezel being partially sunken into the case, giving it a solid and protected feel. Looking at the watch from the left reveals another great and functional detail. The side of the case has a turret shape, with panels going in and out. These line up with the knurled grips of the external bezel making it easier to grasp and turn the bezel as well as align it to the mark.
The bezel itself has a 120-click uni-directional mechanism that is good quality. It’s tight, snappy and seemingly lines up. That being said, it’s hard to determine where the mark is since the numerals on the bezel are so large and the internal bezel can be aligned to anything. So, by aligning the grips on the side of the bezel with the grooves on the side of the case, you get a quick reference that you can both see and feel.
Jumping to the other side of the case, you have the two crowns I mentioned before. Both measure 7 x 5mm, but have very different designs to distinguish them and their functions. The crown at 2 is used to wind the watch as well as set the time. This crown is a straight cylinder with a knurled texture, making it easy to grasp. I was surprised to find that it was not screw down considering this is an automatic watch and the style of the watch leans towards over-built and sturdy. Nevertheless, the quality of the crown is substantial and given the guards, I doubt it would accidentally dislodge. The second crown, located at 4, has a simple toothed design with a line of acid green cut into it, which designates it as being used with the internal bezel. The action of the internal bezel, which is bi-directional, is reassuringly tight.
Despite the fact that the watch comes mounted on a bund-style strap, it does have a display case back. The 4R37A movement inside is plain looking, with no discernible decoration, though it’s always enjoyable to be able to see the movement. The details that would normally be around the display window are instead screened onto the window, with an emphasis on a large “limited edition” at the center. The edition number is then etched in very small numerals on the back itself.
The SSA059 is fully PVD coated, except for the steel portion of the display case back. It’s a rich black coating that is well applied, as would be expected. On all surfaces except for the tops of the lugs, which are lightly brushed, the PVD is over polished steel, giving it a deep but shiny appearance. I’m not sure if this was the best choice for this watch, which is clearly very rugged with some military/tactical influences. The shininess makes the metal have a plastic quality and also picks up fingerprints very easily. That being said, it’s a cool looking watch in black, which I believe is exclusive to the limited edition model.
The dial of the SSA059 has a complexity that reflects that of the case design. With various layers and textures, it’s anything but plain and simple. The dial can be broken down into two sections, the main dial and the bezels. The main dial consists of two layers, both of which are warm black. The base layer is fully patterned with a grid of small squares. It’s hard to see with the naked eye, but each square is actually a tiny pyramid, giving this layer a very interesting texture. Bisecting the dial from 6 to 12 is an arrow with a grey stem and a large green-bordered white triangle at 12. Just above 6 in acid green “automatic” and “100m” are printed and at 3 is an applied metallic Seiko logo. There is a lot going on here, which is the general vibe of the watch, but it all comes together pretty well.
Offset at about 10 is a large 24-hr sub-dial, which is also multi-layered. The index of the 24-hr dial is set on a ring, which is just below the main dial layer. It consists of dark gray hash marks for the hours, with green numerals for 6, 12, 18 and 24. On the lower layer of this sub-dial is a cross with arrows, referring to the compass functionality of the watch. On the opposite side, and around 4.5 is a small window showing the white on black date disk. Unfortunately, this window isn’t exactly at 4.5, but rather a little closer to four, which looks a little sloppy. This isn’t a detail you will notice regularly as it is minute, but it annoyed me nevertheless.