God, I hated this watch when I first started this watch hobby. It seemed like every time someone on the forums was asking for an affordable watch recommendation someone always suggested the Orange (or Black) Monster. It was as if whoever designed the watch didn’t give a damn about making it wearable for the general public. Like it was for a specific person or purpose. And it wasn’t until later, in my blooming subinfinite watch wisdom, that I realized that Seiko did that intentionally. And when I came to understand this watch was, indeed, made for the esoteric and not for the clueless watch layman, that’s when I fell in love, and I will never stop singing its praise.

I bought the watch in 2010 as a beach watch (I have a watch for everything) and wore the thing every day during a trip to Puerto Rico. It accompanied me on my first time in the ocean. Over a year later, this watch still gets wrist time. It’s the watch I wear most on the weekends, cleaning, cooking and when I’m being lazy at home.

Readable, reliable, comfortable, durable and accurate for all under $300. This value is unheard of, and after buying several watches in the $300-500 range, I can attest that this level of value is absolutely unparalleled for an ISO-certified mechanical diver (FYI: watches that are not ISO-certified are not allowed to put “Diver” on the dial–they must use terms like “Water Resistant”).

When you wear this watch, you can tell the time day or night due to a clean, high-contrast design and Seiko’s LumiBrite technology. The orange dial contrasts well with the hands, and the lume on this piece is best in class.

Seiko has been using the 7S26 calibre with the day-date complication for years in watches like the SKX007, so you’re in good hands there, although I wish I could wind it by hand. The bracelet is unique and very comfortable; however, it uses the dreaded pin-and-collar system, so you will definitely have fun sizing it. Here is a guide to resizing Seiko bracelet with pin and collars. The unidirectional bezel features a smooth rotation but the lumed pearl doesn’t always line up perfectly at the 12 o’clock position.

My complaints about the watch are mostly aesthetic and specifically around areas of quality control. The markers have a beveled center portion to them, and the raised portion isn’t always centered in the marker. Second, I don’t like how the day and date aren’t horizontally aligned (some day-date combinations are worse than others). I feel like a more rigorous QC process would have caught this, but it also would have raised the price. Really, though, I’m just nitpicking because these are not easy to spot. Third, and I’m assuming mine is just slightly defective, is that the power reserve is not as good as it should be. If I put the watch on at about 2pm on Day 1, it won’t be running when I wake up at 8am on Day 2.

Pick one of these up for yourself or for a friend. Common dial variations include black and orange, but Seiko did manufacture a blue dial version. They also had a limited run Thai version that was yellow. Orange and black are easily available, but you’re going to have a harder time finding the blue and yellow versions. The watch comes with either a vented rubber strap or a stainless steel bracelet. Go for the bracelet, it’s superb. The watch retails for about $500, but you can find these on Amazon.com for about $250.