Shopping for a Seiko dress watch is great because there's a ton of excellent and affordable models to choose from.
In reality, this amount of choice can be a double-edged sword: you can be stuck for days wondering which one is right for you.
The key to making the right decision is to get all the information you need. In this article, I will lay out everything you need to know about the Seiko SARY line. This way, you can make a clear decision whether you should get this watch or not.
The Seiko SARY is part of the medium-sized watch group. With its 41.5mm case diameter and 49mm lug-to-lug length it will look best on men with medium to large wrists (6.75" and up).
It's important to note the bracelet dimensions are somewhat unusual; the middle link protrudes even further than the case making for a 50mm total length. Also, the 12mm thickness of the case is quite common for mechanical dress watches.
The stainless steel bracelet is both well-built and beautiful: not only is the finish impeccable, the brushing matches perfectly with the case and lugs. The styling is original and good-looking, you get polished edges on the middle links, as well as polished sides.
If I had a complaint about the bracelet, it would be the small number of micro-adjustments (2) and the lack of half links. It will fit great on 95% of people, but you might be out of luck and need to replace the bracelet. On a brighter note, you get solid end-links, which is rare in this price range.
As the SARY has been in production for quite some time, the movement inside is a bit dated as well. Released in 2011, the Seiko in-house 4R36 automatic movement was considered to be an upgrade from the classic 7S36 caliber.
While it didn't improve that much in precision (-35/+45 secs per day, according to Seiko), it got new quirks, such as hacking and hand-winding. Using 24 jewels and beating at 21,600 bph, you can expect the 4R36 to be reliable and sturdy.
As is expected from entry-level Seiko movements, the power reserve on this one is around 40 hours.
The rest of the specs are up to par with dress watches in this price range. You get a sapphire crystal, which unfortunately isn't anti-reflective coated. Also, you get 100m water resistance, which is good for swimming and snorkeling.
Even if the specs of the SARY are great, the styling is the main selling point of this timepiece.
First of all, the case features a nice mix of brushed and polished stainless steel. For instance, the side of the case and the top of the lugs are brushed, while the top of the case is polished. The bezel starts brushed at the bottom, with a polished finish up top.
The dial is simple but sharp, giving off a classy vibe that will be noticed by watch collectors and average Jos. The dial is neat and uncluttered - it only has an applied Seiko logo and the automatic script, which is also found on the famous Seiko SARB.
Also subtle is the small day-date complication, which is framed in a silver rectangle. This can be operated from the signed push-pull crown, situated at the 3 o'clock position. On most examples you get the day in English or Japanese, and the Saturday and Sunday are blue and orange.
As you get closer to the edges of the dial, you can see the polished baton indices for most hour marks and the double baton for the 6, 9 and 12 o'clock marks. On the outer rim of the dial, there are tiny marks every 1/5th of a minute.
In my opinion, the star of the show is the set of dauphine hands used for the minutes and hours. I will speak more on it in the ''variations'' section, as the styling differs between the SARY055 and SARY057.
The backside of the timepiece is equipped with a Hardlex exhibition crystal. This allows you to peak through the 4R36 movement, which looks better than the 7S36 in my opinion. What seals the deal for me is the yellow rotor.
Since it is purely a dress watch, Seiko didn't apply lume anywhere on the SARY's dial.
To me, the SARY055 is the most desirable watch of the line. There are a few characteristics that give it a bit more charm than your average timepiece. For example, the hands are very dark blue in appearance, but under certain lighting will turn to a bright blue hue.
The dial is also very alluring to me as it's hard to put your finger on what exact color it is. In photos it looks as white as snow, but in reality the sunburst pattern gives it a near silver shade.
Even if it's not my favorite, the SARY057 is currently the most popular of the two. The black dial is always a popular choice when it's paired with a stainless steel case and dial. It's a great option if you plan on keeping a stainless steel bracelet, but I think the SARY055 is more polyvalent with strap possibilities.
The SARY055 owner above went with a dark brown leather strap with a crocodile pattern. This layout is a timeless combination, and the strap contributes even more to the dress styling of the watch.
The black dial / blue band is a very popular combination for the SARY057. The Reddit user above chose a Fluco Buffalo strap, but he also changes it up for a grey or black leather strap depending on the occasion.
Nylon / Nato
Pictured above is something very rare: a SARY055 with a Nato strap. Since the Seiko SARY is a bonafide dress watch, the vast majority of collectors will equip it with a leather strap.
This explains why Nato strapped SARYs are so hard to find online. I couldn't even give proper credit to the collector above since the origins of this picture are a bit blurry.
Nonetheless, I think a conservative Nato strap such as the black and grey layout above looks great on the SARY055 as it keeps its dressy look, but it helps distinguish your timepiece from others.
Nylon strap equipped SARY057s are a bit easier to find online since the leather band options are limited (brown bands don't look too good with a black dial).
On the left picture, this SARY057 owner went with a tri-colored strap, going from black to grey to orange in the middle. With such a playful pattern, the watch loses a bit of its dressy aspect, but this makes for a killer casual timepiece.
On the right picture, the SARY057 is equipped with a navy blue/powder blue nylon strap. This isn't my favorite layout, but it gets a lot of love online. This goes to show how polyvalent the SARY really is, and how you can adapt it to your own style.
While it's almost identical visually to the SARY, the SARX has the SARY beat in almost every aspect. It has better material quality, nicer finishing and just a richer feel to the watch as a whole.
As you might expect, this upscale design comes with a huge price mark. Not only is the base price high, but you might also have to pay big import fees, as the SARX033 is restricted to the Japanese domestic market.
No matter where you're shopping, you can expect to fork out at least 800$ for this timepiece. For this fee, you will get a few extra features, such as anti-reflective crystal, and a more refined movement (6R15).
The Seiko SARB is the golden mean between the SARY and the SARX. It can be bought for a few hundred dollars more than the SARY and a few hundred dollars less than the SARX.
As you could expect, the finish and the attention to detail is just in between the SARY and the SARX. This model gets the upgraded 6R15 movement, a date-only complication, and a 38mm case.
In my opinion, the Seiko SARY is the best "budget" dress watch on the market. I put the word budget between quotes since you'll have to fork out a couple hundreds of dollars to get it, but you can be reassured it will be worth every single penny.
The SARY performs just as good as you would expect any mid-range Seiko to, and the design and finish are as good as many 1000$+ watches. If you're still on undecided about getting the SARY, the following pros/cons will help you with your decision.