Sunday, May 22, 2016

Will You Buy A FiftyFive Fathom?

Seiko is probably the largest watch company by volume. From the utility Seiko 5 range to the Grand Seiko and then to The Credor range, Seiko has a timepiece for every budget.

It is at the lower end that one sees many creative modifications of the Seiko range especially the Seiko 5 range. In comes the FiftyFive Fathom which is a "hommage" piece to the Blancpain Fifty Fathom diving watch.
 photo Seiko FiftyFive Fathom 02_zpsu5cctvn9.jpg

I love this blue dial version of the FifthFive Fathom. There is also another black dial version but I like this more. The base is a Seiko 5 reference SNZH55, SNZH53 or SNZH57 depending on the variation you want. This blue bezel, blue dial version comes from the SNZH53 base where the bezel is already blue and the Seiko 5 dial is also blue (see stock photo below).
 photo Seiko 5 SNZH53 01_zpsopimvmbe.jpg

And the modified version...
 photo Seiko FiftyFive Fathom 01_zpstnaojpxl.jpg

What the modifiers do is remove the Seiko 5 dial and replaces it with a new FiftyFive Fathom dial which can be bought off the internet. The dial is not all that the mods change. Although the hands are similar from the original Seiko 5, the positioning of the date window is changed from the three o'clock position to between the four and five o'clock position. In the process, the day window is covered. This is to pay tribute to the original by Blancpain as the timepiece has their date position there and without a day indication.
 photo Seiko FiftyFive Fathom 03_zpszcjmmmel.jpg

The watch is 41mm and comes with a unidirectional rotating bezel. The steel case timepiece comes with Hardlex crystal.
 photo Seiko FiftyFive Fathom 05_zpsvhmw8ykh.jpg

Beating at the back is the hardy 7S36B automatic movement.
 photo Seiko FiftyFive Fathom 08_zpsbl4hiacu.jpg

The water resistance is rated to 10 bars or 100 metres. Not a particularly well finished movement but considering the original SNZH53 can be bought for around US$120 and the workhorse that it is, I think it is a steal.
 photo Seiko FiftyFive Fathom 10_zps7qxkd6hn.jpg

The nice part of the modified dial is the sunburst pattern on different lighting conditions.
 photo Seiko FiftyFive Fathom 06_zps4elj9lbz.jpg
 photo Seiko FiftyFive Fathom 07_zpscdzrysrt.jpg

If you go to eBay, there are many out there who do different versions of the FiftyFive Fathom. Some do more modifications than others - changing the hands to be a closer replica to the original, the bezel etc. And the prices range from US$250 to as high as US$600 depending on seller and how much modification they do. But all said and done, doubling the price of a base SNZH series for a few hours of work is not bad.

So, will you buy a FiftyFive Fathom? Well, I did and I may be looking at another black dial version.