Another High-Value Series from Seiko
Today's topic takes us back to Japan - the land of beloved watchmakers Citizen and Seiko. This time around we will be taking a look at the Seiko Presage "Cocktail Time" series. In particular, we will be reviewing the exciting new release from the Presage line, the SARY081, which features a power reserve complication on the dial. To preface, the Presage can be thought of as the dressier sibling of the Seiko 5. If you are new to Seiko and unfamiliar with the Seiko 5, I encourage you to read my thoughts on it here. While the 5 is famous for being a ridiculosly good value, I would say the presage is superior by other measures including build quality and overall attractiveness. Let's start by taking a look at the power reserve indicator on the featured model SARY081.
Mechanical watches are powered by the energy stored in the mainspring of the movement. When a watch is wound, the mainspring becomes increasingly tense and as the hands move this tension is released. Some watches use subdials to track the state of the mainspring and the cooresponding amount of stored energy. These are power reserve indicator complications. On the Seiko Presage featured here, the power reserve indicator reads like a feul tank. When the hand reaches "E", the mainspring is either out of power or nearly out of power. The power reserve is typically measured in hours. The subdial on the SARY081 ranges from "E" to "40", with hash marks at "10", "20", and "30" hours. The user manual explains that the indicator is most accurate between the 20- and 40-hour marks.
Power reserve indicators require a more elaborate movement in order to function and monitor the power reserve accurately. As a result of the higher associated cost of production, mechanical watches with this complication often retail at well over $1,000 USD. Only a handful of watches with power reserve indicators (including the Presage) retail at under this price point. This Hamilton Jazzmaster (here on Amazon) and this Orient (here on Amazon) are two such examples that I looked into before ultimately deciding to go with the Presage.
Depending on the model, the Presage "Cocktail Time" utilizes either a Seiko 4R35, 4R57, or 6R15 movement. The SARY081 featured here contains a 4R57 movement. Technically the 4R- movements are inferior to the 6R- movements and it drives many Seiko fans nuts that the SARY081 doesn't use a 6R-. Personally, I think the differences between the movements are negligible and I believe that the lesser movement is not something that should really detract from the appeal of the watch.
All Presage models have exhibition casebacks that provide a view of guts of the watch. I really appreciate that Seiko stopped to paint the rotor this time around. The gold-tone finish adds some nice flare to the otherwise undecorated movement.
At the end of the day the artistic design of the dial is what makes the Seiko Presage the head-turning piece that it is. From the textured dial to the applied indices to the colored hands that seem to pop out through the domed crystal, it is a truly beautiful watch. At 40mm case diameter, the Presage sits right in the Goldilocks zone for dress watches. The case is on the thick side but I have experienced no issues as a result of this. The dark glossy OEM strap that ships with these watches works amazingly well with the overall design and the butterfly clasp is rock solid.
On the SARY081, the power reserve indicator spans from twelve o'clock to just past four o'clock. The date wheel sits at six o'clock and features a blue-toned hand that matches with the hand on the power reserve indicator.
For those interested, the SARY081 is available on Amazon. For the SARY081, you can expect to pay anywhere from $450 USD to $1200 USD depending on the color. Some colors are currently extremely popular and are demanding high premiums. The basic Presage models without power reserve and date wheel complications are slightly less expensive. I found this one on Amazon.