Seiko Landmonster SNM037 Review
On a WJean mesh bracelet
First off, let me start by saying that I don't particularly like the SNM037's accepted nickname, Landmonster. It sort of implies, to me at least, that the watch is not meant for the water. As this is a diver's watch with a 200 meter water resistance rating, I think a more descriptive nickname is called for. Additionally, with the exception of the hands, there is little that this watch shares with the SKX779 Monster. If I was going to nickname a diver with a built-in compass, I'd call it the navigator. However, since Landmonster is the name that seems to have stuck, I'll use it here too.
As anyone who owns a Seiko diver knows, Seiko has really just about perfected the concept and execution of the affordable mechanical dive watch. Like the Monster itself or the 007 or the 009, the Landmonster exudes that classic Seiko diver feel that suggests not only very high quality and durability but a price that you would think is a lot higher than it actually turns out to be. That Seiko can continue to hit one home run after another the way they do with these diver watches suggests a well oiled design and production system. The result of this team's work has allowed millions of ordinary folks worldwide to enjoy the experience of owning a quality made mechanical wristwatch. Here's hoping for many more such winners.
The Landmonster is a strikingly unique looking diver's watch. From it's large thick case design to it's two large crowns and it's rotating bezel, no one is likely to mistake this big Seiko for anyone else's creation. As for the nitty gritty, the watch measures 47mm from the bezel to the widest part of the crown guard (43mm without the crowns/guard), 51mm lug to lug, 16mm in width and a 20mm band lug width. In a nice touch that greatly facilitates switching bands, the lugs are drilled. (Seiko also includes a set of its very thick Monster/Tuna style spring bars. I wish the rest of the industry would switch to these. They are the best spring bars by far in my opinion) The crystal is Seiko's proprietary Hardlex and the bezel is counter rotating with a firm precise action. The lume on the dial and hands is Seiko's typically excellent Lumibrite. Overall, I'd rate the lume as better than the 007 but not quite at the Monster's level. That, of course, still makes nighttime visibility for the Landmonster better than just about anything short of a Monster or a tritium tube watch. (I've heard that the Seiko "Spork" has terrific lume that matches the Monster now.)
No discussion of the Landmonster would be complete without some time spent talking about it's most unusual feature, those twin crowns. The 2 o'clock crown is a conventional diver's watch crown. It screws down and sets the time and date. It is large and easily gripped but, otherwise, it is ordinary. The second crown, however, is interesting. Like the upper crown, it too screws down. When opened though, it serves to adjust the internal chapter ring surrounding the dial. That chapter ring has directional markers on it. The Landmonster, you see, is designed to take advantage of a little known trick that allows a watch to work like a compass. In the northern hemisphere, if you point the hour hand at the sun, and then adjust the chapter ring so that South sits exactly between the hour hand an the 12 o'clock mark, the chapter ring will now be showing a correct compass bearing. In the morning hours put the South marker to the left of the 12 mark, in the afternoon, to the right of it. Obviously, this trick doesn't work at night or if it is cloudy out but, otherwise, if you live in the northern hemisphere, this watch is a compass as well as a fine diver's watch. I do have one minor quibble with this system. The screw down crown on the compass ring does not lock the ring when tightened. It isn't a problem really but the chapter ring will move a little throughout the day when worn. I can live with that just fine but it might bother some folks.
Internally, the Landmonster is powered by Seiko's 7s35 23 jewel automatic movement. The 7s35 is a derivation of Seiko's very popular 7s26 movement. It differs in that it has two more jewels and no day complication. Otherwise, like the 7s26, the 7s35 neither hacks or handwinds (the automatic winder does the job of powering the watch) and is both reasonably accurate and quite durable. 7s series movements are generally reputed to be very long lasting, in part because they lack hacking and hand winding hardware and the wear and tear they cause.
Overall, the Landmonster is no one's idea of a dress watch. As a casual/sport watch though, it is superb. Prices on the Landmonster are all over the place from what I've seen. Expect a good deal in the low $200 range with retail in the $400 area (as of 5/11). Visually the Landmonster has the same sort of "wrist presence" that a Seiko Tuna Can has. That, in my opinion, it's big appeal. It is so large and uniquely styled that, if you like divers, it is really worth a serious look. It's build quality is excellent and, it works well on both the stock rubber diver's band or a nylon Zulu band. Another version of this watch, the SNM035 comes with a solid link bracelet. (I have a mesh bracelet on the way from Wjean. That is a combo I've been looking forward to trying out.) What it certainly is not, is dull.