Seiko Ananta SRQ017 100th Anniversary Chronograph Watch Hands-On

Seiko Ananta SRQ017 100th Anniversary Chronograph Watch Hands-On

Seiko Ananta SRQ017 100th Anniversary Chronograph Watch Hands On   hands on

For 2013, the newest Ananta watch was 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 has 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 for instance, our 2010 post on Seiko Ananta Automatic watches here.

Ananta was more than just a new collection for Seiko but the first globally-sold, high-end Seiko watch. This was even before Seiko decided to sell its prized Grand Seiko collection on a more global basis a few years later in about 2011. Ananta was a midway watch between Seiko's "nicer" watches and the really nice Grand Seiko. Ananta initially came equipped with both in-house made mechanical movements as well as Seiko Spring Drive movements. Though Seiko has since made the decision to keep Spring Drive for Grand Seiko exclusively.

Seiko Ananta SRQ017 100th Anniversary Chronograph Watch Hands On   hands on

Seiko Ananta SRQ017 100th Anniversary Chronograph Watch Hands On   hands on

Over the years since the 2009 release of Ananta, Seiko hasn't given the collection a ton of attention. New Ananta watches are almost exclusively limited edition models. In 2011 there was the limited edition Ananta Urushi Diver (hands-on here), and for 2012 there was a pair of Seiko Ananta Urushi limited edition (hands-on here). These pieces were nice, but not revolutionary. The Ananta collection didn't prove to be as inviting to the mass market as Seiko perhaps hoped. The issue of course being that it still required an education to appreciate what Seiko had to offer in the high-end department. People like me and perhaps you, totally enjoy it, but try explaining to your average Rolex wearer why they might want to add a Seiko to their collection - no matter how awesome it may be.

It isn't that Rolex and Seiko make the same product. That isn't true at all, but rather that Seiko genuinely does offer some excellent watches worthy of your $1,000 - $10,000 timepieces investments. So let's take a look at this new Ananta. First of all, as a limited edition it is also meant to celebrate Seiko's 100th Anniversary. At 42.8mm wide, the steel case is nicely polished and attractive. It still has some of the original Ananta style based on Japanese swords, but isn't nearly as wild. As I said above, that is a shame. Even though Seiko made a much more conservative product, they removed some of the soul of the brand. Yes conservative means more buyers, but doesn't Seiko have enough conservative pieces (i.e. Grand Seiko)?

Seiko Ananta SRQ017 100th Anniversary Chronograph Watch Hands On   hands on

14 comments
RandyTorres
RandyTorres

This whole idea of spending too much on a Seiko is unfortunate, kind of like saying War and Peace is too long. There is no accounting for taste, that's for sure. There are watches costing $200k that I feel are ugly as sin (Richard Mille Yohan Blake "reference", I'm looking at you). This particular watch in my humble estimation is quite beautiful and its on my list. To say that $5000 is too much for this watch, which has a proprietary column wheel vertical clutch chrono movement with a long established reputation for quality and durability and a hand painted dial using an ancient and complex Japanese lacquering process just because its a Seiko seems to me to be the height of shallow thinking. Especially when there are plenty of watches out there, BRM and Bell & Ross come to mind, that use stock ETA movements, are nothing special, are practically mass produced and cost as much or more than this watch.  BRM, in particular irks with their $8,000 overwrought car oil filled gimmick watches.

The Maki-e process used to make this dial is an incredibly complex process that require skill and artistry.  Japanese pen makers use a similar technique to make fountain pens costing well over $10,000 EACH. Again you may not like the look of the watch, its color, size, aesthetics, whatever.  That is a matter of personal taste and that's fine. To dismiss the watch and all the quality, technology, art and skill that goes into making one just because its a Seiko is just wrong.

somethingnottaken
somethingnottaken

The crescent looks like (and should be if it's Maki-e) gold powder sprinkled on wet Urushi lacquer. When the Urushi dries the powder would be stuck to the dial. It is probably then covered with a thin layer or transparent Urushi to ensure the powder doesn't come off over time.

I doubt I'd buy this particular watch, but I do find the older diver chronograph and several of the regular production Anatas tempting.

rwag1
rwag1

I agree with Ariel, I like the sweeping flange on the Anantas from a few years ago.  It is a distinctive design element that is bold, subtle, and re-invites visual inspection.  I think it reminds me of the Omega Bullheads in a way.  It is something very unique to the company, potentially polarizing, but loved by its fans.


The one thing that might be nice about the impending scarcity of the Ananta's boldness is that someday it can make a grand, triumphant return.  Isn't that what being a cult-favorite is all about?!


Seiko, it gets some flack about a range of things.  I think overall though it is the most fascinating watch manufacture in the world, period.  Everyone in most of the world can afford a Seiko that gives them time and something beautiful to look at.  This embodies a cross-cutting democratic appeal, more fluid than sclerotic.  One can move up the brackets, "keeping it Seiko".  If one needs to sell their Grand Seiko, they can still get a Seiko at the local Wal Mart.  What other brand does that?

PhilMaurer
PhilMaurer

You can get a Planet Ocean Chrono for that price...  Not sure how you can grab one of these at a discounted rate...  I love my Sieko Divers and my PO but...  that price not my thing.



Shawnnny
Shawnnny

I'm sorry Seiko. I love your watches. I know every watch you make is worth every penny. I have an SSC015 coming in the mail. But, I just can't spend that much on a Seiko. There are just to many lower volume and more unique watches out there to choose from.

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

It has been some time since I've heard anything new from Ananta. This is a very nice piece. I'm actually not getting any Speedy when I look at it, which is nice - it has it's own identity, and the crescent moon on the dial is a nice touch that doesn't feel the need to slap you in the face. 


These lacquer dials really need to be seen in person, even the best photography won't do them proper justice. 


A very worthy watch for the astute collector. 

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

It' a beautiful watch although you might not think so from these photographs.  The ones i've seen show a deep blue bezel and dial which really elevates the impression you get of this thing.  A little unfair to compare this to a speedy - there's a superficial similarity but it offers so much more.  For a limited edition the price is fair, especially considering how rare and exclusive this watch is compared to the rest.  Seiko are more than capable of innovative movement design (eg 2mm thin movements) and some exquisite decoration (look at the Credor and Node lines) but since they cater to a rather conservative home market there is probably not that much pressure to do so.  Seiko is a large company and arguably mastered all manner of hi-beat movements years ago; it's strange that they don't feel the need to compete directly with the Swiss when they so easily could.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

Hmmm, just saw a Zenith 1969 Chronograph on Amazon for about the same money ($5428) and I'd rather have the Zenith with its El Primero high beat movement. The Seiko is OK but seems like a not as good Speedmaster clone in the visual department. I like the red striped  Anantas better than this one. Too bad as I like Seiko as a brand but I wish they would do something more distinctive on this up-market line than just a subtle crescent stripe on the dial.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@Ulysses31I agree, they have high beat movements in the Grand Seiko, so the could compete directly if they chose to. But being a big company, they don't want to dilute the more expensive Grand Seiko line by putting it in an Ananta. Too bad.

bichondaddy
bichondaddy

@MarkCarson Totally agree with you.   Besides that...I can just see the expression on my wife's face if I told her I was dropping $5,000 on a Seiko....it's an expression that I choose not to ever see!!

phb
phb

I have had a chance to spend some time with a Japanese journalist specialized in watches and he once told me the dilemma faced by Japanese watch designers. While they understand the classic clues of Swiss watch design and can easily reproduce them, although there is a demand from customers they feel compelled to stick to their identity because of the fear of being accused of outright copy. I find this quite interesting, especially when compared to other industries like autos or motorcycles in particular where Japanese makers seem to be less afraid of pushing their Italian or American competitors.

somethingnottaken
somethingnottaken

@MarkCarson@Ulysses31If I recall correctly the Grand Seiko high beat (5Hz) movements are all simple 3 hand + date watches. I don't know if Seiko have made a 5Hz chronograph in the past, but I don't believe the do so today. To differentiate Grand Seiko and Anata a bit more, I think they could either:

1. Make all GS models either Spring Drive or high beat (5Hz) with 4Hz movements in the Anata line

2. With Spring Drive unique to the GS line, perhaps the 5Hz movements could be unique to Anata (hopefully culminating with all Anata watches getting 5Hz movements).

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@phb My problem is this Seiko does look (more or less) like an Omega Speedmaster. I wish Seiko would break from the "Swiss clues" you mentioned and come up with their own look that is uniquely Seiko. So far their 'identity' is more clone than original design. Which is too bad as I'm sure their designers would rather come up with something cool. But it needs to also be refined and well composed in this very competitive price segment. Cheers.