November 29, 2022

The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time series is known for beautiful dials inspired by signature drinks at the Star Bar in the heart of Ginza. Working with award-winning bartender Hisashi Kishi, the dials of the new Cocktail Time Star Bar limited editions evoke the experience of a finely crafted cocktail. The elegant case, sharp indices, and cut-out dial speak to the discerning tastes of those who frequent the Star Bar. Let’s see if the watches go down as smoothly as the beverages that inspire them.

The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time collection has been with us for several years now. I like to envision each new iteration as building out the menu at Seiko’s very own Star Bar. Much like the favorites at the actual Star Bar in Ginza or your preferred local haunt, what draws us back is the consistency of the execution, even if the end results are somewhat varied. A good martini hits differently than a good whiskey sour, but a place that can play the hits consistently keeps us coming back.

Seiko Presage Cocktail Time Star Bar Limited Editions

Within the broader Presage family, the Cocktail Time models exhibit the consistency we expect from Seiko. The 40.5mm case is familiar and comfortable. The design leans toward the dressy end of the spectrum, with sharp indices and dauphine hands in steel on the lighter dial and in gold tone on the deep burgundy dial. Each watch comes on a leather strap with a tri-fold clasp. This familiar package is tried and true, just like Mike’s favorite beverage at Antony’s (if you know, you know).

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The stainless steel case houses Seiko’s 4R72 movement, which we have seen in this application before. It can be viewed through the see-through case back. The boxed crystal is Hardlex, which is what we expect from both Presage and Prospex models in this price range. The water resistance of 50 meters is adequate in this application. As this is more of a dress watch, I can’t imagine many of us would take it swimming, especially on the leather strap.

A unique take on color

The highlight of the Cocktail Time series has always been the dials. We’ve seen blue, green, silver, and more, all executed with a unique dial texture or pattern. The dial is always the star of the show. The new Star Bar limited editions are no exception. There are two dials featured here, one lighter and one darker. The lighter dial is off-white with pale green hues and a subtle texture. It evokes a pale cocktail mixed with a clear spirit.

The darker dial has a gradient effect, starting with a brighter reddish hue and fading to almost black. This reminds me of several of my favorite adult beverages featuring any number of whisk(e)ys from either Japan, Scotland, or Kentucky.

Experimental Elixir…

While experimentation and pushing the envelope is a goal of mixology, it does have some parallels in watchmaking. The Presage dials are constantly evolving and at times feature an “open heart” allowing the wearer to see the automatic movement in action. In these two iterations, Seiko has taken this even further, adding several cutouts to showcase the movement and call to mind the ripples in a glass as you imbibe.

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These cutouts, while well executed, are a bit of a mixed bag, I think. While they do highlight more of the movement, they remove more of what is the signature piece of the Cocktail Time series — the dial. The cutouts also move the logo and two lines of text to the 3 o’clock area of the dial, instead of offering a date. Most watch collectors would applaud the lack of a date on a dress watch. However, I would bet many of them are going to like the inclusion of a logo in its place even less. That said, we need to remind ourselves that, much like new takes on a familiar cocktail, these new Seikos might be for a broader audience with a wider range of tastes.

Final thoughts

As watch enthusiasts, we constantly remind ourselves that watch brands make watches for a broader audience. While removing a portion of a beautiful dial might not work for all of us, it does highlight that these two Cocktail Time models are more than just a simple way to tell the time. Indeed, they are small machines. In this way, Seiko is allowing the wearer to marvel at the mechanics on their wrist. Regardless of our opinions on the execution, this is something we all should encourage. Only 5,000 units of each colorway will be available, each retailing for €610. For more information, please visit the Seiko website.

What do you think? Do the latest additions to the Cocktail Time family stir your interest? Or is this mix of cutaway and dial color a miss for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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