REVIEW: Hands On With The New Seiko Presage Cocktail Time GMT

by Matt Clymo

The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time has been a hit for the brand, and for under A$1,000, the watch packs a punch!

What We Love

  • The gradient Champagne dial with 3D sunburst effect
  • The size is pretty much perfect for most wrist sizes
  • The overall vintage style that epitomises the “cocktail” time theme

What We Don’t

  • Crystal is not sapphire by Hardlex Glass
  • Has a minimal power reserve for a watch that may not be worn everyday
  • The movement could be better finished as it is on display

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

  • Value for money: 8.5/10
  • Wearability: 8.5/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Build quality: 8/10

The Seiko Presage collection is one of those collections that has something for everyone at varying price points. Everything from more sporty full steel models to the dressier variants with beautiful dials and leather straps. Whichever way you look at them, both Seiko and the Presage have a firm place in the market, and rightfully so. Having had some hands-on experience with last year’s Australasian Limited Edition Lark Cocktail Time, and attending the showcase of this piece in Brisbane at Vintage Watch Co, I can see why these pieces have become so popular with watch enthusiasts and the general public alike. So how does the new Seiko Presage Cocktail time that was released earlier this month stack up?

First Impressions

With three model variants being released – an ice blue dial on steel, smokey brown on leather, and a champagne dial on a brown leather strap, it’s clear that Seiko is thinking about choice and individual style. From these, there should be a model that a majority of people would gravitate towards. For me, I would normally go for the ice blue dial, but strangely, I found myself liking the champagne dial. There’s something about the contrasting colours of the champagne dial that has a gradient effect through it combined with the brown strap and tan-coloured GMT numbers on the dial that works for me personally. It’s a watch that could be classified as a dressier sports watch thanks to the design and the leather strap, and I can see this wearing well with many different outfits and dress styles – not to mention occasions. So even though I had all three, I felt to do this review justice, I’d see how the Champagne dial model would wear over the course of the week…

The Design

The Presage Cocktail Time takes inspiration from selected cocktails around the world. In this case of the trio, they take their names from the Skydiving, or Skydivder depending on the bar you’re in (Ice blue), the Rusty Nail (Brown) and the Acacia (Champagne), which to be honest I have never had, but all look like great drinks I should probably try at some point. But, I digress. The dials are where these watches shine, and you can see the inspiration for them in the cocktails of their namesake. Each dial has been done to evoke the atmosphere of the cocktail and you can certainly see yourself sitting in a bar having one whilst wearing the watch. The brown dial conjures up those images of smokey whisky bars and late-night jazz with the gradient golden brown dial and gold-coloured GMT hand and GMT hour markers.

The blue dial Skydiving Model is less late late-night lounge bar, and more summer party, rooftop sunset. The blue dial comes alive in the sun, and with the steel bracelet, it isn’t as warm feeling as the other two watches, and as a result, gives off a more casual daytime vibe. Due to the way the 3D dial is made, in certain light, the blue is very subtle and gives off more of a blue-silver colour than pure blue. You can see in the picture below it does just that, and enhances the more fresh tones of the watch, along with the blue GMT hand.

And we then come to the Champagne dial, named after the Acacia Cocktail. Interestingly, I felt this gave off similar vibes to last year’s Australasian Limited Edition Cocktail Time done in conjunction with Lark Distillery in Tasmania – evoking the hues of the Irori Cocktail. While the two cocktails are very different in fact, as are the watches to a certain extent, the combination of the golden dial with the brown leather strap created that association in my head, which is probably why I took this piece out of the box to wear and review, this and as it’s now winter here in Australia, I felt it was the right watch for the season!

Outside the dial colours and strap configurations, the new Presage Cocktail Time all have that vintage style case, with a large pull-out crown that makes changing the time and in this case, the GMT function easy. The surfaces are polished and finished well especially when you consider these watches are below the A$1,000 price point. On the dial, the indices are all polished steel and are designed to look the the stem of a cocktail glass.

Each is equipped with a quick change strap, or bracelet in the instance of the blue dial. The straps are colour-coordinated to the dials, and with the Champagne dial, the brown alligator-styled leather. This enhances the overall look I feel of the piece, especially the Champagne dial as the golden-coloured dial and strap pair well together. The strap is also equipped with a folding push button clasp, which is designed to clamp down on the leather when adjusting it to your wrist.

One aspect that I will talk about here is the crystal. Seiko uses what is called Hardlex glass on their more affordable watches, as opposed to sapphire crystal. There are pro’s and con’s to this, and also over a less hard-wearing acrylic material like Hesalite. Essentially, Hardlex is a glass that has been created by heating and chemically treating ordinary glass. This increases the mineral’s resistance to scratches and shatters, which means it is better than a pure glass crystal on the dial, and even better than an acrylic. But it isn’t as scratch-proof as a sapphire crystal so it can still be marked if not taken care of properly. The one benefit it does have is it is slightly more shatter-resistant when compared to sapphire crystal. So it depends on how you treat your watches which will be better. Do you want a crystal that doesn’t scratch if you’re prone to the occasional knock on a door frame or out in the yard, playing with the kids etc? Or do you need a crystal that is more shatterproof if you’re prone to dropping your watches?

How It Wears

The Presage Cocktail Time is sized pretty well for most wrists. Measuring 40.5mm in diameter and with a lug-to-lug of 47.5mm, it will wear pretty true to size, and fit most wrists that are above about 15cm in circumference. Adding to this, while the Cocktail Time isn’t traditionally on the thinner side, with a thickness of 12.8mm, it’s not going to bother you much and should slide under most shirt sleeves and jackets.

On the leather strap, I felt this is where the Seiko Presage wears and looks the best. The strap isn’t too rigid like you get with some straps when new so it does confirm to the wrist easily when first putting it on. However, the one aspect I had to get used to was the reverse way the strap is designed to be worn. Many brands are doing this these days with the long end now at 12, and the short end with the strap minders at 6 so the strap feeds through towards your body if you are looking straight on with the watch. It’s a minor thing, and in no way unique to Seiko at all.

I mentioned before that the colour scheme works well on the Champagne model, with the leather strap and for this time of year, is great in the cooler months when you’re not worried about an expanding wrist, or humidity. I don’t normally wear a leather strap in Summer here in Queensland for this reason. Adding to this, the whole vintage look of the watch works well with jackets and jumpers, like what I’m wearing here in the photos. You can easily have this on all day and then at night should you be heading out and about.

The Movement

Inside the Cocktail Time you will find the Seiko Automatic Calibre 4R34 beating away at 21,600VpH / 3Hz and pivoting on 24 jewels. Now this movement is not a top-of-the-line movement, so it delivers 41 hours of power reserve which these days is on the lower side of things. If this will be an everyday piece for you, then this won’t matter, but if you are planning on a few times a week, then be prepared to wind it back up again after 2 days of inactivity.

The GMT is a caller GMT as well, so this is a watch designed to track a dual time zone more so than frequent flyers. Neither is better as it really depends on what you want a GMT function for and how you will use it. Got regular business calls interstate or overseas? Then this is the watch for you. Travelling frequently into different time zones? Then you may need to look at a flyer GMT instead. Again, different functions for different uses.

Another element of the movement that I’ll touch on is the accuracy and finishing. With most base-level Seiko movements you are not going to get super accurate calibres. In this case, it’s rated to about +40/-20 seconds per day. This is one area where Seiko could improve across its entire range, but again, if you factor in the price point here of A$925, then you can’t complain too much. But I will say this, the Presage Cocktail Time does have an open case back to showcase the movement without giving the movement much finishing at all. It is one area where I feel many brands fall down slightly is giving watches a display case back but then a movement that is fairly plain and not a whole lot to look at.

Final Thoughts

Having spent some time with the Seiko Presage Cocktail Time models, I completely see their appeal. These are good-looking bang-for-buck pieces that punch above their weight in terms of design and looks. Yes the movement could be better in both finishing and accuracy, but this is not why you purchase these watches. And when you take into account these are sub A$1,000, then you can see their value.

Comparatively speaking, there isn’t much that sits in this price point, with quality, finishing and looks that can compete with these. Once you go into the Swiss watches, then the Tissot Chemin des Tourelles or PRX Powermatic 80 would come into play, but then you’re jumping over the A$1,00 mark to A$1,240 on a strap, and A$1,350 on a bracelet for the Chemin des Tourelles. But you don’t get a GMT function with these! So for anyone wanting a good-looking watch that straddles the dress and sports watch realm, then the Seiko Presage Cocktail Time is worthy of consideration!

Reference: SSK041J (Champagne) / SSK039J (Brown) / SSK037J (Blue)


  • Case Size: 40.5mm / 47.5mm lug-to-lug
  • Case Thickness: 12.8mm
  • Case Material: Brushed and polished stainless steel
  • Dial: Champagne, brown or blue with texture sunray gradient pattern
  • Movement: Automatic Winding Seiko 4R34 Calibre with GMT and date function. 21,600 VpH / 3Hz
  • Power Reserve: Approx. 41 hours
  • Water Resistance: 50m (5 bar)
  • Crystal: Domes Hardlex Glass
  • Strap/Bracelet: Brown or black leather with folding push-button clasp (Brown and Champagne Dials). Stainless steel 5-link bracelet with push-button folding clasp

Australian Recommended Retail Price: A$925 (on leather) / A$950 (on steel)

Availability: Available through Seiko Boutiques, or online at for pre-order. Expected delivery date July/August 2024

You may also like

Copyright 2024 Watch Advice Pty Ltd. ACN: 633 660 992. All Right Reserved.