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!
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!)
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
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.
Above: Seiko 5 Sports SNZF45K, SNZF47K, SNZF49K
Above: Seiko 5 Sports SNZF51K and SNZF53K with black ion coated bezels
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).
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.
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.
Top: Wrist shot of the white Seiko Monster Lite. Picture by “JoePeteJokla”
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)
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?
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.
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.
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