SBSA025 references the fact that this watch is made entirely in Japan. The same model can be found under the reference SRPD79 when it is not manufactured in Japan. Regardless of the country of manufacture, the look and accuracy of the watch are the same except for some minimal cosmetic differences which I cover throughout this review.
The Seiko SBSA025 Black-Coated Case
At first glance, the most noticeable characteristic of the SBSA025 is its black case. More specifically, it possesses a steel case with what Seiko calls a “Black Hard Coating.”
The nature of the coating is not advertised, nor whether it’s PVD or DLC, nor its scratch-resistance. What is clear is that it gives the watch a very cool look.
The case dimensions of the SBSA025 are the classic Seiko sports dive watch dimensions:
- 42.5mm diameter
- 46mm lug-to-lug
- 13.4mm in thickness
- 22mm strap size (between the lugs)
- Lug holes
Whereas other Seiko 5 Sports watches possess dual finishes, this SBSA025 does not. On all of its facets, the case is a matte black tone.
The bezel on the SBSA025 is a unidirectional diver’s bezel with a knurled outer texture and black metallic insert. The insert itself possesses dark gray markings that reflect a gray-on-black color palette encountered throughout the watch.
SBSA025 Dial Details
Similarly, we encounter the gray-on-black theme on the face of the watch. There is a black minute track with grey printed minute calibrations surrounding the entire dial. On the dial, which itself is a matte black color, are applied hour indices with a polished black sheen. The indices possess grey-toned fills that at first appear to be luminous material but prove to be inert in the dark.
The hour and minute hands at center are undoubtedly an overlooked aspect of the SBSA025, but upon closer examination, they’re one of the most attractive. That’s because the hands possess a brushed finish that reflects light wonderfully and provides excellent legibility. I’ve tried to capture this in the close-up pictures of the dial in this review.
Also on the dial are Seiko’s new 5 Sports logo in a similar metallic gray tone. There’s also a day-date aperture with white font on a black background at the classic 3 o’clock position.
Lastly, at 6 o’clock there is some small text denoting “Made in Japan“. This text is specific to the SBSA025 version of this blackout Seiko. The versions sold under the SRPD79 reference do not possess this text as they are not, in fact, manufactured in Japan.
Black NATO Strap
The SBSA025 is sold on a black NATO (fabric) strap. It possesses matching black elements and a black tang buckle branded with SEIKO.
When I first wore this Seiko 5 Sports, the strap was a bit stiff as all new textile straps are. It definitely loosened up over time but it’s clear that this NATO is not a premium strap.
Nor did I expect it to be. A premium NATO strap can usually be purchased for $40-50 online and it would have clearly cut into Seiko’s profit to equip this value diver with such a strap. Nevertheless, the strap does its job well and is long enough to fit even the largest wrists.
If push came to shove, I’d consider purchasing an aftermarket fabric strap to replace this one but, for the time being, I don’t think that’s necessary. It’d be more of a splurge and perhaps the money is better served being saved for another watch, maybe even another Seiko 5 Sports seeing as how many of them can be purchased in like-new condition on eBay for around $200.
Seiko 4R36 Self-Winding Caliber
Powering this SBSA025, and visible via the see-through caseback, is the automatic Seiko 4R36 movement. This movement is not a new release by Seiko, though it is an upgrade in Seiko 5 Sports watches.
The 4R36 boasts a 41-hour power reserve, accuracy of +45/-35 seconds/day, and hacking seconds functionality. The movement may also be wound via the crown when it is at position 0, though this entails that the crown does not screw down into the case.
The fact that the crown does not screw down confidently into the case has been a pain point for many Seiko collectors. These collectors are used to the Seiko SKX which had a screw-down crown and 200m water resistance. On the other hand, this SBSA025 (and all Seiko 5 Sports watches to date) are rated to 100m of depth.
The tradeoff here is that the Seiko 5 Sports possesses hand-winding functionality that the SKX did not. In my opinion, this is a clear improvement in convenience and the decreased water resistance is a non-issue as I will not be taking this watch on any dive.
Collectors are led to believe that 100m water resistance is not enough for swimming. However, I trust Seiko to properly label their product as resistant to the depth they advertise and will be wearing this SBSA025 in the pool or ocean without concern.
SBSA025 On-The-Wrist Review
Overall, I found the SBSA025 to be very easy to wear. Not only due to its proportions, which I think are right on the money, but also due to its looks. The blackout style pairs perfectly with this decade’s unofficial uniform: sneakers, jeans, and a nice t-shirt.
Naturally, I’d skip wearing it for any formal occasion as I have more classy options reserved for such outings in my watch box.
Specific to the SBSA025 is the premium you’re likely to pay over its non-Made in Japan sibling, the SRPD79. I’m not the type of collector who pays much attention to this sort of thing, though it does feel inherently right to have a Japanese watch that is also Made in Japan. Yet, this is an important factor to consider given that, as of this writing, the SBSA025 costs almost twice as much as the SRPD79. [eBay: $300+ vs $160]
If you are looking for a “murdered out” sports watch and find the SBSA025 to be an attractive style as I did, I can’t recommend it enough. I simply wasn’t able to find a similarly-priced automatic with the same style, not because I didn’t search long enough, but rather because Seiko continues to produce high-quality timepieces at increasingly competitive prices. This SBSA025 does not stray from said reputation.