Unlike other hobbies or enthusiast interests, the more you know, the sometimes harder it is to determine what watch is best for you, given the overwhelming number of watches available, with more unveiling themselves quickly. When examining the many brands feeding into this expansive world of watches available, the most guilty culprit is probably Seiko given their wide variety of options available and segmented release strategy to different regions of the world.
The SARB family of watches has become a fixture in the watch community and for years have been some of the best watches that an enthusiast can buy for under $300. Commonly, the SARB033 and SARB035 are the common players that get mention, but like many things in life, the idea of being truly great can draw enough attention to a point where exceptional can easily be overlooked.
In the case of the SARB family, this is common practice, with the SARB037, being a primary example of exactly that. The watch is a bit of an enigma, being hard to locate or purchase, but with its combination of its familiar package and exotic case brings an endearing package to the table.
First looking at the overall specs: Overview Specs: Case Size: 38 mm, Case Thickness: 11.5 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44.6 mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R15
When it comes to the main draws to the Seiko Sarb, there are quite a few that are worth mentioning, but a point that dissociates completely from price or in this case with a unique dial is this watch’s great wearability and size. With a case size of 38 mm, a reasonable thickness, and a compact lug-to-lug, it is already easy to notice why the SARB series (especially the SARB033 and SARB035) have become such enthusiast favorites over the years. The case itself has a couple of interesting characteristics, one being its uniquely executed round, cushioned case style along the side that tapers down at the lugs. In addition, when looking at the case a bit from a side vantage point, we have a stepped or faceted case that gives a level of depth to its design while also showing the sloping/tucking form factor of the lugs and its brushed finish on the anterior side and subdued polish along the side of the case. On my 6.25 inch wrist or 15.9 cm for my metric system friends, I have an amazing fit, wearing compact both in length and thickness, while still managing to establish some presence.
Between the lugs, we have a lug width of 20 mm, which is the best lug width you can ask for for any watch, and I think it is little secret how versatile these SARBS are when it comes to straps. However, for basically my entire time with this piece, I wore it on the bracelet. It has been several years that I have worn a SARB factory bracelet, but after sizing it right and factoring in the very low expectation I usually have for Seiko bracelets, I have to say, this one is not the worst by a longshot. It comes in with brushed, three-link style meeting at a two-button release signed clasp on the underside. The bracelet is breathable, comfy along the underside given its brushed finish, and is not a complete hair pull, unlike other more affordable bracelets out there.
But despite its positive notes, it is not perfect, as it does only have two micro-adjustment points, I thankfully got lucky with sizing this perfectly with those, but others out there might not be as lucky. In addition, at the clasp there is a strange occurrence where the clasp extends out quite a bit from the links, causing a gap, which sure is on the underside of the wrist so it won’t be seen, however, it is felt a bit when you are wearing it.
So when you consider this, and the many third-party options available for straps and bracelets, I think these small issues become more of deal breakers. Yet, despite them, you have perhaps one of the most versatile cases you can find for this price range, one that is robust to handle the many taxing situations that come with everyday wear while still looking the business on the dial.
Thus far we have kind of been avoiding a bit of the elephant in the room, this watch’s incredible dial. A dial that goes to show some of the gems that are made for the Japanese Domestic Market, that never are seen from others around the world. And when first looking at this piece and when I was offered to review this from a follower of the channel, I had only seen this watch around rarely, and despite there being many Seiko models that catch my eye, this one appealed quite immediately.
The watch on the surface reminded me greatly of the white grape oyster perpetual, given its color. The dial, with its sunburst finish, could probably be best described as a salmon in proper light or pink when in the shadows. At the center of the dial, we have the traditional Seiko SARB handset, with a simple thin second hand, and the hour and minute hands matching in both their shape, as well as their use of lume within. The lume appears to match that of the dial in its tint, shining brightly when in the dark, providing more backing to this watch’s versatile nature of being sporty and dressy.
At the 12 o’clock, we have an applied Seiko logo and at the 6, the writing of Automatic 23 jewels alluding to the movement within which we will discuss in a moment. But as we are looking at this watch, know that is a personal watch of a follower of the channel so don’t mind the scratching. To match the applied logo, we have applied hour markers, all filled with lume to match the hands, and a simple date, outlined in a steel frame at the three.
But quite rarely do you get an exotic style dial like this that actually is more subdued than it is eye-catching for those that are also in the room. As given the softer tones of the dial finish, you are getting a piece that only demands your attention, perhaps looking at the time more than you should, while surprisingly sustaining a level of versatility when pairing with outfits and many scenarios that you send its way.
The 6R15, despite being basic and showing no decoration, it is the flagship movement for many of these $500-$1,000 Seiko models and certainly improves from the 7S26. First, when it comes to its function when pulling out the crown, this watch does not have a screw-down crown, so hand-winding at the first position, the second position, the user can change the date by rotating counterclockwise, and at the farthest pulled out position can adjust all the hands in unison, stopping the seconds in the process. Flipping the watch over, we have the open case back showing the 6R15B in all its glory. Let’s be real here, it is nothing extraordinary to look at, but it serves its purpose.
Movement Breakdown: Seiko 6R15B, 21,600 vph, -15 / + 25 Sec. per day, Hackable (stops second hand at farthest out position), Spron Mainsprinn, Power Reserve 50 hours
And these movements are not foolproof, as I have heard of some issues with the earlier versions of the movement, but as someone who has owned several watches that contain these movements, I have never had any issues and typically see them running well within the accuracy range Seiko specs these at with my SARX045, a watch that I have owned well over a year now, still running 5 to 6 seconds from deviation a day.
Now I have to be honest, outside of the Seiko SKX, the common Seiko SARBS are probably the affordable watches that I have become exhausted of the most, and again, this is not speaking to these being bad watches or anything, I just literally see them everywhere, but that makes sense as the watches themselves are built for taking on nearly everything.
But the fun thing about Seiko, is given their siloed production and marketing within Japan, there are models that I see out and about almost monthly where I say to myself, what is that? And I think this is a big reason why Seiko is loved by so many. Given their dominance of mass production creating so many JDM models that we never get word of in different parts of the world, Seiko in all their affordable glory manages to create an unintended level of excitement in the hunt. And with this Seiko SARB037, basically being near impossible to find and surrounded in a bit of mystery, might just have to be the Seiko you want, but can’t have.