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Seiko Presage SRPC99J1 Cocktail Time review

I wrote a while back about my lessening fascination with watches and it has stuck. There is a glimmer of interest remaining, however, and so when I was offered the chance to take a look at this particular Seiko Presage I took up the opportunity.

There is something about this specific Presage model for me which mostly centres around the colouring and the sense that it could offer an authentic vintage style in a modern watch that will work for an extended period.

Some people just want a watch. A watch that looks like a watch and which offers the basic functionality in a simple and unobtrusive manner. This models ticks those boxes by simply offering the time and date in a legible format, and in a style that really is timeless.

You only need to look at it to understand what it is about and the fact that Seiko is aiming for a classic / vintage aesthetic, but unusually it nails that goal completely. There are so many watches from various brands that have jumped on the pseudo vintage bandwagon, but most either go too far and feel contrived or they don’t go far enough and feel somewhat inauthentic.

For a watch that is visually vintage it is a surprise to see that the Cocktail Time was originally launched in 2010. This was unusual at the time because the flavour of the day was larger watches and those that looked like they should be worn by action heroes. To this day, the Presage range continues to expand and models like the SRPC99J1 continue to be produced, and for some they offer everything they need and want in a watch.

The dial

The highlight of this watch is the dial, of that there is no doubt. The way the embossed circular pattern becomes more dense towards the centre will catch the eye on a sunny day. The polished hands are legible in almost all conditions and very well finished as are the surprisingly impressive hour markers. Throw in a date window with a matching surround, a beautifully applied Seiko logo and minimalist text elsewhere, and you have a consistent dial that works in every single area. The only improvement I can think off would be to remove the date window, but it is large enough to read and the (lazy) white date background is not too contrasting. This level of dial is rarely seen in watches that cost 8 times more and it genuinely is a triumph to see it at this price point.

The case

The case is very well proportioned and thinner than would normally be expected for an automatic watch (40.5mm x 11.8mm of which a good 2mm is the domed crystal). With a half-onion crown that matches the design very well and 20mm lug width I note again how consistent the watch is throughout. My wife hates the idea of a silver case and gold markings, but for me it helps to modernise the look and feel of the watch, and there is never a moment where either looks out of place. It almost looks fragile, but it isn’t and the hardlex crystal should be able to cope with life (within reason). It is not heavy at all at 68 grams and you will forget you are wearing it.

The strap

One reason that you will forget this watch is on your wrist is because of the calf leather strap. It is soft enough out of the box to feel of good quality, none of the hard cardboard wrapped in dodgy leather here, and the deployment clasp is of adequate quality. Indeed, it is the one area I would definitely change because while it looks good, it is larger than it needs to be and a traditional buckle system would be preferable.

The movement

The hard wearing and elegantly presented 4R35 is beating away inside this watch. 40 hours power reserve is very good at this price, it has hacking and hand winding, and the rotor has been decorated in gold to match the dial markings. The accuracy spec is concerning (+45 /-35 seconds per day), but I am seeing -5 seconds per day and others who have reviewed this model are seeing single digital accuracy which is decent enough.

Conclusion

This is a hard watch to not love. The dial is sensational and arguably the best I have seen in any watch. The case and strap are really good overall and even the movement is more than acceptable. It all becomes hard to fathom when you consider the price. The RRP is £350, but after being asked to looked at this I bought it for £245, a price that you should be able to get in the UK in the New Year sales. That is astonishing value when compared to the competition in this area. A superb watch.

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