Seiko Presage Cocktail Time SRPE43 and SRPE45
December 11, 2020
For the past decade, Seiko has been cultivating a connection with cocktail culture. It began with the original SARB065, a well-loved watch affectionately referred to as the “Cocktail Time”. When it discontinued the original Cocktail Time in 2017, Seiko launched the Presage Cocktail Time series. The collection picked up where the SARB065 Cocktail Time left off, offering an expanded collection of cocktail-inspired 40.5mm dress watches, each with textured sunburst dials in a different color.
In 2020, Seiko expanded the Presage Cocktail Time collection yet again, with a trio of recent additions. The Seiko Presage SRPE41, SRPE43, and SRPE45 all feature a newly designed case and an entirely new dial pattern. In this review we’ll take a deeper look at two of these new Cocktail Time watches — the blue Seiko SRPE43 ‘Old Clock’ and the green Seiko SRPE45 ‘Mojito’.
Reshaping the Seiko Cocktail Time collection
The Seiko Cocktail Time SRPE43 and SPRE45 are 38.5mm wide and 11.8mm thick with a height of 45.4mm lug-to-lug. They have 20mm lugs, so will fit a wide variety of commonly sized straps.
Arguably, this is the size that Seiko’s Cocktail Time watches should have always been. At 38.5mm, it’s much closer to the classic watches of years past. It’s also a size that many people may find more fitting for a dress watch. And though the 40.5mm Seiko Cocktail Time models wear very well, this smaller size just feels right. It’s a size that wears well on many wrists, with an understated case that allows the dial to be the center of attention.
Not only is the case smaller than the previous Cocktail Time generation, but the shape is also a bit different as well. The original watches in the series have a more modern profile, with curved lugs that flow out from the case in a continuous arch. The case of the SRPE43 and SRPE45, in contrast, is more vintage-inspired. The lugs jut out from the round curvature of the case as if they are welded on. It’s a style that reminds me of a vintage 1960s Omega Seamaster dress watch, adding to the retro appeal.
Seiko Magic in the dials
The dials of these recent Seiko releases, however, are what make these watches special. From Grand Seiko down to Seiko 5, Seiko knows how to create gorgeous, eye-catching dials. And the new Cocktail Time watches are no exception. The SRPE43 and SRPE45 each feature an intricate, embossed dial pattern reminiscent of a cut-glass cocktail tumbler. Rather than raised sunburst texture of the rest of the collection, the dial on these watches features a concentric diamond pattern, radiating out in waves from the center. The somewhat glossy, slightly dégradé finish adds to the effect of looking through a full cocktail glass to varying effect, depending on the light.
The hour markers are as much a distinguishing feature of these Cocktail Time watches as the patterned texture. Large applied numbers inspired by the lettering on a vintage liquor bottle mark the even hours. In between, slightly triangular applied metallic stick indices occupy the odd hour spots. A matching applied metallic Seiko Logo and metallic date window frame connect with the look of the hour markers. Printed “Presage Automatic” text in the lower portion of the dial and an outer printed minute track, both in the same color as the markers, complete the look.
There is a lot going on with the dial, but because the elements are all in the same color, it holds together nicely. One might say it’s classy, but I’d more readily describe it as fun.
Seiko Presage Cocktail Time Blue SRPE43 ‘Old Clock’ Review
According to Seiko, the blue dial of the Seiko SRPE43 invokes a cocktail called the ‘Old Clock’. While I’ve never experienced that particular drink, to me, the color seems very reminiscent of the watch’s nickname, Skybar. It’s what I’d imagine a stormy evening sky above Ginza’s Skybar would look like, shifting with the changing light from a bright grey-blue to a deep blue-black.
That’s something to note about the blue of the Seiko Presage SRPE43: the blue color changes based on the light. In the right light, it shines with brilliant metallic blue highlights across the radial pattern. In bright sunlight, it can be quite stunning. But if the surrounding light isn’t bright, or if the light source isn’t hitting the watch at the right degree, the dial of the SRPE43 Old Clock becomes a more muted grey-blue. The dial pattern remains very interesting, but the color becomes a bit subdued, almost dull. It really needs the right light for the color and texture to pop.
The shifting blue of the Seiko Skybar seems to work. It makes the watch a little more understated much of the time, waiting until the light is right to jump out to grab attention.
Beyond the tendency to drift toward subdued hues, the one criticism of the blue dial variant is the legibility. While the silvery hands and indices match the dial very well, they have a tendency to blend in with the grayish tones a bit when the light isn’t drawing out the vibrant blues. It’s not awful, but it affects the quick readability of the dial.
Complementing the blue of the dial, the Seiko SRPE43 comes on a deep navy blue quick-release leather strap. Fitting the shifting tones of the dial, the deep blue of the calf leather strap appears black in most light. The strap is acceptable overall, with a soft, tan leather underside and supple flexibility that adds to the comfort. And it includes a deployant clasp, which makes the band feel a bit more upscale. The strap works and matches the watch well, but it doesn’t look or feel like the highest quality. Thankfully, with a popular 20mm lug width, it won’t be difficult to match the Presage SRPE43 with a variety of straps. I bet it would look great on a textured blue or black, or on a rich brown.
Seiko Presage Cocktail Time Green SRPE45 ‘Mojito’ Review
In this review of Seiko Cocktail Time watches, the green and gold Seiko Presage SRPE45 may edge out its blue sibling. Though I’m usually not a huge fan of green dials, this is one that I’d have fun wearing.
The colors of the SRPE45 dial are meant to invoke a mojito cocktail, according to Seiko. I just don’t see it, as I’ve never seen gold coloring in a mojito. To me, it’s more reminiscent of emerald and gold jewelry. Or a green and gold Fabergé Egg. Or Christmas. It’s a color combination that exudes a classic richness and warmth.
This watch also doesn’t suffer from the same color and legibility issues that might be found on the blue variant. The Seiko Presage SRPE45 is simply stunning, with a brilliant emerald green dial accompanied by the perfect complement of gold-toned dial furniture and hands. When light hits the dial, it almost seems to glow from within. It’s a dial you’ll find yourself just staring at, again and again, getting lost in that deep jade concentric swirl and the shine of those numbers and hands.
The Presage SRPE45 comes on a brown leather quick-release Seiko watch band. The strap is similar in style and quality to the one included with its siblings. It’s fine, not great. The strap complements the dial colors well, it’s comfortable enough, and includes a deployant clasp. The soft leather underside is a nice touch and adds to the comfort, but the shiny outer leather finish looks and feels a little cheap, unfortunately. Fortunately, however, the watch has 20mm lugs, and so it will be easy to find a better strap to complete the look.
The Seiko 4R35 Movement
Powering the 2020 Japanese-made Seiko Presage Cocktail Time watches is the Seiko 4R35 movement. This is the same movement found in the earlier generations of Presage Cocktail Time watches, and in Seiko divers like the Samurai. Seiko specifies accuracy at +45 / -35 seconds per day, which isn’t great, but many people seem to report that the movement keeps significantly better time than that. It’s an automatic movement with the modern conveniences of seconds hacking, hand winding capability, and a quick-set date function. Though it’s not a beautiful movement, it is visible through the display case back, which is nice. And it provides a 40-hour power reserve.
One detail to point out about the 4R35 movement is the beat rate of 21,600 BPH. That means the watch will have a sweep seconds hand, but it won’t be as smooth as a watch with a higher rate like 28,800 BPH. To some people, that’s not a big deal. To others, it might be a drawback. Personally, I can live with it, but I really prefer the smoother sweep of a higher frequency.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Seiko already had a winner with the Cocktail Time series, and with the 2020 additions, the collection got even better. These are dress watches, but they are also fun watches. With Hardlex mineral glass crystals and exhibition case backs, 50m / 5ATM water resistance, and push-pull crowns, they are better suited for the cocktail lounge than for more rugged adventures. The smaller 38.5mm case size makes them very wearable for a wide range of wrists and befitting more formal attire.
The dials are simply stunning, and very well done. In person, the color of the blue dial SRPE43 ‘Old Clock’ is often more muted than it appears in many of the online photos. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. Perhaps disappointing if you are looking for a consistent, brilliant blue. Or perhaps ideal, if you’d like a more understated look until the right light hits and the blue really shines. Of the two, the green dial SRPE45 ‘Mojito’ may be the star of the show. The emerald green and gold are paired so perfectly together and the dial looks great, and is more legible, in a wide range of light.
The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time series of watches offer an interesting twist on the classic dress watch. And these recent additions to the collection step that up a notch. They don’t exactly adhere to the traditional design of most dressy timepieces. If you like to add a little extra ‘pop’ to your more formal attire, the Seiko Presage SRPE43 or Seiko Presage SRPE45 could be the way to go. These are watches probably best suited as an additional timepiece or part of a larger collection rather than someone’s only watch. But if you’re looking for an affordable dress watch with a fun twist, these new Cocktail Time models should definitely deliver.
Where to buy the Seiko SRPE43 and SRPE45
These additions to the Seiko Presage Cocktail Time series aren’t widely available yet, it seems, but they are starting to show up at more retailers online. Check them out at the links below:
Find the blue dial Seiko Presage Cocktail Time SRPE43 on Amazon.
Find the green dial Seiko Presage Cocktail Time SRPE45 on Amazon.