Hands-On with the Seiko 5 Sports “Diastar” SSA285K1

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A Seiko 5 watch comes with a set of expectations. If it’s wearing the badge on the dial, you know that you’re getting a no-nonsense timepiece, one that’s both reasonably priced and robustly built to Seiko’s exacting standards. The “5” references a set of key attributes that first defined the line: automatic winding; the day/date displayed in a single window; water resistance; a recessed crown at the four o’clock position; and a durable case and bracelet. Of course, much of this is already part and parcel of modern watches, so today these bullet points are more of a spiritual guide for the Seiko 5 line rather than a strict checklist. Nevertheless, if it’s a Seiko 5, you know you’re getting a workhorse that punches way above its weight.

Today, we’re going hands-on with a watch Seiko brought out last year and, like many of their lower-tiered releases, it went by largely unnoticed—introducing the Seiko 5 Sports “Diastar,” reference SSA285K1.

Seiko 5 Diastar SSA285K1 - 19
The Seiko 5 Sports “Diastar,” reference SSA285K1, is a barrel-shaped, automotive-inspired sports watch that stays true to the spirit of the Seiko 5 standard.

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$200

Hands-On with the Seiko 5 Sports “Diastar” SSA285K1

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
Seiko 4R37
Dial
Cream/green
Lume
LumiBrite
Lens
Hardlex
Strap
Nylon mil-strap
Water Resistance
100 meters
Dimensions
44.75mm x 47.8mmmm
Thickness
13.3mm
Lug Width
22mm
Crown
5mm x 2.8mm; push/pull
Warranty
Yes
Price
$200

The case measures 44.75mm wide, 47.8mm lug-to-lug and 13.3mm thick. There’s no two ways about it—this is a big watch, and the barrel case takes up a lot of that real estate. But it seems to be a deliberate design choice. Seiko didn’t upsize the case to accommodate a large movement or anything of the sort. Instead, this seems to be more of a retro throwback to vintage barrel-shaped designs from the likes of Rado, Heuer and others.

Despite the notable width, the watch is very comfortable on the wrist. The tempered case length means that it works for those of us with smaller wrists, though the watch will have quite a bit of visual presence. Conversely, for the big-wristed amongst us, that perceived presence goes a long way in making the watch look appropriately sized. Either way, the case-heavy look is sure to divide, so it’s something you have to want.Seiko 5 Diastar SSA285K1 - 15The profile is where the case design gets really interesting, with a sporty, almost-futuristic design grounding the geometry. There are sharp lines and a bevel guiding the eye along the length of the case, with undercuts that remind me of an aerodynamic sports car. The undercuts are polished, contrasting against the brushed bevel and mid-case. Overall, the finishing is excellent here, and quite a ways more impressive than what I’ve seen on other watches in the Seiko 5 range.

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The dial is what initially drew me to the watch. It’s decidedly retro, with an attractive automotive concept that works well with the case. It has a faded cream tone, bordered by a green checkered racing index. Applied indices—polished with lume-filled centers—are placed at every hour. Then, there’s a separate minutes track right below that. There’s a Seiko 5 Sports badge at three, a black contrasting date window at six, and a 24-hour sub-dial at ten-eleven. The hands are straightforward swords, polished with lume at the center. The seconds hand is a black tapering needle. Seiko 5 Diastar SSA285K1 - 1

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Overall, I like what Seiko did with the design here. In some ways, I feel like this is what the Recraft line from a few years back should have been, but wasn’t. There’s a restrained simplicity here that really works. That said, I bet this watch would have looked just as good with a more traditional layout—e.g. with the logo underneath 12 and no 24-hour sub-dial between ten and eleven.

Seiko 5 Diastar SSA285K1 - 16
There are numerous variants in the “Diastar” range, among them the SSA281K1 (black dial), SSA283K1 (black/green dial), SSA289K1 (black dial and PVD case), SSA287K1 (black/red dial) and the SSA284K1 (black dial and gold-plated case).

The movement powering the watch is Seiko’s 4R37A automatic caliber, a variant of a movement family Seiko began churning out in 2011. It can be hacked and hand wound and has a beat rate of 21,600 bph. While I don’t find the 24-hour sub-dial to be an especially useful complication, it does add a touch of visual complexity to the dial, so I’ll take it.

The watch comes paired with a double-layered mil-strap. It’s green with white accent stripes. It’s rigid out of the box, but it breaks in rather quickly with some wear. The drilled lugs allow for easy swaps, so I threw it on one of our straps for something a little different. Of course, another pairing that would work really well is a rally strap.Seiko 5 Diastar SSA285K1 - 22

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Looking at the package as whole, this is a nice offering from Seiko. While I’d have preferred a more restrained case, that’s all a matter of personal preference. Now, these aren’t readily available anymore, but there are a handful of sellers across eBay and Amazon still holding stock, so I wouldn’t wait too long before picking one up. Prices range from about $180 to a hair over $200—all in all, a pretty great deal.

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Ilya is worn&wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
ryvini
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  • Spaceguitar

    You’re right…the asymmetric, single subdial is quite cool. You don’t see many of those!

  • jeffslawrence

    Is the 24-hour hand a second time zone, or strictly a 24-hour representation of the current time?

    • DanW94

      It’s the latter, no second time zone. Think of it as an AM/PM indicator.

  • Beefalope

    It’s at this price point under $200 for automatics that Seiko is tremendously underrated and really doesn’t have serious competition, except for Orient, which Seiko owns.

    A strong offering in general, but really amazing at this price.

  • Phil

    Just bought one. $188US with free shipping to Aus. A bargain I think.

  • Jeffwb65

    I like this quite a bit, but just like my Seiko SNZG15, it’s too text heavy on the dial. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e72bf830d1c35aec14bcf61d94eb9e5beafc7b49dcd26aa822e67b5bd7d403c7.jpg
    I always thought if Seiko would remove the words “SPORTS” and “23 JEWELS” the SNZG15 would look much better. The ‘SEIKO 5″ logo and the ‘AUTOMATIC” and “100M” are all the info needed.

  • Никита

    So lovely!

  • egznyc

    This is great value for the money. I always thought of Seiko 5 watches as being a little small by modern standards but this one is quite large! That might dissuade me but it seems to wear well from the wrist shots. And the barrel case is kind of neat, but the dial is the real draw here. Something a little different and very attractive!

    • rfortson

      Many Seiko 5’s lately (last year or two) have been larger, like this watch. Really, there are so many Seiko 5’s out there that it’s hard not to find a few that you like.

  • Adam Dilk

    Curious as to the size of your wrist in the photo? I have 6.5″ wrists and want this watch to fit so badly…

  • Juan Carlos Espinosa

    I bought it by $ 130 USD. Welcome to my collection.