The other day while browsing around casually at a watch shop, I spotted a blue Seiko Map Meter watch (SKZ223) that was mounted on the nylon bund strap that supposedly only came with the orange version (SKZ227). Dealer explained that she had a customer who wanted the SKZ227 on the metal bracelet so she did a band swap and sold it at the price of the bracelet version. Things like that always happen at retail shops.
Anyway, I strapped on the blue Map Meter watch on the bund strap and for a while, I couldn’t get it off my wrist. The watch is big and thick, and the bund strap really makes it stand out on the wrist. Thickness of a watch is never an issue for me and this was the first I worn a Seiko on a bund strap. I have handled a bracelet version of the Map Meter watch when they were first released and had very good impression of it. This is the second time I tried it on.
The Map Meter watch appears to be an improved version of an earlier model known as Atlas (SKZ211 and so on). It has a bigger watch case that has a nicer polished and brushed finish than the matt finished Atlas. It also has a nicer two-layered dial as compared to conventional one on the Atlas. In other words, it is bigger and better and just like Arnold’s terminator model, the Atlas is an obsolete model. It can’t stop the Map Meter from flying out of the retail stores.
SKZ211K – Nicknamed ‘Atlas’
SKZ227K – The new and improved model
The Atlas and Map Meter series of watches have a unique design of their own that some may not appreciate because it doesn’t resemble the 6105’s, 6309’s or the Marinemaster that they are familiar with. I don’t blame them because the Map Meter watch is not a dive watch and should not be perceived as one. Some sellers on eBay call it ‘dive watch’ which is inappropriate and misleading. I must admit I had that misperception before but now I realized it is a ‘land’ watch. Maybe it wasn’t very clear on the Atlas but the Map Meter is clearly a ‘land watch’. It has a compass bezel for finding direction and a map meter for measuring distances on maps. Sure, it has a water resistance rating of 200m but so does the Prospex Landmasters. Therefore, when I look at the SKZ Map Meter watch, I look at it from a ‘land watch’ perspective. I won’t compare it with any Seiko diver at all. I think Seiko has opened up a new category of Seiko 5 with the Atlas and Map Meter. Instead of ‘Map Meter’, I am very tempted to call it ‘Seiko 5 Landmaster’ although I wouldn’t entrust my life to it.
The Map Meter watch uses plastic crown guards that are attached to both sides of the watch case by means of screws. They remind me of the plastic guards that some Casio watches have to protect their pushers.
I have the following guesses as to why the plastic part is used:
– to help reduce the weight since it is quite a heavy watch.
– for extra shock protection
– purely from a design standpoint to add some character to the watch
– to reduce manufacturing cost since steel is getting more expensive 🙂
As you can see in the pictures below, the caseback is surrounded by a plastic ring. The crown guards on both sides are joined by the plastic ring and this whole thing is actually a one-piece plastic instead of three separate pieces.
I hope it can last as long as the watch….
A few days later, I went to another shop and purchased an orange Map Meter that was distributed by the distributor, Thong Sia Group. The package includes warranty card, manuals, polishing cloth and a zipper storage case. The recommended retail price is $503.00 inclusive of tax. I paid $300 for it which is about 40% off the RRP. There are grey market ones selling for less but I decided to go with Thong Sia this time. (Prices mentioned are in Singapore dollars).
Inner, outer boxes and polishing cloth.
Warranty card and hang tags.
Watch came with nylon bund strap that is backed by leather on the underside for water resistance. Upon removing the strap, I discovered that it uses 22mm spring bars of normal thickness as opposed to the thicker ones used by the Seiko divers. For me, it means there are more strap options for the watch. In fact, I have changed the nylon band to a Kevlar style strap that I bought previously from globalwatchband.com.
The screw-in crown is knurled and is signed with the ‘5’ logo. The circumference of the bezel is also knurled just like the other SKZ’s. And being a compass bezel, it rotates smoothly in both directions. Unlike the dive watch bezel, the compass bezel does not ratchet nor click when it rotates.
The caseback is nicely done with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces. Instead of the usual "Stainless Steel", this one is inscribed with "St Steel + Plastics". At 41mm diameter, this has got to be the biggest Seiko caseback I have seen so far. It reaches all the way to the circumference of the watch case as you can see in the picture below.
The lume on the lumibrite hands is pretty bright but I can’t say the same for the markers. They have pretty weak lume.
I went with the orange version because the color of the dial and that of the stainless steel bezel offer better color contrast against the black plastic guards.