seiko recraft solar chronograph vs mcdowell time maxton chronograph
Updated: Feb 18, 2020
For my second watch versus watch battle, I decided to play on a classic story that's as old as time, David Vs. Goliath. As the saying goes, everyone likes to root for the underdog. And as more-and-more micro-brands have popped-up in recent years, this segment of the watch industry continues to grow and gain more interest from would-be collectors. As watch fans and collectors, we fancy micro-brand manufacturers and designers as having found that magic elixir, with the ability to produce high-quality timepieces, at consumer price points superlative to that offered by the major brands; but do the micros always put their build quality where their intentions are?
On the surface, it may seem unfair, if not a bit sadistic to pit a brand with the rich history of Seiko against a relatively new start-up in McDowell Time. But having experienced the Maxton, up close and personal, I think it has the horses to compete in this sprint. Let's see how they fair.
Dial and Bezel Presentation / Clarity
For any sport watch being used to measure time and distance, dial clarity is of the utmost. Each timepiece manages to create clarity through contrast, the Seiko, using white numerals and white hash marks, against black sub-dials, and the Maxton, utilizing black numerals and black hash marks against a silver dial. Outside of tracking elapsed-time through the chronograph sub-dials, the large second hand plays an important role, measuring time against the tachymeter scale; both the Recraft and Maxton chose an orange colored hand for this measure. Seiko opted to go with an internal tachymeter scale on the Recraft, for a cleaner design look, while the Maxton incorporates the standard fixed bezel configuration atop the dial. While Seiko's internal bezel design affords a sleeker look, the cushioned case design creates some blind spots on the tachymeter scale, depending on the angle of view of the watch face, while the Maxton tachymeter scale, on a ceramic bezel, is easily viewed from any angle. Both dials are magnificent, giving a slight edge on dial clarity to the Recraft, but the edge on bezel presentation to the Maxton; advantage: Push.
With both the Seiko Recraft and McDowell Time Maxton being vintage-inspired timepieces, it stands to reason that both would utilize cushion-style cases incorporated within their designs. While Seiko opted for a more traditional cushion-case design, McDowell Time decided to think outside of the box, and went with a more squarer take on the cushion case design. The short lug-length, along with the more squared-off case, seems to give the Maxton slightly more balance while on the wrist. The pushers on the Maxton give the appearance of being more contoured to the case, giving the Maxton case even symmetry over the Recraft. As noted earlier, regarding the blind spots on the Seiko Recraft's tachymeter scale, this can clearly be seen in the photo, with scale numbers between the 2 o'clock position and 5 o'clock position being partially, to completely obscured at that photo . The Maxton case size comes in at a very vintage-esque 39mm, while the Seiko has a case diameter of 44mm, more in-line with modern standards.
There's a party in the rear of the Maxton, with a nice touch having a checkered flag, laser-etched engraved on the caseback, while Seiko keeps it simple with just the Seiko name and model number; advantage: Maxton.
Bracelet / Strap Design
There are plenty of watch collectors that swear by the versatility of Nato and Zulu straps, the interchangeability, giving a timepiece a whole new look and attitude. For this category comparison, it's all about look and feel.
For a racing-inspired sport watch, a Nato strap isn't exactly the first type of strap that comes to mind. To me, and for my taste, certainly something like a perforated leather strap, or leather 3-hole racing strap completes the image of a racing chronograph. After all, the holes in the 3-hole straps, were meant to replicate the holes within the steering wheel frames of Formula 1 and GT race cars. I do give kudos to Seiko for incorporating the Gulf-Racing colors into the strap choice as well, but the 3-hole, Horween leather strap used in the Maxton Chronograph, just personifies racing. The padded leather of the Horween strap is buttery soft, right out of the box, with no need to break-in; advantage: Maxton.
On The Wrist
The key word for this comparison is balance. The more squared-off case design of the Maxton, coupled with the short lug length, and contoured strap, offers superior comfort over the nylon strap and case design used in the Seiko Recraft; the Maxton just feels more balanced, with very little, if any, unnecessary movement of the watch head while on the wrist. Perhaps if Seiko opted to use a different strap option on this mode, the Recraft may have closed the gap in the category, but alas, there is a reason why Horween leather straps are so revered within the watch industry, and by collectors, quality and comfort; advantage: Maxton.
In this category we're really able to compare apples to apples. You've got two quartz chronograph timepieces, in the exact same sport-themed category. Seiko is a brand widely known, and available throughout many retail outlets. With all the potential Seiko deals to be had throughout the various retail outlets, discounted pricing on the Recraft will be more prevalent, buying the Maxton direct from the McDowell Time website. That being said, the Seiko retails for approximately $223, while I was able to purchase the Maxton, with available discounts at the time, for $215; the price of the Maxton has gone up slightly since my purchase during the Kickstarter campaign.
The Recraft features a Hardlex crystal, while the Maxton features a domed Sapphire Crystal, with A/R coating. Both watches are constructed with 316L stainless steel. The Maxton has a ceramic bezel, and ships on a high-quality, Horween leather strap. The Recraft has an internal tachymeter scale, so the bezel is the high-polished lip around the dial, and the watch ships on a color coordinated 3-ring Nato-Style strap.
The Seiko Recraft features a Japanese, quartz V175, solar movement as it's power source, while the Maxton Chronograph uses the ISA Swiss 8371 as it's engine, which offers a smoothly sweeping chronograph hand. The Recraft stopwatch functions measures 1/5 sec to 60 minutes, with split-time functionality. The Recraft also features a 24-hour dual-time, sub-dial indicator at the 3 o'clock position. The Maxton offers split-time functionality as well, with the chronograph able to record timing accuracy down to 1/10 of a second.
Given this breakdown, the Maxton appears to be constructed with higher-grade materials and components, and Incorporates a chronograph movement with more precise time measurement than the Seiko Recraft; advantage: Maxton.
For this category, since both timepieces are quartz, battery powered, a difference or variance in movement accuracy should be minimal at best; advantage: Push.
And the Winner Is?
Out of the 6 category comparison, the McDowell Time, Maxton Chronograph held an advantage over the Seiko, Recraft, Solar Chronograph in 4 of the 6 categories (case design, strap design, on the wrist, and value), with 2 categories (movement accuracy and dial presentation were deemed even, or a push), allowing the Maxton Chronograph to take the checkered flag.
A micro-brand (McDowell Time), held up nicely against a Goliath (Seiko) in a true head-to-head comparison. If nothing else, the larger brands should take notice, that the micros are giving watch collectors more varied options when it comes to satisfying their cravings for new, cutting-edge watch designs, with high-quality build components, at affordable price points.