December 17, 2020
by David Bredan
The Glashütte Original SeaQ in its “base” 39.50mm version is an expensively made, expensive dive watch that introduced the brand’s Spezialist collection of modern sports watches. The SeaQ line includes the SeaQ Panorama Date (reviewed in-depth here) and the SeaQ we see here – which probably should’ve been named the SeaQ 39.50 to reduce the confusion between the line and the name-fellow individual model.
Anyhow, the “base” SeaQ with its solid caseback and regular date display at 3 o’clock brings with it a lot of the trademark Glashütte Original charm that gives the Saxon manufacture most of its gravitas. That includes a certain feel of robustness that any moderately seasoned watch lover will be able to differentiate upon lifting the watch from its tray in the boutique, as well as a host of unique, at times even peculiar design elements. Nicely made, reliable, and quirky is the name of the game, making the SeaQ its own thing. The SeaQ 39.50mm is powered by the manufacture’s in-house Calibre 39-11, a nicely finished movement with polished steel parts, polished screw-heads, Glashütte stripe finish, and swan-neck fine adjustment – but it’s hidden behind an arguably cool-looking solid caseback engraved with a trident.
The proposition here is that of a well-made, rather straightforward diver that tries to give its wearer peace of mind. Interestingly, a justification I often hear from fellow watch lovers when they explain why they chose a diver’s watch over anything else is, beyond its looks, is the worry-free ownership that a particularly robust, shall we say, over-engineered watch provides. Glashütte Original’s motto, frankly, should just simply be that one word. If Rolex can “own” the word Superlative, why couldn’t this German watchmaker own the other?
The decisive question when it comes to the future of SeaQ is just how many prospective buyers can accurately gauge its quality and, yet more importantly, how many find its nigh-on-$10k price worth stretching for. Because for this sort of money, one does expect a bit of jewelry to be thrown into the die-hard dive watch mix, Glashütte Original has added some of its neat case finishing with tidy beveling and highly refined brushing on the middle section along with a high-polished, unidirectional bezel that frames a highly scratch-proof, matte blue and white ceramic insert.
Still, it’s the dial where it’s at for jewelry. Glashütte Original’s in-house dials are a cut above the majority of the competition with a level (and consistency) of delicacy scarcely found elsewhere. The sunburst base that glistens through the galvanic blue of the dial, the three-dimensionality of the texts, the hand-filled luminescent indices, and what appears to be a gentle drop-off curve around the periphery: these all add up and render the dial one very expensive cluster of components.
It’s no wonder, then, that the bracelet and case, although well-made, see the dial steal the show. The center links have a bright polish while the outer links are brushed – what’s arguably missing for the price is a more beautifully finished end-link because the vertically brushed piece is an odd match for the circular brushed case when you look at it closely. Or it should just have a polished centerpiece. On the plus side, the clasp has an integrated, tool-free micro-adjust slider that is operated by pressing on the Double-G logo in the center of the clasp. As I have said countless times, every luxury sports watch should have this built in – but only a small fraction of them do.
The 39.50mm Glashütte Original SeaQ wears nicely with a medium-heavy heft for the size. I respect the fact that it goes down its own way to being aesthetically pleasing: the proportions are close to perfect which is a lot, lot more difficult to get right once you start adding in important quirks such as differently shaped main hands, comfortably sized crown, thin middle case, wide dial and large indices. And yet, this is the route the SeaQ has taken and has managed to pull it off well enough. The resulting case size is 39.50mm in diameter and just 12.50mm in thickness – and that latter spec should contribute greatly to daily wearing comfort. Water resistance is 20 bars (200-meter equivalent), which isn’t on par with the 300m rating the SeaQ Panorama Date provides but still more than enough. Also, even with the 200m rating, the SeaQ conforms with both the DIN 8306 and the ISO 6425 diver’s watch standards, making it a proper a dive watch.
Another, dare I say, respectably Germanic thing to the SeaQ 39.50mm is its deliberate absence of nonsensical details. No complicated crown guard, no idiotic helium valve, no idiotically excessive water resistance – not even a cyclops anywhere to be seen. The only notable peculiarity that is more l’art pour l’art than anything else on the watch is the boxed-domed crystal that can, from steep angles, distort the indices and hands at the very edge of the dial. This effect is much more pronounced on the SeaQ Panorama Date, but it is nevertheless present on the SeaQ. As a plus, this adds a playful element to the front and since it appears to have been combined with proper anti-reflection coating, real-life legibility should actually be better than on a benchmark watch like the Submariner with its flat, albeit proudly non-AR-coated crystal. Real-world legibility is yet to be seen for this is a hands-on article and not an in-depth review.
The SeaQ’s bigger brother is the aforementioned SeaQ Panorama Date that adds a larger, beautifully finished movement that is revealed through a domed sapphire crystal caseback, adds 60 more for a total of 100 hours of power reserve, and has Glashütte Original’s trademark Panorama Date with concentric discs for a larger date display with enhanced legibility. Given Glashütte Original’s current pricing, the SeaQ Panorama Date model costs a bit over $2,000 more than the model seen here. For a fifth more of the price, it gives a whole lot more – which is something to consider before making a choice in the SeaQ line.
Available with a range of fabric and rubber straps and on the steel bracelet as seen here, the Glashütte Original SeaQ 39.50mm is priced at $10,200 on the bracelet ($9,000 with a strap and pin buckle, $9,300 with strap and deployant buckle), making the SeaQ an expensively made, expensive diver for those with an eye and appetite for luxury-priced German engineering. You can browse the collection on the brand’s website.