In 2010, Seiko released the SARB065 “Cocktail Time”, a cool dress watch with an exotic dial as part of the beloved SARB lineup. The SARB065 was only released to the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market), but after its wild success, Seiko decided to release a series of similar affordable models, like the Seiko SRPB43 Presage, years later.
At Baselworld 2017, Seiko officially announced a series of new Seiko Presage “Cocktail Time” based on the legendary SARB065. There were a few variations, including the blue dial SRPB41, the power-reserve SSA343, and the closest interpretation of the previous SARB065 that we’re going to be reviewing today, the Seiko SRPB43.
While I’ve had my eye on the SARB065 for quite some time, the SRPB43 seemed to have a very similar aesthetic and was quite a bit more affordable. So, I pulled the trigger. I am happy to say I’ve been the proud owner of this watch for about a year now, so I can confidently give you my in-depth thoughts on the watch, as well as a few alternatives and watch strap suggestions later on in this review. Let’s get to it!
- Diameter: 40.5mm
- Thickness: 12mm
- Lug to lug: 47mm
- Lug width: 20mm
- Weight: 51g (without bracelet or strap)
- Water Resistance Rating: 50 meters
- Movement: 4R35 (23 jewels, 41-hour power reserve, 21,600 BPH)
- Crystal: Hardlex domed box crystal
- Check price on Amazon
Standout Feature: Textured Dial
One of the blatant standout features of the Seiko SRPB43 is the mesmerizing textured sunburst dial. Unlike a traditional sunburst dial that is uniform throughout, the SRPB43’s dial is layered with paint, giving it a textured look that almost looks 3D in its appearance.
It is a bit of an illusion, as the dial is flat, and not raised in texture as it appears, but this layering effect produces an almost ethereal appearance of a series of lines that are distributed so as to make the light reflect on the watch at any two opposite points of the dial, at the same time. The dial texture is identical to the dial used in the more costly SARB065, with the addition of some painted on ‘PRESAGE’ branding at the bottom of the SRPB43.
The dial’s color is a bit of an interesting icy blue/silver. The cool tone and slight blue hue accents the blue painted needle second hand perfectly. There is quite a bit of negative space on the dial, which would typically bug me for a time-only watch that doesn’t have a lot of complication going on on the dial to keep things interesting, but the texture on the dial is more than enough to keep your eyes busy, wherever on this dial they’re looking.
The main hour and minute hands are sharp dauphine hands that are beveled very well and catch the light perfectly. This definitely doesn’t feel like an affordable watch, once you start to look at how well some of the details are handled. Finally, the diamond-shaped hour markers are applied and beveled in a similar fashion to the handset, and they reflect light beautifully when on the wrist. Any sort of motion causes them to catch and reflect the light, adding a bit of a subtly blingy appearance as any polished dress watch should. The date wheel at 3:00 is surrounded by an applied border that adds a subtle level of refinement to the piece.
The dial on the SRPB43 is nothing short of amazing, and is one of the main reasons why anyone should buy this watch.
High Polished Case
Aside from the dial elements, the watch case is one of the features that can make or break how a watch looks. Unfortunately, the case is one of the few minor nitpicks I have with this watch.
The case is polished throughout, And has a bit of a classic round design, with short lugs that curve down just a bit, and a slight distinction between the bezel and lugs. There is also a rather sharp transition between the top and sides of the case. I believe this could have been handled a bit more elegantly by either rounding the edge, just a bit, or adding an extra edge between them, which could create another point of contrast, and potentially add some room to have some of the cases brushed, to contrast with the polished surfaces.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having an all-polished case, especially on a dress watch. In fact, dress watches are traditionally all-polished. But when you look at some of the other more modern dress watches Seiko has done, such as the fan favorites SARB033 and Grand Seiko, you can see how the contrast of brushed and polished surfaces really elevate their entire appearance.
All-in-all, the case is not bad, by any means. But it’s nothing to wow over, either. I am thankful that this is one of the minor gripes I have about this watch.
Accenting the case on the 3:00 position is a cupcake crown, one of the few key distinctions between the SRPB43 and SARB065. The SARB065 has a slightly smaller and straighter crown. Personally, I love the flared crown of the SRPB43. I think it adds just a bit of extra visual interest that helps make the watch even more compelling to stare at. Further, its size and texture make it simply joyful to rotate and operate to set the time, or hand wind the movement. The crown is signed with an “S” that stands for… “Shoot, I just bought another Seiko”. No, just kidding. I have the humor of a boomer, even at only 26 years old. It stands for Seiko, of course.
Finally, the case back is a clear see-through case back that allows you to see the 4R15 movement from the outside. It’s covered in Seiko’s Hardlex mineral crystal, similar to the box domed crystal that covers the watch dial.
Dimensions, Weight and Comfort
The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time SRPB43 comes in at 40.5mm in diameter. This is a tad larger than I would have liked to see. It does make the watch lean a bit more toward a modern casual-dress watch. A healthy 36mm or 38mm certainly would have made this an exquisite classic dress watch, and I believe would make the watch appear a lot more expensive (sometimes smaller watches have that “luxurious” appeal).
With that said, I don’t think this watch looks oversized, or gaudy. Its sizing simply makes it look like a modern reinterpretation of classic dress watches. It’s relatively compact lug to lug length of only 47mm further cements this watch as not wearing overly large on the wrist, and would suit a variety of wrist sizes, from 6″ all the way up to 8″+ without any issue, depending on your preferences. It’s also a relatively thin watch, coming in at just over 12mm, which is including the somewhat tall and boxy domed acrylic crystal.
Without the included patent leather strap, the Cocktail Time weighs in at 51g, which is relatively light. Of course, if you were to throw a heavy stainless steel strap on this watch, it would weigh it down by a bit more, but I typically tend to wear it mostly on various types of leather straps. More about that later. Overall, this watch is a joy to wear, and is very comfortable, even when wearing it all day.
All in all, this is a watch that fits near perfectly on my 7″ wrists. Do I wish it was just a couple of millimeters smaller, so I can pretend I’m Don Draper in Mad Men? Absolutely. But Seiko didn’t go too far in the wrong direction, and the 40mm diameter will be wearable on a wide variety of wrists.
One of the major differences between the SARB065 and SRPB43 are the movements. The SARB065 features Seiko’s higher end 6R15 movement, while this SRPB43 features a slightly downgraded 4R35 movement.
The 4R35 movement is made by Seiko in-house and is a reliable workhorse movement, with a date function. It beats at 21,600 bph, has hacking and hand winding, and a power reserve of just over 40 hours.
It’s not the most accurate movement, and the accuracy from one 4R35 can vary wildly to the next. But these low end automatic Seiko movements are known to be durable and reliable, and sometimes go for years and years without ever needing a service.
The 4R35 can be seen through the clear display case back on the back of the watch. Aside from the interestingly gold colored rotor, the rest of the movement is rather plain, and not very well-decorated. Still, having the ability to see the movement is always nice for someone new to the hobby.
Patent Leather Strap & Deployment Clasp
Yup. Patent leather strap. You read that right… Not a typo. I can honestly say this is a first for me, as I’ve never seen a patent leather strap in my life. And after seeing the one included with this watch… I think I’d be perfectly content never seeing another one, ever. Patent leather always kind of screams “cheap crappy leather” to me, even though I know patent leather shoes are often paired with a very nice Tuxedo. But it’s just not for me.
This one is a black strap with blue stitching. I like the blue stitching, as it subtly compliments the blue-painted second hand.
The strap comes on a Seiko branded deployment clasp that only works if you wear the tail end of the strap toward the inside of your wrist, which is the opposite of how we typically wear our watch straps in America. This is a bit more common to see in Japan, and other Japanese brands like Orient have also adopted this for some of their watches, like my Orient Sun and Moon V3.
Overall, I’d describe this strap as… An unusual choice, at best. The overall construction is not half bad, but I just can’t get over how glossy, shiny, and cheap looking patent leather is. Here are a few strap suggestions instead…
Best Straps For The Presage Cocktail Time
Oh, the stock patent leather strap didn’t cut it for you? What a surprise! (Yes, that is sarcasm). There are plenty of other straps that look good on the SRPB43. Just make sure you get it in 20mm, to accommodate the SRPB43’s 20mm lug width. Here are a few strap alternatives you should consider trying instead:
Milanese Mesh Bracelet
A Milanese mesh bracelet is a great way to dress up the watch just a bit and emphasize a bit of that vintage styling that the SRPB43 has, thanks to its domed crystal. They’re often very flexible and breathable, and thus comfortable to wear on the wrist.
Shell Cordovan Strap
Shell Cordovan is a kind of fancy type of leather made from horsehide that has a somewhat glossy appearance. Unlike the cheap-looking black patent leather strap that comes with the SRPB43, a shell cordovan strap looks glossy in all the right ways and can help make the SRPB43 look much more expensive than it really is.
Brown Leather Strap
Looking to make the SRPB43 wear a bit more casual? A simple brown leather strap helps keep the watch classic looking, without looking overly dressy, as some black straps can.
Blue or Grey Suede Straps
As soon as the weather starts to drop in temperature, you’ll often find me reaching for a blue suede strap on my SRPB43. A blue suede strap accents the blue-painted second hand and even punctuates the ice blue dial. You can go for a suede grey strap for a safer option that keeps the watch a bit more monochromatic. Go for a darker charcoal grey if you’re looking for something a little more serious-looking, and a light grey if you want something a bit more playful.
Looking to make your SRPB43 look like you’re ready for business? An exotic leather strap such as a genuine lizard or crocodile strap in black can really make this watch interesting and sophisticated thanks to their unique textures. Crocodile straps can be a bit expensive, but genuine lizard can be had for pretty cheap, and still has that luxurious look. Keep in mind, these might make your SRPB43 look a bit serious and formal, which may or may not be the look you’re going for.
SRPB43 Presage Cocktail Time Alternatives
If you like the Seiko SRPB43 but something about it just doesn’t do it for you, there might be another watch on the market that has what you’re looking for. Here are a few of my favorite alternatives to the SRPB43.
If you want a more affordable dress watch that has a similarly dress-casual vibe, and slightly larger modern sizing (41mm), the Orient Bambino might be for you. An extremely well built and gorgeous looking watch that can be had for even cheaper than the SRPB43, and often for under $200.
Orient Star Classic ‘Power Reserve’
The Orient Star Classic Power Reserve is even smaller than the SRPB43, coming in at 36mm, a more classic dress watch size. It has a much subtler dial than the SRPB43 cocktail time and even has a power reserve complication for that extra wow factor.
Speaking of power reserve complications, the SSA343 [Amazon] is essentially an upgraded SRPB43, with the only differences being the addition of a power reserve complication in the movement, and a thicker case, as a result of the added complication.
Tissot Le Locle Powermatic 80
The Tissot Le Locle [Amazon] speaks to that “classic dress watch” vibe and comes in at 39mm, making it consistent with the modern sizing of the Cocktail Time. Not too big, not too small. It’s also housed with an impressive Swiss movement with an 80-hour power reserve.
Seiko SARB035 & Sarb033
If you want something a bit more sporty than dressy, check out the cream dial Seiko SARB035, or black dial SARB033 (check out my SARB033 review). It has a dressy dial, but a slightly sportier case with a variety of brushed and polished surfaces that make it a much better everyday watch, in my opinion.
The SRPB41 is more or less the same watch as the SRPB43, but with a blue-to-black gradient sunburst dial instead of the ice blue on the SRPB43. It also comes with a stainless steel bracelet instead of the ugly patent leather strap that comes on the SRPB43, making it a better wear out of the box.
As we’ve mentioned previously, the SARB065 is basically the SRPB43, but with a better 6R15 movement. If you love the look of the SRPB43, but prefer having a higher-end movement, the SARB065 is for you.
Seiko SRPB43 vs SARB065 Cocktail Time
The SRPB43 and SARB065 get compared often, and I can understand why. They’re nearly identical in appearance, with the exception of their crowns. The SARB065 has a tubular crown that’s pretty standard looking, while the SRPB43 has a more cupcake shaped crown that expands outward in every direction. Thanks to it’s extra size, it’s a bit easier to grip and function.
Of course, the SRPB43 has been added to Seiko’s “Presage” line of dress watches, as stated on the bottom of its dial, which the SARB065 does not have.
Finally, the last, and most important difference between the two is the movement inside. The SRPB43 has a 4R35 movement, while the SARB065 has an upgraded 6R15 movement, which is unarguably much more accurate.
Of course, this upgraded movement also comes at an added cost, so the SARB065 often costs a couple of hundred bucks more than the SRPB43. While I do like the 6R15 movement a lot (I own one inside of my SARB033) I didn’t feel it was worth spending the extra money, but that decision is completely up to you.
The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time SRPB43 is a gorgeous looking dress watch with an incredibly unique and interesting looking textured sunburst dial. If this dial were in a watch that costs even $1,000 more, I don’t think it would even be questioned, as it looks that good.
The 40mm diameter might make the SRPB43 a bit too large to wear as a dedicated dress watch, but it wears perfectly as an everyday casual-dress watch that treads the lines of both perfectly.
With just a few minor gripes like an all-polished case that doesn’t offer too much in the way of visual interest and an odd patent leather strap that instantly got swapped, I don’t have all too much to complain about for this really awesome watch. Especially since it comes at such an extremely awesome price.
Last update on 2021-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API