Seiko Recraft Review: Rocking the Retro Design!

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The appeal of owning a retro-tech is getting more and more lucrative these days. We’re beyond that age when we’re dependent on a wristwatch to track time. It’s an older tech that we use to express our personality.

That’s why we’re seeing a revival of the older watch models. Seiko, the Japanese watchmaking giant, saw the perfect opportunity for understanding the trend quite well.

They decided to bring back their classic watches from the ’70s again. And, the watch-lovers community welcomed the news with much hype and enthusiasm.

The Seiko Recraft launch event in November 2017 caught massive traction in the media and in the watch community. Everyone praised the collection as Seiko didn’t meddle with the retro designs but significantly upped the internal parts.

That brings us to today’s main topic – are the Seiko Recraft watches worth the hype? Should you buy it?

So, let’s dig into the most in-depth Seiko Recraft review available online!

Things to Consider Before Buying A Watch?

Seiko Recraft

Before I begin, answer this question first – what is a movement?

The act of changing position from point-A to point-B? A political or social revolutionary campaign?

If you can’t think of any other definition, especially fitting to our watchmaking technology scenario, you need to learn a few things or two first!

For example, what is a movement, what are the basic parts of a watch, what are some of the better material choices for a watch?

Let’s start!

The choice of movement is the most significant factor. In horology, movement is the mechanism that tracks time a.k.a. the engine of a watch.

So, why is it called movement?

Because a number of intricate mechanical parts “move” together inside the watch case. A movement can be powered by spring-mechanism (in mechanical), kinetic energy from physical movement (automatic mechanical), or quartz oscillator.

Besides the movement, you should focus on the size and choice of material of the case and the bezel. It signifies the durability or plays the biggest role in the design choices.

Then, ask yourself whether you like a metal link bracelet, a leather strap, or a funky NATO or ZULU strap?

Each of the band choice gives your watch a different look.

So, choose wisely or make sure that you can install your band choice later to the watch lug.

Plus, you should consider what “extra” features your choice of watch is offering. Modern watches are loaded with extra features like ABC sensors, chronograph, and many more.  

So, let’s summarize everything up. These are the important features that make a watch either good or bad –

  • Type and quality of the movement
  • Choice of material for case and bezel
  • Design and functionality of the case and bezel
  • Type of band and the material choice for the band
  • Type of clasp
  • Additional features

Features & Benefits of Seiko Recraft

As I have said before, Seiko Recraft launched in the final quarter of 2017. And, Seiko Recraft is not a particular model but a collection. There are nine different models in the collection.

Each of the models in the Recraft series focus on different design philosophy. All of them are iconic and easily recognizable by people all over the world.

Today, I would focus on one particular model from the Recraft series – SNKM97.

Why?

Because this is the most popular and bestselling model in the series.

So, let’s begin!

Movement

Movement

In paper, Seiko Recraft SNKM97 is an automatic watch which means it comes with the highest quality of movement choice.

Seiko used its most popular choice of caliber 7S26. Since the release in 1996, Seiko has used this movement in most of its entry-level automatic watch. 7S26 is a fairly good caliber that somewhat reliable and quite cheap.

It’s a 21-jewel movement that offers ±10 seconds/month accuracy. There’re only a few models out in the market that offers such reliability at lower price.

One of the best features of the caliber is the (almost) sweeping movement. The caliber has 21,600 bph vibration rate. In other words, the second hand ticks 6 times in a second.

More: Sekonda Watches Reviews: The British Budget Standard

As you know, in an automatic watch, the mechanical parts or the jewels move in a precise manner. The mechanism would collapse under external damage. Seiko uses DiaShock protection to protect the mechanical parts in the caliber from such damages.

In practical usage, I’ve found the watch quite durable and resistant to shocks.

Kudos to Seiko!

Though it’s an automatic movement, it mainly competes with other quartz movements not with automatic movements. And, it beats the quartz movements to dust in every aspect of comparison.

So, what does it mean? Is the 7S26 caliber without any flaw?

No!

It doesn’t have some of the basic features that you should expect from an automatic watch.

For example, the 7S26 doesn’t have hacking or hand-winding features. You can find these common features in most of the regular automatic watches in the market. Some cheap third-party Swiss caliber makers like ETA or Sellita offer these features at entry-level watches.

Specification of 7S26 Caliber

  • Basic Type: Automatic
  • Caliber Model: 7S26
  • Jewel Count: 21
  • Caliber Size (Diameter): 27mm
  • Vibration Rate: 21,600 bph
  • Power Reserve: 41+ hours
  • Shock Prevention: Diashock
  • Hand-winding: No
  • Hacking: No

Case

Case

This is where Seiko Recraft SNKM97 shines. You might feel underwhelmed after the review of the movement/caliber in the last section.

The thing is, Seiko focused on the design segment rather than on the internal parts.  

The form factor of Recraft SNKM97 is the most unique and desirable feature. You don’t see too many watches that come with a Tonneau or pillow-shaped case.

More: Seiko SNZF17 Review: The Best Budget Bond Watch

I really loved the vertical brushed satin-finish on the stainless-steel case. It feels premium looks unique.

On the back, Seiko has gone for exhibition-style skeleton case-back. You can show off the beauty of the automatic movement through the clear back.

Form-factor-wise, the case might seem a bit too large. The dial diameter is 43.5mm, which seems standard enough. But the lug-to-lug distance makes the watch fall into the “large” category.

Overall, the case justifies the vintage looks and design philosophy.

Dial

Dial

Okay, let’s talk about the most intriguing feature of the SNKM97 – the dial. And, my God, the dial looks so unique and elegant!

In fact, the design choice of the dial is the “selling point” of this watch.

The background of the dial features an emerald-green and black sunray style design. Seiko has chosen golden markers and hands to complement the emerald green, 12, 6, and 9 o’clock markers have white borders surrounding the golden rectangle.

You can find the day/date display right at the 3 o’clock marker.

More: Tissot PR100 Review: True Swiss Budget Champ

Then, the bezel has the second markers.

As you can see, Seiko has used all the classic elements to design the dial without going for something radical. But I’ve never any watch rocking the emerald-green sunray in the dial before.

And, guess what?

It’s good enough to make people fall for the design of the watch!

Seiko has used the proprietary Hardlex crystal to protect this beautiful dial. There is nothing special about Hardlex, but it gets the job done and offers above average protection against scratches.  

Bracelet

Bracelet

You’ll get a stainless steel link bracelet with the watch. I personally think only a metal bracelet could do justice to the design of Seiko Recraft SNKM97.

Leather or nylon would’ve looked so out-of-place in this watch.

All-in-all metal bracelet completements the design. It’s the standard and the obvious choice.

Product Specification and What to Expect

Feature Type Seiko Recraft SNKM97 What to Expect?
Movement Automatic Premium movement option, more accurate than mechanical or quartz movement.
Caliber Seiko 7S26 Seiko is using their in-house caliber which tend to remain very accurate.
Country of Manufacture Japan/Malaysia The Japan-made variants tend to perform better as users have complained against the Malaysian plant’s QC process.
Case and Bezel Material Stainless Steel Very sturdy, can withstand the toll of regular usage.
Case Diameter 43.5mm Suits both thinner and thicker wrists but the pillow-shaped case might feel too long.
Water-Resistance 50m.(165 Feet) Only splash-resistant, you should never talk it in a swimming session.
Dial Protection Hardlex Decent quality, will protect the dial against scratches.
Weight 330g.(11.64oz.) It’s very heavy; you can feel the weight of the watch!
Luminosity No It’s a bit disappointing as you can’t see the time in the dark well.
Strap Modified Oyster Link Bracelet Feels a bit clanky and rattles often. You can replace it with NATO or ZULU straps.
Clasp Double Push Button Fold-Over (Deployant) Sturdy and reliable but doesn’t have any safety pull.

Social Proof: What Other Customer Says?

Seiko Recraft was an instant hit. Everybody loved the way Seiko [paid homage to the older designs and revived the ’70s retro design.

In fact, within just about three years of launch, the entire collection sold out!

Yes, you can’t find the watch in the official store of Seiko.

More: Casio F 91W Review: The King of the Common Man’s Watch!

That’s why, the watches, especially the green SNKM97 are so valuable to the collectors.

Just check out the following reactions from the real buyers online. You can the reason behind the hype that follows the watch.

Social Proof 1
Social Proof 2
Social Proof 3
Social Proof 4
Social Proof 5

Alternatives to Seiko Recraft SNKM97

It’s really hard for to suggest an alternative to Seiko Recraft Series. You’d be buying the watch for the appeal of getting a vintage watch not for the functionality.

So, while choosing an alternative, I’d focus on the looks and the design philosophy of the watch.

Alternative #1: Seiko Presage SARY075

Seiko Presage SARY075

The first alternative in my list is also from Seiko. However, comparing Recraft with the Presage is like comparing apples to oranges. They fall under different categories.

Presage SARY075 costs almost twice and offers more premium feel.

So, why did I include this watch as an alternative?

Simple!

It also focuses on bringing back the classic retro design.

Seiko SARY075 is an automatic watch by definition. Compared to the entry-level 7S26 caliber of Recraft, SARY075 features the 4R35. It’s a much better caliber that offers hacking and manual hand-winding.

Other than that, both of the calibers have identical features. You can call it an upgraded version of the 7S26.

In the design segment, this watch focuses on offering a minimal look. You’ll get genuine calfskin leather on the band. But it looks like faux leather from a distance.

More: Check our detailed review of WeWood Watch Review here

I really didn’t understand the thought behind the design choice.  

Overall, SARY075 is a great vintage style watch but with a higher price tag.

Alternative #2: Tissot Men’s TIST0194301603101 Heritage Visodate

Tissot Men's TIST0194301603101 Heritage Visodate

Again, I’m sorry as this vintage-style watch doesn’t fall under the same price range either!

But in the vintage design segment, Tissot Heritage Visodate is a well-known name. From every single perspective, Tissot is a much superior watch compared to the Recraft.

In the caliber section, you’re getting 25-jewel ETA 2836-2, which is a much better option than the 7S26.

Then, the dial is covered with the sapphire crystal.

As I said, Tissot heritage is a much better option. But the downside of this watch is the pricing. It’d cost 3x to 4x times more than Recraft depending on the marketplace.

There is no other watch collection that sits at the same price point and seems like a better option than the Seiko Recraft. It’s another reason why this collection is so popular among the users all around the world.   

Conclusion

So, I’m at the final section of my Seiko Recraft review today. Judging from every perspective, Seiko Recraft is a masterpiece and I loved the SNKM97 model the most.

It offers elegance, style, and a fresh take on the retro collection.

If you’re a watch enthusiast or a collector, then Seiko Recraft should be sitting on your collection.

If you have any questions regarding the watch, let me know in comment section. I’d try my best to help you out!

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