Sunday, 12 August 2012

Hands-on comparison: Seiko Monster 4R36 Gen. 2 vs. Seiko Monster 7S26 Gen.1

The Seiko Monster is a legendary, affordable sports watch that was recently updated. Several variants of the new Monster are available, including the orange dial with black PVD bezel version (SRP315K1) shown here (the basic steel versions are the SRP307 and SRP309 with black and orange dial respectively). 

Old Seiko Monster SKX781 on left, and new Monster SRP315 on right

(Note that the old Monster shown here (SKX781K1) has had the chapter ring replaced, the original dial is entirely orange.)

Several cosmetic changes were made though the case remains 42.3 mm. However, the biggest functional improvement is the new movement. The Monster now has the 4R36 movement which both winds manually and hacks. The 7S26 in the first generation Monster could do neither.

Visually the dial is similar at first glance but signficantly different. The indices are sleeker and the five minute markings are gone, resulting in a much cleaner dial.

The discontinued Seiko SKX781K1

The new Seiko SRP315K1

Also, the new dial is much better quality, with better definition of the printed indices and text.

Old Monster

New Monster
Note the calibre inside is noted in tiny script at the bottom of the dial

Though they are the same size as before, the crowns on the new Monsters are knurled, making them slightly easier to grip.

Though the case and bezel are seem identical, there seem to be minor differences. I'm not sure if these are due to production variations or are intentional changes. The bezel markings are larger and better defined on the new model, and the case edges are less sharp, especially around the crown guard, which seems to show a little bit more care being put into the case finishing of the new Monster.

Even though the new Monster is about 50% more expensive than the previous one - the new one retails for about US$450 - it is a better watch in all respects. The Seiko Monster remains a great buy.




  2. Thank you for great report!
    The bezel marking difference is due to finishing of bezel.
    Some model of new monster (and baby tuna) have painted and metal bezel.
    In metal bezel model, markers are same as before (and larger in painted bezel)

  3. Hi Kuriyagawa-san, good to read you here. Thanks for the comments and correction.

  4. Excellent report and your photography is outstanding!

  5. Got mine from Seiko Centre in Jakarta a few weeks back, except that the dial is all orange and bezel is metallic. It's referenced as SRP309K1. A nice fit on my rather small 7" wrist.

  6. Excellent! I have not been able to find this information anywhere else; thank you for sharing your insight!

    I prefer the new version's look, with the black-outlined indices and no more 5 minute markings. However, I have read elsewhere that the movement is not significantly better to justify such a big price difference between the two...

    -Is the pricier 2nd generation Monster a better value than the original?

    1. You are on to something with the new Monster's black framed indices, (which the Seiko SNZF45 "Baby Monster" uses to great effect!) and SJX is 'on the money' about the new model's superiority; however it seems that Seiko departed from the spirit of the original with the new model's stylistic changes:

      While the original's dial styling is rugged and utilitarian, (with Seiko's classic "shield" indice at 12 o'clock and square indices that visually compliment the date window) the new model's clean "Art Deco" look with pointed shark tooth indices tries to redefine the Monster by appealing to fashion sensibilities... I find that the new Monster has a "prettier" look, but unfortunately the indices do not visually balance with the date window, nor do they complement the aesthetic of the Monster's industrial-styled bezel or knurled crown. The new look is not as unified.

      Though the new Monster is superior, its appearance is slightly disappointing. The original earned its reputation and "Monster" nickname because of its rugged masculine appearance, while the new model looks sedate and less balanced in comparison. -The Baby Monster dial is the aesthetic it should have embraced, as it compliments the Monster's distinct bezel, crown and hand design the best.

      -These are personal observations from an industrial designer, scuba diver & Seiko fanatic.

  7. I think the movement is significantly better from a functionality aspect. It can be manually wound plus it hacks, two big shortcomings of the old Monster 7S26.

    1. Is there a way to tell if you have overwound the new Monsters? Also, in my opinion automatic watches are not really meant for accuracy, we already have quartz watches for that, so the hacking seconds feature is nice to have but more of a bonus than a necessity, since it allows one to better sync to dead-precise atomic clocks to the second. Honestly I only buy an automatic watch for its aesthetics and materials used, although to some extent I also look at the brand.

    2. You can't overwind a mechanical watch, they have a slip gear to prevent it, although it probably isn't good for it to just sit there aimlessly overwinding it forever.

  8. Gorga,

    I agree with you; however I do enjoy all types of watches for their own merits.

  9. Very nice and insightful review of the New Monster, SJX! ;)

    The price dropped significantly in one year - just got the black one powered by the 4R36 movt' for US$ 250 and couldn't be happier. :-)