March 23, 2015
by Ariel Adams
When we do a review on a Seiko watch, the comments always get interesting. I am quite curious to see what the aBlogtoWatch community has to say about this $1,000 plus (retail price) quartz dress watch with some interesting complications. The watch in question is the Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase, here, represented as the reference SRX008P1. Note that Seiko offers a range of versions under the Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase collection, so expect to find different case colors and dial styles. In any event, all of these models contain what I believe is the most sophisticated Kinetic Direct Drive movement that Seiko produces.
That’s the Seiko in-house made calibre 5D88 quartz movement. I should probably start with a quick recap of what Kinetic Direct Drive is. In 2008, I wrote an article on aBlogtoWatch more-or-less explaining what Seiko Kinetic Direct Drive is here. Seiko produces a large range of quartz movements at different price points and complexity levels. These go all the way down to your basic mass-produced quartz movement that requires battery changes, all the way up to super high-quality and sophisticated quartz movements in some Grand Seiko watches. So where do Kinetic Direct Drive movements sit on the Seiko quartz movement spectrum?
Not all the way toward the end of the high-end part of the spectrum, but certainly closer to it than the center of the line. I would say that going up from from here are the high-end family of quartz movements you’ll find in some of the ritzier Seiko dive watches, and from there you go to the very impressive 9F family of quartz movements in the Grand Seiko line. After that, you have the hybrid mechanical/quartz Spring Drive movements. But now I’m getting off topic.
Seiko Kinetic Direct Drive begins with the core Seiko Kinetic platform, which is a quartz movement that has an automatic rotor used to generate power for the movement. While Seiko Solar watches use light to power batteries through a photovoltaic cell in the dial, Seiko Kinetic (sometime called “auto-quartz”) use the same principle as automatic mechanical watches to generate power. Only, instead of winding a spring, the rotors generate power that goes into a rechargeable battery.
What Seiko Kinetic watches lack is the ability to be “hand-wound.” Meaning that the only way to generate power is by wearing them and moving them around. The major addition in Kinetic Direct Drive is the ability to turn the crown and generate power to charge the battery manually. With that comes a cool power reserve indicator that doubles as a real-time charge gauge, showing you how much power you are generating along a linear scale. It isn’t necessary, per se, but it is cool to see in real time that your crown spinning is doing something. When you stop spinning the crown, the hand shows you how much power is now in the battery. Seiko Kinetic Direct Drive movements have a maximum power reserve of about a month.
That special power reserve hand exists on all Kinetic Direct Drive movements and sits on the left of the dial. These are fun, albeit slightly more rare Seiko quartz watches, but I think all Seiko watch enthusiasts will enjoy having at least one in their collection. You can easily keep these charged by putting them on a winder that you would use for automatic watches.
What the calibre 5D88 adds to the equation (in addition to the time) is the date (via a dial at 3 o’clock), day of the week, AM/PM indicator as expressed via a synchronized 24 hour hand (the latter two functions are in the subdial above 6 o’clock), as well as a moonphase indicator under 12 o’clock. Paired with a “classy” dial that uses Roman numeral hour indicators and chic hands, this all makes for a handsome, formal-leaning watch. In terms of adjusting the various indicators, everything is done through the crown, but there is an inset pusher on the left side of the case used as a handy way to adjust the moon phase indicator disc.
Of course, that is the point of the larger Seiko Premier family that has been around for many years. In its most current form, the Seiko Premier is an interesting blend of masculinity and dress watch style. The distinctive elements of the series are dauphine-esque hands and the case shape, with its slightly protruding lug screws. Seiko offers the Premier for both men and women, in various finishes and colors with a variety of dial, strap, and bracelet options. I’ve always been a fan of the Seiko Premier collection for an accessible albeit distinctive dress watch with a real sense of Japanese character.
The Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase comes in a case that most agree is 40mm wide, but your measurement might vary, given the crown guard. I would say that the case is very comfortable, and it wears large, being on the thicker side (about 13mm thick). The case also benefits from having 100 meters of water resistance as well as a sapphire crystal – which are welcome features.
This Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase SRX008P1 has a rose-gold toned IP-coated polished steel case and comes on a fitted brown alligator strap with a nice deployant clasp. Seiko decided to have the strap be “backwards” compared to many others, as the excess strap is place on the side of your wrist that faces you, as opposed to facing externally. As is the case with mass-volume Seiko watches, the strap choice is acceptable but not amazing with its faux alligator print. I think that the look of the Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase could be dramatically upgraded with the addition of a really high-quality after market alligator or crocodile strap.
While the dial is busy, it is legible enough to wear on a daily basis. Seiko is a bit shy about the length of the hands, but it isn’t too much to complain about. The recessed inner section of the dial is handsome, and the overall design of the Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase dial is well done – though I recommend you look around at the various versions Seiko has produced over the years to find the perfect one for you, if you are interested in one of these neat timepieces.
Without trying to do so, Seiko is really good at creative niche appeal watches that don’t fit the standard “sport watch, dress watch, diving watch” molds. The question, of course, is who the target audience for a complicated dress watch like this is. It is a bit too busy for strict formal attire, but is too dressy for a lot of casual wear.
Of course, there is the dressier-leaning guy who wants a daily wear but gets bored of “simple watches.” This Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase is good for him. There is also the “gadget watch lover,” who is inspired by functionality and feels best wearing a high-functionality watch with a cool movement. This is a good watch for that person as well. For me, I say that if you work in an office environment and want a cool watch with an interesting movement that won’t break the bank, the Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase is a good option.
Each time you look at the dial, you’ll be reminded that, “yes, you are a discerning watch guy – who has a nose for value,” and it is also a timepiece that lives merrily in a larger collection that contains mechanical watches as well, given that Kinetic Direct Drive movements make a place for themselves outside of the boredom most watch lovers get from “basic quartz movements.” Retail price for this Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase ref. SRX008P1 watch is $1,435. seikowatches.comThank you to MassDrop.com who supplied this Seiko watch for review. You can purchase this Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase watch via MassDrop here at a discounted price for a limited time.
>Model: Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moonphase ref. SRX008P1
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Guy who would be interested in the technology and functionality, looking in this price range for a daily wear dress or office watch.
>Best characteristic of watch: Watching the power reserve indicator as it charges in real time; Interesting tech with a lot of functions for a good value.
>Worst characteristic of watch: The hands could be longer; Would probably benefit from an strap upgrade.