If you’re looking for a moderately priced, high quality, very cool, and totally unique looking watch to surprise someone with this holiday season (or even to surprise yourself with), you might want to check out something from Seiko’s new Sportura collection. The inspiration for the Seiko Sportura design was high performance sports cars, and each watch clearly has the feel of a complex but exhilarating dashboard in the type of car I will probably never be able to afford.
The Seiko Sportura Collection
The Seiko Sportura collection consists of four models (SLQ017, SNL015, SNJ005, and SNA451), each with its own unique look and feature set, and each in a different (but relatively affordable) price range. All the watches in the Sportura collection start off with the following set of features:
- Jet black dials.
- Scratch-resistant, anti-glare sapphire crystals.
- Screwdown casebacks and crowns.
- Stainless steel bracelets (also available in leather, however).
- Double-locking clasps with push-button release.
- Water resistant to 100 meters (10 BAR, 10 ATM, or 330 feet).
- Japanese quartz movements (though only two of the pieces in the collection actually require batteries).
- Very bright luminous hands and markers.
Now that we know what all the watches in the Seiko Sportura collection have in common, I’ll cover each watch individually, starting with the least expensive.
The Sportura Alarm Chronograph (SNA451)
At $575 retail (assume all these watches can be had for 20-25% less than retail), the Alarm Chronograph is the most affordable member of the Sportura quartet, though it still has plenty of nice features:
- Battery powered Quartz movement.
- 12-hour alarm.
- Second time zone display. The alarm face at the six o’clock position can be set to a different time zone.
- Chronograph capable of measuring up to 60 minutes in 1/5 second increments.
The Alarm Chronograph is definitely the most conventional looking of the Sportura collection. In terms of functionality and layout, it is very similar to the Seiko Chronograph I have in my collection (and in fact happen to be wearing right now). Both are great watches.
The Sportura Large Screen Analog-Digital (SNJ005)
Second in line in terms of price ($650, retail) is the Analog-Digital Sportura. The look is very similar to that of the Alarm Chronograph except for the large black LCD behind the analog hands which gives this watch a high-tech look the other watches in the line don’t have. Features include:
- Battery powered quartz movement.
- Digital alarm.
- Digital stopwatch. Measures up to 100 hours in 1/1000 second increments. (No, that’s not a typo — I verified it with my own eyes. Someone should let Tag Heuer know that the Microtimer has competition.)
- World time (28 cities around the world) with digital city name display.
- Fully automatic calendar.
If you’re shopping for someone who is a frequent traveler, this is probably the one to consider, although if all they need are dual time zones, both this and the Sportura Chronograph are possibilities.
- Seiko Sportura SNJ005 product page.
- Operation guide not available.
The Sportura Kinetic Chronograph (SNL015)
The Kinetic Chronograph contains a quartz movement, but interestingly, no battery. The idea of Seiko’s Kinetic technology is to capture the best of both the quartz and automatic worlds: the accuracy of the quartz movement with the convenience of an automatic watch (no battery). Seiko kinetic watches generate their own power by an oscillating weight rotating in response to wrist movement, then they use that energy to power a Japanese quartz movement. Very innovative, and very high-tech.
Features of the Sportura Kinetic Chronograph include:
- Automatic power generation (when fully charged, the watch should run for about five months).
- Chronograph capable of measuring up to 45 minutes in 1/5 second increments.
- Energy depletion warning.
- See-through caseback (you can actually see the weight rotating as it generates power).
As you can see, the Sportura Kinetic Chronograph is where the design of the Sportura line really diverges from the mainstream. Personally, I think this watch has an amazing, very bold look that is sure to draw not just glances, but plenty of comments. Keep in mind that this is a fairly large and especially long watch, however. I actually had one sized for my wrist the other day just to get a good feel how big it really is, and I found that it extends slightly past the top and bottom of my wrist at its narrowest point. Admittedly, my wrists are a little on the skinny side, so I think the watch would sit just fine on most men’s arms, but this is definitely something to consider before buying. Retail for the Kinetic Chronograph is $995.
The Limited Sportura Kinetic Chronograph (SLQ017)
At an MSRP of $3,500, this is by far the most exclusive watch in the Sportura line. Even if your significant other is worth the $3,500, you may have a difficult time finding this model since only 400 are being shipped to the US, most of which need to be special ordered. It’s a superb looking timepiece, though, and clearly a great addition to any watch enthusiast’s collection (no, unfortunately I don’t own one myself — at least not yet). I actually wrote an entire article on this watch a couple months ago, so check it out for all the dirty details. If you’ve already written this one off based on price and availability, but are still interested in glancing over the features, here’s a quick summary:
- Automatic power generation (when fully charged, this watch should run for about one month).
- Stopwatch that measures up to 12 hours and 6 minutes in 1/10 second increments.
- Energy depletion warning.
- See-through caseback.