Seiko dive watches have been all the rage since the 1970s. In the 1980s, it was the appearance of their solar-powered movements that caught the watch community's attention. It was only a matter of time before Seiko united these two worlds to create a solar-powered dive watch.
The Seiko SSC015/017/019 has everything you need; high water-resistance, durable & accurate movement, tons of functions, and a styling to die for. Sadly, Seiko seems to have discontinued this piece, making its price go higher every day.
It's not a secret that the SSC015/017/019 is an amazing timepiece, but is it still worth it with the recent price increase? Let's find out.
The Seiko SSC015/017/019 is a pretty big watch, which is totally normal considering the multiple chronograph functions on the dial. Not only is the case itself quite big, but the prominent crown and pusher buttons also contribute to the bulky shape of the watch.
Although the lugs are heavily curved to wrap comfortably around your wrist, the lug-to-lug still measures a lengthy 50mm. This means that you should probably steer clear from the SSC015/017/019 unless your wrists are 6.5'' and above.
You might also notice that the 13.80mm case is quite thick for a quartz watch. Indeed, the SSC015/017/19 is about as thick as your average mechanical chronograph piece. This is something that you should consider before buying because it definitely has an imposing presence (that you will feel throughout the day) on your wrist.
200m / 20 bar
316L Stainless Steel
The main thing that differentiates the SSC015/017/019 from other Seiko diver's like the SKX007 or Turtle is the V175 solar-powered quartz movement inside. While it isn't as complex as a mechanical movement, it's still a great caliber filled with cool technology.
For instance, this movement can get a full charge from about 1 hour of direct sunlight, or a couple of hours of house lighting. Once it's fully charged, you will get around 6 months of power reserve. To let you know that it's running low, the V175 will start ticking every two seconds instead of every second (energy depletion forewarning).
The accuracy of the Seiko V175 is on par with any other entry-level quartz movement, which should be +- 15 seconds per month.
The Hardlex crystal of the SSC015/017/019 is maybe the most disappointing component of the watch. It's not that bad (Hardlex is slightly more scratch-resistant than your average mineral crystal), but it's a bit underwhelming considering the jacked up price of this timepiece.
However, this small inconvenience is largely made-up by the other high-end specs of the watch. For example, you get a water resistance rating of 200m. This is not that special in-and-of-itself, what's special is the "Diver's watch" mention, meaning this timepiece is ISO-6425 Certified.
In short, this means that your SSC015/017/019 (yes, each and every unit) underwent stringent tests such as an extensive water resistance assessment, shock resistance, magnetic resistance, and much more.
Any ISO-6425 watch also comes with a beefy spring bar to make sure that your bracelet won't come off no matter how hard you yank it. It's also the reason why the 2 pusher buttons and the crown are screwed-in for optimal water resistance.
The Seiko SSC015/017/019 wouldn't be a proper dive watch without its fair share of lume. For this reason, Seiko applied a thick layer of their own Lumibrite formula on the hands & indices of the watch.
This includes a tiny bit of lume on the stopwatch's second hand, as well as a lume pip on the left subdials hand, and a pip on the bezel. As expected, this lume shines brightly for a long period of time.
Speaking of this bezel, it uses a 120-click mechanism that rotates unidirectionally to measure dive times from 0 to 60 minutes. It's super easy to operate, has a nice grippy feeling, is easy to read (thanks to the large font of the numerals) and there's basically no play or wobble.
Unfortunately, the bracelet is a bit below my standards in quality, but it's to be expected from any entry-level watch. You get the usual cost-cutting features like hollow end-links, stamped clasp, etc..
However, the SSC015/017/019 is one of the few affordable Seiko dive watches that actually comes with a diving extension.
Arrow & Syringe
Circles + Trapezoid
316l Stainless Steel
With the diving features, chronograph complications, and bulky shape, there's absolutely no doubt that the Seiko SSC015/017/019 is a true tool watch. Fortunately, what it lacks in versatility is easily made up for with functionality and ruggedness.
However, the fact that the Seiko SSC is a rugged beater watch doesn't mean that it isn't refined. In fact, I think the dial of this watch is one of the most refined on the market for an affordable piece.
For instance, the dial features a multi-layered configuration on which the indices are superimposed. Not only are the indices applied on their own layer, but they also have chrome trims and a bulbous shape, which adds to the depth of the dial.
The lower layer of the dial is a bit brighter and has a glossy finish instead of the darker color of the upper layer. Also, this part of the dial is actually the solar panel which is used to recharge the V175 caliber. On this layer of the dial, you can also find a small date display at the 4.5 o'clock position.
Some people complain that this date dial is barely legible because it's small and it has a negative colorway (painted background with white numerals). However, I think this date display is the perfect compromise; it's small enough not to take too much real estate, but you still get the useful feature that most collectors want.
The other complications include a small second hand (left subdial), a 60-minute stopwatch (lower subdial + large second hand), and a 24-hour display (right subdial). The first thing I want to bring your attention to is the color-match between the lower subdial and the large second hand.
This is a nice but subtle way to let you know that those two hands correspond to the same 60-minute stopwatch complication. Speaking of this stopwatch, it is accurate to 1/5th of a second, which results in a not-so-smooth sweep of the second hand.
The 24-hour complication is usually one that I enjoy on my chronograph watches, but I have one slight gripe with this one. This subdial only replicates the time and translates it to a 24-hour format, which is cool but doesn't serve any real purpose. I would've preferred if this subdial could be set to any other timezones, then serving a true purpose.
Above this dial are the oversized minute (arrow) and hour (syringe) hands which are great both for lume application and for legibility.
These hands point to the sloped chapter ring, which has a very precise track with 1/5th of a second accuracy. Surprisingly, the chapter ring seems to be almost perfectly aligned with the bezel & indices, which is unusual for Seiko watches.
The case of the SSC015/017/019 gets the same attention-to-detail and high-quality finish that you've come to expect from Seiko watches. The lugs are brushed, the sides are polished, and there's nice chamfering to unite these two parts of the case.
The right-hand side of the case might be a bit too crowded for some collectors. Indeed, you have two screwed-in pusher buttons (to operate the chronograph functions) and a screw-down crown, which are all huge and protruding.
One lovely feature is the colorful ring around the crown, which adds a bit of life and unity with the dial. On the other hand, a feature I consider useless is the small crown guards, which have absolutely no purpose because of the large pusher buttons and protruding crown.
It's also nice to know that the Seiko SSC015/017/019 has drilled lugs, which is quite rare for cheaper watches. This makes for very easy strap changes that you will certainly enjoy.
As you flip the watch over, you can see the stainless steel case back engraved with the iconic "Great Wave off Kanawaga".
The Seiko SSC015 is the black version of this solar dive watch, making it the most versatile of the bunch. Indeed, this is a timepiece that will match clothes of any color, but it remains a tool watch that has no place in a dressy outfit.
On this variant, the stopwatch hands and crown are painted in a bright red color. As you can tell from the picture above, the negative date display is almost impossible to see on this model, especially considering the dull white color of the date.
The Seiko SSC017 has the same black dial as the SSC015, but it sports the iconic batman bezel with blue accents. To match this Batman layout, the stopwatch hands and crown are now painted blue. I definitely prefer the SSC017 over the SSC015, but I must admit that it's harder to pair with most clothes.
The Seiko SSC019 is also equipped with an iconic diving bezel, this time the Pepsi layout. This is my favorite watch of the collection, and it's not just because I'm a sucker for Pepsi bezels.
What I like the most about the SSC019 is that it's the one with the biggest contrast between the two layers of the dial. This adds even more depth to an already quite complex dial. Also, I think the blue background of the date display makes it a bit easier to read.
If I had one thing to change about the SSC019, it would be the colored circle of the crown, which I would've painted blue.
Using a leather band for the Seiko SSC is definitely not the most popular choice out there. Indeed, it is a very rugged watch, so trying to dress it up with a leather strap can be a bit pointless. However, it is a great option if you're trying to stand out from the bunch and make your SSC as unique as possible.
The nylon strap is my equipment of choice for the Seiko SSC for many reasons. For one, it makes the watch a bit more comfortable than the OEM bracelet, and it's also better suited for sporty activities. Secondly, I think it's the strap that allows the best pairing with the dial.
As you can see above, this Seiko SSC017 owner picked a Nato strap that matches perfectly the 3 prominent colors of his watch.
Just because the Seiko SSC015/017/019 comes from the factory with a stainless steel bracelet doesn't mean you shouldn't get one from a third-party. Indeed, replacements bracelets are often much higher in quality compared to the OEM bracelet.
Above, you can see an example of an SSC015 owner who went for a beads-of-rice bracelet, adding comfort and stylishness to his piece. Also, he went even further and modded the hands of the watch, showing the modding potential of the Seiko SSC.
My second favorite custom strap for the Seiko SSC is the rubber band. I think a dive watch is always at home when strapped to rubber, and it's one of the most comfortable configuration out there. Above, you can see a Seiko SSC019 owner which went for a perforated blue rubber strap to match his blue dial.
In conclusion, the Seiko SSC015/017/019 is an excellent watch that will certainly be remembered for a long time after its discontinuation. Although the prices have risen sharply since its introduction to the market, I think it's still worth every dime.
However, I don't recommend buying it as an investment watch, because Seiko will most likely release a cheaper successor somewhere down the road.