Not too long ago, I reviewed the Model C from Seals Watch Co. While I liked the watch and believed it represented a good value for the money, I thought it also suffered from trying to cram too many disparate influences into one design. I can happily say that with the new Dark Seal, however, the brand has managed to streamline its design language to offer a truly great tool watch at an affordable price—and in an attractive package to boot.The Dark Seal is a 40-millimeter (41.5 millimeters with the bezel), stainless steel, time-only automatic wristwatch with 200 meters of water resistance. A deep black and a matte blue dial are available, both featuring polished and applied indices with C3 (green) Super-LumiNova. Hands are a custom design with polished, angled edges filled with C3, and the crystal is a domed sapphire with AR coating. Though the prototype shown here does not feature a signed crown, production models will feature a signed, screw-down version.
The two things that struck me first about the Dark Seal were the case and the bezel. The case features multiple surface finishes (circular brushing on the bezel, blasting between the bezel and notches, and a polished chamfer along the drilled lugs) and looks and feels fantastic. The bezel is a notched 12-hour type, which many customers are likely to applaud, and features a very satisfying, ratcheting click.
I also wouldn’t mind seeing the option for a 60-minute bezel in the future for those of us who might like to dive with the watch, but I can understand the need to limit one’s initial offerings.
There were two issues on the prototype that bothered me, one being a loose winding stem that led to a wobbly crown, and the other being a bezel that didn’t properly line up with “12.” I addressed both of these issues with Michael Seals, the owner of the brand, and he assured me that he was aware of both issues on the prototype and has corrected them for the production run.
Powering the watch is a Miyota 9039, which is essentially a 9015 without the date function. It has 24 jewels, 42 hours of power reserve, and Parashock shock protection. I think the 9039 is a good choice for this watch, as I find “phantom date wheel” clicks to be annoying (a movement that features a date wheel but is used on a watch with no date function will still retain the crown position that controls the date, and thus the user can change the quick-set date while nothing actually happens on the dial itself).
The watches, which are currently available for pre-order, will be produced in a limited run of 300 pieces at a price of $585, an excellent value considering the watch’s feature set and accessories. Each piece comes with a premium mil-strap, an extra rubber strap with a bespoke buckle, a handmade Italian leather watch pouch with suede lining, and several stickers).
But, of course, no one is buying a watch for its accessories, so how does the Dark Seals perform? Regretfully, I didn’t have any opportunity to take the watch on a hike or into the water, so I opted instead to wear the Dark Seal as an everyday watch, and I found it to be comfortable and sturdy. Timekeeping was accurate (though I admittedly wouldn’t expect any issues of accuracy from a modern, hi-beat movement), the C3 lume was bright and legible in low-light conditions, and the bezel action was tight and gave a satisfying click—and what good is a bezel without a satisfying click, anyway? Drilled lugs made strap-changing a breeze, and the watch wore well on both the included leather one-piece strap and on my own mil-straps.
In short, after spending a week with the Dark Seal, so long as the aforementioned crown and bezel issues are taken care of in production, I can safely say that I wouldn’t hesitate to take this watch underwater, into the field, up a mountain, or anywhere else. There are noticeable design influences here, but the Dark Seal represents an improvement with regard to streamlining and “influence consolidation” over the previous Model C. Seals Watch Co.