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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Author: Claud

Hello all,

I am reviewing the titanium Seiko SMA163 Kinetic Auto-Relay watch. This is a dress/sport watch with 100m water resistance and uses a Seiko Kintetic Auto-Relay movement #5J22-0D58. I bought this new in 2002 and it has been my daily wearer for around 6 years. During this time used it for everything from casual, formal, sport and even the occasional hard work such as mechanics, garden work etc. The watch still works perfectly and all I had to do during this time was adjust a couple of links as the pins were worn and started to pop out.

At the time I bought it for around 160 British Pounds, however when I got it it was discontinued and I remember the retail price (the massively overblown price everyone likes to quote) as being around 600/700 U.S. dollars. Since I bought the watch I have never seen one on sale brand new and I am not sure if it is readily available today on the second hand market, or how much it would cost.

In my opinion this is an excellent dress/casual/sport watch and I will definitely keep this until it dies. I will discuss the features and benefits further. Since I have left the instructions and box in the U.K. (now I live in Germany) I do not have all the details but I will try my best to research and remember the specifications.

Brand: Seiko

Model number: SMA163

Official additional names: none

Watch Overview:

This watch is 100% titanium with a titanium case and strap with Seiko’s common double locking clasp seen on most modern Seiko watches today. Since this is a dress watch looks are important. I think the design has a classic style, it’s not a complicated watch and it does not shout out anything. For this reason most people would not think that the watch has such a high retail price, or even looks that expensive. In that respect it is not an attention grabber but silently gets on with getting the job done. While it does not shout I think this watch is a modest, yet exceptional piece of Japanese engineering. Features such as Kinetic, Auto-Relay, titanium construction, super-easy readability, solid reliability and great design really make this a special timepiece.

Movement Information:

The watch uses a KinteticAuto-Relay movement which is quartz time-controlled. I cannot remember the accuracy from the manufacturer, but my watch gains about 20 seconds per month which is within acceptable limits for a quartz timing movement. The second hands match up nicely to the markers and setting the watch is a pleasure as there is no play at all in the movement of the crown and the movement of the hands and dates – it makes the Citizens I have used feel like cheap toys compared (even more expensive models than this Seiko). The quartz timing part of the movement is average and is neither a very high end nor a cheap timing method. For those who are not familiar with the Seiko Kinetic Auto-Relay technology I will give a very brief explanation.

The watch is powered by the movement – a rotor is spun internally (just like an automatic) and an internal capacitor is charged. This then powers the watch just like a battery/quartz combination watch would. The Auto-Relay function is a part of the system whereby the watch will go into automatic sleep mode and the hands and date will stop moving (after 72 hours of inactivity (I believe) or upon the user’s demand). An internal timer keeps on recording the time so that when the watch is “woken up” again (with a shake of the watch) the time automatically re-adjusts to the current correct time. The watch has the ability to be in sleep mode for up to 4 years (i..e. so one could say it has a power reserve of 4 years maximum).

The Kinetic Auto-Relay movement was one of the later revisions of the technology which addressed the earlier power capacitor problems. So far the watch has been 100% reliable and I do not foresee any problems with the charging system. In my opinion the Seiko Kinetic charging system is great and very effective. The power reserve function is really helpful because if one wants to change watch one can activate the sleep function or just use the long power-reserve feature and not worry about the watch running out of juice. Seiko Kinetic also can save money. Taking an average of a 3 year battery life would mean I have saved the money of at least 2 battery changes. In general I think the movement is very good and has performed perfectly.

Case, Bezel and Strap:

The case, bezel, strap and all the fittings are made from 100% titanium and are of a very good quality. The case seems to be made of two pieces with the bezel ring pressed against the case. The bezel does not rotate. The case-back is a screw-down design and the crown is a regular push in design. The crown is well-protected by a pair of crown protectors and the lugs are drilled. The dimensions of the watch are: width 42mm (including crown), length 48mm (from the top lug to the bottom lug) and height 10mm (all measured with a ruler). The visible watch face measures 30mm.

The strap (21mm wide and 3mm high) has solid links and is an integrated design which attaches to drilled lugs. This makes finding an aftermarket strap nearly impossible and is my biggest complaint about this watch. The strap does integrate flawlessly however and luckily the strap is light, strong and very comfortable, utilising Seiko’s great double-locking buckle. For these reasons I have never felt the need to change the strap. The strap uses a pin locking system, and, although after some 6 years I needed to replace some of the pins, during that time it proved to be strong and durable.

Of course, this watch is not designed solely with sport in mind and is more of a dress watch than a sport or tool watch. However I would still say because of the build construction and the materials used, the watch can still take some degree of punishment (as I have given it over the years) and it holds up ok.

In general the watch has a nice, very light feel to it (due to the titanium construction) and the strap feels very smooth and comfortable. The strap is a good size (both in width and height) and reinforces the quality feel. The watch is not large, fits under a shirt and fits my 6.5”/6.75” wrist very well. The good-sized visible watch face area makes viewing the hands very easy. The size is very favourable for a dress watch which is not in-your-face large and is easy to wear with formal dress, yet not too small to be hard to use.

Watch Face:

The watch face is 30mm in diameter, which I think makes for a very readable size. The face is dark grey and has an almost carbon fibre pattern effect to it (but it is not carbon fibre). This makes a great contrast to the hands and markers which are coated with Seiko’s own LumiBrite luminescence paint and surrounded with a lot of chrome.

Reading the time is amazingly easy and I find it hard to imagine a watch which is easier. Seiko’s LumiBrite luminescence paint is just amazingly strong and lasts the whole night - even during the day time under low light conditions or at dusk/dawn it glows brightly. I am still amazed how bright it glows and is brighter than other Seikos and Citizens I have had. As an example, even the luminescence paint on the second hand (which has the only the slightest bit of on the end) shows up in the dark. The chrome on each of the hands and the markers just reflects any available light under low light conditions which really helps make the watch even more visible. I really think the visibility of this watch is one of its main strengths – no form of additional lighting is even remotely needed.

The watch has the date at the 3 o’clock position which is a good and readable size. The hands are elegant, are of a very decent size and are filled with much LumiBrite luminescence paint making them a pleasure to use. The hour markers are all equal in size apart from the 12 and 6 o’clock markers which are slightly larger and have more chrome. I really appreciate the uniform minimalist look of this watch, on the other hand if a user appreciates more complicated designs they may find the watch face slightly boring. I am of the opinion that less is more and in this case Seiko does an amazing job with the functional and user-friendly design of this watch face.


The glass is Seiko’s tough Hardlex crystal and sits flat and flush with the bezel. This means the face and hands are visible even at extreme angles (almost approaching 90 degrees). I have managed to pick up a couple of scratches but only when I hit the watch hard against a brick wall (brick seems to damage the glass quite well). Apart from that the watch only picks up small or no scratches which suggest that the glass is tough.

Closing Opinions and Impressions:

Thank you for reading my review. My general impression is that this is a high quality dress watch with some sport capabilities. This watch is high quality, is made from some great materials, uses some of Seiko’s top components, and has the great Kinetic Auto-Relay technology. The size and feel make it a great, versatile dress watch which performs flawlessly.

This is a very practical watch and very easy to use. If you want a dress watch which does a great job of telling the time this is for you. If you do not like plain, simple watches (maybe more the chronograph look – even though you may not use the features) the plain design may appear boring or bland. I think the design should stay looking modern for quite a few more years and it is not wacky but uses quite understated looks.

The only negative aspect is the fact that one cannot change the strap. In my opinion this should not be a big problem as the original is very good and has held up well so far. I can imagine a replacement could be costly though (80 dollars I have seen on the internet). Also because this is a rare and discontinued watch parts may not be so easy to come by.

I think this would appeal to someone who appreciates the construction and technology used and likes the clean, understated, more classic design of this dress/sport watch. I highly recommend this watch.

Feedback or additional comments welcome (if I have missed anything or made a mistake just let me know). Also just PM me for any further questions.


this model has two sleep-mode functions. The first is the automatic-sleep mode; when the watch is inactive (no charging of the battery - i.e. sufficient spinning of the rotor) for 72 hours the watch will enter sleep mode.

The second is the user-initiated sleep mode. By pulling out the crown and pushing it back in within 1 second, the watch will enter into sleep mode. This avoids having to wait the 72 hours.

Further information and experience about Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay sleep mode:

When in sleep mode all hand and date movements stop to save battery power. Although no parts are moving the onboard electronics still keeps the time. When the watch senses movement again (sufficient spinning of the rotor) the watch wakes up again and the hands (but not the date) automatically re-adjust themselves to the current time. The watch then continues to runs as normal again.

The main aim is to save battery power during inactivity, and of course the need to re-set the time (but not the date) is omitted. This also creates a massive potential power reserve of 4 years. Seiko quotes that on a full battery, in sleep mode the watch can keep the time for up to 4 years. The date, however, has to be re-set and because the watch uses a quartz movement any natural, normal accuracy/inaccuracy will be evident when the watch comes back to life (i.e. in sleep mode or in active mode the same accuracy levels will be seen).

Hope that helps.
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