Review of the Seiko Sumo SBDC001

I purchased this used timepiece in Feb 2016 from a friend after the purchase of my Jean Richard Aeroscope Arsenal F.C. limited edition.

The Seiko Sumo SBDC001 which I purchased was a used Japanese domestic model piece and is part of the Seiko Prospex line of divers. The one I owned did not have the ‘X’ on the dial. The latest model SBDC031 has the ‘X’ on the dial. I was always looking forward to purchase a cheap Seiko which was reliable. The watch is stealthy and comes with an all-black dial and black aluminium bezel. The SBDC001 (45mm case and is 13.5mm thick) uses the workhorse Seiko 6R15 movement, unlike some of the other lower-end Seiko 5s or Turtles. The case shape and finishing is second to none and there are different layers of polish and brushed surfaces on the side of the case. The watch is a simple time only watch with a second hand and a rotating bezel. Seiko is a renowned brand which needs no introduction whatsoever. There is also the blue Sumo nicknamed the ‘Blumo’ (SBDC003). The SBDC005 comes with an orange dial and a rubber strap. There are also various limited edition or special edition Sumos like the one for the 50th anniversary etc. Seiko is also releasing a Seiko Sumo Padi in early 2017. The K series of the same watches are slightly cheaper but are supposedly of poorer built quality.

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Seiko movements are reliable and are made in-house. The Seiko 6R15 mechanical movements (50 hour power reserve) runs at 3Hz has been around for ages and keep good time and chronometry. In addition, because they are Japanese movements, they are a lot more affordable. In fact, the 4R36s, 6R15s are comparable to Miyota movements or even Swiss ETAs. There is extensive lume on the SBDC001, comparable to some of Seiko’s other divers. The watch simply glows like a torch at night! This watch is certainly an upgrade from the SKX or even the Tuna/Turtle range, which uses the 7s movement. Seiko watches are good value-for-money and aesthetically pleasing and for good reason.

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The main reason why I found it so attractive was the tool-like nature of the watch. My reasons are listed below:

The SBDC001 comes in a stainless steel case. (about 51mm lug-to-lug) and a standard Sumo bracelet (20mm). The lug width on the bracelet seems a little small as the case is indeed very heavy. I would have preferred 22mm lugs. The lug holes makes changing straps a breeze. The case sits nicely on the wrist and is well-built. I have worn the Sumo for extended periods of time and have not felt any wrist fatigue. However, the heavy case and bracelet is something to get used to. However, one could always wear the Sumo with a thick Nato band.

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The Seiko Sumo has been a great success and it has a cult following as the case finishing is simply top notch for this price point. It is simply a tool watch which can be abused without the user worrying about it. The dial is largely symmetrical, other than the white date wheel indication at 3 o’clock. The hour markers and minute markers are shaped like broad swords. The dial is pure black, with white fonts and markers. The black bezel is fully marked from 0 to 60 minutes. The all-black look gives the watch a nice tool-like feel, just like Rolex Submariners.

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The SBDC001 is a dive watch with 200 meters water resistance and is secured by the screw-down crown at the 4 o’clock position. This watch can certainly be used for sports and for daily use. It will pair well with formal attire, like a suit/blazer or even t-shirts and jeans. I have worn this piece numerous times to work and I have had no trouble with it. Being 13.5mm tall, it might not slide under most shirt-cuffs. I would say that the watch is quite stealthy in nature due to the dull black colour on the dial. The watch does not get as much wrist time as my Ball or Tudor watches as it also costs much less. The 120-click uni-directional bezel is easy to turn and there is little play in it. The bezel also aligns perfectly to the 12 o’clock mark. However, I have read reviews that some bezels might be stiff to turn and might not align perfectly too.

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The watch uses the Seiko 6R15 automatic movement, which is hand winding and has hacking capabilities. This a certainly a workhorse movement that is widely used in other Seikos like the famous dress watch Presage range. The movement comes with a 50 hour power reserve when fully wound. I am not used to watches which can’t wind and have to be powered via wrist movements. Hence, this watch suits me more than the SKX range. The automatic movement cannot be seen as there is a closed caseback. The rotor is also very quiet and barely audible. The watch seems to be fairly accurate based on the brief period which I had it with me. Subsequently, I sold this watch and purchased the Seiko Turtle SRP779, which had a Pepsi bezel.

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The Sumo SBDC001 has Seiko’s renowned proprietary Hardlex crystal. It gives the watch greater presence and texture, evoking a vintage feel while claiming to be harder than hesalite crystal. Although not as superior to sapphire crystal in terms of scratch resistance properties, it is durable and decent enough. The stainless steel caseback is engraved with the Air Diver logo and has a brushed finish.

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Overall, I am impressed by how the watch looks. However, I have issues with the weight of the watch with the standard-fare Seiko bracelet. The Seiko Sumo SBDC001 is a unique entry level dive watch which is durable and can last for ages. It is something that is highly recommended and is much more affordable than Swiss watches. The watch is available in Singapore and retails for SGD 750. You may consider purchasing it online via eBay or Amazon. If you are considering an entry level dive watch, this watch might just be the one for you.

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