The Seiko SSC819 Is The Sleeper Chronograph Of The Year

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You’ve probably noticed we’ve got a bit of a thing for Seiko around here, and if you’re a regular reader chances are high that you do, too. The focal point of that appeal has traditionally been centered around their eponymous dive watches that have served to define our enthusiasm from the early days, right on up to today, regardless of how the rest of our collecting habits have evolved. Of course, Seiko has made and continues to make great non-dive watches as well, from the Alpinist series to the Presage collection, there are more hits than misses across the board these days. One particular type of watch has been tricker to nail down, however, and that is a great all-round sports chronograph. 

That’s not to say Seiko can’t make a great chronograph. Watches like the SNJ029 and SSC761 Black Series LE have a huge appeal, but aren’t quite suitable for everyday duty (for most of us, at least). And then there’s the history. When it comes to mechanical chronographs of the automatic variety, Seiko was right alongside Zenith and Heuer et al. in 1969 in releasing the very first such watch to the world with the reference 6139. Even going back to the 5719 from 1964 reveals a string of stylish, simple chronographs the likes of which haven’t really been seen since. For a brand that has so effectively recalled their classic dive designs in modern incarnations, there seems to exist a blind spot when it comes to these chronographs.

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$675

The Seiko SSC819 Is The Sleeper Chronograph Of The Year

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
V192 Solar Chronograph
Dial
Matte Black
Lume
Beige LumiBrite
Lens
Curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Strap
Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
100 meters
Dimensions
39x46mm
Thickness
13.2mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Push/Pull
Warranty
3 Years
Price
$675

Earlier this year, Seiko revealed a suite of new chronographs, two in mechanical form, and 4 utilizing the solar powered V192 movement. While the pair of mechanical references boasted the impressive 8R46 automatic chronograph movement complete with column wheel and vertical clutch system, their imposing physical stature kept them at arms length in regards to a great everyday option.  For my wrist, at least. Rather, it was the collection of solar powered chronographs that presented a compelling case, with more ergonomic dimensions, a neutral sporty appearance, and a far more approachable price point.

The SSC819 is one of those 4 solar powered chronographs, appearing uniform black across the dial and bezel, offering the most sobering take on the design. The 817 gets a sand colored base; the 815 a dark blue base; and the 813 a panda configuration with white base and black sub dials (and undoubtedly the most popular among the group). Each offers a unique look and feel that takes advantage of the simple but effective base design that makes this watch work in the first place. 

What makes that base design work so well? In my view, it’s a few things that add up to more than the sum of the parts. First, there’s the case, which measures 39mm in diameter and 46mm from lug to lug. The lugs have a gentle downward slope that adheres to the wrist visually to create a neat footprint perfectly within the confines of my wrist. At a hair over 13mm in thickness, this one isn’t tucking neatly under any sleeves without a small hassle, but it’s not in unmanageable territory, especially considering what this watch is.

More importantly is the dial and bezel execution. The black bezel is broken into two levels that meet at an angle, the numerals of the tachymeter reside on the slope while their corresponding hash marks sit on the flat portion. The placement of this scale on the bezel allows for a rather simple approach to the dial, which does away with much of the fuss found on more niche variants of the chronograph, such as the diver mentioned above, or the SSC607P1 Pilot Prospex from 2017. In contrast, this SSC819 feels more broadly approachable, like I don’t need to be an expert in any certain field to properly wield it. It’s simply “kinda sporty”. 

You can feel the restraint in the dial layout, with no labels or sections or unnecessary verbiage here, just “Seiko” and the Prospex “X” graphic. That’s it. The scale of these two elements is striking next to some other Seiko watches I have within reach, it’s larger than it appears even on a watch like the ‘Safarnie’. It really leaves an impression and isn’t shying away from what it is. The Prospex range has built some real confidence over the past year and this dial is the manifestation of that. 

A discreet date window appears tucked just under the 4 o’clock marker, like it’s trying to hide itself under the shadow of that applied hour baton. There doesn’t appear to be anything preventing that date from being placed directly at 4:30, evenly spaced between the two markers, but it isn’t *shrug*.

 

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The other curiosity is found at the sub dial located at 6 o’clock. When the chronograph is not in use the hand acts as a charge indicator for the movement, measuring somewhere between an “E” and “F” labeled just outside the footprint of the sub dial (a full charge should provide about 6 months of use). A press of the button at 2 o’clock send this hand to the top, where it will take on a new role of measuring the elapsed minutes being timed. Now that’s a trick I’d like to see a mechanical watch pull off with its power reserve indicator. Finally, a 24 hour hand is placed within the sub dial at 3 o’clock, meaning a total of 60 minutes can be recorded with the chronograph. 

The base of each sub dial acts as the solar cell harvesting light to keep the V192 movement charged (via manganese titanium-lithium rechargeable capacitor), and in the right light you’ll notice a purple hue to their appearance. They bring a subtle contrast to the matte black dial plate, while a light helping of off-white lume applied to the cardinal hours and hands provides a touch of warmth to the whole situation. 

As you’d expect from a Seiko Prospex, this is a fun watch to pair with a wide range of strap options, however the supplied three link steel bracelet is far from terrible. Any kind of passthrough fabric strap will add to the already noticeable height, but unless you’ve got sleeves to contend with, not a big deal.

In total, the SSC819 feels right on point in its representation of the Prospex collection, and about exactly what I’d like to see in a more all-purpose sports chronograph. Sure, it’s got the solar movement rather than a mechanical one, but it somehow comes off as appropriate here, and the resulting price tag of $675 is certainly welcome. I say it feels appropriate because this is a watch that’s comfortable in its own skin, and that presents itself in a straightforward, salt of the earth kinda way – and that’s a big part of the appeal (of many Seikos). 

If you’re a fan of Seiko or even chronographs in general I suspect you’ll find a lot to love with this new SSC collection of Speedtimers. They aren’t going to scratch that vintage itch, but they are a welcome representation of a Prospex chronograph and very approachable. This would make for an excellent first watch or first chronograph as well as be a perfectly reasonable addition to a more seasoned collection. 

The Seiko SSC 813, 815, 817, and 819 are available now for the price of $675 from authorized retailers. Let us know your dial preference in the comments below, and whether or not you find these to be an appropriate callback to classic Seiko chronographs. Seiko.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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