HomeStoriesVol.25 Why were these watches called “Monster” created and how did they evolve?
In the article “Watches with nicknames” published in October 2017, we introduced watches that, unbeknownst to Seiko, had been given nicknames by Seiko fans. This time, we focus on one of them, the “Monster,” and discuss the philosophy behind the watch with Hitoshi Ando, who designed the watch called the first generation Monster, and Gaku Komatsu, who designed the watch called the fourth generation Monster. (May 20, 2021)
The impetus for this bold design was practicality.
Ando: The birth of the watch known as the Monster began with an attempt to reconstruct our understanding of what a diver’s watch should be. The goal was not to create an unusual watch from the beginning, but to create a watch that would be easy for divers to use, which inevitably led to a bold design.
Komatsu: Starting with the first generation (SKX781) model released in 2000, this series was actually designed with a lot of user-friendliness in mind. When I saw the first and second generation (SRP307) for the first time, I remember thinking that although they looked quirky, they were actually very functional.
Komatsu: Take, for example, the distinctive rotating bezel. It’s very easy to turn because of the bold gouges on the sides.
Ando: The numerals are also oversized, concealing some of the graduation marks on the bezel, of which there should normally be 60. It’s a drastic change in direction from our normal approach. The hands and indexes are also made as large as possible for easy reading.
Komatsu: I took the liberty of calling these impressive hands the “Monster hands.”
Ando: Rather than the standard image of a watch, we were aiming for designing something with the feel of a tool that divers would appreciate. However, I don’t think that alone would have made it so popular.
Why is the Monster watch so beloved?
Komatsu: This model is not only attractive as a tool, but its affinity and familiarity as a watch can also be felt. For example, the deep gouges from the bezel to the case are an element that not only gives it appeal as a tool, but also evokes a sense of charm.
Ando: Actually, the case and bezel are made separately, and they are brought together afterwards. So it was difficult to get the gouges in each part just right. As a result, we created quite a lot of hard work for the engineers. It’s no easy task to make such a watch charming.
Komatsu: The word “monster” means not only a monstrous creature, but also something deformed or abnormal. At first glance, the watch looks somewhat monstrous, but then each element that it comprises has a certain deformity that is nevertheless charming in its abnormality, which may be what sparked its popularity.
Ando: In this sense, the chunkiness of the case is probably one of the most beloved elements. The general idea of designing a watch is to pursue a thin and light form that is easy to wear, but the starting point of this series was the design of a watch that is easy to use for divers. As a result of considering the thickness necessary for a properly functioning tool and putting it all together in a straightforward manner, we ended up with a stout design.
The design has evolved with the times.
Ando: Komatsu-san, this time you designed a watch that is called the fourth generation Monster. What sort of points did you have in mind when doing so?
Komatsu: Well, when designing the fourth generation (SRPD25), I started by asking myself, “What is the main feature of this series?” As we have discussed, the first model originated from the pursuit of ease of use, so we aimed to create a more functional and sophisticated watch by cutting down certain elements. At the same time, this also made the remaining parts stand out more and emphasized the character of the watch.
Ando: It still has the feel of a tool to it, doesn’t it? It’s very well made.
Komatsu: Thank you very much. For example, we made the gouges on the sides, one of the most distinctive elements, shallower to give it a more modern look. As a result, it became a fang-like shape, creating a somewhat monstrous aura.
Ando: If you look closely, the typeface of the numerals is also slightly different.
Komatsu: Yes. The large numerals on the bezel are designed with a sense of balance between sharp and rounded parts, giving the watch a modern look while retaining its strength.
Ando: Since the technology at the time was not yet capable of etching numerals as deeply as we do now, this is a design that was not possible for the first model.
Komatsu: With this in mind, we can say that this series of watches has evolved with the times.
Ando: The fourth generation also has a distinctive case shape. While the cross-sectional shape of the body of a typical watch is trapezoidal, the first generation model was designed to have a vertical cylindrical shape as much as possible in order to create a feeling of chunkiness. The fourth generation, however, has a Japanese mortar-like shape.
Komatsu: That’s right. That feeling of chunkiness is also an important point that we felt should be inherited from the first generation, so we decided to keep it and make it look more modern, aiming for a sophisticated design by making it mortar-shaped.
Ando: The 2000s was a time when functional watches were especially in demand, so we were conscious of the tool-like feel of our products, but nowadays, people may tend to choose products based on their affinity for the concept of the product. Since this series pushes every aspect to the limit, it clearly conveys its concept to users, and that may be something that is especially loved by customers who feel affinity for it.
Komatsu: Nothing would make us happier than if people would use the current model as an entry point to get to know the past models and come to love them all.
Ando: In the first place, “Monster” is a nickname used among fans of these watches, so even we don’t have a clear definition. I hope they enjoy defining and naming them, finding the differences in design from the past to the present.
This model is designed to be easy to use as a diver’s watch. It was designed with a focus on functionality as a tool, with a rotating bezel that is easy to turn, bezel numerals and hands that are easy to read, and large, highly luminous LumiBrite indexes. The coloring of the dial is black and orange to create a contrast with the LumiBrite underwater. There are two types of watch bands : a polyurethane strap that can be worn over a wetsuit, and a metal bracelet.
The 7S26 caliber of the first generation model was updated to the 4R36 caliber, and the second and subsequent generations were launched under the Prospex brand. The dial design was boldly changed to make the model more distinctive. Fans nicknamed it “Shark Tooth” because of the shape of its indexes. The coloring consists of black and orange, but with bold contrasts such as a gradation dial and index bordering.
Equipped with the 6R15 caliber, this model was sold only in Japan. The dial color and overall feel are similar to the first generation model, but the index shape is trapezoidal and the contrast of the index bordering has been enhanced with metallic colors for a greater sense of quality. A magnifying lens is built into the glass and the calendar is highly legible.
In 2019, two new models, SRPD25 and SRPD27, were released with a drastically redesigned look. While retaining the flavor of the original models, the new models are more modern and stylish with an overall clean-cut design, including the lug surface design, the gouges in the rotating bezel, and the shape of the indexes on the dial. 2020 saw the launch of the SRPE09, with the theme of “Save the Ocean,” and the SRPE27, a model made in collaboration with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the world’s largest diving education organization. Each is equipped with the 4R36 caliber.
Second generation additional model (Launched in 2014)
This model was presented at the 2014 Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show. It has a chic and calm atmosphere based on a black and blue color scheme. The upper surface of the bezel has mirror finishing, giving this model a glamorous look.
A field model for the Japanese domestic market with a design derived from the first model. It is powered by the 6R15 caliber, and the rotating bezel is marked with compass points. The watch is not a diver’s watch, so although it is water resistant up to 20 bar, it has a see-through back.
This model combines a distinctive gouge shape, a rotating bezel with large Arabic numerals, and an outer case protector. The large LumiBrite indexes are also influenced by the first generation model. The color variation that the outer case protector allows is a popular feature.
This is a limited edition model for overseas markets that was released at the same time as the second generation additional model. The dial design has been significantly changed, but the series’ signature rotating bezel with compass points indicated in large letters gives a sense of its lineage. It is equipped with the 4R35 caliber.
This model combines the design of the third generation with the outer case protector. It has a lot in common with the third generation, such as the shape of the case lugs, the indexes on the dial, and the hands. Fans call it by the nickname “Baby Tuna.” It is equipped with the 4R36 caliber.
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