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#KISSWatchReview: Seiko Fifty-Five Fathoms

There is more to the desirability of a watch than its clout among collectors, or its pedigree among the horological halls. It is an aggregate of its beginnings, its reason, and its end.

Few of my watches have a rich story to them. I have been blessed with a constructive hobby in which I immerse myself in a pool of knowledgeable peers, and also blessed with the means to be able to humbly indulge in such a hobby.

Many of the watches I own share the same origin story. I see. I like. I buy. But not this one. The one watch in my collection with the most backstory is a modified entry-level Seiko that I never got to wear until it was beat up, scratched and bruised.

The Seiko Fifty-Five Fathoms is named after the Blancpain divers watch of legend, borrowing heavily from the latter’s design cues of the enlarged flat bezel and thick sword hands.

The trend follower I was, I picked up the Seiko SNZH57 and popped onto the dagaz site for its parts. I chose this gold trimmed indices with silver snowflake hands because Tudor had just launched the Black Bay. Trend follower all right. But I had inadvertently made an early prototype of the Black Bay 58.

The watch is very pleasing to the eyes - a black and gold combination contrasted on the micro level by different colored hands and lume. The bracelet, albeit heavy, kept the even heavier watch head from bobbing around. A small crown poked out from 3, deviating from Seiko protocol. This watch was made to stand out.

And stand out it did. On the first day of my wearing it, it caught the eyes of my father. Out of character, he asked me about the watch. I asked if he liked it. He did. And then the watch was his. I resized the bracelet and he was its new owner until he passed from cancer a few years later.

The sensation I experience from wearing a modded watch isn’t one of anticipation - that one day I can move beyond mere wishing and put the real deal on my wrist. This mod was made the real deal by its scratches, carved onto its surfaces by a careless old man who just thought it was a cool looking watch.

The curved lugs wrapped his wrist comfortably. The bracelet is solidly made, its end links fitted well despite being hollow. The bezel serves nary but as aesthetic purpose, which it does well. Perhaps it could have been better with a screw down crown. And a flat one. Like the Black Bay.

I will never get to sell this watch. It’s not worth as much to any other person. I will however propagate the notion that mods are not all ridiculous. Owning a watch and accumulating a collection is a stance of our individuality, and perhaps none stronger than by ripping out the visage of a perfectly well-designed watch and replacing it with what we think we’d like.


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