jonnybardo wrote:Jason (or whomever) a few specific questions:
1) I'm a bit surprised that all of those watches don't use sapphire; I was under the impression that most watches in the $400-500 range use sapphire, but even the $2,300 SBDX001 has hardlex and not sapphire. Why? It seems like above a certain price point using sapphire would be the norm.
2) Is the primary difference in cost between these different models based upon the movement?
3) How do these different watches compare in terms of overall quality with similar watches in their price ranges? Which ones represent excellent value and which ones not so good value? Etc.
Thanks again - good stuff.
What Carl said, pretty much.
1) Not all sapphires are created equal. At the time the MM300 was being developed, thick double domed sapphires were expensive relative to the total watch cost (as well as relative to today's sapphire prices, I understand). I have read that microscopic imperfections were common enough that the reject rate was significant, resulting in higher costs. Bear in mind, Seiko would bear all these costs as they make their own crystals.
Faced with the choice between thick domed sapphires (strong and scratch resistant, but expensive), thick domed mineral glass (strong and (relatively) easily scratched, but cheap), or thin domed sapphire ((relatively)weak and scratch resistant, but cheap), they chose mineral. Same for the Sumo and Tunas (exept the newer auto and spring drive Tunas).
Note that many much cheaper Seikos have been available with (flat, thin) sapphires for many years now. Just not the older divers.
In today's luxury watch market, it's a safe bet that the MM300 replacement will have sapphire, maybe also the Sumo and Tunas. Even the newer kinetic divers, at around US$500 RRP, have sapphire, and they feel very solid.
2. Not just the movement. See my original answer. Materials, country of manufacture, refinement of finish, and manual labour all contribute to price differences. And market positioning, obviously.
3. If you are the kind of person who shops based on features and specs, value for divers goes like this Micros > Seiko/Citizen > Swiss/German. If you start to consider the intangibles (heritage, history, innovation, design integrity, cachet - i.e., you evaluate watches as luxury goods, which they are), the micros can't really compete with the established brands.
Seiko and Citizen (and Orient) will almost always give you comparable (based on tangible features) watches at lower price points than the Swiss and Germans. You obviously don't get the cachet and 'snob' factor associated with the Swiss brands (your friends are likely more impressed by your new Tag than your new Seiko), so how much that contributes to 'value' is really up to you.
Personally, I'm not really a luxury lifestyle kind of guy, I just like nice watches, but I appreciate history, heritage, and horologological significance, and I collect mainly divers. Therefore I am not that interested in the micros (I have one, a Benarus), and tend to gravitate to Seiko and Citizen, both brands which are closely associaetd with the development and evolution of dive watches.
I also like Rolex and Omega dive watches, but the price difference (compared to Seiko and Citizen) makes collecting them a challenge for me. At the higer end, I think it is interesting to compare the Sub, Planet Ocean, and MM300. All three are very close in terms of refinement and quality, all have heritage and history up the wazoo, yet the MM300 is maybe $2,500, PO is $5,000, and Sub now something like $7k. Factor in the hand made aspects of the MM300, which is produced in FAR smaller numbers than either Swiss watch, and I feel that Seiko offers tremendous value with this watch. Regardless of whether it is fitted with a sapphire or not.