Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases

It has been a few months since I was in Japan visiting with Seiko. Shortly thereafter I wrote about the Spring Drive versions of their newish and impressive Seiko Ananta line of watches. If you recall, Ananta is Seiko's first line of high-end watches for the world market. The watches totally changed my perception of the brand, and I think if you check them out they will change the way you look at Seiko as well. The Spring Drive watches aren't cheap. While they are a great value for the money, the Seiko Ananta Spring Drive Chronograph watch can still get up to the $6,000 - $7,000 range. This is a larger amount of money than many people are able to spend on a watch - an important point as Seiko is such a globally "worn" brand. In addition to the Spring Drive movement based watches, the Ananta line comes in three different automatic mechanical movement forms. If you don't know the difference between a Seiko Spring drive and normal automatic movement, I suggest you check out the article above, or search for "Spring Drive" on aBlogtoRead.com. No time to get into that now. Going back to these three "other" Ananta watches, there is the Automatic Chronograph, Double Retrograde Automatic, and the Multi-hand Automatic. Each model has a lot of appeal, and the collection has prices well below the higher-end Spring Drive models.

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases

These watches really help propel Seiko as a luxury brand with models that are a more natural step up for most Seiko watch owners. Unless you really understand the significant appeal of the Spring Drive movement, moving from the prices you are used to with Seiko watches to the Spring Drive Ananta pieces is hard to do. It is more natural to go from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand - rather than a few hundred dollars to several thousand. The value is still really impressive in both the Automatic and Spring Drive models. I visited the manufacture in Japan where the movements in the Automatic Ananta watches are produced. The facility is almost identical in poise and style to those of the high end makers in Europe. Movements in the Automatic collection are hand assembled and meticulously tested. Finding an European watch with this level of quality and features for the same price is not going to be possible. Oh, and I should note that the Seiko automatic movements are produced in a different manufacture than the Spring Dive movement. I found that to be interesting. Both are similar though in terms of the high quality facilities, but just located in different parts of Japan.

It goes without saying that Seiko makes their own movements. Literally all components of the watch are made by Seiko as they are 100% vertically integrated. This is even applied to making balance springs (Seiko's patented SPRON brand) and growing their own quartz crystals for their quartz movements (they have a special facility to grow synthetic quartz crystals from "seed" crystals. Which are then harvested from a complex "quartz crystal" incubator as I call it). Actually one of the only things that Seiko needs to procure are raw synthetic sapphire crystals. These are then cut, shaped, polished, and finished by Seiko for use on their watch crystals. In a time where people are concerned with quality and the location of where a high-end good is manufactured, it is a reassuring thought for me to know that the Seiko Ananta line of watches it totally made by master watch makers in Japan, by a Japanese company. I feel the same level of comfort when I see that my Japanese camera is made in Japan, and not somewhere else.

Much on the Ananta Automatic watches is the same as the Ananta Spring Drive watches. The cases are bit different, but not much. The "Katana" sides of the cases are still specially "blade polished" and the cases are also 46mm wide with sapphire crystals (water resistant to 100 meters). Watch hands are the same, and the hour markers are the same beautifully diamond polished good-lookers that the line has. All this talk of "blade" or diamond polish and cutting is not gimmicky. These watches have some of the finest polishing jobs I've ever seen on watches within thousands of this price range. One difference between the Automatics and the Spring Drives is the mid section of the case. The Spring Drive models have a column cut edge, while the Automatics have a smooth polished edge on the middle part of the case sides. Otherwise the big differences are in the movements and the model functions.

The first of the three models is the Ananta Automatic Chronograph. This is likely to be the most popular of the three models. It features one of the highest quality and best featured mechanical chronograph movements on the market in this price range. Inside the watch is the Seiko caliber 8R28 automatic movement. This movement is used in a few other Seiko watches (such as the Phoenix Brightz), but almost none of those are available in the US. One exception was a limited edition of 200o piece Seiko Velatura watch (ref. SRQ001) that has the 8R28 movement in it. Though it came out in 2008 and was priced higher at $3,800. Thus, if you want this cool movement, you'll basically need to get it in this watch (unless you are in Japan!). The piece is available in two versions. With a black dial and bezel on a black crocodile strap, and one with the Ananta's awesome metal bracelet with a steel toned bezel (in steel of course), and a steel toned frame around the chronograph minute counter (opposed to a black one). The look of the watch is very handsome, and you will love the depth of the dial. The tri-compax chronograph subdial array is a traditional look, and it has a diagonally positioned date window between 4 and 5 o'clock. The sharp katana hands have lume on them, and there are lume squares applied on the watch flange chapter ring.

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases

Notice the chronograph hands in all red. This keeps you from searching too hard with your eyes when reading them. This is the same as on the Spring Drive version, though that watch has a power reserve indicator as well as a GMT complication. The 8R28 12 hour chronograph operation is fantastic. The easy to press large pushers have a two position feature for highly precise operation. Press the pushers down just a bit to get them into the "ready" position, and then push them down all the way immediately start the chronograph with no lag. It is a similar system to how you operate the shutter button on most digital cameras.

The 8R28 automatic mechanical movement has some neat features aside from being nicely decorated, hand assembled and tested, and having a cool polished black katana style exposed rotor. Power reserve for the movement is about 45 hours and it beats at 28,800 bph (like each of the movements I will discuss here). The movement is really made to have an exceptional chronograph. And it totally does. This, and the Spring Drive chronograph movements, have the finest chronograph operation I have ever experienced in a wrist watch.

I already mentioned the "ready,set, go" operation of the chronograph pushers. Well how does that work? The movement has a column wheel (desired by collectors) for chronograph mechanism durability and a vertical clutch for efficient and very quick gear changes. Also, it has a single piece chronograph reset hammer (that has three points to it), that resets the chronograph very quickly. These might seem like features that only provide marginal improvements, but when relying on a feature for precise timing and ease of use,  such features make a big difference. In addition to chronograph performance, I find it nice to know that features like the column wheel and single piece hammer assist in making the movement more durable. A very nice example of Japanese engineering, traditional design aesthetic, and of the most competent chronograph watches out there. price is $3,200 on both the metal bracelet and crocodile strap.

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases

The next two Ananta Automatic watches are both calendar watches. They are so similar and within $200 in price of each other that I don't totally understand why they both exist. They even have the same functions. Perhaps Seiko is testing out the popularity of the movements or the styles. The difference is in the layout of the features and the movement. The model that is more expensive further displays the information via two retrograde dials, as opposed to traditional dials. That is it. So really, you just need to decide which one you like.

This duo is known as the Ananta Double Retrograde Automatic, and the Ananta Multi-Hand Automatic. The watches have a more conservative and mainstream look than the very sporty Automatic Chronograph model or the Spring Drive models. This is "your dad's" Ananta watch. This is not a bad thing at all, and proves that the unique katana sword theme can lend it self to a more subdued look as well. Instead of the marker rich tachymeter scale on the bezel, these bezels are now polished and in black or brushed steel. Dials are either black or silvered, and the watches have either the steel bracelets (that I totally love), or black crocodile straps. It is a good time to remind you that the steel bracelets and crafted from an interesting style of cut and polished steel links with a lovely finish to them. The crocodile straps have push button deployment clasps. For more images of the steel bracelet you can check out the the link above to the Ananta Spring Drive article.

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases

Seiko Ananta Automatic Watches   watch releases

Both of these watches feature brand new Seiko automatic movements. Inside the Double Retrograde Automatic is the Seiko 6R24 movement that has retrograde indicators for the date and date of the week, along with a power reserve indicator (about 45 hours in the movement). The layout is balance and symmetrical. It makes for an attractive, modern, and very Japanese look (for example the retrograde dials look like fans). A good design for a nicer Seiko watch. This is going to be a hot seller for Seiko.

The Ananta Multi-Hand Automatic watch does the exact same things, but without the fancy retrograde dials - inside it is the also new Seiko 6R21 automatic movement. It has a power reserve indicator shaped like a sword that is similar to that on the Spring Drive watches and two traditional dials with hands for the day and date indicators. This is a more traditional asymmetric Seiko look. It is true that while the watch does the same things as the Double Retrograde Model, it looks a lot different visually. To me it is like a baby brother of the Ananta Spring Drive Chronograph model. It is also priced at about a third as much. These are going to be attractive entry level Ananta watches. They still have the high quality cases, design, and in-house Seiko movements as the top-end Ananta watches, but with slightly less complex movements and more affordable prices. Again, they are similar in price with the Ananta Double Retrograde Automatic retailing for $2,300 and the with Ananta Multi-hand Automatic retail priced at $2,100.

As I said in the past, I will repeat myself in saying that Seiko was wise in releasing the Ananta watches to  the world market for at least two reasons. First is that the watches are of the first Japanese watches for the world market that have a true sense of traditional Japanese aesthetic to them. A big part of this is in the connection to the famous katana, and the clever design around that theme. Second is that Seiko is finally offering to the world its fantastic higher-end watches. As of right now Japan still gets the highest-end Seiko stuff to itself, but that is slowly going to change I believe. With Ananta, the global market is starting to get a taste of the quality and level of performance that Seiko can offer, and Europe is likely cringing at the new tough competition when it comes to design, movement engineering, and of course price. The real hard part is educating consumers on how good these watches actually are. Experiences in certain retail locations such as Macy's where the average client is not an educated watch lover is that people are put off by the high price of the watches. This is only an issue because people don't understand who Seiko is targeting with the quality and features of these watches - as it is Swiss brands priced $5,000 and up, as opposed to Seiko's traditional market competition such as Citizen, Tissot, Hamilton, and others. So if you are a fan of the Ananta and other high-end Seiko watches, do others a favor and share with them what these watches are all about.

19 comments
RAMOS SILVERIO IBO
RAMOS SILVERIO IBO

I am very impressed with seiko watches and would like to own one. How can I send the money? I am writing from Mozambique. Please let me know how I can transfer the money.
With kind regards
Ramos S. Ibo

barton rivkin
barton rivkin

I have the titanium chrono #113 of 150 since the end of july I am astounded by the accuracy, I set it to atomic clock and as of 11/18/10 9:00pm it is exactly to the second. over 4 months, my citizen signature chrono repeater runs 1 second fast every ten days, the breitling b-1 super quartz runs 3 seconds slow a month, and the rolex gmt master II runs 2 to 3 second fast a day if on winder and when I wear it and leave it on night stand over night it will run slow the next day. None of the other watches I have can even come close to the accuracy. I also find that wearing the ananta is very comfortable on my 8 inch wrist, also the night luminescence is excellent, the only watch that has better luminescence is a ball chrono triple date. I find that I really enjoy showing the ananta to anyone who asks me what kind of watch I am wearing, the black face with the gold hands and markers is very striking and the finishing on the movement is truly beautiful.

Frank Granados
Frank Granados

Always a pleasure, Ariel.

Excellent blog, BTW. Always look forward to your articles.

Frank
Frank

I am with Ariel on the Ananta metal bracelets vs the croc straps... No comparison!

My Ananta Spring Drive GMT SNR019 came with the lovely metal bracelet. Is absolutely fantastic, top quality/finish and the links perfectly conform to the curvature of my wrist. For my next Ananta, I went to the Automatic Chronograph SRQ005 with croc strap....Mistake!

Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful watch, but could not get used to the croc strap and the single fold deployant clasp. Could never get the watch to comfortably fit my wrist. It was either a tight fit (with the deployant bitting into my wrist) or slightly lose which led to the watch itself not to feel balanced on top of my wrist.

Another nail in the coffin for the croc strap was the fact that I am a sweaty person and live in the hot and humid Florida weather. Leather and animal skin bands don't like humidity or sweat either.

In the end, decided to cut my losses and sell the watch. But since I like the Ananta Auto chrono so much, I re-ordered the metal bracelet version, SRQ003, which is better looking to my eyes. I prefer the brushed metal tachy bezel (The black matte tachy bezel in the SRQ005 looks a little cheap and detracts from the also black dial imho) and the metal rim around the chrono minute register sub dial really adds to the depth of the dial.

I would submit a suggestion to Seiko.... Offer rubber straps for the Ananta and in croc strap models, offer a "butterfly" deployant clasp for a better and more comfortable fit.

Seiko charges the same amount of $$$ for the metal bracelet and croc straps version. Don't be fooled. The bracelet versions give much better value for each Dollar paid. Even if you want to switch to a strap, it is cheaper to buy the metal bracelet version of any Ananta watch and add the strap later than the other way around.

Case in point..... Seiko charges $300 for the OEM Ananta metal bracelet and $150 for the OEM croc strap with deployant clasp. However, the $150 price difference is not reflected on the watches themselves.

The Ananta is a beefy/substantial watch and I would not have it any other way.

ITUN
ITUN

Hi Ariel, it's encouraging to see a respected watch journalist like yourself be enthused by Seiko watches. Seiko can be as proud of their heritage as any watch company in the world and I respect that these watches are proudly marketed as nothing other than Seikos despite this massive step up in price point.

sea0bass
sea0bass

Have a look on the Ananta website. There are 5 authorized dealers listed in Canada. Call to find out if they are willing to ship to you. Order out of province will also save you some money.

TimothyPilgrim
TimothyPilgrim

I would love to get my hands on a Seiko Ananta, but the purchasing options here in Canada can be sparse and at a premium. Does anyone know where I could find one? Who in the US sells them? The traditional Seiko retailers seem to be reluctant to carry more expensive models.

Frank
Frank

Excellent article, Ariel, thank you so much for putting together. I totally agree with your assessment of the Seiko Ananta range. Some of the most impressive Seiko watches to ever come out from Japan for the international market. Well worth every penny.

I myself have purchased 2 of these beauties, one will be picked up sometime later today from the Ananta AD:

1) Seiko Ananta Spring Drive GMT SNR019

And my second Ananta purchase... (Drum roll please!!):

Seiko Ananta Automatic Chronograph SRQ003!!!

So as you can see I am very excited about these beautiful watches. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming Youtube.com video review on both of my new Anantas.

forrest
forrest

Quote= "The Spring Drive models have a column cut edge, while the Automatics have a smooth polished edge on the middle part of the case sides."

Can we have some photos/images of the the above mentioned?

One of the best review! Thanks.

Benthos
Benthos

On the topic of resale value, I've read comments from high-end Seiko owners indicating that they're able to break even most of the time when they flip them. Finding other enthusiasts with the same taste is much easier online. That being said, I hope I'll be able to own one of these fine timepieces someday. The orange monster will have to do for now...

Dangeruss
Dangeruss

Granted the Seiko brand is under-rated, but also unappreciated. I'm a big fan, but not at these prices. I'm torn between knowing they're worth it, and knowing the perception of Seiko is a $300 watch. I resell watches frequently, and I think a $3200 Seiko would be one hard sell. If this were at a $1K price-point, I'd have one tomorrow.

Speedmaster
Speedmaster

Great post and pics! Seiko mechanicals are much under-rated, imho.

Nathan
Nathan

It's funny seeing my daily wearer reviewed in such detail; I have the 8R82 chrono I completely agree with you--these watches are great.

admin
admin

Frank,
Thanks for the insight based on your experience. Good information.

barton rivkin
barton rivkin

try thr right time in denver colorado ask for filex or rita they have a big inventory and very good pricing, tell them that bart sent you, they will work to make sure that they give the best price.

admin
admin

I think that you can contact Arizona Fine Time In Scottsdale that will sell Seiko Ananta's to you in the US.

admin
admin

Just go to the article on the Spring Drive version of the Ananta watches (there is a link in the top of the article). You should be able to see the differences. Take care.

Trackbacks

  1. […] For 2013, the newest Ananta watch is this limited edition SRQ017 100th Anniversary Chronograph. Back in 2009 I went to visit the various Seiko manufacture locations in Japan. One thing that I really learned was the difference between mainstream and luxury Seiko watches (which I discussed at length here). I also happened to be there for the launch of the Ananta collection of timepieces. Over the years the Ananta has evolved, and actually become less distinct as a result. I happened to like its larger than life, katana-inspired case and design, which remains part of the Ananta but has been scaled back quite a bit. Check out of instance our 2010 post on Seiko Ananta Automatic watches here. […]