A Life On Wrist: Seiko SRP309 Orange Monster

By: Seyth Miersma

The summer of 2015 was transitional for my life in a number of ways. My wife Molly’s young startup had earned her a spot at a tech accelerator in Cincinnati called The Brandery, meaning she’d spend four months living four hours away from our Ann Arbor home. Just a few months later I started a new gig (also at a startup) for a large-format automotive website for which I was to head up the U.S. editorial operations.

To this point I owned a few throw-away watches; flash sale internet specials purchased based on a picture I liked and little else. Nothing smaller than 45 millimeters; nothing produced outside of China; all about a subtle as Shinola on shore leave. But I was also a few months into my first Seiko, an SNK field watch inspired by a growing curiosity with automatic movements. As is typical, the magical little Seiko worked like the first hit of a powerful drug.

It was only months after buying that first automatic that I knew I needed to expand my collection with a more significant watch. The world of Seiko values was blooming day-by-day—with morning forays into ever deeper corners of the Watch Internet—fertilized by the downright fawning reviews I found about my $70 SNK. I wanted something bigger, bolder, and tougher. Based a little bit on more glowing commentary, and a lot on that striking orange dial and butch nickname, the Seiko SRP309 “Orange Monster” had my number.

The price was also right. I vividly recall a weekend visiting Cinci, boring my patient wife with Amazon photos of the big orange diver, encouraging her to be cool with spending nearly $200 on a watch. At the time, I think we both assumed that such a lavish purchase would more or less settle the watch question in our lives (an assumption that proved to be hilariously false.)

For a year I wore the Monster just about everywhere. Daily wear can be tough on any single timepiece I imagine, but the confluence of work and travel I was involved in during that stretch really did test the Seiko Orange Monster’s bulletproof reputation.

The SRP309 Orange Monster was still on its unblemished factory bracelet when I packed up for a weeklong foray to Cuba. My assignment was to host a series of short videos about car-based adventuring in the island nation; well-timed to capitalize on travel restrictions loosening. I recall being vaguely hesitant to wear the Seiko on this adventure, after reading an admonishment against wearing “expensive” watches in the country (clearly I wasn’t clocking Rolex sticker prices yet). But the thrill of getting the SeikonMonster on camera, and the prospect of spending some time in the water (it was August), won me over.
I wore the SRP in countless vintage cabs, behind the wheel of a 1956 Chevy, riding in the back of Havana’s strange flock of bright yellow “coco taxis,” even in a tremendously sketchy rickshaw. I’m six-feet, five-inches tall—my long arms are in a near-constant state of barely modulating gesticulation–and the Monster was basically unmarred after many a door jamb hit.
This was also the first watch I ever took swimming, which was a revelatory moment in my watch-nerd journey. The hotel pool didn’t threaten the Monster’s 200-meter rating, of course, but something in the way the sunlight hit the crystal and set flame to the dial over the backdrop of tropical blue water made me swoon. There were also rum drinks, naturally.

Back from Cuba, and freshly installed in the new job, the next trip was one of the more epic of my career’s (as well as a high point on the Seiko Monster’s resume). Some lunatics at Subaru PR had concocted one of the most enticing boondoggles of all time: driving an unmodded selection of crossovers from the northernmost part of Patagonia, all the way south to the bottom of the continent.
Having delivered a few scratches to the Monster’s bracelet at this point, I decided this South American trek demanded a classic Seiko rubber Z-strap. Even with no diving involved, it was my first ever watch strap change, and seemed perfectly rugged for the landscape at hand.
I drove for thousands of miles; lodged dozens of cracks in Subaru windscreens, quarterlights, and rearview mirrors; punctured a tire to two; and legitimately loved every moment. My fellow journalists and I were in and out of the cars quite a lot—sometimes for the aforementioned automotive injuries and other times just for one of a million impossible photo ops—and though there was a band of clean skin under my watch strap every night when I hit the shower, the Seiko beat on like a tank.

Photo Credit: Michael Shaffer / Subaru


On this trip the allure of being being part of the coterie of watch heads was made evident, too. My travel companions owned Sinn, Rolex, and Omega pieces, to name a few, and though many of them were familiar with the Seiko Monster, I don’t think any had seen one in the metal. Over drinks one night we eventually did the “pass watches around the bar” thing, and the polite interest I expected in my $200 Japanese watch morphed into a dozen questions, a couple of surreptitious Instagram photos, and obvious delight.

How could I not be hooked after that?

My first year with the Monster blazed by at a breakneck pace. Eventually Molly moved back home, relieved to recapture some semblance of our lost version of domesticity, but with a completely batshit workload. I accelerated rather than slowed down, making trips across the country and across the world with crazy frequency.

My watch collecting—still firmly rooted in the Seiko family—sped up as well. More dive watches, more big wrist statements, uncountable NATO straps, and increasingly brave dollar figures were to come. And, as is the case at the start of most adventures, each step forward was more exciting than the last. Still, for the price, the Seiko SRP309 Orange Monster poolside in Cuba is highly recommended, if you have the means.


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