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 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.

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. 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 the Seiko Ananta, Seiko hasn't given the collection a ton of attention. New Seiko 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 were a pair of Seiko Ananta Urushi limited edition (hands-on here). These pieces were nice, but not revolutionary. The Seiko 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 it's trying, 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

34 comments
antjay
antjay

Believe it or not  , as a child in the mid seventies , the Seiko 5 ( blue face , day / date , 4 o'clock crown) was my grail watch !  At the time I would swapped my (brand forgotten) Swiss automatic and my barely dropped left nut for this beauty . For some reason Parker pens and Seiko 5s were THE must have schoolboy bling in regional Australia circa 1975 .It is fair to say I carry little cultural baggage where Japanese watches are concerned , and have never really looked down upon Japanese engineering or craftsmanship .

Would I spend $5000 on a Seiko watch ? Yes , but not this one , I much prefer the earlier , stronger styled Ananta case . This one is just too vanilla for my taste . Also , If you are going to put a display back on a $5000 watch , the least you could do is dress the movement up a bit . Apart from the rotor , this could be the guts out of my once lusted after "5".

 Sadly , many would never consider this watch simply because ( in their mind ) it was not made by gnomes in some northern European valley . Their loss !

Abu Rose
Abu Rose

This model of Grand Seiko at $5,000 is blasé, and will not be saved by the crescent moon or by Isshu Tamura’s hand painting unless this aspect of the rich Japanese culture means a lot to you personally. But for the masses, at this price, would you get the Seiko Ananta or a classically-looking Omega or even the risqué-looking Milus Herios Tri-retrograde? Hmmm, I will take number 2 or 3 any day any time please. 

Don’t get me wrong, although Seiko’s mechanical movements are excellent, I am going to go out on a limb here to say that both Grand Seiko and King Seiko lines lack the imagination and excitement factor on their dials to justify their price tags. The only high end Seiko line that tickles the palate is the Credor which has a ridiculous $400,000 value! In a counter-factual world, if I am going to cross the psychological barrier of shedding $5k+ on a Japanese watch, it would have to combine a Citizen Campanola’s exhilarating dial coupled with a Grand Seiko’s superb mechanical movement (which of course has to be modified to accommodate the complications). This marriage, however, will not be sanctioned by the church or the treasury anytime soon. In the real world, we do have the coveted Swiss option which is still merrily embraced by watch aficionados and collectors.

P.S. I candidly respect the opinions of others that would crave this watch. After all, our differences make the spice of life.  


basnobua
basnobua

It may not photograph well, but it would certainly photograph better if it were handled with gloves and not greasy fingers.

nateb123
nateb123

The biggest shame about this (and the rest of the Grand Seiko line) is how badly they photograph.  Their finishes are always staggeringly beautiful with the way they play with the light.  Nothing else is like it in the industry and their embrace of other cultural practices like the metallurgy of swordmaking or elaborate processes of lacquering make them truly unique.  This brand needs a bigger dealer network asap.

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.

RandyTorres
RandyTorres

@Abu Rose  Fair enough.  For every taste a color! You make one mistake in your analysis however.  The reviewed watch is NOT a Grand Seiko it's an Ananta. Two different product lines. Also, I believe the watch in this review suffers from unflattering photography. The special blue lacquer as well as the superb finishing of this watch has to be seen in person to be appreciated and having seen it in person I can assure you it's anything, but blase. 


The quality, color and the finishing of this watch I believe transcend the cultural aspects. I am a fan of Japanese culture but I won't buy any product, not just a watch,  just because it somehow connects with a cultural theme. For this same reason I would never consider the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean James Bond "Skyfall" watch, for example, (about $7,000 by the way) even though I'm a huge James Bond fan.

Another  thing about Omega. For the longest time Omega did NOT make its own movements and used 3rd party movements (which yes it modified), primarily Lemania. That certainly was the case with the famous Speedmaster "moon watch".  In fact it wasn't until 1999, a full 30 years after Seiko introduced its proprietary automatic chronograph that Omega introduced its now famous co-axial escapement. Ironically, the co-axial escapement was the brainchild of George Daniels, an Englishman, who sold the technology to Omega. This calls to mind another venerable Swiss house, TAG Heuer, which used Seiko technology as the basis for its caliber 1887 and "forgot" to mention it.  Of course the cognoscenti discovered this fact and TAG suffered international embarrassment.

One final point about the Omega Speedy "moon watch" .  Omega's marketing department will have you believe that the Speedy was the first watch in space. That honor, however, falls on the humble Russian Shturmanskie strapped to the wrist of the late great Yuri Gagarin. Seiko even has a horse in that particular race, just Google Seiko Pogue if you want to learn more about that.


The world is full of plenty of Swiss watches with off the rack 3rd party movements that have been gussied up with pretty lines and curves. While I own several of those watches because I happen to like how they look, I much prefer something more original, unique and of very high quality. To me this particular Seiko Ananta, a limited edition by the way, clicks all the right boxes, much more so than yet another similarly priced  version of an Omega Speedy. Like I said at the beginning for every taste a color!


 

PrestoMan
PrestoMan

@RandyTorres  I think a lot people who see the price automatically compare it to the more popular Seiko lines that are in the sub $1000 range. To them the brand represents great quality watches that are very affordable at the same time. When the price of watches in question is raised to a few thousands, the image of Seiko as being affordable is compromised, while at the same time Swiss watches that are associated with thousand dollar price tags come into mind. The combination of these factors make it easy to dismiss a watch such as this one. Like you said though, it definitely offers more for its price than a number of pieces in the same range from parts of Europe. I wanted to say that it's a shame that this happens, but at the same time the brand ends up catering to a conservative group of individuals who appreciate a different type of high quality workmanship than those offered by brands like Omega. So in a way, those who dismiss watches such as this one, end up doing a favour to those who want to own an outstanding time-piece that likely won't be seen on the wrist of their acquaintances or the majority of the public. 

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.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@RandyTorres @Abu RoseAs best I can tell, Lemania was under the same ownership (SSIH) as Omega until 1981, so at the time of the 1969 moon landing, one could safely say that the Omega 'moon watch' did not have an outsourced/third party movement.

BTW - I thnk Omega is proud to call the Speedymaster the Moonwatch, not the Spacewatch. So lighten up a bit.

As for the statement, "For the longest time Omega did NOT make its own movements and used 3rd party movement", just rephrase that as 'most Swiss watch brands did NOT make their own movements..." and you would be correct at that point in time. 

Nicolas Hayek was the force that caused the decentralized/collaborative Swiss watch industry into a vertically integrated set of groups.

The current mindset that only a fully integrated/vertical watch manufacture is worthy of your respect is at odds with the previous centuries of Swiss watchmaking. I have no 'dog in this fight', just saying...

Abu Rose
Abu Rose

Hey Randy, you bring up several valid points including those about older Omega movements. I also agree with you that the photographs for this watch were suboptimal and I am sure it looks more vibrant in person. It is just not for me and as mentioned I think the Citizen Campanola dials are much more interesting and I wish Seiko goes in that direction with their excellent mechanical movements. BTW, I did not say the Ananta was a from the Grand Seiko line but was making a personal assessment regarding the "higher end" Seiko lines in general.

Cheers

RandyTorres
RandyTorres

@PrestoMan @RandyTorres  Presto you are absolutely right! These Seiko arguments are as old as the hills, but the people that know their stuff aren't really taken in by the uninformed opinions of the great unwashed :-) I remember an article in Watchtime mag, which was actually about Zenith chronographs, where they cite an unnamed top Swiss manufacture exec (my guess TAG Heuer, CEO J.C. Babin because the article came out around the time of the cal. 1887 fiasco), who stated that in his opinion Seiko made the best movements in the world (but added they were lousy at naming their watches LOL). So there you have it straight from a Swiss horse's mouse.


With respect to availability of Seiko's top watches for those of us that appreciate them I wish that what you say about them being more readily available were the case.  Seems like there are just enough Seiko cognoscenti that some really desirable pieces like the Spring Drive Golden Tuna or the Spring Drive Izul  are only available in the aftermarket and at hefty premiums. By the way looks like Seiko is coming out with a"stealth" variation on the Spring Drive Tuna so if you're interested stay tunes because its an LE as well.

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.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@RandyTorres Yeah, one of the funnier moments in TAG Heuer's history (and their tap dancing efforts to minimize/dismiss it).

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@somethingnottaken @RandyTorres@Sevenmack@MarkCarson@Abu Rose 

The only one in your list I would exclude is TAG Heuer. Not because of their price point or the movements themselves. But rather that they are part of one of the big 3 watch groups (LVMH) and there is cross fertilization with Zenith for instance. If there was anyone that the Hayeks were  gunning for with the "we won't supply movements to anyone we don't want to" thing, it was LVMH and Richemont.

somethingnottaken
somethingnottaken

@RandyTorres @Sevenmack@MarkCarson@Abu RoseHow about: Nomos, Frederique Constant, Alpina, and Revue Thommen? Or even TAG Heuer. They all offer in house movements, which are significantly more expensive than ETA, yet still far less expensive than most other "manufacture" brands.

RandyTorres
RandyTorres

@MarkCarson @RandyTorres  Mark. I'm well aware of the new Seiko movements (I'm the proud owner of 2 "new" monsters that use the new 4r36).  I purposely didn't use this movement as a point of comparison precisely because its too new and it has no history, whereas, as I said before, the 7S26 is legendary. Again, like I said there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the 7S26 can go almost 20 years without any type of servicing and you yourself point out that 5 years is some kind of magic number for ETA movements. Also, last time I checked Asia is on planet earth and both Seiko and Citizen (Miyota) movements rule in this part of the world so getting these movements serviced anywhere in Asia is child's play. Good luck with an ETA however. Even in the US, I've had old Seikos and watches with Miyota movements serviced a lot cheaper than watches with ETA movements, I guess because of that old adage: they see you coming! Anyway, I no longer remember what the point of this thread is so I'm going to watch a little Copa Libertadores! Salud

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@RandyTorres The movement in the latest (2nd generation) Seiko Monsters are much better. But recall that the first generation Monsters had movements that could not be hand wound and did not hack. So yeah they cost less than an ETA 2824 a few years ago when the 7S26 was Seiko contemporary movement, but is was less of a movement in all respects. Things are improving in both Japan and China, but if you get a watch with an ETA movement, you can get it serviced anywhere in the world (and parts are available). If you plan on keeping a watch for over 5 years, these factors start to carry more weight. Cheers.

RandyTorres
RandyTorres

@Sevenmack @MarkCarson @RandyTorres @Abu Rose  Exactly which low cost movements are you talking about, Seagull, Miyota, Seiko (SII)?  Who else is out there that produces low cost movements that are actually more expensive than ETA or Sellita? The cost of servicing is always expensive no matter the movement so frankly that particular argument doesn't wash. Furthermore,  consider the "old" Seiko  Monsters with the simple old reliable 7S26 movement. The book on these movements is that they are legend, not too accurate (although you can adjust them to make them a little more so) but bullet proof. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they go 20 years without any type of servicing.  What, your Monster broke after 10, 15, 20 years you say? Fine, throw it out and buy a new one. You can get a whole new Orange Monster in the US for less than $300, i.e. just a little more than the cost of a whole new ETA 2824 movement. 


Sevenmack
Sevenmack

@MarkCarson @RandyTorres@Abu Rose "The current mindset that only a fully integrated/vertical watch manufacture is worthy of your respect is at odds with the previous centuries of Swiss watchmaking." 

Even worse, Mark, I think it is bad for the consumer. The decentralized/collaborative approach allows for consumers to buy watches that can be easily serviced at lower costs because the base movements are ones than all watch repairers know and can fix. A ETA movement, be it base or modified, can be more-easily serviced than in-house movements for which the cost of servicing is often exorbitant in my view. Just as importantly, in-house movements, especially at the low end, are often no better than an ETA or Sellita that costs less.