Seiko Sportura SNJ001P review
- Date acquired: Aug 27th 2003
- Production Date: June 2002
- Source: Style Watches Sdn Bhd, BB Plaza
- Price paid: MYR1,070 (USD319)
- Status: Discontinued
The SNJ001P was first Sportura model to use the analog digital H023 module. It’s not the first H023 caliber timepiece – that title truly belongs to the short lived Prospex Sky Professional series that debuted in 2001.
The H023 also happens to be Seiko’s last analog digital caliber with world time capability and a high precision, 1/1000sec stopwatch that times up to 100 hours. Its successor, the H024 caliber unfortunately lacks the world time function and a second hand.
This watch certainly has an interesting mix of a dress watch with useful, utilitarian functions. If you had to have just one multi-function watch, the Sportura SNJ001P would be a good candidate. 🙂
The SNJ001P was one of the love-at-first-sight watches for me. I first spotted this model at a watch store at the ground floor of the SOGO Department Store. I didn’t have time to check it out but I stored the looks and styling of the watch at the back of my mind.
I had just a fleeting glimpse of it but the description of the watch was permanently carved at the back of my mind. The dial was simply a breathtaking sight and contrasts nicely with the heavily chromed case. Its bezel was adorned with city prefixes on an anodized black bezel insert. The rectangular push buttons were symmetrical with the watch case.
And I knew I could identify this beauty if I saw it again. 🙂
Top: An early 2001 Sportura ad in German. The SNJ001P is the second model from the left.
When I got home from the office, I scoured the ‘net looking for that grail watch of mine. I didn’t know what model it was except that it was very shiny and had a jet black dial with a subdued inverse LCD display for the digital readout. Not too long after I managed to track down the watch. I found out the model was the Sportura SNJ001P.
Actually, I originally wanted to buy the Prospex Sky Professional, model when I first saw it at Wayne’s Watch World but at USD450 without shipping it was rather steep for me.
I saved a few photos of this watch but the one that really captured my imagination and ignited my deep interest was this particular photo which I got off the ‘net:
Top: A beautifully photographed Sportura SNJ001P
Look and feel
The Sportura has a very nice heft to it, with all around stainless steel bracelet with solid links. The case sides are satin brushed with the center links having a mirror-finish polish, which goes nicely with the equally polished . The highlight of the watch is its wonderfully smooth and flat sapphire crystal, the jet black dial and fluorescent red sweep second hand.
On my watch, the second hand aligns to the minute markers about 95% of the dial, in some places it’s a bit off and others spot on. The lume brightness is on the average side as the thin index markers and hands can’t accommodate more LumiBrite™ than I would have liked.
A major shortcoming of this watch (and all other H023 Seikos) is the lack of illumination. There’s no backlight therefore you can’t read the digital display in the dark. I don’t know why Seiko chose to omit the backlight – perhaps they couldn’t fit an electroluminescent light or they wanted to extract as much battery life possible. Frequent use of backlight will certainly shorten the battery life of a watch.
Here are some terrific photos (not mine though) of the SNJ001P taken from various angles:
The Sportura sits flatly on the wrist and the bracelet is certainly no hair puller. It’s a bit heavy but comfortable. The brushed clasp has a signed “SEIKO Sportura" inscription and twin push buttons to release the catch. It’s not of the tri-fold design and it lacks the safety catch found in many Seiko bracelets.
How big is the SNJ001P? I measured the watch’s dimensions as follows:
- Diameter: 42mm (w/o pusher), 46mm (w/ pusher)
- Lug-to-lug: 48mm
- Thickness: 12.5mm
- Lug width: 22mm, tapering to 18mm at clasp
The caseback has a unique layout with 18 dimples and six shallow, bullet shaped indentations. The text “Sapphire Glass" is indicated on the caseback. The first battery change was done at the Seiko Service Center (with a dry pressure test) and the technician did it without even marring the caseback. Obviously they had the proper tools for the Sportura’s unique caseback.
Unfortunately, my second battery change was disastrous! I sent the watch to my watchmaker and he didn’t have the proper tools to open the caseback and instead used a generic caseback opener. As a result, he accidentally made a few scratches and gouges on the stainless steel back. 🙁
The scratches had since been buffed by my watchmaker and I went home to further polish off any leftover traces. Now that I’ve learned my lesson, I resolve to send the watch back to the Seiko service center for my next battery change whether I like it or not.
Like all H023 watches (except the Sky Professional series) the SNJ001P has no crown but four push buttons. The upper left pusher is a multi-function “Adjust" button that sets the watch’s date and time. The lower left is the Mode button and it cycles through the following modes:
- Time display (12/24 hr format)
- World Time (28 cities, including GMT with Daylight Savings Time option)
- Chronograph (1/1000sec)
- Alarm time
This is the default mode which displays the current city, the digital time and calendar display. If you find the digital readout somewhat distracting, there’s an option to suppress the extraneous information except the day and date. I prefer this suppressed display as it keeps background clutter to a minimum. Despite the lack of backlight, the LCD display offers high contrast and is still legible in low light.
The watch beeps when you press a button but you can put it on silent mode if you like. Pressing any button will instantly display the digital time and city abbreviation. You can also have a 24-hour time format if you like. The calendar is fully automatic, keeping track of leap years and good up to the year 2043.
In the World Time Mode, you can view only one city time at any one time and choose the city that you desire by pressing the upper right button. Press and hold this button and the watch fast forwards through all the time zones. The second hand also serves as a pointer, it will indicate the current city on the bezel. There’s no provision for you to reverse, if you missed a city you’ll have to cycle through all cities.
A cool feature is the one-touch, instant local time setting. Seiko calls it the “transfer function". All you have to do is to push the Adjust button. A shrill beep is issued and the main time hands magically move to synchronize with the local time indicated in the LCD display.
The hands can move forwards or backwards to the local city time, whichever is the shortest route. If you’ve never seen the H023 in action, you’ll be impressed with the show. Frequent use of the transfer function can shorten battery life. I imagine the stepping motor uses considerable power to physically move the hands.
You’ll find the transfer function very handy if you travel across time zones. 🙂
The chronograph has a resolution of 1/100 sec which means it can measure to the nearest 0.001 second! The H023 caliber remained the only analog-digital Seiko watch capable of this fine resolution until the newer H024 caliber appeared sometime in 2006. As the stopwatch runs, a series of chevrons (">>>>") move from left to right on the topmost LCD display, indicating that the stopwatch is activated. It supports a single lap time measurement with no memory.
If you like timing long events, you’ll be pleased to know that the chronograph can time up to a maximum of 100 hours before resetting to zero. Perfect for timing long haul, international flights.
The alarm is a conventional affair, with a nice sounding two-tone trill that’s piercing enough to alert you in a convention center but not loud enough to wake heavy sleepers. You can set the alarm time to another time zone. It’s useful if you’re in New York and want to be reminded to make a phone call to Tokyo when it’s 10 a.m. over there.
Above: Some photos of my Sportura SNJ001P
- Caliber: H023, 5 jewels
- Caseback: H023-00A0
- Movement type: Quartz, 32kHz crystal
- Loss/gain: Less than 15 sec/mth
- Chronograph: 1/1000 sec, up to 100 hours
- Alarm: Single channel, 24 hours
- Calendar: Day/date
- Crown: None (push buttons)
- Construction: Stainless steel
- Crystal: Sapphire glass, flat
- W.R. Rating: 100m
- Luminous material: LumiBrite™
- Battery life: Approx 2 years
- Battery type: Seiko SR1130W, 1.55 volts
- Movement Japan, cased in Singapore
Top: Wrist shots of my SNJ001P, on my 6.5" wrist. The watch is rather blingy so it’s rather difficult to take photos of it with the least amount of reflection.
The SNJ001P makes a very nice sporty dress watch with multi-function features. I have actually worn this watch on a trip to Saudi Arabia and the world time capability keeps track of my home time. This model is discontinued but recently some units have reappeared on eBay. Would I buy this SNJ001P again? Maybe I would, if it weren’t so shiny.
The SNJ001P was also featured in one of Seiko’s notable ads for their 2001 Sportura lineup. I liked the slogan "It’s Your Watch" that I used it as my favorite personal signature in the Seiko & Citizen Watch Forum. 🙂
What I liked:
- Sapphire glass
- Clean looks, superb dial layout
- World time function
- 1/1000sec chronograph with 100-hour timing capability
What I didn’t care for:
- Blingy case and bracelet, a tad too shiny for my taste
- Relatively short battery life
- Integrated bracelet, which means you can’t change to an aftermarket bracelet or a strap without major modifications
Unusual caseback design. You’ll need a special Sportura case opener for this watch as the dimples are very shallow. A regular case opener may scratch the caseback. Your nearest Seiko repair center should have the correct case opener for Sportura models.
|Value for money:|
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Yes, I’ve seen the old SNJ017P Flightmaster in person. A friend of mine, Kenneth – owns one and I once suggested to him that if he got tired of the original bracelet, his SNJ017P would look really good on a carefully chosen leather strap.
I would have bought this model if not for the fact that I already own two H023 Seikos – the other one being the Japan market, SBDR005 Sky Professional (not Skymaster). The SNJ017P, in my opinion is the best looking generic H023 caliber Seiko I’ve seen.
The SNJ001P Sportura was the H023’s first appearance in the non-JDM line of Seiko watches, although it has a sapphire crystal the glass itself lacks a much needed anti-reflective coating that some later Sportura models, such as the high accuracy, SLT037P Perpetual Calendar (8F56 cal) have.
The SNJ017P is a good catch and priced slightly above two hundred US dollars it gives certainly a lot of bang for your moolah.
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Really love all the info that you provide, especially all the info on the Kinetics. I just bought my first Kinetic off ebay for just about $550, the Seiko SRX010 Velatura Kinetic Direct Drive Special Edition Men’s Watch Cal. 5D88
I will get to the main question. Can the special, now obsolete Seiko Induction recharger Seiko YT02A work on this model?
I have seen it offered for sale for about $250 dollars but the indicated Cal. on top of the unit do not seem to have 5D position.
This is a thick, big, but lovely watch with the Moonphase too.
I search & search on Google & people have played alot with using other induction chargers with some luck. I have multiple versions of Braum Oral B toothbrush chargers & have played some with this technique, but no position seems to do anything.
They also mention a Dakota watch inductor & some inductors that charge LED Candles that can work, but none of the pictured Seiko’s are my limited edition one. So I hate to buy a Dakota recharger & find it does nothing like the toothbrush inductors. At least with the Philips LED Candle light recharger, I can still use it for the Candles 🙂
Like you, I have too many watches ranging from Rolex to cheap Casio. I tend now to prefer Solar. I had no idea, that I would have to spin this Kinetic thousand of times gyrating it in my hand to recharge! What a PITA! I tend to leave my many watch alone for awhile, and keep some in a safety deposit box. Really not a problem with a well charged eco-drive, run down automatic, or deplete regular quartz….but I am afraid that the Kinetic’s battery will not like being depleted. It already arrived in a depleted state…but at almost 1/2 retail price on ebay why not.
For some reason the cell seems to be hold the supermax charge well 1+ month. I have only had it a few days, & it seems to work well. When not in use, the charge indicator went down by one notch in 2 days without me wearing it. Since it is not a watch I can wear to work (I use a large digital readout Pulsar since I am an MD & constantly have to write the exact time & date all day at work), I will only use it sometimes on weekends, with the crowd of my other watches.
I also bought two Japanese edition Seiko Spirit watches both of which are solar & radio controlled (one also has that cool e-paper display), which are far less trouble. I also bought a new Seiko solar orange dive watch. I have a few Citizen Eco-drives. My poor deplete Rado, some Movado’s, two solid gold Concords, and some others just sit being unused. I am glad that my wife has decided to take over two of my new Skeleton Quartz Swatches (which are cool & cheap). Anyway, I guess a visit to a watch repair store is in order. It seems silly to pay so much for tons of watch battery replacements for all these watches. Maybe I will ebay some….but they are all so nice.
BTW- I really love your personal story about how your interest/ hobby/ “WIS syndrome” started.
Anyway, thanks for all the hard work on your blog & I hope you have an answer about if my Seiko 5D88 can recharge on the Seiko YT02A. ?
Thanks, Mahalo, Gracias, etc… 🙂
Paul ( a poor WIS wanabee 🙂
I truly apologize for the inconvenience with the Captcha anti-spam measure. I removed the character based Captcha plug-in for a month and found at least 1,000 spam comments in my blog’s inbox per day, so I decided to reinstall Captcha. The fact that your comment got through meant that you had successfully posted your question. 🙂
The Seiko YT-02A charger was manufactured long before the Kinetic Direct Drive models were introduced. This is not an end consumer product like the Braun electric toothbrush chargers but meant for Seiko dealerships and authorized service centers. This is why the YT-02A is packed in a plain cardboard box and its instruction manual is sparsely written. There is no warranty card issued by Seiko for the charger.
The Seiko Energy Supplier charger accommodates the 7D series Kinetics, which includes the 7D46 & 7D48 Kinetic Perpetual Calendar calibers. Therefore I think the YT-02A should work with the 5D88 Kinetic Direct Drive caliber. My knowledge of electromagnetic physics is pretty rusty by now, but I think the basic induction principles still apply to this model – except that the positioning of the watch on the charger will affect its charging efficiency.
Electromagnetic induction charging works best when the direction of the energy flux is 90 degrees perpendicular to the movement’s induction coil position. This is why there are different crown positions for the 3M/5M, 1T/9T, 7L22, 5J/7D and 4M Kinetic movements labeled on the charger’s surface. If you know the direction of your watch’s induction coils (e.g. east-west, north-south, north west-south east, etc) then a 5D88 should be placed on the YT-02A charger in such a way that its coils are perpendicular to the charger’s induction coils. I wouldn’t know how the YT-02A looks inside as I’ve never bothered to disassemble it. 🙂
In short, you’ll have to experiment which crown position works best for your 5D88 Kinetic Direct Drive. If its coil block is aligned similarly to the 7D caliber, then positioning the crown towards the 7D mark should charge your watch the quickest.
Try placing your watch on the 7D position first for ten minutes and note how quickly your watch’s power reserve builds up. If there’s no change, rotate your watch to other positions until you get the best direction. With no instructions to guide, you’ll have to experiment by trial and error until you get the optimum charging rate. Probably the best way is to contact Seiko Japan and they should be able to advise you which caliber marked on the charger to follow. 🙂
I share your woes pertaining to manually recharging Kinetic watches by physically shaking them. I think the problem is that Kinetic watches are inefficient at charging its KESU (Kinetic Energy Storage Unit) as evidenced by the literally thousands of “swings” to fully charge a Kinetic watch from a fully depleted condition. You can think of it as a small 45 Amp car alternator trying to charge a large 120 Amp-hour battery meant for a pickup truck. Seiko has not found a way to increase the charging current rate beyond what their present technology offers.
In many cases, it’s the watch’s rechargeable battery that’s at fault rather than the Kinetic charging system. You wouldn’t know how long the replacement cell has been in storage since it was manufactured because its shelf life is not printed on the blister packaging. Just like rechargeable lithium ion batteries for smartphones, cameras and digital gadgets, consumers have no idea how “fresh” the battery is from the factory. A rechargeable battery that’s been sitting on the shelf for years would not give a 100% recharge performance compared to one that’s just arrived from the supplier.
All rechargeable batteries start to age the moment they leave the factory. Furthermore, the battery for Kinetic watches are seldom replaced until they’re totally useless. Contrast this with disposable silver oxide cells for quartz watches. More people on the planet wear quartz watches than Kinetics or solar powered watches, which is why watch dealers stock up on fresh disposable batteries but not the rechargeable types.
Thank you for sharing your interesting history of your watch collecting adventures. I think my watch collection is nearing the 90-piece mark but have never bothered to do an inventory check! I have since moved on to other hobbies like photography but once in a while I do like to trade stories with WIS folk such as you. 🙂
Hello, I have the SNJ017 Flightmaster, which was the pilot version of your watch (and non-Sportura) using the same exact H023 ana-digi movement. It is a wonderful watch, and with all your due respect, I believe the SNJ017 was simply the best value and the best application of the H023 caliber. While the SNJ017 lacks the bling and sapphire crystal of the Sportura versions, the solid link and solid end link bracelet (That is not integrated by the way) plus the bank vault like case and EB6 slide rule, make this watch a superb tool instrument.
An interesting tid bit…. The SNJ017 has the same exact set of hands as its pricier and less known cousin, the short lived Seiko Prospex Skymaster.
I too lament the lack of backlighting for the digital displays. Still I prefer the H023 caliber to the newer and “meh” H024 caliber with the countdown timer function.
Very good watches overall and at US$225 paid back in April for one of the last remaining new samples left in the market, I am very happy to own this versatile and cool looking watch.
By the way, the SNJ017 and 2 tone steel SNJ018 were both discontinued by Seiko at the end of 2008. These watches were originally introduced in the Spring of 2006.