When it comes to my most important watch, the answer is simple. The Seiko SBDC001 “Sumo” is the watch that means the most to me. Is it my favorite watch? It is neither my favorite nor is it the most remarkable. But it is the most important watch in my collection by a mile. Why? Because it’s the one that kick-started my career in watches. And to this day, it has always found its way back to my wrist and impressed me every single time. It’s the timepiece that best tells the story of my life in the world of watches.
Finding a Passion for Watches
I first got seriously interested in watches around 2003, so right about two decades ago. That’s when I moved to The Hague in The Netherlands and met Robert-Jan Broer, the founder of the Dutch watch magazine Fratello. We quickly became very good friends and Robert-Jan started sharing his incredible knowledge and enthusiasm for watches, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch in particular. I soon became a great enthusiast of the mechanical marvels, and eventually they took center stage in my life.
But despite being interested in watches, finding the money for them was always a challenge. I also had other passions I wanted to pursue, like music, that required funds of their own. Having just started my career, I had to be clever when it came to spending money. Plus, I’d set my sights on either an Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch or a Rolex Sea-Dweller as my future daily wearer. While in the early 2000s, prices for those two watches were not at the levels they are today, they were still expensive.
An Unexpected First Serious Mechanical Watch
But the watch that got me seriously into watches was not the Speedmaster or the Sea-Dweller. One day, Robert-Jan asked me whether I wanted to have his Seiko SBDC001. This Japanese Domestic Market or “JDM” release came out in 2007 and is still one of Seiko’s youngest dive watches. As with many Seiko diving watches, it was fans who came up with the “Sumo” nickname. As for where the name comes from, there are multiple theories. But the most likely explanation is that the silhouette of the SBDC001 is reminiscent of the imposing stature of a sumo wrestler.
After Robert-Jan gifted me the Sumo, it quickly became my daily watch. Up until that point, I had worn a lot of G-Shocks and some less remarkable mechanical watches. But Robert-Jan knew that the Seiko would change my view on watches. From the get-go, the watch impressed me with its build quality and overall appeal. While Robert-Jan also gave me the stainless-steel bracelet, I always wore the watch on a black rubber Seiko strap. The original bracelet is not the best in the business, and I preferred the look of a rubber strap. The Sumo became my daily wearer for a number of years, during which time something clicked inside me that transformed mechanical watches from an interest into a passion.
What makes the Sumo so special?
So what makes this Sumo such a special watch? As so often with watches, the devil is in the details. At first glance, the watch is one of the many dive watches out there, only with a slightly different, quirky font used for the numerals on the bezel insert. It was an important detail that needed some getting used to. Now, I love the distinct presence, which is a stand-out element for me.
The same goes for the large 45-mm case, which, with its curved lugs, is beautifully sculpted. If you look at it from the right angle, you’ll see the graceful lines, with the multi-faceted case sides effortlessly flowing into the lugs. Another great design detail is that the bezel is slightly recessed into the case, creating a layered and reasonably slim profile, making the watch easier to wear despite its substantial size. With the crown characteristically placed at 4 o’clock, a great handset, and a stand-out bezel design, the Sumo is a watch that feels balanced but has plenty of remarkable details. It makes it one of the best modern Seiko dive watches.
How the Sumo Changed My Career Path
This watch sparked my passion for starting a small collection of watches. Furthermore, my enthusiasm for mechanical watches and for the “Sumo” in particular indirectly resulted in me writing about watches. As a journalist by trade, it made sense to write about something that interested me. In the past, I had written about music, reviewing albums and live concerts and interviewing different artists. But that was always a side gig alongside my real job. But when the chance presented itself to write for Chrono24 Magazine in 2016, I jumped at the opportunity. At first, it was a bit of fun on the side, while I worked in design strategy at a design firm. Then, in 2019, writing for Chrono24 Magazine and Fratello became my full-time job. It’s turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, and I haven’t regretted once.
And the Sumo? Over the years, as other watches joined my collection, there have been periods in which I didn’t wear it as much. But every time I pick it up, it starts running as it always has, and I am reminded of the special connection I have with it. It’s also the one watch I love to fit with a new strap, which makes me fall in love with the Sumo all over again. It looks great on so many different straps that the effect never ceases to amaze me. But most of all, it is the one watch in my collection that best tells the story of my life in the watch world. And that makes the Seiko SBDC001 “Sumo” the most important watch in my collection.