August 15, 2018
by Ariel Adams
Seiko Recraft is a collection of Japanese Seiko watches inspired by the brand’s own vintage models – with a bit of modern style added to the mix. I’ve always liked the collection because I get the impression Seiko’s designers have a really good time coming up with these watches, since they have a theme to work off of but are generally free when it comes to case sizes and tend to use bright, invigorating colors. Seiko isn’t always “homaging” a particular timepiece, though fans of the brand’s older watches will certainly see where the Seiko Recraft design team is getting their inspiration. In this review I talk about two excellent and very affordable Seiko Recraft Series watches with the reference SSC667 and the SSC669. These are the same watch, save for different color options and they both have a retail price under $400 USD.
Some of the most popular vintage Seiko watches are chronograph models from the 1960s and 1970s. Seiko was among three brands to introduce an automatic chronograph in 1969 and about a decade later was the first company to introduce an analog quartz chronograph movement that was not only popular, but in production for over a decade. I am referring to the 7A28 movement collection and I wrote about a Seiko Sports 100 model with one of those movements here. Seiko does not currently make a modern analog to the 7A28 but they are pretty much the only company today still producing “meca-quartz” movements, which have chronograph systems similar to traditional mechanical watches. In any event, Seiko has a long history with quartz chronograph movements and I think they still make for an excellent and reliable wearing experience today. That is especially true when mixed with solar charging technology.
Inside the Seiko SSC667 and SSC669 watches is the in-house Seiko caliber V175. It features a 60-minute chronograph with a sweeping second hand, a subsidiary seconds dial, a 24-hour indicator, and the date. Seiko cleverly designed the face of the watches so that the sub-dials are in fact where light enters through the dial to reach the photovoltaic cell beneath, which charges the battery. These mostly opaque windows glisten a bit in the light and sometimes remind me of the look of black mother-of-pearl on the dial. It is an attractive look. Seiko also did a nice job to de-emphasize the date by putting it on a black-colored disc (which I think was a good idea). The hands and hour markers are painted with Seiko’s LumiBrite luminant.
As a watch lover I very much appreciate how much effort Seiko clearly put into the dial design of these Recraft Solar Chronograph watches. Depth is created by having various layers as well as applied hour markers. Around the dial is a raised rehaut with a minimalized tachymeter scale, the hands all have excellent contrast, and the chronograph sub-dials are slightly recessed. Seiko also didn’t add anything extra to the dials that would be merely decorative. These are very much vintage tool watch-inspired in their appeal and a lack of cosmetic elements is part of that. Note that this is in contrast to many other Seiko Recraft models, which very much focus on recreating more artistic dials from the past. Utility watch lovers will appreciate this very Seiko take on the Speedmaster aesthetic.
Seiko pairs the watch with a flat AR-coated mineral crystal that offers almost no glare. This for me is the icing on the cake and why the dial looks so good. A sloped, polished bezel leads to a brushed and polished (on the sides) tonneau-style steel case offered in either black for the SSC669 or natural steel with the SSC667. The case is simple but nicely made, complete with contrast polishing and a visual aesthetic which makes it feel slimmer than it is (about 12.5mm thick). The case is 43.5mm wide (water-resistant to 100m) and really comfortable, paired with these colorful Nylon NATO-style straps. This is actually the first Seiko watch I recall wearing that came on a NATO-style strap. While the SSC667 and SSC669 are new models for 2018, they are revised versions of the previously available Seiko Recraft SSC569 – which I don’t find to be as appealing. It was a nice watch but it felt like Seiko was trying to combine a vintage racing chronograph with a dress watch, and I found the result to be a bit awkward. These SSC667 and SSC669 models have different dials and straps, which make all the difference in the world.
The Recraft Solar Chronograph SSC667 and SSC669 are different only in color, but the SSC669 is $25 more expensive because of the IP-coated black case. The dial on that model is black with high-contrast white hands and hour markers. Orange looks good as the accent color. The SSC667 has a natural steel case and metallic blue dial that has a slight gloss to it. Seiko makes sure the hands fit the theme by making them gray, but also did the right thing by making the hands and hour markers matte in texture, so as not to reflect light. Both are beautiful watches, in my opinion, with the Recraft Solar Chronograph SSC669 in black being a bit more strong and masculine, while the SSC667 is more modern and playful in its appeal. Now all we need is for collectors to come up with some sticky names that give these Seiko Recraft watches a bit more personality when it comes to nomenclature. Retail price for the Seiko Recraft SSC667 is $350 USD and price for the SSC667 is $375 USD. seikousa.com
>Model: Recraft Series Solar Chronograph references SSC667 and SSC669
>Price: $350 – $375 USD
>Size: 43.5mm wide, about 12.5mm thick, and about 51mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As an easy to enjoy daily wear or beater watch when style and a chronograph look are useful.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Budget-minded watch lover looking for something inexpensive that clearly has a lot of design effort put into it. If about $400 is the max you can spend on a watch, you could do much worse than these.
>Best characteristic of watch: Comfortable fit, trendy design, great legibility, excellent build quality and attention to detail for the price.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Hands might be seen a bit too short, but it isn’t a big deal. I would have paid a bit extra for a sapphire crystal.