Introducing the Seals Model A

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When you look at watches all-day everyday, as many of us do, what makes one watch stand out from others tends to be subtle, but significant details. A nice font here, a cool curve there, it’s the little things that make one more special than the others. That’s not to say they all look the same, but generally speaking, watches are all based on a handful of conventions, and with the limited amount of movements available for affordable watch brands, major design leaps, like those seen in haute pieces, are simply out of the question. Yet, within this seemingly confined space, there is still room for pleasant surprises.

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Seals is a new brand based out of California that is about to launch their first line of watches, the Model A, on Kickstarter. It’s a watch with elements that are familiar, but enough creativity and styling to make it stand out, especially in the under $1000 category. As their site points out, the design draws on some manly classics for its inspiration; tanks from the 1940’s and café racer motorcycles. Both are themes we’ve seen before, but there is another inspiration element here that ties them together; Gerald Genta.

While their literature doesn’t speak of it, the trained eyes of watch-enthusiasts will immediately pick up the DNA of Genta’s aesthetic in the case of the Model A. Quintessential 70’s sport watches like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Phillippe Nautilus and, most closely, the IWC Ingenieur are present. Now, this can be dangerous ground for a brand to tread as one step too close to those designs will be met with the ire of collectors, and occasionally said brands. However, I find Model A plays off of those watches, but has enough of its own shape to be different.

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And, I don’t want to understate this, the case is gorgeous. It measures 41 x 50 (to the end of the integrated lug, more on that later) x 12.5mm and has a shape that is as elegant as it is masculine. It’s also not quite like anything I’ve seen before. From above, it’s a slab sided barrel that flows smoothly into the strap, with a tight radius at 9 and 6. The bezel defines the geometry more, and hints at Genta, with an almost hexagonal shape. But, it’s not a hexagon either, rounding out on the sides, and coming to a point above 12 and below 6. It’s its own shape, one that has a 70’s flair, but also speaks to the tanks that brand draws from. It’s a stout form that seems strong, adding a visual queue that case is very solid. The finishing is well done here too, with a full-polished edge and a vertically brushed top surface.

On the right side are screwed in crown guards that gradually raise up. This detail does seem closely related to the Ingenieur case, but also like the logical guard design for this case shape. The thin, but easy to grasp screw-down crown nestles between them, feeling fully protected. Looking at the case from the side, you can see how the lugs were designed for an integrated strap design, with scooped out portions where the strap sits and pivots. I have mixed feelings on integrated straps as they have proprietary fittings, making swapping straps very limited. That said, from a design perspective, they give a watch a very finished look and sculpted feel.

Stepping in, the dial of the Model A is simple and clean, with a more modern look than the case. The white version is a bit deceptively named, as the surface is actually a very light brushed silver. this was a good choice as it gives the dial more texture, and ties it in with the substantially massive case. On the surface is a single index of applied skeletonized trapezoids, all equal in size, save the marker at three which is cut off for the date. The look touches on various things, a bit dive, a bit dress, but all together gives the watch an upscale look.

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On the edge of the dial is a tall chapter ring with a simple minute/seconds index. This is a clearly a more sporty touch, adding legibility. The hour and minute hands are wide, straight swords that are partially skeletonized, matching the applied markers. On the inner edge of the cutout portions are thin lines of lume, which is an interesting and modern detail.

The flow of the case into the strap is well executed and slick looking, making the watch wear well. It ties everything together, and makes the watch grab the wrist. The design does add to the lug-to-lug length, however, as there is a metal link that goes into the lugs that the strap then attaches to. At 51mm, it’s long enough to exclude small wrists, though I found it tolerable on my 7″ wrist. The strap itself is quite nice as well. It’s a calf skin with croc patterning, and a nice padded construction.

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On the wrist, the watch looks great. The size makes it noticeable, bold and strong, but it’s not an oversized watch. Rather, it has a lot of mass and metal that add to its presence. It’s clearly a sport watch, but the finishing, case geometry and dial elements add refinement. It’s in that sort of “gentleman’s” sport watch genre that is simultaneously rugged and elegant. It’s also pretty versatile, looking good with both casual and business attire.

Powering the Seals Model A is a Miyota 9015 automatic, giving it a smooth 28,800 bph sweep, hacking seconds and a solid power reserve. With that inside, the value for this watch seems good. All original design, good finishing and a very solid build, coming together at $740. It’s also a limited edition, with only 100 of each of the four styles (White / Stainless, Black / Stainless, Slate / Slate PVD, Black / Black PVD) being made. So, if you’re looking for a masculine, but refined sports watch with a 70’s vibe to it, head over to Kickstarter when their project is live to help support Seals. Naturally, good deals can be had, up to $250 off the watch to incentivize donations.

Images from this post:
Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
wornandwound zsw
  • Kyle

    Reminds me of the Archimede outdoor. Cool but slightly overpriced for $740.

  • To be honest, the lugs kill this watch for me. You can’t use standard straps. While I appreciate the uniqueness of the case design, I can’t get past the integrated lugs.

    Nice looking watch aside from that, though.

    • tr143

      I think any strapmaker worth their salt can make a strap that fits it well. However you’re right you can’t dismiss that point easily. Hopefully the company begins producing straps for it at a reasonable price.

      • You are correct, but I can’t just go to some of my favorite watch strap sites and pick out a few straps for this watch. And I can’t put a nato on it. Basically, go with what comes with the watch or go custom.

        • I intend to create additional straps at a good price, and find custom strap makers who can create solid options for our specific lug configuration. Once our campaign ends, this will be high on the list of priorities. I want to create options and have makers people can go to for straps we are not able to create.

      • I understand lactardjosh’s point regarding the integrated strap, I discussed this early on with a couple folks who shared the same opinion. It was tough but I chose not to sacrifice my vision for the watch and stayed the course. Yes, it may be a deal breaker for some, I get it, none the less I’m glad I didn’t back off and stuck with it. I am working on new strap designs now, my plan is if we are successful in raising the funds for production I will collaborate with the backers to help select styles and materials they would like to see on the watch they will soon receive. Absolutely at a reasonable price.

        • Thanks for commenting! I don’t fault anyone for following their vision and standing behind their product.

    • nicedream06

      I agree, and felt the same way about the Archimedes Outdoor Protect. I love the watch, but I can’t really use any of my favorite straps with the case.

      • If you dont mind my asking, what type of straps are your favorite? Not necessarily the style but rather colors and materials?

        • nicedream06

          In fall/winter I like leather straps. I just got one of the Nomos cordovan straps in dark brown and I love it.

          In the warmer months I sometimes switch to canvas or nylon, usually navy blue. They’re cheap and washable, so if they get sweaty I can toss them in the laundry.

          I’ve never really liked metal bracelets on my watches.

          • You make a nice point regarding short straps, I’ve received quite a few messages over the past two days since our Kickstarter campaign has been live regarding straps for smaller wrists. I’ll look into how this could work for us. I’m completely on board with a canvas strap, good idea. A lot of folks have asked about a bracelet, but it’s at least 12 months away if we are successful in funding our campaign. Thank you for the feedback!

  • I’d be interested to see it in a black dial. With some lume in those hollow hour markers. If you’re gonna make a watch that doesn’t slot into any particular category, might as well make it as all-purpose as you can. As it stands, there’s a lot of silver going on. Any particular water-resistance to it, by the way?
    But anyway, didn’t we just finish grumbling about how many Kickstarted brands had appeared in 2014?

    • If you visit my instagram page, @sealswatches , you can find several photos of the black dial version. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts. Regarding the lume, that was a design decision as well, I have concept art with lume in the markers and we left it out as it didn’t create the look we were going for. I may create another prototype with it down the road but for now the lume will be left out. You can see pictures on my site with the lume in the markers.

  • Strakkejakke

    Love the design! Has a strong resemblance of the IWC Ingenieur line, but with its own identity! Do wish that the crown would have been a bit bigger, and the strap looks a bit “meh” on the pictures…

    • Thanks! I do understand what you mean about the crown, early on I felt the same way. However, after designing a couple iterations with a larger crown it just didn’t look right, wasn’t comfortable with the overall look of the watch. As far as functionality goes, the existing crown is easy to work with, I think if you tried it out yourself you’d agree.

  • Michael Gore

    Cool looking watch but… 1.It is overpriced to begin with; and
    2.Yes,there are many strapmakers who will gladly make a custom strap for
    this watch but it will cost!Say ruffly another $200 for a custom strap.
    Is this watch worth it? Well,probably if that would be your only watch
    or at least your weekender,but if that is your 10th,20th etc. in your
    collection?I think not.That is why I had to let go of my Brera
    Supersportivo, as much as I liked the watch I can’t stand that rubber
    strap,and decided that for a watch I wear only occasionally it is not
    worth to invest in a custom strap.

    • I can do better than $200 for straps, and have already discussed this with a couple people. In due time I’ll deliver on this.

  • Nic

    That watch is so beautiful. EXCELLENT shape, EXCELLENT strap, but the name and logo make me want to stab my eyes out.

  • metalfacedoom

    The lugs are certainly an issue for me; spending a c note or two for a custom watch strap that will fit the watch is a bummer. Custom lugs and spring bars are just a pain, especially with new watchmakers. Obris Morgan should also take note.

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