Long Term Review – The Seiko Orange Monster wristwatch.

The Orange Monster's Glow

The Seiko Orange Monster. You may never have seen one, but it is the dive watch of choice for many watch enthusiasts. The distinctive ‘teeth’ markers and bright orange dial stand out amongst the conservative wristwatches worn by the majority of people. What is the Seiko Orange Monster like to live with?

History of the Seiko Monster Watch

Seiko Orange Monster
The first generation Seiko Orange Monster

First up, a bit of history: the Seiko Orange Monster was originally released as the SKX779. That watch featured the venerable Seiko 7s26 automatic movement as featured in the Seiko 5 series. It had luminous ‘teeth’ shaped markers which gave it its name, and it was renowned as being built like a brick.

Seiko Orange Monster v2

Seiko Orange Monster v2
Seiko Orange Monster v2

My version of the watch is the facelifted version. The signature ‘teeth’ are now really shaped like teeth and surrounded in black, which makes them stand out more. As it has been upgraded to the ‘Superior’ range, the movement has been updated to the Seiko 4r36 movement. Unlike the older movement, the 4r36 hacks and hand winds. For the uninitiated, ‘hacking’ is the ability to stop the second hand when setting the watch to ensure it is accurate. Hand winding means that you can wind the watch before you wear it, and so you spend less time swirling it in your hand to get it going.

Fit and finish

Let’s get this out of the way first: this thing is built like a tank. The 42.5mm case is fashioned from a thick block of stainless steel. A partial ‘shroud’ around the bezel means that slight knocks won’t accidentally turn the bezel, and the crown is protected by crown guards. The crown itself is a sizeable, knurled piece of steel at the 4 O’clock position. It is easy to unscrew and feels positive. Handwinding is buttery smooth. Weight is about 300g, which is substantial but not too ungainly. Holes in the lugs make strap changing a cinch.

Seiko Orange Monster Bracelet
Seiko Orange Monster Bracelet

The bracelet is superb – very heavy and solid-feeling. The watch has a 20mm lug size, but the bracelet is actually 22mm wide at the ends which makes it look even more substantial. Adjustment is by the world’s most fiddly pin and collar system. Best of luck if you try to adjust it yourself as the tiny collars are easily lost. It has a diver’s extension to increase its length if you wear it over a wetsuit. Four micro-adjustment positions in the clasp mean it is easy to find a size that fits without constantly having to add and remove links.

Features of the Seiko Monster

The Orange Monster's Glow
The Orange Monster’s Glow

As a functional dive watch, the Seiko Monster is hardly brimming with features. It has a day and date function. Days are in English and French in black text except for at the weekend. Saturday is in blue and Sunday in red. This makes the Seiko Monster an ideal weekend wear for me! The hands and dial markers appear creamy white until you move into the shade, whereby you need a pair of sunglasses. The lume on this watch is amazing. It glows brightly for a long time after dark in a lovely shade of green. The 60 click bezel is firm and precise.

Living with the Seiko Orange Monster

 

Seiko Orange Monster
Sundays are red days with the Seiko orange Monster

I love the Seiko Orange Monster, and I don’t know why. The looks are undoubtedly Marmite. Most peoples’ first impression is “urgh!”. It’s a real grower, though, and thanks to its solid build it is my first choice for decorating, gardening and other activities. Its water resistance means I never worry about it and even if I were to smash the Hardlex crystal a replacement would be affordable and easy to come by. My watch has picked up all kinds of scratches and scrapes, but none of them spoils it. I do not feel the need to baby it like some of my other watches.

 

Negatives? Well, there are those Marmite looks. Some days I just can’t bear the thought of wearing it! I also find the bezel guard at the top of the watch cuts into my fingers when I turn it. It’s a little top-heavy, especially if worn on a strap, and although it looks great on rubber, I find myself returning to that bracelet time and time again.

Overall

The Seiko Orange Monster looks great on a rubber strap
Seiko Orange Monster on Rubber Strap

The Seiko Orange Monster is, for me, probably the ultimate tool watch. It is relatively inexpensive for such a well-built piece. Seiko’s movements are accurate and run for years without servicing. As it is an automatic watch, the second hand has a pleasant sweep and, of course, there is no need for batteries. 200m water resistance is more than enough for most users. And it can take a knock without missing a beat. If you bump into another watch enthusiast, they will recognise it and respect your choice of timepiece. I love mine and recommend you try one for yourself.

 

Buying a Seiko Monster Watch

The Seiko SRP309 Monster is not readily available in the UK market, but easily obtainable. There are always plenty of examples on eBay, and Amazon occasionally has stock. The most reliable source for Seiko watches in our experience is Creation Watches. They often have discount events, so it’s worth signing up for their email updates and waiting.

Author: Mike Richmond

Usually found skulking around eBay or the International Watch League forum, Mike writes for a living and spends what little money he makes building up his collection of timepieces.

8 Replies to “Long Term Review – The Seiko Orange Monster wristwatch.

  1. Six weeks ago I thought my Orange Monster the best watch ever. Accurate to a ridiculous 18 seconds a month. Then at only 3 years old the quick-date-adjust failed. It went into the authorised Seiko centre for repair. The repair cost was ridiculous (78% of its cost new). It came back with a gouge where they slipped removing the back, a scratched glass, the wrong day wheel format, (a Korean rather than the original Japanese movement no doubt – not that it should matter, but it does to me) and is ‘accurate’ to 32 seconds a day. It’s a shame; in my mind it’s now an abused, non-authentic, inaccurate, unreliable piece of junk, that will spend the rest of its life in the back of a drawer somewhere. I wish I felt otherwise, but watches are an emotional thing. I also have several older Seikos with the 7S movements, that have all proved reliable, so I’ll be interested to see how other early 4R36s fare.

    1. Oh no! That is a really disappointing story – the 4R36 may not have the pedigree of the 7S series but Seiko movements, in general, are considered real workhorses. It is particularly sad as the Orange Monsters are becoming rare – and as you point out we grow emotionally attached to watches so it is not always as simple as just selling it on and buying another.

    2. really sad. all you needed to do was buy a replacement 7s26 movement online, they’re all over the place. cost about $40 max, and then have a watchmaker swap the movements out for about $50 max. viola, you have a brand new movement, no servicing needed for likely 7 years.

      the thing about having work done on your watches is knowing and trusting the watchmaker. just because it’s a seiko service center means nothing, they hire hacks at low cost like many other places. find your own watchmaker you trust, and never use anyone again unless you personally know their work or have tremendous recommendations. i have one of these watches and recommend you get another one…and for all your watches choose your watchmaker wisely. cheers.

  2. Hi Mike, thanks for the thorough review. I own an SRP777 Turtle Reissue but have had my eye on an orange monster for a while. I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the right direction to get one of those orange rubber straps though in the meantime? Looks killer… Thanks again, Simon

  3. paid £100.00 new 2005..apx. from a jeweller friend of mine. He explained the massive mark up jewellers have. But alas I loved this watch but started to lose time and face scratched and numbers wearing off .. it was well used as a welder sea defences etc. Revitalise estimate from Seiko was forget it ..

  4. good review. i have one i bought about 7 years ago, and then decided to sell it. it has sat unused, wrapped in a box for all that time.

    over the years i became more a fan of diver watches, big dive watches, and seikos. finally, i realized i liked the look of the monsters, and decided to get it out and look it over. the lume and by now retro dial design of this generation one had me. the day date was great. mines the ultra loud and beautiful orange dial. the 7s26 movement started right up and was butter smooth. i have an SKX pepsi i love and have come to appreciate these archaic bullet proof movements, where the 7s26 in the past was one of the reasons for not wearing this.

    i’ve had it on for almost a week now and can’t really take it off. it has a 2005 build date by the numbers on the back. just for fun i thought i’d see what a new old stock gen 1 monster would sell for on ebay, and found them going for up to $1000!!! the least expensive on ebay or amazon for a gen 1 seemed to be in the $400 range, where i paid about $150 years ago new.

    i didn’t have any money for a new watch, with car issues taking my expenditures, but this has been like getting a new watch for Christmas in May. i don’t trash any of my watches, so it’s not a beater. with it’s rarity now, i treat it like my other vintage collectibles and love it.

    the one thing i don’t care for is the limited bezel turning/gripping areas. to get a 2-fingered grip on either side of the bezel, you have to grab between the bezel guards, allowing you to turn only about 7 minutes at a time, or just under 9 turns for the entire dial. however, the bezel action is sooo buttery smooth, i really don’t mind that. like the archaic non-hacking/non-winding movement, it’s become almost a ritual.

    by the way, i’m sure you know this, but for others: the movement iS hackable, but you must do so by holding the crown and slightly rotating it backward at the spot you want to hack it, most likely of course at the 12 position. you have to sit there holding it with a bit of backward pressure until your timing source clicks over and then you let go and voila, you are hacked. another hassle that over time has become an almost lovable ritual.

    cheers.

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