back to top

Seals Model A Watch Review

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Once in a while you luck out and get to review a watch you’ve already seen and been interested in, and this time it was the Seals Watch Co. Model A. I had originally taken note of this watch when stumbling upon their original Kickstarter campaign back in 2014. But, being a skeptic of crowdfunded watch projects, I sort of held my interest at arms length while still keeping tabs on Seals Watch Co. and the progress and development of their inaugural creation. After a while, it had become apparent that the design had won me over, yet what about the execution? It was this long lingering curiosity that made me pounce at the offer to see (and review) one myself.

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

As a microbrand on Kickstarter, the Seals Model A stood out to me like a beacon of hope amongst a sea of “samey-same” minimalist watches I’ve seen a hundred times over. Not to say that there is anything wrong with Bauhaus or Dieter Rams, but the bold case of the Seals Model A was a refreshing sight when I first came upon it. I looked over the page, scoped out process renderings and development news on social media, and thought to myself “This watch is really cool! Too bad it probably won’t get funded though.”

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Well, I am happy to say my cynicism was proven heartily wrong, because the Seals Model A did not disappoint its backers, and it definitely did not disappoint me when it arrived. When the package came to my door, I wasted no time in getting through the box and branded watch roll to reveal the long-anticipated Seals Watch Co. Model A.

The configuration you are looking at is the 316L stainless steel case with slate grey dial. This watch arrives on an alligator textured leather strap by default, but this review will focus on the JacobStraps upgrade and the recently released 316L steel bracelet. I did strap on the watch with its default band, and it was completely reasonable for a watch at this price point… But back to the task at hand!

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

One of the things I like the most about the Seals Watch Co. Model A is that it took something I typically have an aversion to — integrated straps — and made it a feature that I really respond to. Stylistically, the case sort of falls within the realm of the Glashutte Original Seventies or the IWC Ingenieur. Both are certainly well-designed, prestigious, and receive plenty of fanfare, but for some reason I don’t respond to them personally. Perhaps this Seals Model A could act as a “gateway watch” and stoke a newfound desire/obsession? Maybe for some, but for me it stands as an anomaly of appreciation, and that adds to the fun.

I especially love how the integrated leather strap works with the lugs, which I am also usually not a fan of. I’d typically only want to see a steel bracelet with this kind of setup, but I think the leather just works. Funnily enough, the original intent for the Seals Model A was to only make it available on a steel bracelet, but more on that later.

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Anyways, if you saw my review of the Ophion OPH 960 watch a while back, you may recall that JacobStraps makes a great bit of leather, and this strap upgrade is no exception. I have the chocolate brown calf leather upgrade here, but you can snag yourself an alligator strap for just $150 USD. Either way, the JacobStraps upgrade is something I definitely recommend as it really makes the watch feel more substantial. Plus, the stitching quality and material itself is definitely superior in both a visual and tactile sense. For me, it is also a better fit on the wrist, as the default strap is a bit longer on the hole side.

This upgrade is well worth it, and with a proprietary lug system, the Seals Model A will make it hard for you to find replacement straps elsewhere. A point of contention for some, to be fair, but personally, I feel it’s a fair trade for the style of case and lugs. Also, if you would like to avoid replacing leather entirely, then perhaps the steel bracelet would be the upgrade for you.

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Another thing I really love about this case is the crown and crown guard. The screw down crown is a bit thinner than you would expect, but sits flush with the guard and I love the visible slot head screws that affix it to the case. It’s a small detail, but it just adds to the industrial sort of feeling of the case. Also, the two-piece case looks more substantial than it actually is, which is fantastic because it fits under your shirt cuff and makes the Seals Watch Co. Model A more versatile than you would expect. The 316L steel case is only 12.2mm thick and 41mm across (excluding the crown), but the clever hexagonal configuration adds visual heft without compromising wearability.

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The hour markers on the dial also appear quite substantial, and the shape of both the hands and hour markers build out the overall design of the watch nicely. The dial is bushed in a straight vertical grain which creates a nice contrast to the bead-blasted chapter ring on the outside. All of this detail is clearly visible through the flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inside.

Seals Model A Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

One feature that may irk some people is that the lume is painted directly on the steel rather than being suspended in the middle. I had actually thought that the lume was just a pad printed, non-luminescent feature to tie in the hands with the white type on the dial. Late one night, I was actually caught off guard by the presence of a somewhat dim glow from the face of the watch.

It is a valid criticism to say that this isn’t the most functional use for Super-LumiNova. This is partly due to it being painted directly on the hands but also because there is no lume on the indices either, which does affect legibility in the dark. Strange? I would be hard pressed to disagree, but for me this wasn’t a deal-breaker. Personal bias trigger warning: I really like this watch overall, and therefore, I am willing to forgive the weak lume application.



Disqus Debug thread_id: 5069208636

  • BrJean

    This is a good-looking watch with some interesting design decisions e.g. screwed crown guard. Screws are not aligned but who cares? It would be even better without the date window (statement applies to 98% of watches on the market).

    P.S. Author’s writing style is great, I’d like to see more reviews from Matt, especially on higher-end watches.

  • A_watches

    One of a very few kickstarter watches that is attractive. I can see the VC overseas IWC ingenieur vibe.

  • SuperStrapper

    The watch is not bad, but at $800 I think it’s priced itself into dangerous and crowded waters.

    • Berndt Norten

      Even the gray Orient Curator at less than $300 gives it a run for the money

  • Andrew Buckley

    It’s very, err, grey! The 3D dial design reminds me quite a lot of my Seiko Recraft (though, by way of contrast, my Seiko is in glorious sunburst green!).

  • I dig it. The case shape and integrated bracelet design is a refreshing departure from the ocean of sub clones and “I took a trip on an airplane once, and I fell in love with the ‘lavatory occupied’ indicator” inspirational background stories that usually populate Kickstarter. It looks like a Patek Nautilus and a Glashutte Seventies had a love child they sent away to military school.

    To lume, or not to lume, that is the question. I’m of the opinion that you should either do it completely and properly, including hands and indices, or don’t do it at all. The cool blue of BGW9 would be killer on this watch. And, you put together a nice product – don’t skimp at the last minute on dial font design. The “Seals” name looks like it’s closed captioning the logo.

    Also, as a side note, if my last name was ‘Seals”, I’d be just corny enough to name my watch designs after various species of actual seals. This says “Weddell” to me.

    • Berndt Norten

      If my last name were Seals I’d call my watch brand Crofts? Life is short!

      • I think you’d have a hit with the ‘Summer Breeze’ limited edition. I’m seeing dial shades of light blue and ecru.

        • Bill W

          I will proudly back any England Dan & John Ford Coley kickstarter watch project.

          • Bill W

            Or any England Lew & John Ford Huey aka Dog & Butterfly aka NTH aka Janis Trading.

          • Bill W

            Or an Oak & Oscar, Cloak & Dagger, SaStek, or Sleestak…my money is yours.

          • Bill W

            Minus-8, SEVENFRIDAY, Six/AUGUST, Wryst, Snyper, Stranger, Ferro, Obscuro, Aquafino, Dasani, Moron Musy, Moto Koure, Haldor Abissi, Michael Fassbender, Temption, Memomem, AdHominem, Jubileon, Stuckx, Shuxx, Did I Do That?, No Sweat My Pet, and BandLiners. So will any of you accept old Traveler’s Cheques?

          • Berndt Norten

            Don’t stop now! Keep it comin’ Bill keep it comin’ Bill don’t stop it no….

          • Berndt Norten

            Yes I will. If you meet me at midnight. At the Oasis.

          • Bill W

            Is that the Oasis on Baker Street? Spooky.

          • Berndt Norten

            Spooky Tooth

          • Berndt Norten

            What about Orleans. ‘Dance with Me..’

      • DanW94

        Plus one for the Seals and Crofts reference – you 70’s soft rocker. I always wanted to open a nightspot and call it “Club Baby Seals”

  • cluedog12

    An honest-to-goodness impressive debut from Seals. The custom bracelet is superb, with a build quality that far exceeds its $125 price tag.

    It’s not all lilacs and gooseberries though, as the proprietary lugs and strap* make the watch feel a bit top heavy on smaller wrists. Looking forward to Seal’s next release!

    * The same issue pops up with the gapless strap, a circa-2010 trend that I was happy to see die off. While the gapless strap imparts a unique look, the inability of the strap to rotate along the spring bars will hinder the strap from wrapping snugly around the upper portion of a small wrist. I have observed a number of gourmet watch brands abandon the gapless strap when they updated particular models: examples include Glashutte Original’s Senator Chronometer and Montblanc’s Villeret line.

  • Whoisi

    The logo look like “Suzuki” the Japanese car brand.

  • ??????

    Reminds PP Nautilus (GP Laureato, IWC Ingenieur, VC Overseas, Piaget Polo S), in a good way. The case shape and the bracelet look solid and well thought, while the dial and the hands lack same refinement. Its price provokes lots of competition on the one hand, but there aren’t many watches of such type on the other hand.

  • “Personal bias trigger warning…” Ha! I love it. Kept me from running to my Seiko-lined safe space. I like it too. Big points for a relatively original design. Kind of Genta-but-not-Genta.

  • Chaz


  • laup nomis

    Seiko recraft

    • I follow you point by point, but I don’t think they end up looking anything alike. Cheers.

      • laup nomis

        Haha.. ( you’ve called me out), I wasn’t really serious anyway. Actually it is funny how point by point they’re the same, and yet look so different.
        That’s what I was trying to get at with the second paragraph, how watches unavoidably refer to each other yet create new designs even so. If that makes sense.

        • Sort of like the recent Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven intro lawsuit. In the end, similar but not the same.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I don;t think i would get much argument if i pointed out that this goes in my umber boring box , that’s not to say i would ever wear it. It’s super chunky and manly looking with is bold case and simple clear design and i can say that it’s refreshing to be able to tell the time without having to work out some designers wank over how he would fuck about with the very simple task of just telling the time , and in the dark as well !, genius…….55mm,……..seriously ? you could knock someone out with that.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Good review. Pretty soon you shall be elevated to Matthew Smythe-Johnson as your non de plume.
    I like this offering. Great steel bracelet and well worth the wait.
    But, would like to see the lume shot with lume on the hands, including seconds, and hour markers on the dial – good looking hour markers – fill ’em in with luminescence.
    Pricing is ….a bit high for what it is…but…...well done for first effort.

  • Is it just me or do the screws on the crown guards hint at being chronograph pushers (but of of course are not). As others have noted, Royal Oak comes to mind. I’m not fully sold on the bezel but maybe it pulls it off in person.

    Always glad to see a Kickstarter watch that is NOT a bauhaus, minimalist, metro-sexual, quartz fashion throw away.

    • laup nomis

      1,000,000 points for your last sentence. Needs to be tattooed on the forehead of any new watch maker.

  • Svetoslav Popov

    Not completely sure, but I think I don’t like it 🙂

  • Sevenmack

    Vacheron wants its Overseas back.

  • Craig Tough

    I own this watch and have to say, I love it! For a first project it worked out beautifully. It has presence on the wrist, with the bracelet it’s got weight too. It does call to mind very Genta designs but not quite. Having been in touch with Michael before the watch even was made made me feel even better about it. He didn’t compromise on his design and I appreciate that. It feels solid and looks great. Having met him in Toronto with Matt was a great too (and getting the bracelet hand delivered was a nice touch) . It’s my go-to watch for an evening out. I can’t wait to see the model b and c once the prototyping is done. It is pricy but knowing only 300 were made makes it feel special.

  • hatster

    A bit safe and grey? Mix in a bit of contrast and I think it could be a winner? Nothing too much, perhaps a black or white face, or the number markers?

  • Lode_Runner

    Seems like a ripoff of the IWC 3239, they even copied the style of the crown guards and the bracelet.