In this Seiko SARB033 review, we’ll examine the style, function and value of this legendary wrist watch.
Seiko has long produced some of the best values in the watch world, and one of the best examples of that trend is the automatic SARB033.
The watch represents a culmination of the things that people love about Seiko watches: value, style, functionality, and quality.
The SARB033 has a leg up on even the best of Seiko’s most well-known watches, in that it’s got Grand Seiko-like construction and an excellent automatic movement that can be seen through a display caseback.
We recently had the opportunity to test-drive a Seiko SARB033 and came away from the experience with a deep appreciation of the watch. We found that it is confidence inspiring in its solidity and feels like a watch that costs thousands more.
It works on a wide variety of wrist sizes as well, and we found it to be as at home on an upscale leather strap as it is on its factory bracelet.
Here’s why we think the SARB033 is a special watch and why we believe it should be a part of any diverse collection:
The SARB033 has a unique and versatile style that can be dressed up or down, depending on the situation. It features polished indexes and sharp sword-style hands that fit its aesthetic perfectly, and that help accent the otherwise flat dial color.
On a dark leather strap, the watch is sophisticated and subdued, fitting for an upscale dress timepiece. On a bracelet, the SARB033 can just as easily go the other way and work with shorts and flip flops.
Its uncluttered design and simple profile make the SARB033 a timeless watch that will stand up to years of wear without going out of style.
The Value Proposition
Perhaps the best part of owning a Seiko SARB033 is knowing that you got the deal of the century for a watch that offers much more than its price tag would suggest.
Under the hood, the SARB033 features Seiko’s venerable 6R15 automatic movement.
The 23-jewel movement comes with a 50-hour power reserve and excellent accuracy. Unlike other “budget” watches, the SARB033 also features a beautiful scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that meets the polished stainless steel of its case with excellent fit and tolerances.
Though it’s not a dive watch, the timepiece features a 100-meter water resistance rating. That means it will feel just as at home on the lake as it does in the boardroom. It can get wet without worry, which is something that can’t be said for most dressier watches.
Depending on the condition and where it’s purchased, the SARB033 can run anywhere from around $800 to $1,500. Those prices are a few steps above and beyond what most people expect to pay for a Seiko, but that’s part of the fun here.
The SARB033 is packed with high-end features, has excellent build quality, and is relatively hard to find. All of those things are bonuses for people that buy and collect watches from around the world.
Seiko SARB033 Quality
The Seiko SARB033’s bracelet is inspired by Grand Seiko’s bracelets, which are among the best in the watch industry today. It’s solid and confidence inspiring and feels much more substantial than the watch’s price tag would suggest.
Those great looks are accompanied by real quality as well. The bracelet doesn’t pinch skin or pull hair and stays closed securely in almost all circumstances.
That quality and substance is also present in the SARB033’s case. The bezel is highly polished aluminum and contrasts nicely with the satin finish on the “shoulders” of the case.
The sides of the case are polished as well, and the transition between the different case finishes creates a depth that is usually reserved for watches that cost hundreds or even thousands more. The display caseback and signed crown are further evidence of this Seiko’s upscale appeal.
The SARB033 has a 38mm size that makes it comfortable and wearable in a variety of situations. It’s not the huge, oversized sports watch that becomes tiresome to wear over time and it’s not a dainty dress watch that feels like it’ll fall apart at the first hint of outdoor activity.
It features highly polished hands and indexes that remain viewable in almost any lighting conditions and the small lume plots around the dial keep it legible after dark.
Unlike so many other affordable watches, and even many of Seiko’s own timepieces, the SARB033 is made exclusively in Japan.
The movement, case, and all components are manufactured in Japan and the whole thing is assembled in a Seiko factory there.
That’s a big bonus for Seiko fans and watch tech nerds alike. Another big bonus here is the fact that the SARB033 was technically only on sale in Japan, which means that it’s a somewhat exclusive addition to American wrists.
That exclusivity also translates to production dates. The SARB033 was discontinued a couple of years ago, which means that finding a new one is a tall order, and used examples are climbing in price.
The Verdict: Worth the Hype?
While the Seiko SARB033 offers plenty to like in an affordable package, it won’t be for everyone. Its size makes it versatile and comfortable in a large variety of situations, but it can also make the watch too small for some wrists.
It’s also in a sort of grey area between thick sports watches and razor-thin dress watches, which can make it too thick for people with smaller wrists and too thin for people with large wrists.