Launched in 2005, the Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph still looks futuristic today. Limited to 2,005 pieces, inspired by high-performance sports cars, and powered by an absolute peach of a Seiko movement, this reference SLQ019 is a no-longer-made highlight of the Sportura collection. Here’s a hands-on look at this time machine, the real beauty of which is that whether it takes you backward or forward in time is up to you.

Funky subdials and mighty impressive movement details we’ll look at soon enough, but we’ll start with something else. Why? Because when you see the SLQ019 out in the wild, it’s not any one detail that stands out. No, this watch is like a lightning strike on the wrist — it’s like seeing Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the Future walk up to you on the street in full-time travel gear. As watch lovers, I don’t think any of us would be left without at least some sort of reaction to give when seeing a friend, colleague, or random acquaintance rock one of these rare beasts.

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Source: reddit user u/Watch_Chris

While researching the Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph, I stumbled upon this wristshot shared on reddit by u/Watch_Chris. I chose to feature this image because it so beautifully represents how the Sportura aesthetically fits into our lives in 2020. Given the limited time I had with this reference SLQ019, and the fact that I own and prefer rather more analog cars, I didn’t quite have the chance to create a similar image — so a special shoutout to this fellow watch enthusiast, wherever he may be in the world. Because here is something the Swiss don’t appear to know how to do at all, let alone do it as well as their Japanese competition: blend real-world functionality (not exactly a top priority for European manufacturers) with an implemented vision of futurism. One would risk being publicly stoned on a Sunday dawn somewhere in the Vallée de Joux for speaking such heresy.

A Seiko Kinetic ad from 1998. Not quite something you’d expect to see today.

Seiko A.G.S. — Ring a bell?

Seiko A.G.S. was introduced in Germany in January 1988, and it went for sale in the same year in Japan as Seiko Auto-Quartz. Short for Automatic Generating System, it was the world’s first quartz watch to be equipped with an automatic power-generating system, using an “ultra-compact power generator” that did away with the need to replace a battery. It was designed to work even when the wearer’s movements were slow, and to not break when exposed to sharp, fast movements or shocks. As Epson, a Seiko corporation, explains: “The automatic generating system watch (AGS) works on essentially the same principle as a bicycle lamp that’s dynamo-powered by the turning of a tire.”

A gear train multiplies the self-winding rotor’s movement by approximately 100, spinning a power generator at “ultra-high speed…”

The current that is generated by this motor is what charges a capacitor. The capacitor then supplies the electricity needed to drive the timekeeping circuits. Furthermore, Epson slashed current consumption by developing a number of new components, including a CMOS integrated circuit, stepping motor, and capacitor, as well as by establishing technology for winding tiny coils with wires having a diameter of just 13 µm. That is about a sixth of the thickness of an average human hair. A.G.S. was renamed Kinetic in 1997, but it is fundamentally the technology that lives inside the Sportura Kinetic. The design team succeeded in reducing total power consumption to just 0.7 µW and in driving the watch for up to 75 hours on a single charge. In other words, wear the Sportura Kinetic Chronograph for a normal day and you’ll add about three days of go-juice to its Kinetic E.S.U., i.e. Kinetic Electricity Storage Unit. Apparently, when fully charged, the Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph SLQ019 has a power reserve of a full month.

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One Heck Of A Quartz Movement: The Seiko 9T82

The Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph SLQ019 is powered by the Seiko Caliber 9T82. The 9T82 is a highly advanced and complicated version of 1998’s Seiko A.G.S. that incorporates a 12-hour chronograph capable of measuring down to 1/10th of a second. Power reserve, as we mentioned, is about a full month once fully charged through regular daily wear. This is only negatively affected by the excessive use of the chronograph — use it just a couple hours a day and power reserve won’t be affected. If you rely on the chronograph for longer than that, the energy required to drive its hands will deplete the power reserve a bit faster — but, thanks to the extremely high energy efficiency of its components, you won’t ever have to really worry about your Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph stopping.

Energy consumption is key — we have established that. In researching the Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph SLQ019 and the Seiko 9T82 movement, we found an interesting quirk highlighted by Seiko in the manual of the watch: “Do not pull the crown out to the second click with the intention of stopping the second hand just to save energy. By doing so, a large amount of current flows through the built-in IC. Therefore, pulling out the crown to the second click will not save energy but, in fact, consume more energy than usual.” Just a dorky insight into the inner workings of the 9T82. Similarly, Seiko says “If your watch has a glass case back, do not expose the case back to strong light such as direct sunlight or an incandescent light at close range, as this may temporarily increase the power consumption of the watch circuit.” People say they like mechanical movements because they have a “heart” — well, the 9T82 seems to be no less of a living thing.

Made in Japan and assembled by hand, the Seiko 9T82 is a neatly finished and highly capable movement that is revealed through a transparent caseback. Measuring just 6.8mm-thick and 33mm-wide, it has 38 jewels and an accuracy rating of +/- 15 seconds per month. Its striped plates and countersinks with beveled edges are visible even though they are partially disguised by a Sportura text and what appears to be a pattern inspired by lightweight wheels used on sports cars.

The 9T82 movement drives the chronograph’s totalizers situated in dedicated subdials for x0.1 seconds, 60 seconds, and to the far right one that combines the chronograph minute and hour totalizers with superimposed hands. All these windows feature a bold orange color, complemented by the orange running seconds hand of the main subdial and the orange frame for the date offset to the right of the face of the watch. Additional levels of refinement can be identified in how the hand for the 1/10th of a second measurement always jumps exactly onto its markers. Even when the chronograph is stopped using the pusher in the top right, it always stops exactly on one of its markers, allowing for a clear reading.

Looks & Wearability

The Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph SLQ019 has a case diameter of 42mm with a substantial reach over one’s wrist. That’s due to the lug-to-lug distance of around 49mm further emphasized by the massive double end-link and beefed-up strap. The effect is yet more pronounced on the black coated metal bracelet. Nevertheless, with a case thickness of 14.2mm and a design that wraps around the wrist neatly, it’s a fine, if not outstanding, wearing experience among chunky sports watches.

Credit: Cazalea, WatchProSite

And if the funky-sporty-menacing styling of the SLQ019 isn’t to your taste, check out all the other references equipped with the 9T82 movement. Kudos to Cazalea from WatchProSite for assembling this picture, complete with reference numbers. The quirky dial layout is of course a defining feature, but it’s fascinating to see how you can go from the rather elegant SBCG003 through Jay Leno’s SLQ011 (sometimes misrepresented as an SLQ007),  all the way to full-on Japenese design madness goodness with the SLQ005 or SATX005. On a personal note, I can’t help but love that these watches got designed and made.

Value Retention & Summary

At the time of its release in 2005, the Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph SLQ019 retailed for just under $4,000. Today, a nice one with box and papers will set you back roughly the same amount, though the selection is limited to just a few available pieces at any given time. Still, fine examples can be obtained and you can expect prices to linger around this mark. That makes the SLQ019 an expensive but arguably cool and charming option — and a safe one at that.

In summary, the Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph SLQ019 is one heck of a watch lover’s watch that has so much going for it — movement, design, wearing experience — to keep its ownership fun. Valued at around $4,000, the Seiko Sportura Kinetic Chronograph SLQ019 is in a saturated field full of amazing watches… but none of those will be quite like this one.

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