Seiko Presage Cocktail Time Review



Seiko released the original Cocktail Time – the SARB065 – for the Japanese domestic market in 2010. While I’ve always had an interest in it, the overly dramatic sunburst dial and price kept me from pulling the trigger.


Then in 2017 Seiko released new Cocktail Time watches through its Presage line. They featured new dials, models, and used a different movement. Since then, I’ve bought a total of four Cocktail Time watches, one I’ve since sold, one I’ve gifted to my wife, and two are in my current rotation.


I should, then, know a thing or two about the new Cocktail Time. Here’s my review.


l. Overview


Cocktail Time watches form a small part of the whole Presage line. Each model is inspired by, well, cocktails. For each cocktail known to bartenders, there seems to be a corresponding Cocktail Time watch.


Seiko is notorious for churning out endless variations of the same watch. The Cocktail Time is no different. Whether it’s a good thing or not, it’s for consumers to decide. I am personally not a fan of this approach as it distracts from the real hitters in the collection.


And for each cocktail-inspired watch, there are a number of variations: 1. a three-handed men’s watch; 2. a three-handed women’s watch; and 3. a five-handed men’s watch with a power reserve indicator. Seiko has since released other variations (e.g., with an open heart).


This review will focus on variations 1. and 2., with which I have first-hand experience. I initially wanted to buy variation 3. because I’m a fan of power reserve indicators. But upon trying it on in person, I found the watch to be too thick at 14.4 mm (v. 11.8 mm of variation 1.). Over time, I also found variation 3. to be too cluttered. Hence, I'm happy I went with variation 1.


The first Cocktail Time I bought was the blue-dialed Starlight (SRPC01), followed by the white-dialed Sakura Fubuki (SRPC03). I was very happy with these watches. But then a year later Seiko released the Seiko Fuyugeshiki (SRPC97), which also has a white dial. The difference between the Sakura Fubuki and Fuyigeshiki are the dial textures (geometric floral dial v. snowflake dial) and seconds hand (polished v. blued).


I’ve always had a soft spot for snowflake dials and blued hands. But I couldn’t justify having two white-dialed Cocktail Time watches. Thus, I parted with the Sakura Fubuki. After I acquired the Fuyugeshiki, I bought the ladies’ version (SRP843) for a gift to my wife.


Men's Starlight; Women's Fuyugeshiki; Men's Fuyugeshiki

II. The Watch


The dial is definitely the main attraction of the Cocktail Time.


To my eyes, the Sakura Fubuki's dial mimics a snowy mountain ledge with a clear blue glacier river running through it. While the Starlight mimics an acrylic painting of the night sky, especially with the texture that resembles brush strokes and vignetting around the edge.



I think the dial alone is a good enough reason to by the watch. But critics complain about the new Cocktail Time's use of the 4R35 movement, rather than 6R15.


To that, all I have to say is that my Cocktail Time runs at +3.5 seconds... in a week. That's a deviation of +0.5 seconds in a day.


Another common complaint about the movement is its finishing (coupled with the open caseback). But this is obviously a very subjective issue, i.e., how good should a movement finishing be to justify using an open caseback? There's no right answer to this question. But what I do know is that I'd rather have an open caseback than a solid one for this watch.


The watch comes with a domed hardlex crystal. I can see why some would prefer a sapphire crystal. But I can understand Seiko's decision to use hardlex instead of sapphire, especially considering the domed edge of the crystal. This gives the dial more visual interest when viewed from an angle. And doing it in sapphire could be prohibitively more expensive (even more than a flat sapphire crystal).



Depending on which model you buy, it comes with a leather strap (smooth or croc-print calf) or stainless steel bracelet. The strap is fairly standard. It comes with a Seiko-signed deployment clasp, which I prefer over tang buckles. The bracelet is also quite average, although I do like the invisible butterfly clasp and solid links. But over all they do feel a bit flimsy, especially the endlinks, which are hollow.


I replaced the OEM strap with bespoke straps with quick-release spring bars and bought extra deployment clasps from Seiko. That way, I can quickly swap straps without any tools. The Fuyugeshiki profits from this immensely as the white dial works with pretty much any strap. Depending on my mood, I change it up with navy or taupe straps.



For detailed on-paper specs, refer to the end of this post.


III. How the Watch Fits in One’s Collection


While Cocktail Time watches look like dress watches, I find that I mostly wear them with rather casual clothing. At 40.5 mm with a thin bezel, the watch looks and feels big under dress shirt cuffs. Yet the leather strap looks a bit too smart for t-shirts.


So the sweet spot for this watch is a smart casual outfit, perhaps a rolled-up dress shirt with chinos or denim.


Having said the above, the watch can still work with formal clothing, though a smaller diameter would be preferable. And it can still work with casual clothing, like t-shirts, if you wear the watch with the steel bracelet.


Now you might be tempted to purchase the women's watch instead (which has a case diameter of 33.8 mm) and wear it like a proper dress watch under a suit and dress shirt cuffs. I thought this could work, considering that most of my vintage dress watches have a 34 mm case. However, I found that the proportions are off for it to be worn as a men's dress watch; the lug width is a bit too narrow and the case is a bit too thick.



IV. Price and Closing


At retail, the Cocktail Time is one of the best value propositions.


The Starlight set me back around IDR 3.4 million (approx. USD 235) in 2017. While the Fuyugeshiki set me back around IDR 4.4 million (approx. USD 300) in 2019. Both were bought from an authorized dealer in Indonesia. A lot of watch for the money, indeed: an overall well made watch with a unique dial and, ahem, in-house movement from a heritage horology brand.


The prices, however, aren't the same in the second-hand market and outside of Indonesia.


In the second-hand Indonesian market I typically see the Fuyugeshiki for sale for around IDR 5 million (approx. USD 340). The Starlight is being sold for even more. They go for around IDR 8 million (approx. USD 550); I've even seen one being sold for IDR 10 million (approx. USD 680) and up.


Prices outside of Indonesia are also different. According to Seiko's global website, the MSRP is 420 Euro (approx. USD 500), which is more than twice the price I paid in Indonesia.


As a small aside, the Fuyugeshiki and Starlight are both "limited editions":

  1. Fuyugeshiki: limited to 7,000 pieces

  2. Starlight: limited to 4,800 pieces (3,500 SRPC01 pieces for the global market and 1,300 SARY085 pieces for the Japanese market)

So it is "limited" not in a sense that it is rare; it is limited in a sense that the production is capped (and now discontinued). I am not overly concerned about the limited edition status, although this may be the reason why the prices have gone up.


In conclusion, if you can find the Cocktail Time (especially the Starlight or Fuyugeshiki) at or close to the retail price, I would definitely recommend it. I can only think of two types of people that will not enjoy this watch: (1) someone that only wants haute horology-level movement finishing and (2) someone that is so clumsy and reckless that they can only wear watches with sapphire crystals. If you don't fall within these categories, then the Cocktail Time is a very good watch for the money.


Written by: Nikki Krisadtyo


Specs:


Men’s Watch:

Movement: Cal. 4R35 automatic with manual winding and hacking second hand

Power reserve: 41 hours

Crystal: Box-shaped Hardlex

Water Resistance: 5 bar

Case thickness: 11.8 mm

Case diameter: 40.5 mm

Accuracy: +45 to -35 seconds per day

Vibrations: 21,600 vibrations per hour (6 beats per second)


Women’s Watch:

Movement: Cal. 4R35 automatic with manual winding and hacking second hand

Power reserve: 41 hours

Crystal: Box-shaped Hardlex

Water Resistance: 5 bar

Case thickness: 11.3 mm

Case diameter: 33.8 mm

Accuracy: +45 to -35 seconds per day

Vibrations: 21,600 vibrations per hour (6 beats per second)


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