November 8, 2017
by Zen Love
Seiko continues to expand its popular “Cocktail Time” line of watches, now introducing a couple of new and attractive limited-edition dial executions apparently based on Japanese cocktails called Sakura Hubuki and Starlight. The original SARB065 Cocktail Time watch was officially sold only in Japan but developed an international following, and Seiko brought it back earlier this year with some new colors and now in the Presage family of watches with the SSA and SRPB models. Those featured some small changes while continuing the interesting radial dial texture of the original, but the overall theme is now broadened with the new Seiko Presage Sakura Hubuki and Starlight Cocktail Time watches, as I suppose we’ll call them.
Seiko doesn’t officially “name” the watches but, as with the “Cocktail Time,” ostensibly allows the public to do so. The Cocktail Time watches largely stand out for their dials (and price), and Seiko is known for well-done dial details particularly in its higher-end models. Just as those introduced earlier this year, the new versions are a classic time-and-date-only model; and a model with a large power reserve indicator on the dial and the date displayed via a sub-dial at 6 o’clock – each available in blue or white for a total of four. The dial textures are meant to reference cocktails by a Japanese bartender in Tokyo’s Ginza area, one Mr. Hisashi Kishi. The blue version is for a drink called Starlight, of course, and the white version is… the other one.
I won’t try to describe the drinks that are the design inspiration (“I shake the cocktail mixer in a special way that I call my ‘Infinity Shake’ to add tiny bubbles that sparkle in the glass…”), but Seiko’s materials do briefly tell us that the dials feature a gloss that is applied no fewer than seven times in a “painstaking process.” I’d like to know more, actually. The blue dial’s finish looks particularly cool to me with a somewhat fibrous, patterned appearance. If you must have a blue dial watch (which it seems everyone must) and are on a three-figure budget, these seem like some good options. The white dial’s texture is also nice with radial waves that from up close look a bit like shallow, ultra-fine guilloché in a cherry blossom (sakura) pattern.
Each version is 40.5mm wide in steel, but the power reserve models (reference numbers beginning with SSA) are 14.4mm thick and the time/date models (SRPC) are 11.8mm thick – the same measurements as the models introduced earlier this year. Some people felt that the original was too thick for a “dressy” watch such as the Cocktail Time is trying to be, but I sometimes like some extra heft for an otherwise simple design as found here and on other Presage models, for instance. Both are water-resistant to 50m (certainly sufficient for spilled drinks), anti-magnetic to 4,800 A/m, and come on a blue or brown calf leather strap.
All versions also have a display caseback where you will see the Seiko 4R57 in the SSA (power reserve) models or the 4R35 in the SRPC models – pretty basic movements, likely with minimal industrial finishing, though Seiko has not provided images for now. Each of these automatic movements operate at 3Hz with a power reserve of 41 hours, offer hand-winding and hacking, and are found in a number of watches in Seiko’s more affordable mechanical ranges. Over the dial is a box-shaped Hardlex crystal – sapphire might have been nice, but would have also been more expensive (particularly in that shape) and Seiko seems to like to save those premium options for the occasional “extra special” limited edition.
Power reserve in blue (SSA361) is the one that stands out to me. People sometimes say that a power reserve indicator on an automatic watch is redundant, but this point is lost on me. It’s more important and helpful on a manually wound movement, sure, but even if one wears the same automatic watch every day and thereby keeps it perpetually wound, how just how much power is left is still relevant – to me, at least. It’s also just fun watching the indicator move as you wind it or knowing that you’ve been at your desk too long by seeing that it has wound down. Further, you can know if the movement is getting close to the end of its power reserve where it might start to be less accurate, especially in more basic movements like this one. Seiko says that the shape of the power reserve indicator’s hand, by the way, is meant to reference a cocktail glass.
The blue models will be limited to 1,300 pieces each and available from November 17, 2017, and the white ones limited to 1,000 and available from January 12, 2018 – according to Seiko’s Japanese language site, so international availability might be different as the brand’s English materials only say “winter.” The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time power reserve models (SSA361 in blue and SSA363 in white) will have a retail price (in Europe) of €550 and the time-and-date (SRPC01 in blue and SRPC03 in white) will have a price of €420 (prices in JPY are ¥60,000 and ¥45,000, respectively). You could easily spend around that, one imagines, for a night hanging out in Tokyo’s Ginza at places like the Star Bar that inspired the watches. seikowatches.com