Happy Halloween! It might not even be October yet, but I am feeling the Halloween vibe from Seiko’s SSC233 Sport Solar. With a distinctive orange-on-black style, this watch will be sure to shine every October 31st. All joking aside, this watch pulls off the orange and black design well, with some red accents added to the hands and numerals to make it come off more sporty than spooky. In addition to the fun and funky style, the SSC233 also packs some serious features. Let’s study the design elements of the watch first, then the functionality. Finally, I will wrap up the review with my final impressions of the watch.
This is a dark watch, with virtually everything aside from the numerals and hands on the dial being black. The oversized orange Arabic hour marker define this watch’s style, then, as they stand out starkly from the rest of the watch. The black nylon band with buckle closure matches this watch’s sporting pretensions, but has a cheap, uncomfortable feel to it and is too small to accommodate very large wrists. As such, many owners scrap the 22-millimeter wide band in favor of a higher-quality strap.
The SSC233’s 45-millimeter gray/black PVD-coated stainless steel case could prove to be too big for some wrists, especially because the lugs extend quite far beyond the case. The large dial sports a fairly thin bezel, featuring a tachymeter chart around the rim. The Seiko name stands out in bright white font, just below the 12 o’clock numeral, with “CHRONOGRAPH” and “’SOLAR” printed below in (what else?) orange.
Now, I realize a lot of these things are subjective so I try not to use such strong language on my reviews, but I’m going to have to bust out the h word here: I hate the useless little date display. Sitting at the 4:30 position, the date numeral is so microscopic as to be unreadable unless your face is right up against the crystal. Just in case it wasn’t hard enough to read, it sits at a 45-degree angle to the rest of the dial.
Adding insult to injury, the location of the date field throws off the nice symmetry of the dial layout. The good news here is that this circular date window is so small that it’s easy to ignore, so it doesn’t ruin my overall appreciation for the watch. I guess you could think of it as a Cindy Crawford style beauty mark, if that helps.
As the 3 prominent sub-dials and two pushers next to the crown indicate, this watch has a chronograph function. The long red hand is used solely for the chronograph functions, started by pressing the top pusher and stopped with the bottom one. Seconds, meanwhile, are counted on the left sub-dial at the 9 o’clock position. Two other sub-dials sit at 3 and 6 o’clock display the 24-hour time and chronograph timing, respectively.
Seiko’s ubiquitous Hardlex material is used on the dial window. Hardlex tends to ward off scratches better than standard mineral crystals but not as well as sapphire. A 100-meter water resistance rating means that, while this isn’t a dive watch, it can survive swimming and snorkeling. With the aggressive looks of this watch, 100 meters is about the minimum resistance I would expect.
The tachymeter stamped on the bezel can be used to calculate your speed if you know the distance traveled, or your distance if you know the speed you are traveling at. This involves learning some math equations, and I would be surprised if the vast majority of owners use it for anything more than decoration. Could be fun to play with on a road trip if your phone dies, I guess.
The SSC233 houses Seiko’s caliber V175 movement, which comes standard with Seiko’s notorious dependability and accuracy. Using solar or other light energy to charge, this Japanese quartz movement features a 6-month power reserve. The lume on the hands and hour markers is so weak as to be useless, so don’t count on being able to use this watch with the lights out.
Overall, the Seiko SSC233 is an exciting watch with serious function to back up the sporty aesthetic. Some issues are holding this watch back from being a great all-around timepiece, however; mainly the flimsy, uncomfortable band, weak lume, and dreadful date display. Still, I really appreciate the bold styling of the SSC233 and think it would make for a superb choice for anyone looking for a good all-around watch with vibrant styling and top-notch accuracy and reliability. Sieko’s 3-year warranty comes standard.