Hands-On Seiko Speedtimer SSC819P1 – A Disappointing Chronograph

The Skinny

  • Reference: SSC819P1
  • Dimensions: 39 x 45.5 x 13.3mm
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Water Resistance: 100m
  • Movement: V192
  • Strap: Steel Bracelet 
  • Price: $675 USD

Seiko, like many other watch brands recently, has been busy releasing fresh takes on their classic, historical designs. I was excited to hear in 2021 that the Speedtimer branding was returning as it hinted that maybe a contemporary interpretation of the classic 70’s 6139 automatic chronographs would surface. Alas, Seiko has yet to grant my wish.

An early Japanese-market 6139 automatic chronograph with red Speedtimer branding. Image: Seiko

The Speedtimer of Old

The Seiko 6139 automatic chronographs were sold worldwide from 1969 to 1978. While the rest of the world received the export models with minimal ‘automatic’ or ‘automatic chronograph’ branding on the dial, the Japanese domestic models were sold emblazoned with a prominent red or orange ‘Speed-Timer’ logo.

The 6139 ‘Speed-Timer’ models have become veritable stars within the vintage Seiko pantheon and have arguably been a significant driver of the resurgence of interest in vintage Seiko. Technical marvels in the 1970s, how would Seiko choose to reinterpret this famous and desirable model? Well, the latest Seiko SSC819 Speedtimer is as far away from a 6139 as Joni Mitchell is from Ariana Grande.

Seiko Speedtimer SSC619 and Vintage 6139
The author’s Seiko 6139 Speedtimer vs the modern SSC819 Speedtimer

A Modern Look Defined by the Underlying Movement

The vibe here is more Daytona than 6139, especially with the SSC819 (black dial) and SSC816 (white dial) variants. So much so that I was surprised to not see the Rolex-like “UNITS PER HOUR” on the bezel instead of “TACHYMETER”. The bezel is steel with a black coating rather than ceramic, but it retains that all-important Daytona look.

Seiko Speedtimer SSC619 Bezel

In keeping with many other classic chronograph designs, the subdials are laid out in a 3-6-9 formation. I don’t understand why Seiko designs any chronograph movements with a 24-hour scale in the three o’clock subdial. It would be useful if one could adjust it independently from the main time and thus track a second time zone. However, locked to the main time, the 24-hour subdial acts as a needless AM/PM indicator, or, I suppose, as a military time reference, perhaps useful while traveling in Scandinavia?

In my opinion, a three-register chronograph should have the following subdials: running seconds, 60-minute totalizer, 12-hours totalizer. For some reason, Seiko’s electronic chronographs, like the solar-powered SSC819P1 used here or the ubiquitous VK63 Meca-Quartz, defy tradition and impose the relatively useless 24-hour subdial. (Editor’s note – I never time beyond an hour with a chronograph and do travel in Scandinavia, so don’t mind the 24-hour dial on my Hemel with VK63 Meca-Quartz so much. – Allen)

If you look closely at the Seiko SSC819’s subdials, you can see that they are neatly integrated solar cells. The printed white text appears to float as it reflects off of the silicon below the dial.

Seiko Speedtimer SSC619 Solar Dial
The solar cells are hidden in the subdials

The six o’clock subdial is dual-purpose. Without the chronograph running it displays the power reserve, but with the chronograph started the subdial serves as the minute totalizer. Pushing the chronograph reset timer twice will return the subdial to a power reserve indicator. If you don’t press the reset twice, about a minute later the subdial hand will automatically move from zero to the power reserve indicator.

That Fauxtina Clashes (With History)

Seiko has inexplicably designed this entire series of Prospex Solar Speedtimers with fauxtina (or artificially aged, or just beige, luminescent paint). The fauxtina is used only on the hands and the four cardinal hour markers. The rest of the SSC819 dial design, as well as the bezel, is in crisp white, so the beige lume clashes with the rest of the design.

Further, this is a solar-powered watch, and nothing says 21st Century like solar power. Adding beige lume is about the laziest nod to the Speed-Timer’s history that I can imagine. Given the historical significance of the Speed-Timers of yesteryear and the reverence vintage collectors have for those models, this lume indicates yet another missed opportunity for Seiko to get it right with a vintage model.

Seiko Speedtimer SSC619 Solar Dial
The hands and hour markers contain clashing and lazy fauxtina

Smallish, But Not Small

I’m glad that recent watches are beginning to trend smaller. However, in this case, the lug-to-lug distance of 46mm is a little misleading, because the endlinks flare out to 49.5mm, making the watch wear larger than the specifications would suggest. Still, the 39mm case of the SSC819P1 is one of Seiko’s sub-gargantuan offerings that I can comfortably wear on my 6.75” wrist.

Seiko Speedtimer SSC619 Wrist Shot
The 39mm SSC819 on my 6.75″ wrist

Seiko is known for exceptional case finishes, even on inexpensive models. In particular, the transition from brushed to polished facets on Seiko steel cases is often gratifyingly sharp. Not so with the SSC819P1. This is a shame given that the original 6139 Speed-Timer case was noticeable for its sharp edges and fine brushing. Yet another indication that Seiko wasn’t aiming for a high-quality take on the historical Speed-Timer with the SSC819.

Seiko Speedtimer SSC619
Imprecise transitions between brushed and polished surfaces are disappointing.

The buttons on the chronograph are easy to use and sit low on the flank. Their position helps Seiko get those lugs curved downward. So much so that the lugs may give the impression that the SSC819P1 is taller than its actual height of 13.3mm. A Speedmaster Professional at a height of 14.4mm might seem thinner to the eye and even on wrist, which indicates that shape is often more important than measurements.

Seiko SSC819 Case

Seiko claims 10 bar (100m) of water resistance, which is bold for a chronograph, but I’m not sure I’d depress the chronograph pushers underwater to find out.

The Movement

All of the Seiko Speedtimers of the SSC819 family are powered by the V192 solar-powered quartz chronograph movement. 

Seiko claims that a full solar charge will power the V192 for six months. Using the chronograph function frequently will deplete the stored energy faster, since the power cell will be performing more work moving multiple hands. However, five hours of exposure to direct sunlight is all that is required to achieve a full charge.

All the watches in the Prospex Speedtimer line have a date window in the 4:30 position. That’s a design choice that tends to bother watch journalists who often cite a lack of symmetry as the problem. Originally a feature of the Zenith El Primero of 1969, the 4:30 date window is a relatively common feature on chronographs, especially Seikos, and is useful.

Seiko V192 Solar Movement
Image credit: Seiko

Being a regular quartz movement, the chronograph hands take a while to return to zero. It’s annoying if you’re used to good mechanical chronographs which instantly snap into place. I found myself missing the instantaneous pop of the VK63’s Meca-Quartz reset found in similarly-priced chronographs from Seiko, and might have preferred it here. Perhaps a solar-powered Meca-Quartz movement will be available one day, which would be ideal.

The Bracelet

The Seiko Prospex models that hover around $1,000 have excellent bracelets. For the SSC819P1, Seiko, as many manufacturers do, has skimped on the bracelet, presumably to lower the MSRP. At least, in this respect, the new model does echo the vintage model rather well, since the 6139 from the 1970s was not well endowed in the bracelet department. Functionally, the bracelet is fine, but the execution is lacking.

Seiko SSC819 Bracelet
The endlinks are solid but lack precision

The endlinks are solid, but the brushing on the endlinks does not match the case or the rest of the bracelet. The bracelet measures 20mm at the lugs which then tapers to 18mm. I have formed a bias for a 20-to-16mm bracelet taper, so this bracelet kind of bums me out, but that may not bother others. Historically speaking, however, bracelets used to taper more in the past, and it might have been nice to have seen that here on this supposed retro-watch.

Seiko SSC819 Bracelet
The squared clasp and lack of taper

And why only two micro-adjustment positions? One of the unwritten rules of watch bracelet design is having enough micro-adjustment positions to cover the length of a link. All of these failed nuances feel off to me, but I am pretty anal when it comes to bracelets.


Sometimes brands really screw up a product by using a name with a great heritage to release a clunker, and nothing inspires disappointment like tarnishing a classic. This is how people felt about the Chevy Novas of the 1980s, a once classic American muscle car with a wildly passionate fan base released as a boring economy car that spoke a foreign design language. I hate to say that Seiko did the same thing with the SSC819P.

The SSC819P1 is the latest Prospex model whose marketing clearly references a significant vintage model from Seiko’s back catalog. However, unlike the SPB143 which did a pretty good job of aping the 62 MAS, and the SPB151 which was a virtual clone of the 6105-8110 “Captain Willard”, the SSC819P1 doesn’t really have anything in common with the original 6139 Speedtimer other than being a chronograph.

Seiko SSC819

Given what’s on offer, we need to consider the MSRP of $675 in light of my criticisms. In the end, this just isn’t really a compelling tribute to the original Speed-Timers of the 1970s, so it’s really just a modern watch with that name. Is this really a $675 watch? I don’t think so. Seiko has, can, and will do much better, but I’ll sit this one out.