Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Extensive Comparison

Our review today compares two kinds of watches made by the brand, Seiko – Seiko kinetic vs automatic.

Seiko is a forward-thinking brand. Something we have confirmed from a long period of reviewing their products from nearly all their product lines.

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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

This brand that started way back in the 70’s has employed all kinds of technologies in making its watches. Hence, over time, Seiko watches have received ample recognition among users. They are known to be sturdy, high quality, but, most importantly, value-priced.

We’ve watched Seiko gradually evolve from the quartz movement to embrace more up-to-date technology like the Swiss automatic, the solar and the kinetic. And they haven’t just embraced these technologies, they’ve also executed the implementation to perfection as well.

In fact, Seiko is credited as the innovators of the kinetic technology which we will be comparing with the automatic movement today.

Because our review is going to be a pretty lengthy one, we have prepared an executive summary in the comparison overview section to help you make a quick decision.

Expectedly, we can only say so much in an executive summary. Therefore, we’d advise that you stay to the end and read the entire article. You can be sure that every question you’ve ever had about these technologies would be cleared in this article.

Table of Contents

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Comparison Overview

Seiko has many watch models that use these technologies in their operation. While the automatic movement was invented by the Swiss, the kinetic movement was actually invented by Seiko a few decades back.

The major difference between these two movements is really about how much power they can reserve. We give the full explanation in the article below. However, the summary is that the kinetic movement stores power for longer than an automatic movement.

If you think, though, that this ultimately makes the kinetic movement the better choice, you might want to read the entire article before making that choice.

Kinetic watches are actually a little more difficult to maintain than automatic watches. So, you should also consider that when making your choice.

Now, the obvious difference in terms of operation aside, the watches available under these lineups are pretty similar. There are all kinds of watches here for all kinds of people. From casual, to dressy, to tool watch (like a diver’s watch), you can get whatever kind you what.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Our Opinion On The Price/Value Ratio

Well, Seiko is known to make value-priced watches in general. In fact, for the kind of accuracy and durability you get from the Seiko automatic and kinetic, we’d say you’re getting a pretty fantastic deal.

You don’t even have to take our word for it. You can check out what other customers are saying about the affordability of these watches.

Note though that the kinetic watches are significantly more expensive than their automatic counterparts. But that’s to be expected, right? Plus, compared to how they perform and how long they last, we’d say it’s an investment worth making.

It’s really amazing how Seiko manages to beat down cost without skimping too much on quality. Granted, there a few compromises like with the crystal. But even that is getting upgraded to sapphire and the cost is still quite reasonable.

Good job Seiko!

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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Comparison Of Major Specs And Features

 

Seiko Kinetic

Seiko Automatic

Transmits Energy By Capacitor Spring
Power Reserve 41 to 50 hours Weeks to years
  Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here! Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – What Situation Is Each Watch Best For?

Seiko Kinetic

Seiko Automatic

Because the Seiko kinetic reserves power for longer, it might be a better choice for people who are less active.  

So, if you’re constantly at your desk, or your work is sedentary, then the kinetic might be a good choice.  

Keep in mind, though, that kinetic watches are a little high maintenance. This is because the capacitors they come with are consumables. So, they get exhausted and you have to replace.  

Now, doing this and screwing on the back of this case again isn’t exactly loose change.  

So, if you’re not down for all that maintenance, then look next door.
On the other hand, we have a Seiko automatic. This is a great movement as well. However, it doesn’t store power for as long as kinetic watches.  

So, this will really work for your lifestyle if you’re constantly on the move.  

However, because these watches lose power in a short time, they require hand-winding more frequently. And, as you know, when power is low, the time loses accuracy.  

This con, though, is also the automatic movement’s advantage.  

Because there is no capacitor anywhere, you’ll never have to change anything. You just keep winding and it keeps running!
Get the Seiko Kinetic SRN073 here! Get the Seiko 5 Automatic here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Features

In appearance, Seiko Kinetic and Automatic watches do not differ much from each other. The only difference you might pick up might be that the kinetic watches actually have the word “KINETIC” written on their dial.

The main difference between these watches is internal which we will discuss in the “Unique Features” section.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Feature 1: Stainless Steel Cases

Like most Seiko watches and, indeed, most watches, both the Seiko Kinetic and the Seiko Automatic come with stainless steel cases. This is especially important for maintaining sturdiness and ensuring durability especially since your watch will be interacting with weather elements a lot.

For the aesthetics of the watch, Seiko chose to go with a brushed surface for the top and polished for the sides. Another typical move for Seiko and most watch makers, which, fortunately, works. These watches end up looking quite good.

Then we have the back of the casing, which is, of course, made of stainless steel as well. In fact, that’s triply important as you want to ensure that the parts of the watch are protected from the elements and from water for the diver’s watches.

To further ensure this, Seiko locks down on the back with screws. Please, do not tamper with them, if you do not absolutely know what you’re doing. It could backfire.

Finally, also on the back of this wristwatch is the “Seiko Tsunami” symbol engraved to perfection – a reminder that your Seiko watch is water-resistant.

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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Feature 2: Dials

Like every other watch is, all Seiko watches come with dials complete with hands and markings. These dials also come with different colors depending on the watch in question.

Although these dials vary widely, even among automatic watches and among kinetic watches, they are basically the same. With some coming with day/date complications and others missing that aspect.

The major difference between these two watch technologies when it comes to their dials is that the kinetic watches, especially, have the word “KINETIC” written on the dial, usually at the 12 o’clock position. For the automatic watches, the word “AUTOMATIC” might be written sometimes, usually in the 6 o’clock position.

As for the markings, in both watches, most times, the numbers on the dial are either represented by markings or by Arabic numerals. On rare occasions, roman numerals are used too.

For the diver’s watches in each lineup, the watches come with luminescent hands which make it easier to be able to read time underwater. They also have the words “DIVER’S WATCH.”

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Feature 3: Shatter-Proof Hardlex/Sapphire Crystal

Shatter-Proof Hardlex Crystal

Hardlex is a trademark crystal from Seiko used on most of its watches for a myriad of reasons. The first and most important reason is that Hardlex is quite cost-effective. So, naturally, Seiko uses it more often especially on its value-priced watches.

From what we’ve said, so far, you might be tempted to think that Hardlex is no good because it is inexpensive. However, that is not quite accurate.

The main problem with the Hardlex crystal is the fact that it smudges and scratches a little more easily than other types. However, Hardlex is much less prone to shattering than other crystals.

So, even though you might have to wipe the surface of your watch more times than you’d have liked, you can, at least, be sure that the watch will last. Even with a decent amount of deliberate force, Hardlex crystal remains intact.

In fact, unlike sapphire, Hardlex would crack first and only shatter into shards when a significant amount of force is added later. This is the reason Seiko only used Hardlex for its diver’s watches.

Sapphire Crystal

On the other hand, we have the sapphire crystal which is a more expensive crystal than Hardlex. Typically, sapphire crystals are found on Seiko’s more expensive watches. However, in 2018, we began to see Seiko make this upgrade to more of its watches in the lower-end lines.

Watch lines like the SKX (automatic movement) which are among Seiko’s most affordable wristwatches saw an upgrade from Hardlex to sapphire.

Sapphire is more scratch- and smudge-resistant than Hardlex. However, interestingly, when compared to Hardlex, it is more shatter-prone upon hard impact. In comparison, Hardlex would crack first and then with more force, shatter into small shards.

Generic Seiko watch models which come with sapphire crystals usually come marked with the text “SAPPHIRE.” However, generally, Seiko watches with sapphire crystals don’t come marked.

seiko kinetic vs automatic
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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic

Seiko Automatic

Get the Seiko SRH017P2 with sapphire crystal here! Get the Seiko Automatic SARB033 with sapphire crystal here!
Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA541P1 with sapphire crystal here! Get the Seiko Automatic SARB017 with sapphire crystal here!
Get the Seiko Premier Kinetic SRG010P1 with sapphire crystal here! Get the Seiko SGG733P with sapphire crystal here!
Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA201 with sapphire crystal here! Get the Seiko Automatic SSA314 with sapphire crystal here!
Get the Seiko Kinetic SNP091P1 with sapphire crystal here! Get the Seiko Automatic SSA313 with sapphire crystal here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Feature 4: Crown

Crowns in Seiko kinetic and automatic watches can come in either of two positions – the 3 o’clock position or the 4 o’clock position. However, their functions are the same, and so is their appearance, depending on the kind of watch we’re talking about.

Generally, on all Seiko watches – automatic and kinetic – the crowns are moderate to large in size. They also come in stainless steel, obviously with fine teeth on the edges for a firm grip.

These crowns are typically easy to use and give a smooth operation when turned. Of course, there have been few times where the operation of the crown wasn’t as smooth, but that was, most probably, due to factory error.

Generally, the crown is easy and intuitive to use.

For watches with a day/date complication, the crown can be pulled out in two stages. It could be pulled out to mid-point, as well as full out.

At mid-point, you change the day counterclockwise while the crown goes clockwise for a change of date.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Feature 5: Diver’s Variety

There are diver’s watches both in the Seiko kinetic and the automatic technology. These watches are typical diver’s watches with all the features that are expected of such watches, including ISO compliance.

Some of these features you can expect from Seiko kinetic and automatic diver’s watches include:

seiko kinetic vs automatic
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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Unidirectional Bezels

All diver’s watches in these lines of Seiko watches come made of stainless steel. They are ribbed for grip and polished for looks. Sometimes, they may also come painted to make them more attractive. A very popular bezel painting is the Pepsi bezel which is found in the Seiko automatic line.

In these diver’s watches, the bezels come marked in large, easy to see markings with every 10th second/minute being designated by Arabic numerals. This is important because these must be easy to read underwater.

And since we are here, the markers and hands in the diver’s watches in the Seiko automatic line as well as the kinetic line come luminesced. Seiko uses its luminescing agent – Lumebrite to mark this possible.

Lastly, it’s important to note that the bezels on the Seiko watches are unidirectional. This is important to guard against certain mishap that could happen underwater.

So, say your bezel moves by any accidental impact and miscalculates the time you’ve spent so far, you’d err on the side of less time rather than more time left. As you know, this could be the thin line between life and death.

ISO 6425 Compliant

All diver’s watches, both automatic and kinetic meet all the ISO 6425 standards which is a testimony to Seiko’s conscientiousness. What are some of these qualities?

First, all diver’s watches must be water-resistant as far as 100 meters underwater. For the Seiko diver’s watches, they are all resistant down to 200 meters underwater – double the standard.

Nonetheless, you want to be careful with such watches all the same, as, many times, they aren’t water-resistant down to 200 meters (or whatever distance stated). Please, do yourself a favor and don’t go that far.

Next point, the casing of the watch must come screwed down to prevent seepage of water into the watch which could harm component parts. Seiko literally has this point on lockdown as all watches come with the back of the casing screwed down.

Another important point for diver’s watches is that their bezels ought to be luminescent and easy to read. In fact, at a distance of 25 centimeters, in pitch darkness, the diver must be able to read the time clearly from his watch.

Again, on this point, Seiko’s diver’s watches do excellently.

To find out more about the ISO 6425 standards, read our comparison review of the Seiko SKX007 vs SKX009 here.

seiko kinetic vs automatic
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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Feature 6: Diaflex Mainspring

Seiko watches come with this Diaflex mainspring for a number of reasons. This mainspring, made from Diaflex is unbreakable and can endure excessive winding. It’s critical to durability of the wristwatch.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Diashock

Diashock is a feature that protects your watch from the effect of sudden impact. Oftentimes, in the case of sudden impact, the shock proves too much and the hands of the watch are affected, leading to a wrong reading.

However, with Diashock, the shock is absorbed and the effects are minimalized.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Feature 7: Bands

There is a wide variety of bands to choose from if you decide to get either a Seiko automatic or a Seiko Kinetic.

For the diver’s watch, you can get those with a silicone rubber band. This is great for underwater use as rubber is great with water.

For a dressier look, you can also go for the jubilee bracelet which is made of stainless steel.

The jubilee bracelet typically comes in a 5-link design, ending with hollow links. Main links usually come brushed while the inner links usually have a polished effect. Altogether, you have a watch with a bracelet that’s not too flashy or too understated either.

Other kinds of bands include leather for a more formal look, as well as Nato. There’s also canvas as well. And all of these bands, besides the jubilee bracelet, of course, are available in a variety of colors.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Features Unique To Each Watch

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Features Unique To The Seiko Kinetic

The Kinetic Watch Movement

The kinetic watch movement is Seiko’s brainchild. The brand came up with the invention as recently as 1986, and from research, we find that the kinetic movement has a lot of resemblance to the automatic movement.

For one, the Seiko kinetic is charged by hand movement. This is same with the automatic movement which also charges by the swinging motion of your hand. However, here is where the dichotomy begins between the two movements.

Generally, in watches that charge that charge by motion, the large rotor produces energy which is transferred to a spring. However, in the case of kinetic watches, the rotor produces energy which is stored in a capacitor.

So, because they have an energy storehouse which the automatic movement lacks, they tend to last longer. Kinetic watches have been known to store charge for up to months while automatic watches only have a few days’ storage time at the most.

However, that’s where the similarities between both movements end.

They both require you to wear it constantly to be able to keep them charged. Also, when you’re not wearing it, to keep the watch charged, you can keep your watch on a watch winder. This way, there is constant movement to keep the battery running.

The one setback you might experience with this watch, though, is that the capacitor would have to be replaced at some point. It’s like you have it with a battery.

For automatic watches, though, it’s different, you wouldn’t have to replace any capacitor (since there’s none).

seiko kinetic vs automatic
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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Available Kinetic Models From Seiko

The Kinetic Direct Drive:

This watch can hold its charge for up to one month and also supports hand-winding, using the crown.

Click here to get the Seiko Kinetic Direct Drive SRG0192!

The Ultimate Kinetic Chronograph

This holds up to 1 month of charge.

Click here to get the Seiko Arctura Kinetic Chronograph SNL001!

The Kinetic Chronograph

This comes with up to 5 months of charge.

Click here to get the Seiko Kinetic Chronograph SNL071!

The Kinetic Perpetual

This name already gives it away, right? The Seiko Kinetic Perpetual preserves charge for up to 6 months. In fact, in sleep mode, after 6 months of continuous charge, this watch can preserve charge for up to 4 years.

Click here to get the Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual SNP139P1!

The Kinetic Relay Drive

This model can also preserve time for up to 4 years after in sleep mode after 72 hours.

Click here to get the Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay SMA113!

The Kinetic GMT

Same as the Kinetic Auto Relay.

Click here to get the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT Watch!

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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Features Unique To The Seiko Automatic

The Automatic Watch Movement

Automatic watches are not newbies like kinetic watches. These ones have been on the block for about a century now. Their operating principles are quite simple as they follow simple, mechanical principles.

Like on the kinetic watches, automatic watches also come with large rotors. These rotors spin as your hand moves, which leads to the winding of the watch. Now, unlike in the kinetic movement, the charge produced by the rotor is transferred to the spring that supplies the power which, in turn, drives your watch.

Automatic movement changed a lot of things in the watch industry. Previously, with manual-winding watches, the responsibility of keeping the watch charged was the owner’s. you’d have to crank up the crown yourself to produce and store the energy which drives the gears in your watch.

Now, with automatic movements, because of the lack of a capacitor, the watch’s ability to store charge is much reduced. So, typically, automatic watches can only store charges for about 48 hours (two hours) whereas, their kinetic counterpart can store charge for months, even years, at a time.

The use of a watch winder is a great way to keep your watch constantly in power. However, that constitutes extra cost. And you always need to remember to get it done, or else, the whole point is lost.

We will say we are quite impressed with Seiko, though. A number of value-priced wristwatches which, naturally, you’d expect a quartz movement from come with automatic movements. That’s simply generous of Seiko. Of course, these lower-priced models might not compare to their higher-end counterparts, but they serve most sufficiently.

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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Available Seiko Automatic Models

The 7s26 Automatic Movement

The 7s26 automatic movement is the workhorse of all Seiko’s automatic movements. It preserves 41 hours of charge but does not feature hand-winding or hacking. It also has a day/date complication. The SKX line comes with the 7s26 movement.

Click here to get the Seiko SNK569 with 7s26 movement now!

The 4R35 Automatic Movement

The 4R35 features 23 or 24 jewels depending on the type. It produces 21,600 vibrations each hour and preserves power for up to 41 hours (just like the 7s26). However, unlike the 7s26, the 4R35 movement supports hand-winding and hacking.

The 4R35 movement only displays a date complication.

Get the Seiko SRPB55 with the 4R35 movement here!

The 4R36, 4R37, 4R38, and 4R39 Automatic Movement

These movements are quite similar to one another for the most part. They all feature your regular three hands with a power reserve time of about 41 hours. Just like the 4R35, they support hacking and hand-winding. However, they have 24 jewels as opposed to the 4R35’s 23.

Before, we go on, the 4R37 and 4R39 stand out in that they have 4 hands not three. So, in addition to the hour hand, minute hand, and second hand, this movement also features a fourth hand known as the 24-hour hand.

Other unique things to note about these movements are…

The 4R36 shows the day/date complication.

The 4R37 comes with the date complication. Get the Seiko Prospex

Lastly, neither the 4R38 nor the 4R39 comes with either a day or date complication.

Get the Seiko Prospex SRCP91 with 4R36 movement here!

The 6R15 Automatic Movement

This is, perhaps, the best automatic movement Seiko has to offer. At least, some say so. It comes with 23 jewels, produces 21,600 vibrations per hour and has an impressive 50-hour power reserve.

The 6R15 is found in some of Seiko’s most popular, frontline pieces like the Sumo and the Prospex lines.

Get the Seiko Prospex SBDC033 with 6R15 movement here!

seiko kinetic vs automatic
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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Unique Pros

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Pros Unique To The Seiko Kinetic

  • The kinetic movement stores power for a lot longer thanks to the presence of a capacitor.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Pros Unique To The Seiko Automatic

  • The automatic movement practically keeps working forever and hardly ever needs anything changed unlike the kinetic movement.
seiko kinetic vs automatic
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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Unique Cons

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Cons Unique To The Seiko Kinetic

  • The capacitor of the kinetic drive is a consumable item. So, after a while, it’s used up and you have to replace it which could be a small inconvenience.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Cons Unique To The Seiko Automatic

  • The automatic movement does not store as much power as the kinetic. It loses power in two days max, in comparison to the kinetic which can store power for months.

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Pros

Seiko Kinetic

Seiko Automatic

The Seiko kinetic offers different kinds of watches in its lineup including diver’s watches. Same goes for the Seiko Automatic
Crystal is quite good too. For some, it’s Hardlex which is shatter-resistant, while, for others, it’s sapphire which is scratch-resistant and pretty high quality crystal too. Also applies.
Diver’s watches are totally compliant with ISO 6425 standards Also ISO 6425 compliant.
They both charge by arm swinging. So, you don’t have to crank them up manually. Same with the automatic.
Get the Seiko Kinetic SRN052 here! Get the Seiko 5 SNK805 Automatic here!
seiko kinetic vs automatic
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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Common Cons

Seiko Kinetic

Seiko Automatic

Once your watch isn’t moving, it begins to lose power which then affects time accuracy.  

A solution is to use a watch winder but that’s additional cost and you might not always remember to use it.
Also applies

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – General Feeling Among Customers

Seiko Kinetic

Seiko Automatic

Well, from what customers are saying about Seiko kinetic watches, these are the watches to beat. They tell the time excellently and perfectly. One customer said it was always spot on with their phone.  

Another commendation for this watch is that it keeps working for years. So, this is, definitely, an investment worth making.  

But then again, a few customers found replacing the capacitor and resealing the watch not the best economic move they could make as it could cost about the same as getting a new Seiko kinetic watch.  

Were there a few complaints? Well, here and there. But the complaints seemed aimed more at the individual models than at the kinetic movement itself.  

So, altogether, we’d say the kinetic movement got a wide enough acceptance among watch users.
Just like the Seiko kinetic, the automatic is loved by all. The fact that your swinging arm charges the watch is something customers seem to love.  

Well, except for those who are always at their desks.  

Seiko automatic watches are known to be quite accurate. However, maybe not as great as the kinetic because it does tend to lose more time over time as customers have observed.  

Besides that, most day/date complications on the automatic watches are great. However, customers have observed that it takes too long change over to a new date.  

This was another gripe for customers.  

Generally though, this is a great movement, regardless and customers found more things to love than to hate in their Seiko automatic watches.    
Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA785P1 here! Get the Seiko SNZG11K1 Automatic here!

Seiko Kinetic Vs Automatic – Our Verdict

We love both technologies and what they bring to the table. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, and we would be hard-pressed to absolutely pick one over the other. Ultimately, the choice is yours, and we believe that our comprehensive comparison of these watches will help you make the best one for you.

Because there are so many models in each of these Seiko watch lines, we will be limiting our call-to-action section to the five of the top sellers in each line. Check them out below.

seiko kinetic vs automatic
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Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA779 here!

Get the Seiko Automatic SNK809 here!

Seiko Kinetic

Seiko Automatic

Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA785P1 here! Get the Seiko Baby Monster here!
Get the Seiko Men’s Coutura Kinetic Retrograde Watch here! Get the Seiko Prospex SRPB55 here!
Get the Seiko Analogue Kinetic SRN045P1 here! Get the Seiko SKX007K2 here!
Get the Seiko Kinetic SRN054P1 here! Get the Seiko Prospex SRPB51 here!
Get the Seiko Kinetic SKA781 here! Get the Seiko SNKN37 here!

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