Thoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

snzf45k1wince thumb7Thoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Just when I thought I had seen an interesting new series of  Rolex Submariner inspired SNZF11K/13K/19K sports watches (they were introduced not hardly three months ago) along comes their latest SNZF-series designs that stylistically, reek of the classic Monster divers

Although no official nickname has been bestowed on this latest offering from Seiko, I kind of liked the suggestion that someone threw in SCWF – the “Monster Jr” or “Monster Lite”. Since this watch appears to be within the size parameters of the original Monster divers, I thought “Monster Lite” would be the more befitting nickname.

What is interesting about these Monster Lites is that it’s as though Seiko had been secretly monitoring the various Japanese watch forums like WUS, Time Zone, PMWF and of course, SCWF and had been furiously jotting down comments and wish-lists of the many Seiko modding enthusiasts around the world.

Although Seiko is not a company that would readily admit to condoning modification of their watch products, it has been an open secret that you can readily source watch hands, dials and bezels from trusted Seiko enthusiast suppliers and swap parts to your heart’s content. That’s why you can see some owners with Orange Monster swapping their dial or hands for the Black Monster’s  and vice versa!

 

dialswap thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites” neww monsters webmedium thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Above:  Photos of a simple hands swap (left) and a dial exchange between a Black and Orange Monster (right).

 

Just try this with a renowned brand such as Omega, for example. Omega frowns upon customizing their products and I don’t suppose you can order the main time hands from the Planet Ocean diver model to go with your Seamaster diver automatic, assuming that the parts are interchangeable with one another.

(If you are able to prove otherwise, do let me know – I’m interested to know!) icon winkThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

In fact, I’ve been told by my watchmaker who is an authorized Omega dealer himself that there was no such thing as ordering parts from the Omega distributor for repairs at his store. The watch has to be forwarded to the local Omega repair center and if it has been ascertained that the hands need replacement, Omega will change the old set of hands with the new ones and keeping the old parts.

I suppose this policy has a three-fold purpose:

  • to prevent their used original parts from falling into counterfeiters’ hands
  • to discourage legitimate owners from customizing their own watches
  • to preserve their original product design identity

Model Lineup

Anyway, without further ado here is the latest Monster Lite lineup from Seiko. Chronograph.com was probably the first online seller to showcase these new kids on the block. I thought these Monster-wannabies are worth a mention since they sort of resemble the original Seiko Monsters.

snzf45k1 thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites” snzf47k1 thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites” snzf49k1 thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Above: Seiko 5 Sports SNZF45K, SNZF47K, SNZF49K

snzf51k1 thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites” snzf53k1 thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Above: Seiko 5 Sports SNZF51K and SNZF53K with black ion coated bezels

Features

I have tried a few of these Monster Lites at the local stores and they are not bad looking watches at all. Unlike the original Monster divers, these Seiko 5 Sports have 22mm lugs (thanks to “Airwatch” for the correction). The beefy bracelet is solid linked and is of a different design than the SKX779K/SKX781K Monsters.

The Monster Lite SNZF45K-53Ks, like most of the rest of their siblings in the Seiko 5 Sports family, are rated to 100m water resistance with a see-through display backs. To my best knowledge, the 200m versions of the Seiko 5 Sports models come with solid stainless steel casebacks only (and screw-down crown).

side profile thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites” rear view thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Top: Side and rear profile views of an SNZF49K (Pics from Wayne’s Watch World). The crown is the non screw-in type.

I suppose a thick glass display back capable of withstanding 20 Bars would be a costly manufacturing challenge for Seiko – especially for a watch of this price range. It could be done but the issue is whether it’s cost effective for the company to do so.

Going by tradition, it’s glass backs for the Seiko 5s rated 100m W.R. and less while 200m models are endowed with stainless steel backs (the Seiko 5 Sports SKZ209K Landshark/Atlas model is a good example).

The factory 22mm bracelet balances the large watch head rather nicely. Digressing a bit, the Seiko SNKF05K “BFS” has the widest bracelet to date with a 24mm measurement.

There won’t be any complaints in the lume department, as the Monster Lites are using the same grade of LumiBrite as the original Monster divers. The SNZF’s lume is quite sensitive to ambient light and doesn’t need strong illumination to charge the lume.

Dimensions

The measurements of the Monster Lites, as reported by Wayne’s Watch World site is as follows:

  • Diameter:  42.5 (w/o crown), 46mm (w/crown)
  • Thickness: 13mm
  • Lug width: 22mm

Its 13mm thickness puts it in the arena of many Seiko diver’s watches, height wise. May not fit nicely under tight long sleeved cuffs.

Here’s a borrowed wrist photo of the white SNZF45K on a NATO nylon strap. Looks quite good, IMO. Note the nice contrast of the black framed index markers and hands against the pristine white dial and the strong and sensitive LumiBrite luminous compound.

5fb3cb7ba9d10eeabefde6d9medium thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Top: Wrist shot of the white Seiko Monster Lite. Picture by “JoePeteJokla”

Specifications

  • Caliber: 7s36B, 23 jewels
  • Caseback type: 7s36-02D0
  • Movement: Automatic, non-hacking
  • Beat rate: 21,600 bph (6 beats/sec)
  • Loss/gain: Less than 40 sec/day
  • Power reserve: About 42 hours
  • Calendar: Day/date with quick-set, dual language (Eng/Roman)
  • Crown: Non screw-in type
  • Construction: Stainless steel, glass display back
  • Crystal: Hardlex glass, flat profile
  • Bezel: Uni-directional, 120-click graduations, non-lumed triangle marker
  • W.R. rating: 100m
  • Luminous material: LumiBrite™
  • Movement Malaysia, cased in China

 

 

Who would buy the Monster Lite?

That’s certainly food for thought. Firstly, where is Seiko heading with the Monster Lite models, marketing-wise? Without a direct scoop from Seiko company insiders, and Seiko is well known for jealously guarding their marketing strategies, I can only theorize that the introduction of the Monster Lites is Seiko’s latest attempt at  expanding their commercially successful Seiko 5 Sports range to include these diver-like sports watches.

One thing’s for sure – Seiko is smart enough not to design the SNZF-series Monster Lites to overlap their original ISO-rated Monster divers. In case you are wondering if these Seiko 5 Sports are replacing the original Monsters, the answer is a resounding no.

The original 200m Monsters have their own niche market and from the marketing perspective, do not belong to the Seiko 5 family. The Monster Lites aren’t upgrades of any model either – they are merely new additions to the existing Seiko 5 Sports lineup.

About the only thing that the two watches have in common with one another is the use of the main time hands from the original Monsters (with a slight variation of the second hand’s color) and the pseudo-Monster-like index markers. The luminous material is the same grade used in the original Monsters – super sensitive and bright.

The golden question that bugged me is: why would anyone would want to spend over USD180 for a Seiko sports watch when a brand new original Monster, which is a 200m ISO certified diver could be gotten for about the same price on eBay?

om photo thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Above: For that all-around tool watch with a touch of class, nothing beats a trusty Orange Monster on bracelet!:-)

My best guess is that Seiko never meant the Monster Lites to compete with their original counterparts in the first place. It’s part of the Seiko 5 Sports family and has a dressier look than the ISO rated Monsters – which might explain why these models are available on bracelets only (so far). Granted, a diver’s watch is not everyone’s cup of tea, therefore the SNZF Monster Lites are likely to appeal to the ordinary consumer who happens to like this particular design.

That’s not to say that die hard Seiko collectors who already own the original Monsters would thumb their noses at the new Monster Lite either. There are watch lovers who happen to like the latest offerings from Seiko and wouldn’t think twice to buy one.

Some collectors might also consider the white dialed SNZF45K as Seiko currently lacks a white dialed model in the original Monster lineup. Or perhaps, the very attractive black ion-plated SNZF53K, which in my opinion is the best looking of the lot.

Conclusion

Would I buy one of these Monster Lites? Probably. Ideally the model of my choice  should differ as much as possible from my existing SKX779K and SKX781K divers. It’s just that I don’t want to own a Seiko 5 Sports that resembles too much like my beloved original Monsters.

snzf53k1 skywatches thumbThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Above: The most expensive model in the Monster Lite range - the SNZF53K. Photo from Skywatches.com

My personal choice would be the black ion-coated SNZF53K because its blackened finish and the black-and-red bezel markings make it stand out from the rest. Come to think of it, from a distance it sort of reminds me of one of those Luminox Navy SEALs watches without the busy military-look dial.

I would readily buy this if Seiko offered a version without the expensive ion-coated bracelet. If it’s one thing I’m wary about, it’s the durability of Seiko’s ion-plated bracelets. They are susceptible to scratches, leaving unsightly traces of the white stainless steel base metal.

Even if I don’t intend to own one of these, personally I think as with most Seiko 5 Sports models, any of these SNZF-series Monster Lites would make superb gifts to friends and loved ones. It’s a smart looking, bold timepiece, period

Now, if I could only convince myself to cough up about USD200 for a 100m W.R. Seiko 5 Sports icon smileThoughts on the new Seiko 5 Sports “Monster Lites”

Originally posted 2008-10-27 00:42:59.

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Comments

Saw these about a month ago and though hey monster?
I think it looks pretty good, however the the use of the monster hands seem to stand out as not jiving with the design of the rest of the case, bezel, indice markers which all tend to have sharper angles and squares. The hands are all curvey and better matched to the Monsters balance of curves and mostly squared indices save the 12 o'clock indice.
But thats probably just me heh.

I have the white one, and love it. Cost-$145 US on the bay.Never seen one in person prior therefor I was pleasantly surprised how "monster" like it was (I have an Orange Monster.)The weight is nice as I like a heavy watch, and the lume is exceptional.Also I had nothing with a White dial so this watch kind of takes care of that niche, like stated above there is no sense getting one in Orange it would be too similar to the monster.I mean really I like all things SEIKO anyways, this seemed new, and a little different so I bought it-and am very pleased to have done so

Julian,

You are spot on with your remarks on the dial being slightly mismatched with the dial's design. This (the Monster Lite) is nevertheless a good watch to have.

Sometimes Seiko runs out of fresh ideas and would mix and match the old with the new. :-)

Quartzimodo.

Mmmm...Mike,

The white one seems to be a stand out, apart from the black ion coated SNZF53K. If I could get one at the price that you got, I would consider the white dialed one.

I should have purchased the SKXA47K White Knight when they were still plentiful and cheap, but at the time I thought that diver's watches ought to be black, mostly. :-)

Quartzimodo.

I received the all-black SNZF53 a couple of days ago. This an impressive, tastefully "loud" piece.

For my money, this a far better watch than the Monster. Yes, I know it's not a certified diver but neither am I. The watch has more appealing lines and overall design than the rather dated-looking Monster. The case and the bracelet have a stylish brushed gunmetal finish. It also has the 7S36 movement which I prefer over the Monster 7S26 what with 7S36's two additional jewels.

My measured dimensions, by the way, don't jibe with the above article's. The lugs are not 24 mm, I measured 22 mm. The case without the crown is 40 mm and 44 mm with crown. The dial measures at the traditional Seiko size of 30 mm. I always wished Seiko would offer bigger dials for most of their models. That would make a big difference in the overall look and feel of their watches, making them more serious and tool-like. Still, this a very eye-catching watch even in the dark where the big, bright lume shines.

In the end, I don't think that the "Monster Lite" nickname does the watch justice. I look at it as a stand-alone, new design. It really doesn't remind me of the Monster despite some borrowed parts which is a very common and long-standing Seiko practice.

Hi AirWatch,

Good to know that someone begs to differ. ;-) I'm not a fan of Seiko 5 Sports 100m watches, although I own one (SNZ389J) myself.

There are so many Seiko 5 Sports 100m models in the market and it's hard to remember all their model numbers. While you may be right that "Monster Lite" doesn't do the watch justice, it's just a nickname that some watch forums have adopted for easy reference.

Thanks for the correction on the lug measurements, I have edited my post.

cheers,

Quartzimodo.

Hi Quartzimodo,

The pleasure's all mine. Thank you for your kind edit of my post and the credit for the lug size correction.

Yeah, I know, Seiko 5's are the Rodney Dangerfield of Seikos, they never get any respect (with the exception of the Frankenmonster), which is kinda curious because they're very nicely made, relatively inexpensive and tough as nails. This is my second Seiko 5. I got the first one, an SNZB23 with a very cool Guilloche carved dial and a green sweep hand, a couple of years ago and wore it everyday until I received this one.

The more I wear this new SNZF53 the more I like it. It's a really cool looking piece. Now, I'm even thinking about getting the orange-dialed SNZF49, too.

One correction to my previous post: The case and bracelet are not all brushed but have polished accents on the sides of the case and where the links connect, making for a complex, stylish, shiny and matt light-play.

I'm willing to bet that you would appreciate owning a SNZF if you ever decided to buy one (you know, I like that black dial, black bezel SNZF51, too, very solid looking) in which case, you might, in turn, bless us with an in-depth review as only you could write it. Don't mean to rush you, but please hurry up and get one!

Regards,

AirWatch.

I got my snzf51 last night. I bought it without researching about divers watches. I only found out this morning that It's more of a sports watch than a divers watch. I was thinking of returning it and adding $40.00 for a monster, but then, I couldn't find a monster with the same sharp-looking bezel as this one, and it's the bezel that I like the most. The snzf51 kinda looks like a big tag heuer F1 which I like so much.

So I changed my mind and decided to keep it. No other seiko looks like it. I bought it because of the F1 look, the tag heuer F1 is not a diver's watch anyway, it's for motorsports, and I don't dive, so it serves my purpose of a sharp-looking sports watch that can go 100m. I like looking at the internals too with the glass back.

Good for you, Albert!

Actually, diver's watches appeal to people who appreciate the styling of such watches. Many of them, including yours truly - don't even scuba dive! Some can't even swim. :-) In the age of modern technology, avid recreational and professional divers prefer to wear specialized dive computers on their wrists. Thus the nickname "desk diver" was coined to classify owners who wear dive watches to the office.

Those that love diver's watches and scuba dive sometimes wear their diver's watches on the other wrist as a "backup". Dive computers rarely fail, therefore wearing a backup diver's watch is mostly for personal satisfaction rather than a true necessity.

I would have bought one of the SNZF models but I preferred to save my funds for the orange SBDA005 Titanium Samurai, which was recently discontinued. Enjoy your watch in good health! :-)

Quartzimodo Admin.

My SNZF49K(orange) was actually the watch that got me into Seiko watches. I've been buying Swatches, Casios, Suuntos and Timex watches before but this was my first SEIKO.

Interestingly, I bought it in error after reading about the Orange monster and seeing a few pictures on the net. Yes, i was newb enough to think that THIS was the Orange Monster.

I was traveling at that time and chanced upon this small AD in a small town that happened to have a healthy supply of Seikos that I hadn't seen before due to the low-traffic of his store(it was a really small town).

He had almost ALL the variants of this particular model and though I was tempted to get the white faced one, it was the orange faced one that stole the show.

When I got home a few days later, I realized my error and had to laugh at myself for my impulsiveness. Eventually however, I realized that I actually preferred the lines of this watch over the REAL Orange Monster! Somehow the scalloped Bezel and Psuedo shrouds of the monster didn't quite catch on with me. I've since shelved my plants to buy a Monster and decided to keep my mini-monster as my daily beater.

One thing I do miss on this watch would be the screw down crown and crown protectors. I have a two year old son who I still have to carry around often and sometimes the crown of this watch gets snagged on his clothes and the hands get moved as a result.

Interestingly, those who prefer the newer SNZF sports watches are those who weren't properly introduced to the real Monster ISO rated divers from the very beginning. People scoffed at the SKX779K/SKX781K when they came out nine years ago - but look, they're still selling like hot cakes to this day.

The original Monsters are destined to become classics in their own right, just like the SKX007K "classic diver" models, which have been in the market since 1996. Seiko regularly updates their Seiko 5 Sports lineup - no modern-day S5 Sports model lasts for more than 3 or 4 years before they're discontinued.

As for me, ever since I got my Atlas watches I've never bought any Seiko 5 Sports that's not rated to 200m W.R. Only the 200m models come with locking crowns.

Quartzimodo Admin.

Aaarrrgghhhh.....today this has become my 13th watch in a space of 1 year!

No where close to your numbers yet, Quartzimodo!!

Very striking & loud watch! I bought the orange dial model SNFZ49K1 for a shade below RM400 at shop in Sg Wang today. It was love at first sight. Feels really solid and substantial with trademark Seiko workmanship and quality.

I don't intend to take it diving. Heck...I hardly even swim. So, I don't care if its not a true diver watch or ISO certified.

Maybe I will wear it to play golf. The weight of the watch may help with my swing! Hahahaha!

Happy that You could use my photo ! You are always welcome to do so - if You should find them relevant to Your article.
Btw, I am a returning reader to this great site - thank You for all the great aricles written ... I am a big fan ! *smile*
JoepeteJokla

Hi John,

Many thanks for allowing me to use your photo. :-) I remembered to rename the photo so I could give you proper credit for it. It was the best wrist shot pic of the white "Monster Lite" on SCWF (awesome lume shot!) and I must say your strap matches the watch very well. I think it looks better on that band compared to the factory bracelet. :-)

Now I'm wondering how that nice white dial would if transplanted into an Orange Monster... *dreaming*. Not sure if it will fit the Monster perfectly although some people have successfully put in Seiko 5 Sports dials on Monsters. ;-)

Thanks for following my humble hobby blog, much appreciated sir!

cheers,

Quartzimodo Admin.

Glad to know that you're enjoying your SNZF49K, Fungus! :-)

Although the 7s-caliber has the built-in Diashock™ shock proofing, I wouldn't recommend wearing mechanical watches when playing golf. The impact of the golf club hitting the ball or grass will be transmitted to your watch. Over time, this may affect the accuracy of your watch or worse still, damage the main spring.

Remove your mechanical watch prior to taking a swing or wear a quartz watch to the fairway instead. ;-)

Quartzimodo Admin.

I am thinking of getting myself a SNZF53J, how's the ion plated coating hold up to scratches and impacts?

I have doubts on the reliability and durability of the coating.

Hi Cedric,

Good points. If you have a gold plated stainless steel watch (and bracelet) and you accidentally gashed it, the inner stainless steel core would be exposed. Since gold and base stainless steel colors don't have much contrast, any blemishes won't show up that badly. A black TiCN ion plated watch case and bracelet will definitely have a stark contrast with the base metal. Light scuffs may not reveal themselves, but deep gashes would.

Personally I'm not fond of black ion plated watches for this reason. You can refinish a scratched stainless steel surface easily and if done properly, nobody would guess you've refinished it. With ion plated surfaces, you can't put back what has been removed (the black outer layer). Those with black TiCN coated watches should exercise extra care when wearing them.

Quartzimodo

I love the steel and black bezel version. Somehow it reminds me of a Tag Heuer F1 crossed with an Aquaracer 500m. The picture of the side of the case is what clinches it for me, the bezel is beefy and sporty looking and I love the shape of the case. The bracelet looks cool too.

Hello

I just bought a SNZF45K1.

I'm new to automatic watches, after wearing it for a couple of days I took it off on Sunday and when I put it back on on Monday it had stopped.

How long should an automatic watch retain it's charge?

Thanks,

Richard Wiese

Hi Richard,

Generally it's advisable to allow your Seiko 5 Sports watch 2-3 months for its mechanism to settle down as it's brand new. The 7s36 movement is rated to run about 40 hours before its mainspring fully unwinds and hence, stops running. The mainspring may be quite tight (since it's brand new) and may not reach its fullest state of wind. Continue wearing your watch daily for a few months and note its "power reserve" or operational time.

Note that while Seiko's specifications for the 7S caliber is 40 hours, some watches may have a slightly shorter or longer power reserve. However, if your watch consistently runs for a much shorter duration (less than 35 hours) after the run-in period, have it checked by the Seiko repair center or an authorized Seiko dealer with experience in repairing/servicing automatic watches. The maximum running time of mechanical watches depends on the length of the coiled mainspring; for example the Seiko 6R15 movement is rated to 50 hours on a full wind. Some luxury Swiss watches even come with larger mainsprings that allow them to run for 100 hours without winding.

It's also quite normal for brand new Seiko 7s-caliber automatics to gain time (fast running) when they're new, out of the box. If your watch runs too fast after three months, a competent watch repairer can have it accuracy adjusted (regulated) with the aid of a vibrograph machine. Automatic watches can also gain time if you shake them vigorously too frequently - therefore it's preferable to shake them to fully wind the mainspring before you put it on your wrist. :-)

Enjoy your new Seiko in good health!
Quartzimodo

Lots of excellent Seiko watches currently available in market. Seiko watches are very good quality watches that offer the ideal combination of style and reliability.

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