Seals A.5

Non-round watches’ popularity has been skyrocketing recently. More brands are coming out with their version of the AP Royal Oak, Cartier Tank, and others more than ever before.  Where some are aiming to create homages to those watches, others are looking to create something original outside of the standard round watch. The Seals A.5 falls into the latter category.

The A.5 is the swan song of the A-series watches from Seals, their inaugural release. Seals teamed up with a personal friend and designer, Matt Smith-Johnson, to add some fresh blood to the design of the A series. While Seals watches are generally more subdued, falling into the hardcore tool watch category, the A.5 aims to bring a splash of color and vibrancy to the line for its sendoff.

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On the Wrist

There is a good chance that if you’re wearing the A.5, you’re going to get a question or two about it. It looks wildly different from almost anything else I have reviewed in the past and that is part of the fun of this watch.

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When I first took the watch out and started inspecting it, I was concerned that it would be too big. The A.5 looks big when you’re holding it but manages to shrink somehow when placed on the wrist. The integrated bracelet is what most likely helps bring this watch down in scale when on the wrist.

The A.5 is heavy, but not cumbersome. It feels like a tool watch should: sturdy and robust. While you certainly know it is there, it isn’t obtrusive. Seals did a great job making this watch conform to the wrist while still maintaining a decent wrist presence.

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Seals designed the A series for a variety of wrists as its 41mm case width suggests. The integrated bracelet helps streamline this look, but it can create an odd effect depending on the size of your wrist. The first link of the bracelet can’t fold down too far due to the design of the integration so if your wrist is smaller, it will look like it is extending out past your wrist. However, it isn’t uncomfortable, but it is something you should take into consideration if your wrist is smaller.

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Dial Details

The A.5’s dial has a lot going on. Seals has themed the chapter ring of the A.5 after a roulette wheel. Each section is made up of two parts. The left side contains hours 1-12 and the right side contains hours 13-24. This is an effective way to implement a military time scale without cluttering the inner dial.

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Stepping down from the burgundy chapter ring, the mid-section of the dial is made up of hash marks delineating seconds and fifths of seconds. The hash marks coordinate with the burgundy chapter ring, creating a seamless look that still provides some separation from the rest of the dial.

The main dial is where the A.5 really shines. There is some serious attention to detail paid here. I’ll start with my favorite thing about the dial. The seconds hand is tipped with an hexagon that is the same shape as the Seals logo at 12 o’clock. As the seconds hand sweeps over the logo, it eclipses it. It would be easy for some to not pay attention to how long the seconds hand is to achieve this effect and it shows the care that went into the design.

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The hour markings are made up of a mix of sticks and Roman numerals. The mix of these two reminds me of a California dial without its complexity. While Roman numerals tend to find themselves on dressier watches, the sans serif Roman numerals used on the A.5 seem to fit with the overall toolish aesthetic of the watch.

Covered in Super-LumiNova, the markers and hands shine brightly in the dark. Because of the asymmetric layout of the dial, orientation is never a problem. A burgundy crosshair marks the center of the dial, extending further out east to west than it does north to south.

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Case & Bracelet

The first thing you notice about the A.5 is the case shape. It is not quite as dramatically geometric as the Royal Oak, but is rather softer around the edges. Even the top and bottom 2 sides of the octagon-shaped case and bezel are almost flat, further softening their shape.

Tool watches tend to generally be finished in either full polishing, such as the Sinn 104, or more commonly, completely brushed. The Seals A.5 beautifully blends the two with brushing and polishing in all the right areas.

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The flat top of the octagon bezel is heavily brushed with a high sheen that makes it pop in the sunlight. It is contrasted with polishing on the sides of the bezel which creates a wonderful effect due to the top of the case also being brushed.

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A similar technique is used on the long crown guards. The mix of brushing and polishing as they meet the case create enough contrast that the case of the watch almost looks fluid. The crown of the A.5 is not tall but it is wide and extends slightly past the bottom of the case. The crown guards hug the crown tightly, but the crown is easy to unscrew and operate. Each crown guard is accented with a slotted screw, adding to the toolish look of the A.5.

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Despite being a little chunky, I enjoyed the bracelet on the A.5. It tapers down to the wrist beautifully, adding a lot of comfort to the watch. The clasp is serviceable and felt secure with a dual push-button release. As I mentioned before, my gripe with the bracelet is how the first link does not articulate much where it meets the watch head. While the watch is comfortable, I wonder how much more comfortable it would be if that link articulated more.

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Final Thoughts

Seals’ tagline is Built Like a Tank and that certainly rings true with the A.5. They managed to blend elegance and ruggedness together in a fantastic way with the A.5. There is no denying that the A.5 is going to be a divisive watch due to its design. Most watch lovers tend to gravitate toward round-cased watches. Regardless of how you feel, the A.5 is a watch that I can say deserves to be experienced despite any preconceived notions about its shape.

Case Width41mmThickness11.65mm
Lug-to-lug Height51mmLug WidthIntegrated Bracelet
CrystalSapphireStrapCustom Integrated Bracelet
Water Resistance100 metersLumeSuper-LumiNova®
MovementMiyota 9039Price$800

More Images of the Seals A.5

Check out the Seals website

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