WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
For a while now, I’ve had a terrible, unrequited lust for a Rolex 1016 Explorer. As a beginning Seiko collector, I just wished that something similar, but far, far less expensive came out of Japan. . .

It really all began when I tried on the new Explorer 1 (ie 14270) at a Vancouver AD. In amongst all the bling and oversized watches it felt like it belonged on my wrist. At the time I felt it would have been perfect with rounded numerals and a domed crystal; and so I embarked on a sanity-busting grail quest for an affordable 1016-style watch. Not a rip-off, but something on similar lines (ie 36mm diameter, 20mm lugs and understated, black, no-date dial). Preferably with an in-house movement.


Rolex 1016 Explorer - the object of my affliction.

I considered the Orient Star Explorer (WZ0091), but the date at 3 O’clock ruins the dial symmetry for me. Next in my wish list was the SARB033, but that lacks a domed acrylic. Then there was the long out-of-production Zeno Explorer, but that doesn’t speak to me, for some reason. The dial somehow lacks the elegance of the real thing, whilst being otherwise a little too close. And then there's the Zeno-USA Explorer – quite bizarrely, a homage to the homage. The Mkii Vantage is 39mm dia. and with a flat crystal. Eddie Platts at Timefactors/Precista is working on a 38mm homage with 22mm lugs, to get a slightly bigger watch with the same ratio of lug to diameter. . . but I didn’t want to wait. Then there are the many copies of the modern, 14270 Explorer 1. . . Alpha, Titoni Airmaster and Sandoz (Singapore and Hong Kong). I even instigated a lengthy thread over on the MKii pages questioning whether the Bill Yao’s aftermarket 3-6-9 dial would fit into a Sandoz Singapore.

However, I realized that I ultimately wanted a watch with a 1016 vibe, not something designed to fool people that I was wearing a Rolex. I guess I have trouble with the concept of homage – I love the way the Seiko SKX031 nods to the Submariner but is definitely all Seiko. I hate to drop the f-bomb here, but sticking an Alpha logo on a fake Rolex does not make a homage. In my opinion, a homage should be an update to a classic, or something with a similar vibe.

Meanwhile, I was both learning about vintage Seikos - particularly those with hand-wind movements - and vintage Rolex watches.

And so I came to believe that the black dialed 66-8050 offers the best of both worlds. It harks back to Rolex before Mercedes hands and 3-6-9 dials, but is definitely from Seiko’s classic line of minimalist dress watches. When you put it on a solid link bracelet. . . perfection!


Seiko 66-8050 wrist shot.

OK, it has an 18mm lug. Refusing to let reality intrude, I’ve put it on a 20mm bracelet with 18mm end links. Maybe a purist would observe that it overshoots the ends of the lugs, and that the end links are more curved than the lugs themselves, but this is not something you notice when you wear it.


Seiko 66-8050 squared lugs - not a perfect fit, but not so noticable in real life.


Seiko 66-8050 from November 1973 (note no Waterproof on the dial).

This 66-8050 is from November 1973, so by my reckoning, must be one of the last cal. 66 watches produced. And yes, I am going to write a review over in the vintage sub-forum, which will be a bit more factual than this.

After regulation, it gains around six seconds in 12 hours of wear, and around two or three over a similar time when left face-up (crown-up overnight is somewhere between the two).

I have to hold my hand up and tell you that, in fact, it’s more like a vintage Air King or Precision than the 1016 Explorer I initially fell for, but that’s fine by me. To be honest, I’m starting to look at 3-6-9 dials as if. . . well, some numerals are missing. I find indices somehow easier to read.


Seiko 66-8050 on oyster.


Rolex Precision.

I shudder to think how much a Precision would cost, but I’m guessing a reputable jeweler would not let one out the door for anything less than $1,500. I spent $130, but I could have got it cheaper. I got the watch, which had been recently serviced, for $70 shipped and was extravagant in buying the bracelet for $60 from my watch repairer, rather than getting a no-name from eBay, but I wanted to be sure it would fit my skinny wrists. He removed four links (I’m not sure the no-name allows more than three to be removed, and anyway, I’d be stuck with the same sized end links as bracelet width). He fitted the bracelet and regulated the watch for no extra charge, so I felt I got a deal. Hey, the guy did 20 years on-going training with the big Japanese watchmakers, and he thinks it's a cracking watch. Right on!

Oh, and capturing the 66-8050 dial is really tricky, because of the way it reflects light. It’s not a charcoal grey like the SKX divers. While not glossy, it’s tough to capture it the way it really is. Light shimmers on the dial. You have to photograph it with difused light so that it doesn't look like an explosion in a spaghetti factory (which would be unrepresentative). I'd describe the dial finish as eggshell, if eggshell black doesn’t sound too counter intuitive.


Seiko 66-0010 (left) with 66-8050.

Above you can see the watch on a shark band, with its more dressy sibling, a 66-0010 from 1965. (The 66-8050 came on the shark. . . which has now been redistributed.)

Apologies for having gone on at such length, but this is a bit of a grail thing for me. Not that I’m cured now, as I’m always looking for cool hand-wind Seikos. Anyway, one last shot, to show off that my bracelet is better than the vintage Rolex rivet bracelet.


Seiko 66-8050 on oyster.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,158 Posts
Great review of a beautifully classic piece. Wear it in good health!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
I love the simplicity and cleanliness of that silver-dialed 66-0010. The way light plays off it is beautiful. Shambles has referred to it as "dress watch perfection," and it's hard to argue that opinion.

They come up pretty regularly on eBay, but I've also seen the very similar 66-9997. As far as I can tell, the only aesthetic differences are in the indeces, lugs and hands. Here are comparison pictures (taken from eBay):

66-0010.jpg

66-9997.JPG

The differences:

1. Each baton of the 66-0010 has a bisecting groove running the length of its long axis, giving the impression of two thin batons sandwiched together into one. On the other hand, the batons of the 66-9997 (excepting 12 o'clock) lack the groove and appear slimmer as a result. They also look a little longer than the 66-0010 batons.

2. The lugs of the 66-9997 are considerably slimmer than the lugs of the 66-0010.

3. The dauphin hands of the 66-9997 look a littler thicker at their bases than the hands of the 66-0010.

I can't speak to the mechanical differences under the hoods, if any. That's not my area of expertise at all. And I don't currently own either of these models, but with luck my eBay searching and bidding will prove fruitful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
There's another difference between the 66-0010 and the 66-9997 if eBay descriptions can be trusted: size.

The 66-0010 has a 35 mm diameter (excluding crown) and the 66-9997 is 32.5 mm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,446 Posts
That's the stock bracelet? It is very thick for a vintage watch.

THere are a few yobokies mods mimicking the Explorer that are pretty nice.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top