In one’s watch collection, like life, it’s healthy to step out of your comfort zone. We get locked into tunnel vision of what we think things should or shouldn’t be. If you follow me on Instagram it will become immediately apparent that “sport” tool watches get the majority of my wrist time. So I decided it was time for a new watch.
I decided to break my normal watch buying trend with infamous Seiko Tank watch in two sizes 38mm (SUP880) and 31mm (SUP250). This is a very obvious Cartier Tank homage (a flagship mainstay in Swiss luxury watches) – hence the name Seiko Tank. The squared shape and straight flanks extending to the lugs give the Cartier that name because it resembled a WWI tank.
Generally homage style watches aren’t the norm from the iconic Japanese watch brand, however that’s what most likely adds to the long-lasting appeal of the Seiko Tank. The watch community never really asked for this, but no one’s upset that there’s now an affordable watch option for anyone interested in the timeless look the Cartier Tank without having to pay that high price tag. But despite being a great deal, is this infamous Seiko watch worth your attention and the hype it gets?
Gold-Plated Rectangular Case: Small Presence, Big Impact
Gold-Plated Rectangular Case: Small Presence, Big Impact
The larger Seiko Tank SUP880 is 38.4mm x 28mm x 6.3mm and while those dimensions make the wristwatch seem small, it actually wears a bit larger. It’s the straight lugs – there is no lug curvature off the sides of the watch case at all. Plus the watch is totally flat. Both of these contribute to a larger wearing experience than the specs lead you to believe.
The smaller Seiko Tank SUP250 is 31mm x 24.4 x 6.1mm and regardless of the fact that it shapes many of the case shape traits as the SUP880, it wears extremely small. As such, the watch has very little wrist presence aside from it’s bright gold finish and the classic rectangular case shape.
The crowns on the SUP880 and SUP250 are both Cartier styled. The tip of the crown on the Seikos is actually black instead of Cartier’s signature blue.
The faux-gold plated case works better on the SUP250 to help the small case pop. It can be overwhelming at times on the SUP880. It’s a very bright and polished tone that will really stand out from brushed steel.
Water resistance on both sizes is 30m, which will be fine for getting caught in the rain but obviously you’re not supposed to get these timepieces submerged underwater for any given period of time. The crystal on both of these is Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex, which is unique mineral crystal that Seiko fabricates for their wristwatches.
Classic White Dial With Pin-Strip Detailing
The design language on the Seiko Tank is simple but effective. The analog dial features a white background which is broken up with some subtle pin-striping. This is the feature of the dial that acts as part of the movement (more on that in the movement section) The vertical strips are a nice touch that classes the watches up a bit.
I’m a big fan of the black Roman numerals. Seiko is known for their mastery of precision printing on uneven surfaces. The Seiko Tank is no exception. Both the logo and the indices are razor sharp. They could have easily snuck “Seiko” into a leg of one of the Roman numerals, but they didn’t. That might have crossed the delicate homage line.
One of the things that I would change would be to omit the raised gold hour markers. It is a little too much. By trying to “class up” the watch, the extra touch of gold slightly cheapens it.
Another thing that separates these Seiko Tank homages from their Cartier inspiration is the lack of heat-blued hands. The hands are black feuilles (leaf style) with no lume.
A Solar-Powered Dress Watch
Both the Seiko SUP880 and the SUP250 use the V115 in-house solar quartz watch movements. There is no battery to change every year. There is nothing to wind. Simply let it charge for eight minutes in direct sunlight and it’s good to go for 6-7 months.
How does it work? Think of the dial as an amplifier. It focuses light onto a solar panel that is sandwiched between the dial and the actual quartz movement. The energy from the light is converted into electricity stored in a rechargeable battery attached to the movement.
These movements are incredibly slim. The height from the bottom of the movement to the top of the second pinion is only 3.8mm. The V115 is a two-hand movement. Despite the lack of a seconds hand, expect a “tick” when the minute changes.
Comfortable Leather Band With Odd-Sizing
Both Seiko Tank models (SUP880 and SUP250) come on black calfskin leather straps. The leather is soft and supple for this price point. The black leather straps are stamped with a crocodile pattern.
One of the issues that I had with both straps was the uncommon size of the lug widths. The larger SUP880’s strap is 23mm wide and the smaller SUP250 is 14mm wide. Despite the right amount of taper, they are both uncommon sizes, which makes it difficult to find straps for the watches. It’s a shame and a wasted opportunity.
With the Seiko SUP880 the most difficult adjustment for me was the gold color. My four year old son asked, “Daddy, are you wearing a ladies watch?” It’s not that the watch is feminine; he’s used to me wearing chunky steel tool watches. If this watch came in stainless steel I could see it sliding into my regular rotation for a welcome departure from my normal preferences. The gold color was just too much of a departure for me. But if you’re looking for something that hits that “nice gold watch” vibe, then the Seiko Tank is an obvious contender.
My wife is actually the one who wore the smaller SUP250 the majority of the time. She admittedly struggled wearing it. She liked that it was very comfortable and the time was easy to read. Her challenge was how to fit it in with her daily personal style. She was caught between feeling like she was wearing a Deco-style “estate” watch and a throwback that was somehow ironic-millennial.
Overall, there’s nothing outside the reality of what the Seiko Tank is – an affordable option for anyone who likes the Carter tank style but isn’t prepared to drop the required funds to make the purchase.
Greg is a long-time watch lover based in upstate New York. Greg is a supply chain professional by day and private watch consultant by night. Greg brings his own style to the TBWS website as a contributor by blending bits of humor into technical assessments. You can follow his cycling and snowboarding adventures on Instagram as he pursues the perfect 3-watch collection.