5 Great SARB035 Alternatives To Replace A Classic Seiko Model
James Elliott27 June 2021 | 7 min read
If you follow the Watch & Bullion blog, you’ll know we’re big fans of Seiko watches for the budget price bracket. And when it comes to Seikos, there haven’t been many more popular in recent times than the Seiko SARB035.
Alongside its brother, the Seiko SARB033, the SARB035 was one of the most popular budget wristwatches on the market, combining great size, specs and design into a very affordable package.
But unfortunately for watch fans, in 2018, the watch was discontinued, and since then, the iconic piece has become harder and harder to get hold of, with prices rocketing to at least double what they were during production.
In this article, we’re going to run through our top five alternatives to the Seiko SARB035. Whether from Seiko or other brands, we’ll compare the watches on their design, functionality and price to help you fill the hole the SARB035 left behind.
Let’s get into it!
- Why Was The Seiko SARB035 So Popular?
- 5 Best Seiko SARB035 Alternatives:
Why Was The Seiko SARB035 So Popular?
The Seiko SARB035 had it all. To begin with, it was a dream on the wrist at a small and compact 38mm. This made it an excellent choice for those with small wrists where regular 40mm+ dial sizes were simply too big.
Then there was the design. A good quality stainless steel case and bracelet supported a clean and simple white/cream dial that was gorgeous to look at. The rectangular silver hour markers were classy and straightforward around the edge of the dial, with the dauphine hands rounding off the package in a smart and sophisticated way.
Inside the case, you had an automatic movement, a rarity for a Seiko watch at this level. The movement wasn’t a pure entry-level one either. With 50 hours of power reserve and 100m of water resistance, the watch had a good level of features all around. Oh yeah, and it had a sapphire crystal too!
At $300RRP, there wasn’t a better dress watch you could get for the price when you considered all those features. But since being discontinued, you’d do well to find this watch from a reputable US seller for under $700.
5 Best Seiko SARB035 Alternatives
Luckily, there are several watches currently retailing that match many of the elements of the SARB035. Here’s our pick of the five we think are the best you can pick up right now.
In Short: A simple white dial Seiko watch that matches the SARB035 on size and general appearance.
To get us started, we’ve pulled out the Year-Round Automatic model from Seiko with the reference number SNKL41K1. At a distance, this watch looks pretty similar to the SARB thanks to its clean white dial and small 38mm size, but of course, there are some differences.
Firstly, you’ll notice this watch is part of another popular Seiko range, the Seiko 5. As such, the watch ends up with a slightly more sporty feel thanks to the mix of black and silver markings around the chapter ring. While you do get the same dauphine hands as the SARB, the date window is replaced with a day/date, pushing the watch even more towards the sports bracket.
The automatic movement is pretty basic but a nice touch, with other features such as a Hardlex crystal and 30m of water resistance reasonably standard for a budget Seiko watch.
Talking of budget, the good news with the Year-Round is that you can pick one up for an excellent price. It’s a real bargain for those that want a white dial Seiko watch that emulates the basic look and feel of the SARB. It’s an easy budget recommendation from us!
In Short: A classy dress watch from Orient that provides a great movement and a very similar clean white dial design.
Next, we jump brands and come to a watch from the excellent Japanese watch brand Orient. This watch, in particular, the Bambino, gets pretty close to the SARB035 as it combines excellent size, design and movement specs in a similar price package.
There’s a wide range of different Bambino models, all with slight configuration twists. This one sticks with a white dial but opts instead for deep blue dauphine hands, bringing different dimensions to the dial. The hour markers are slightly different, too, favouring arrow tips over rectangles.
Whilst the Bambino doesn’t quite match up to the sapphire crystal of the SARB, opting for a mineral instead, it does deliver the mighty Cal.F6724 automatic movement, which is pretty accurate for a budget watch. You also get 50m water resistance and a display case back as a couple of nice extra touches.
This is a sharp-looking 41mm watch with a super movement from a reputable budget brand. A straightforward alternative to the SARB for sure!
In Short: The next generation of the SARB range. The Presage model is the best budget dress watch on the market, with some slight tweaks from the SARB.
Back to Seiko and this watch might be the closest alternative of all the watches in this article. The Seiko Presage range came in and directly replaced the SARB as the affordable dress watch option in the modern Seiko catalogue.
This particular Presage model, the SRPB77, combines a similar white dial/blue hands combination to the one just seen with the Bambino, but with a number of additionally classy features.
First up, you’ll notice the gorgeous sunburst design that, whilst it isn’t as simple as the SARB, adds another level of quality and class. Here rectangular hour markers are replaced with arrows, but the dauphine hands and date window remain.
This watch matches up to the SARB when it comes to movement and crystal, too, with a high-quality automatic movement sat behind an anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The key difference here is the size, with the Presage coming in at 40.5mm, making it around 2.5mm bigger than the SARB.
Not only does it pack a high-quality movement, but the design and specs are nearly of a premium grade despite the affordable price.
In Short: Different in a few ways from the SARB, but a very stylish white dial alternative from a high-quality Swiss brand.
If you like classy looking white dial watches, this next piece from Tissot is a beauty. Like the SARB, the Visodate from Tissot combines a clean and simple white dial with rectangular hour markers and slender dauphine hands.
But the similarities do end there. The dial swaps out the date window for a day/date and brings in a slender seconds hand. The bracelet design on this watch is also very different, going with a mesh style rather than a standard stainless steel link which some will love, and others will hate.
With this watch, you do get a really powerful, 38-hour automatic movement as well as a sapphire crystal and a generous 100m of water resistance. Because Tissot is a Swiss brand, you also get a level of accuracy expected from a Swiss movement.
Whilst some may draw breath at the price, if you want a very classy alternative to the SARB that also offers something a little different, this Swiss beauty is one we’d recommend.
In Short: Premium upgrade to the SARB035 for those that was a high-spec, polished dress watch.
For our last watch, we’ve picked out the Seiko Presage Line SARX033 model. Those with an eagle eye will notice the similarity between the model numbers, and in total, there are many similarities here. Where the SARX033 sets itself apart is in its quality – it’s essentially the higher-spec model from the Presage SRPB77 model we saw earlier.
The watch matches a sleek, super clear coated dial with deep navy blue hands and classic Seiko hour markings to pull together an understated and classy design. Some of you reading may notice this is the third watch we’ve shown with a blue hand design. That reflects the modern tastes in the white dial market at the moment, with the blue hand combo super popular!
With this watch, you’re getting a high-quality 6R15 23J automatic movement with 50 hours of power reserve and accuracy to +/- 15 seconds. All of this is protected by a high-quality sapphire crystal that’s safe down to 100m of water resistance.
If you like the general look and feel of the navy/white watches we’ve featured today, the SARX033 is the one to go for if you want the most premium of the bunch.
The Seiko SARB035 was an absolute classic watch that hit the sweet spot between simple design, great specs and affordable price. Whilst many watch fans still obsess over the watch, the inflated pre-owned price makes it a tough watch to get your hands on.
Luckily, there are a number of smart, white dial watches on the market from Seiko and other brands that emulate some of the SARB’s characteristics. We’ve only pulled fice out for the article today, but don’t be afraid to shop around online, as you’ll be sure to find some other gems!
That’s it from us today, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading and hope to see you again soon for another Watch & Bullion article.