Synchronicity works in mysterious ways, much like how life unfolds. Life almost never turns out as planned, yet the outcome can be somewhat surprising. This is especially true for watch collectors, like myself, where we encounter in forums/blogs/news about certain models which were discontinued some time back, yet proves desirable currently either on hindsight or based on current market sentiments. Some collectors, much like hounds on a scent, will take no prisoners in their chase until they finally obtain the object of their hunt. Others, much like myself, prefer to simply regret the passing of such great watches, facing either constraints of time or money to seek such gems from the past. Yet sometimes life decides to drop you a surprise, much like how the watch in this review came to me. One day, a fellow collector decide to let me have this watch, as he knew my appreciation of the 4s movements, despite me not having any intention of obtaining this watch/movement previously. Based on several of my past reviews, I’m certain that you are aware of my unhealthy obsession towards the 4s family of movement. Here’s a brief recap of the chornicle of the 4s movement. Here’s a brief chronicle of the 4S Series, and its GMT evolution, which I pulled from Don’s excellent review. It is also this very same review that kick-started my fascination for the 4s family in general and the 4s36 movement in particular, which is the very movement found in the watch in this review. I strongly encourage all true Seiko fans to read and bookmark the review!
1970 Cal. 5206 LORD MATIC (LM)
1971 Cal. 5246 KING SEIKO (KS) Vanac
1971 Cal. 5246 KING SEIKO (KS) Chronometer
1972 Cal. 5206 LM Special
1973 Cal. 5256 KING SEIKO (KS) Vanac Special
1976 52 Stream discontinued
1992 52 resurrected and re-designated 4S
1995 4S15 Alpinist, 4S15 Titanium Diver
1996 4S15 SUS Military
1996 4S77 CREDOR Retrograde (GMT)
1997 4S12 SUS (GMT)
1997 4S15 Alpinist, SUS, and Titanium Diver discontinued
1998 4S12 SUS discontinued
2000 KING SEIKO 4S15 Historical Re-issue LE
2002 4S Series now limited to BRIGHTZ and CREDOR
2003 4S27 BRIGHTZ
2004 4S76 CREDOR Node
2007 4S Series now limited to CREDOR
2007 4S36 GMT Retrograde
The watch that I will be discussing is the SARN001, first introduced in 2007 and discontinued in mid 2013. It came in 2 variations initially, SARN001 was black dial, white GMT hand, stainless steel bezel, metal bracelet. SARN003 was blue dial, red GMT hand, stainless steel bezel, croc strap. Subsequently SAEN001 was introduced, which was similar to SARN001, but with a black bezel (likely PVD) and gold GMT hand. It is also interesting to note that subtle details that differentiates the 3 models. All of the GMT wording on the dial are color coded to the color of the GMT hands. Also the stainless steel bezel on SARN001 is brushed, while the stainless steel bezel on SARN003 is polished. The reason this model was very desirable to me was the fact that it was a mechanical GMT, which otherwise is only found in Grand Seiko Mechanical models at this point in time. Coupled with its power reserve indicator, day and date function, this is a double retrograde (power reserve and day) powerhouse, which is unheard of in the Seiko mechanical family. The closest complication that approaches this level of mechanical complexity in my humble opinion is the 6s37 movement found in the Flightmaster, which is a chronograph with power reserve function and date. The 4s36 is also the very last variant in the 4s movement that can be found in the Seiko range of watches, before being relegated exclusively to Credor and above.
Another reason was that fact that this model was the only Mechanical models that are hand-assembled in the Shizukuishi Studio, alongside mechanical Grand Seiko, Brightz, Prospex, Ananta etc. As mentioned in Don’s review, the SARN models are meant to be the flagship of the Seiko Mechanical line, and are priced accordingly as well (MRP 262,500 JPY)
Correspondingly, the finishing of the case is exquisitely Seiko, with lovingly gorgeous curved sides, and alternating brushed and polished finishes, which brings out the amount of work and effort that goes into each and every cash finishing. This finishing is very similar to the one found on the MM300 and the MM600
The dial is not black, but I would consider it to be charcoal, with chrome hour markers and a black chapter ring with white hash marks for the minutes. All the hour markers are applied and bordered. All borders are polished and the polish work is evident at the 12 o’clock marker where you can see the reflection of the hands as it passes the 12 o’clock marker. There are 3 sub-dials, which gives the dial face a form of symmetry.
The dial on the left shows the power reserve of 50 hours, which is mirrored on the right and shows the day of the week.
Finally, there is a full circle dial at the bottom that shows the date. All 3 sub-dials are bordered with circular brushing. The dial face are also of a different texture and material from the main charcoal dial. The sub dial faces are of a much deeper black and brushed in concentric circles, to match the brushing on their borders. All 3 sub-dials are served by white painted hands. The hour and minute hands are also highly polished and filled with lume in the middle. To aid visibility, there is also a white line dividing both the minute and hour hands lengthwise.
In contrast to the metallic minute and hour hands, both the GMT and second hands appear to be made of plastic and painted white. Personally, I would very much have preferred the second hands to also have been metallic, matching the minute and hour hands.
Both the second hand and GMT hands are also filled with lume.
The watch is a sapphire sandwich, meaning both the front and back crystals are sapphire. Through the display case back, the 4s36 movement is undecorated, which is typical of the almost the entire 4s family, which is also the look of the original 52 series, that the 4s was evolved from. To date, this model has remained on the fringe of many Seiko collections due to scarcity, cost and lack of knowledge on one of the more complicated movements that Seiko ever produced.. Time will tell if collectors’ taste will evolve such that they will start looking towards Seiko for its chronograph and complications, rather than dive watches. When that day comes, the 4s36 will take its pride of place high up in the hierarchy of Seiko movements.