Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby conjurer » April 7th 2016, 3:22pm

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The watch of the hipster doofus

Well, maybe:

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What we have here is the new Seiko Prospex Transocean, which I've been living with for the last month of so. It caused some waves a few months back when pics of it, along with a sharply produced video (the grab at the top of this thread is part of it). It's a brand new design, with some old fashioned Seiko diver DNA thrown in, and it's the bomb.

Called the SBDC039 by Seiko, as well as the Transocean (which is interesting; Seiko usually doesn't bother to name its models), it's a big old diver with some interesting and new spins for the sometimes stodgy Japanese watch company. First is the integrated bracelet, which pretty much kills it for a lot of collectors right from the beginning, since trying to fit it with a strap would be pretty expensive, as Seiko don't make one and you'd have to have one custom cut if you DIY. Another is the use of sapphire for the crystal--something forum-rats have been screaming about Seiko doing forever, instead of the Hardlex they normally put on their divers.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the TO is the bezel--while a lot of companies have been using ceramic for bezel inserts for a few years now, instead of the scratch-prone aluminum, Seiko went somewhat nuts and fashioned the entire bezel from ceramic--forgive the schmutz in some of the micros, I thought I'd cleaned the damned thing well enough:

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So there you go, a real deal ceramic bezel, sitting proud of the case, apart from partial shrouds at the top and bottom of the casefront. Apparently, from an exploded picture Seiko has circulated, the ceramic is affixed to a steel carriage, by two screws (you can see one on the wall under the lume pip.) The whole thing is polished immaculately, and the indentations on the sides (also beatifully molded and polished) allow the wearer to turn and set the bezel. The numbers and graduations around the top are machined in and then backfilled with white paint. The bezel action itself is pretty precise, 120 click, with a little backplay.

The watchcase itself is a pretty large 45mm. Thickness is a little short of 14mm. Seiko specs the lug to lug at around 45mm; I'm not sure how they measured this, but I get around 50mm. As there are no real lugs to speak of, the thickest part of the bracelet measures 24mm, and then tapers down to 18--a nice departure for Seiko, who seemed to enjoy using a 20mm bracelet to try to balance out a big watchhead, like on a Marinemaster or a Sumo. The case is very finely machined and finished with a lot of sharp angles, making it look like it came from the same design studio as the Cadillac CTS. Another thing that Seiko collectors bitch about is how Seiko divers almost never signed crowns:

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Well, there's not one here, either, but they did stick on a nicely beveled piece of ceramic.

The dial is nice and readable, with the Prospex X, which everyone seems to love, stuck right in the middle. The date is another departure for Seiko, with it tucked between the four and five markers instead of at the three. The hands and markers are high-polished steel, filled with Lumabrite. Some of those appalling 2D stock pictures of the TO shows a pronounced interlocked X pattern on the dial--and it's there, but much more subtle--you can only see it in bright light, and I managed a very poor picture of it from an angle:

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The lume is very good:

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And easily passes the Conjurer quick glance in a dark car test, but surprisingly fades rather quickly and doesn't last as long as it does on either the Monster or the Marinemaster.

While the rest of the case is Zoolander, the caseback is Jacques Cousteau:

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The TO is dubbed an air diver by Seiko, and it's water resistance is spec'd at 200 meters--although, Seiko being Seiko, it's probably a lot better.

The bracelet is also elegantly made and finished--important, since you'll have to live with it:

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Interestingly, it's assembled in a way I've never encountered before; the center links appear to have extra pivot points in the outerlinks, allowing a very small amount of extra flex, which I attempted to photograph below; the first image shows the bracelet without bend, the second shows it with bend, with the center link moved upwards slightly:

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The underside of the bracelet shows the construction:

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Whether or not this makes the bracelet more comfy, I can't say. I can say that the bracelet is very comfy indeed--again, a good thing since you're not going to go NATO on this mofo. The clasp is a standard stamped metal cover over a well machined scissors-style deploy, a nice upgrade there as well. It's fitted with the same cheap fold-over diver's extension you get on the Monster.

Inside the TO is the 6R15 movement, Seiko's standard automatic 6 beat per second movement they use in most of their mid-level watches. The one in mine is wonderfully regulated, and runs about +1.5-2 seconds a day. Another nice touch is that the entire watch is treated with Dia-Shield--how it will work in the long run I don't know, but I've worn the TO pretty much every day since I got it, and I can't find a scratch anywhere, not even desk-diving marks on the clasp--so it's pretty cool there.

So, what does all this add up to? I don't suppose anybody is going to us the Transocean as a true tool-dive-watch--the lack of using a rubber strap, as well as banging the pretty ceramic bezel into a piece of coral and knocking a chunk off of it precludes that. I suspect what the TO is, really, is Seiko's first purpose-built desk diver; not an issue for me, as I'm as likely to go SCUBA diving as I am to turn into a vegan. Some folks will turn up their nose at this, but let's face it--most dive watches don't get any wetter than walking through a rain shower.

The downside: The Transocean ain't cheap; I paid as near to a grand US for it as makes no difference, and that's a fair amount of money for a watch--some would say too much for a Seiko, but I beg to differ. I paid nearly twice that for my Marinemaster, which is a tool watch, and it doesn't make me as happy as the TO does. The TO is more wearable, for one thing, and the MM I own isn't nearly as accurate. While the MM is a stunning watch you can wear saturation diving, the TO is a stunningly pretty watch you can wear doing everything else.

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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby 3Flushes » April 7th 2016, 3:43pm

Informative and entertaining per usual, conj.

I don't like the integrated bracelet, however, it's finally something a little fresh and really nice looking design wise from those guys. I also like the way the cut of the edge of the bezel appears to mesh with the broad cut edge of the crown.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby smellody » April 7th 2016, 3:46pm

Excellent review there Conjurer. Handsome watch. I look foward to seeing it in person.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby artman » April 7th 2016, 4:06pm

Despite the schmutz as seen on your badass macro, that's an awfully nice bezel. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby bedlam » April 7th 2016, 4:40pm

Great looking...but just a couple of functional limitations mean it not for me. Great write-up Mr conjurer!
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby conjurer » April 7th 2016, 4:49pm

Thanks, gentlemen!
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby 32771 » April 7th 2016, 5:24pm

Great review and pix! Thanks.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby JAS1125 » April 7th 2016, 5:55pm

Another great review....I assume no regrets in flipping the Turtle for this?
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby hcharles » April 7th 2016, 6:03pm

Great write-up John. Fantastic photos to go along with your review. By the way, you need to spray for weeds.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby conjurer » April 7th 2016, 6:20pm

JAS1125 wrote:Another great review....I assume no regrets in flipping the Turtle for this?


Nope!
I checked you out, and I now want you to take the journey to lick my taint. It's small, but vast.


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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby conjurer » April 7th 2016, 6:21pm

hcharles wrote:Great write-up John. Fantastic photos to go along with your review. By the way, you need to spray for weeds.


Yup!
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby eddiea » April 7th 2016, 6:26pm

Great review , like the watch , lugs work looks like my Citizen GPS Ti....only thing I dislike is the darn X on the dial
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby tiktok » April 7th 2016, 6:27pm

Great write up both pluses and otherwise. Look for Seiko to create new movements in near future to fill the gap between 6R and 9F.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby Racer-X » April 7th 2016, 6:42pm

Very nice, love the bezel and bracelet. Shame they can't put a higher quality clasp/diver extension especially in this price range.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby biglove » April 7th 2016, 6:49pm

A damned fine review and photos.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby TemerityB » April 7th 2016, 7:13pm

Isn't the X supposed to mean it's the Prospex line? What do I know.

All I do know is that looks like a damn nice piece.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby Mortuus Fakeuus » April 7th 2016, 10:37pm

As always, you set the standard for review writing, you miserable old fuck. That truly is one beautiful watch, John, and I can see why you didn't balk at forking out a thousand bones American for it. And I think the look of the integrated bracelet more than makes up for the fact that it's, well, an integrated bracelet; in other words, I really dig it. Ditto the all-ceramic bezel. As you yourself might express it, "That thing's got me shooting off like Dylan and Klebold over here."

This certainly must have been a watch you daydreamed about when you were a young teen, babysitting for little Rita Haworth and filching all the Horlicks drink mix...
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby conjurer » April 7th 2016, 10:41pm

Thanks, ticker, loaf, Russ and eddie!
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby conjurer » April 7th 2016, 10:55pm

TemerityB wrote:Isn't the X supposed to mean it's the Prospex line? What do I know.

All I do know is that looks like a damn nice piece.


Yup, T, the X denotes the Prospex line for Seiko. Interestingly, of everything that Seikos done over the years to piss off collectors, the Prospex X is possibly the worst.

A partial list of things that Seikos done to piss off collectors:

--The Sumo made with a 20mm wide bracelet. The Sumo's a big watch, probably as big as the Transocean here. Seiko fitted it with a 20mm bracelet (at the lug) and it pissed a lot of collectors the fuck off. No matter every Seiko diver in history had a 20mm bracelet, every collector in the fucking work thought that it was unbalanced and top-heavy (which is kinda is) because Seiko didn't use a 22mm bracelet. Seiko, as usual, didn't give a fuck what collectors thought. You want a Sumo? You get a 20mm bracelet.

--The Marinemaster made with Hardlex crystal, unsigned crown, and 20mm bracelet. Plenty of collectors thought that a $2000 watch from anybody should have a sapphire crystal and a signed crown. Personally, I didn't care about the crystal, the unsigned crown or even the 20mm bracelet. I was pissed that Seiko sold a $2000 watch, with a movement that rivalled anything the Swiss had ever made, that was inaccurate. The movement in mine is perfectly adjusted; no matter what attitude the watch is left in (crown up, crown down, case up, case down) it's perfectly adjusted. It runs exactly the same no matter what. The problem is that it runs exactly +8 seconds a day. Another hald an hour with the watchmaker would have made it perfect. Interestingly, Seiko's new version of the Marinemaster does have a signed crown--unfortunately, it's signed with the Prospex X.

Now, the Prospex X fucks off a lot of collectors. It's on the dial of, apparently, every Seiko Prospex on the planet. For the Transocean, I'm OK--it's got sapphire, it's got ceramic, and it's even got a ceramic cabachon on the crown. I can live with the X.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby conjurer » April 7th 2016, 11:01pm

Mortuus wrote:As always, you set the standard for review writing, you miserable old fuck. That truly is one beautiful watch, John, and I can see why you didn't balk at forking out a thousand bones American for it. And I think the look of the integrated bracelet more than makes up for the fact that it's, well, an integrated bracelet; in other words, I really dig it. Ditto the all-ceramic bezel. As you yourself might express it, "That thing's got me shooting off like Dylan and Klebold over here."

This certainly must have been a watch you daydreamed about when you were a young teen, babysitting for little Rita Haworth and filching all the Horlicks drink mix...


Praise from Caesar is praise indeed, you damned old goat.

All joking aside, the Transocean has become my daily wearer. Will it remain that way? Who knows?
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby Mortuus Fakeuus » April 7th 2016, 11:48pm

conjurer wrote:All joking aside, the Transocean has become my daily wearer. Will it remain that way? Who knows?

That's an interesting thought, John, and one that I think naturally occurs whenever we make these very singular buys. When you first posted this watch, my immediate thought was that it had all the marks of what I call a 'little collection wrecker.' You know, one of those watches that makes you sell off everything else because none of them have much prospect of getting worn any more. I have yet to directly experience this phenomenon myself, though I've come very close a couple of times. At any rate, I'm seriously pickled tink for you with this one, you elderly capra aegagrus hircus.

As my first IP at Pensacola used to say, "That's some good shit right there." 8-)
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby foghorn » April 8th 2016, 10:50am

Does it have a signed crown because if it doesn't have a signed crown then it sucks the dicks of a thousand donkeys because everybody knows that only phucktards and others of their ilk wear watches that don't have signed crowns.


Nice review as per usual.

Signed,
Crown
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby Mortuus Fakeuus » April 8th 2016, 12:06pm

foghorn wrote:Does it have a signed crown because if it doesn't have a signed crown then it sucks the dicks of a thousand donkeys because everybody knows that only phucktards and others of their ilk wear watches that don't have signed crowns.
Nice review as per usual.

Signed,
Crown

dammit, fogbert, it's garter cabby-shawn wilsie made uh black rawk, an no juan sines cabbitch-Shawn's, yuh danged olde fule! Aye worned ewe ubout drankin' that kiwi polish edge dressing fore yore shews; it maiks yore teef blak an terns yore livur intuh gfelterphish, naught two menshun may king yore brane fergit schitt. damit, fogy, ever body nose yuh cain't sine uh rawk, gudt gawtt! go gitcher slef uh rawk an tryan sine it; ewell gibbons sea whut eye mene. :lol:
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby TemerityB » April 8th 2016, 2:14pm

foghorn wrote:Does it have a signed crown because if it doesn't have a signed crown then it sucks the dicks of a thousand donkeys because everybody knows that only phucktards and others of their ilk wear watches that don't have signed crowns.


Nice review as per usual.

Signed,
Crown


This made me laugh hard.
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Re: Impressions of Seiko Transocean SBDC039

Postby DX » April 9th 2016, 5:07am

I'm impressed, review, photos and watch...
Last edited by DX on April 11th 2016, 4:55pm, edited 1 time in total.
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