Monday, December 1, 2014

Watch Review: Seiko Railroad Pocket Watch SVBR001

Image courtesy of Seiya Japan, a well-respected exporter of JDM watches.
I've had a fascination with pocket watches from the moment I first laid eyes on one.  While anachronisms have always appealed to me in general, there is something intrinsically cultured and appealing about pulling a watch from your pocket to check the time.  While the wristwatch largely replaced the pocket watch that used to occupy a place of prominence in every gentleman's getup (and has, in turn, been functionally supplanted by the timekeeping function inherent to cellphones), it remains the only traditionally acceptable timepiece to wear with all but the most formal attire.  It is for this reason that I reserve room in my watch collection for a pair of pocket watches, one mechanical, one quartz, to fill in during occasions where sartorial dictates would inveigh against wrist-borne timepieces.

The Seiko Railroad Pocket Watch (SVBR001) was one of the few purchases I'd planned well in advance of my last trip to Japan.  It's a perfect example of a contemporary watch designed firmly in the aesthetic of vintage timepieces, affording you the convenience of a modern quartz movement with the heft and finish of a mostly bygone era at an entirely reasonable price in today's watch market.  At 47mm in diameter, it feels substantial in the hand, and the clear dial markings and well-proportioned hands distinguish it from the more hastily thrown-together designs one often finds in listings of current production pocket watches.  The only modern upgrade I wish it offered is a sapphire crystal; the curved glass that it employs must be consciously babied, since its lupine-style case does not provide the added protection of a hunter-style cover.

Although it comes with an elegant braided lanyard, the SVBR001 is best paired with a genuine watch chain, especially as its aesthetics pair well with the vast majority of vintage offerings.  I use it with a 925 silver single Albert chain from the UK that I acquired on eBay several years ago, but it would be served just as well by a modern double Albert like this one by Ky & Co.  Both watch and chain spend most of their time in a glass pocket watch display case, which I've reviewed previously, that neatly converts any pocket watch into a handsome desk clock.

All in all, unless you're a railroad professional enamored by the classic conductor's aesthetic, the SVBR001 is not an everyday watch.  It is an easily attainable and maintainable callback to a time long gone, that still finds relevance today on the rare social occasions that hearken back to the more refined nuances of yesteryear.

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