Few watches carry a moniker like the Omega Speedmaster or the Seiko Monster, and the Seiko Flightmaster is a worthy contender to join these ranks.
More than just a model number, “Flightmaster” most often refers to the Seiko SNA411 (black and yellow version) or the SNA413 (considerably-rarer blue and white).
The Seiko Flightmaster stands out on the wrist as the definition of a tool watch that is a favorite among pilots and EMS professionals; a long time fan favorite of those looking for a Breitling Navitimer homage from the most reputable Japanese brand.
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Seiko Flightmaster Dial
The dial is a very unique and eye-catching arrangement, with the chapter ring extending onto the dial face itself. The indices are round lumibrite and surrounded by a reflective chrome reminiscent of the Rolex Submariner origins.
It reminds you that not only is it a pilot’s watch, but also a 200m dive watch – just be sure to screw down the chronograph pushers prior to submersion.
This is a very useful function in case your plane crashes in the middle of the Atlantic, at which time you can do a quick slide rule calculation to see how many hours of swimming you need to do.
While it may be too busy for some, true Seiko Flightmaster fans appreciate the dial as the art piece that it is, and get lost in the beautiful complexity of the arrangement.
Seiko SNA411 Hands and Chronograph
The hour and minute hands are a unique Obelisque style – reminiscent of the Washington Monument or Ancient Egypt.
The chronograph hand is a vibrant yellow, which immediately stands out in any position for easy timing at a glance. It’s shaped liked an arrow that is shot straight from a bow. Unexpectedly, the chronograph hand sweeps at a surprisingly smooth 5 times per second.
This is quite unique for a quartz movement. The smooth sweep is a favorite among EMS and medical professionals for timing pulses, respiration, and cardiac functions with a color contrast for exceptionally-easy timing.
The yellow chronograph hand matches the yellow 12-o’clock subdial hand, which is also related to the chronograph function and shows the minutes counter up to one hour.
Seiko Flightmaster Movement
The movement is a Quartz battery-operated Calibre 7T62 movement, a trustworthy and reliable Quartz Seiko chronograph movement that features both a sweeping chronograph seconds hand and an alarm/dual-time complication at the 6 o’clock subdial.
Many Flightmaster fans find the quartz movement to be preferable to a mechanical one considering it makes it so much cheaper, more accurate, more durable, and easier to maintain.
Furthermore, compared to automatic counterparts, this allows owners to skip the servicing fees that cost multiple Flightmasters a piece to perform. Long-time owners of the SNA411 report accuracy within one or two seconds within two months, which is very impressive even for a quartz movement.
Seiko Flightmaster Specs and Dimensions
|Movement||Quartz – Seiko Caliber 7T62|
SNA411 Slide Rule Bezel
Perhaps the most unique feature of the Flightmaster is the E6B navigational slide rule bezel. It is a smooth bi-directional non-clicking bezel similar to the style found in the Vostok Amphibia, but at a much higher quality.
You probably won’t end up using it for actual conversions, and it’s actually more fun to line up certain indices and markers to each other as a way to pass the time. Onlookers will certainly ask you about it, so I recommend learning a couple of quick conversions to show off for these instances.
As is common in many lower-priced Seikos, the bracelet of the SNA411 is frequently cited as the weakest link, so prepare to replace it with a nice brown or black leather strap.
Unfortunately, cutting corners on the bracelet is the way that Seiko can keep the watch price so low, but the good news is that the watch is a veritable strap monster, and will look 20 times better on one of your many nato straps.
As for the bracelet itself – the clasp is not machined like nicer bracelets, but made of stamped steel; the upside is that the end-links are solid.
Seiko SNA411 Lug Width
The lug width of the Seiko Flightmaster is 21mm, which is actually my favorite width for the simple fact that it can take both 20mm and 22mm leather and NATO straps equally well.
The 1mm difference is so small that it is more accommodating and versatile for both sizes of straps. Many people decry a 21mm lug width as an inconsiderate design element by the watch manufacturer, but once you try on a few straps, you will appreciate the added versatility.
Seiko SNA411 Crystal
The crystal of the Flightmaster is a domed Hardlex Mineral. While engineered for shatter resistance, it is also quite scratch-resistant, although to a lesser-degree than sapphire.
Hardlex and acrylic are preferred materials for pilot’s watches due to the risk of shattering while flying or in emergencies, in which case it would be quite detrimental to have sapphire shards in the cabin. A few scratches that can be polished off is a worthy trade-off for a true tool watch.
Similar Watches to the Seiko Flightmaster
Aesthetically the SNA411 is most similar to the Breitling Navitimer, the classic seven-thousand-dollar pilot’s watch. It is also reminiscent of the Omega Speedmaster as an aeronautic tool watch.
However, I would argue that the real competitor to this watch is the Citizen Nighthawk; priced about the same, the Nighthawk features many similar elements in a re-imagined aesthetic, including it’s GMT/dual-time function and plane cabin-like lume in the dark.
In our Citizen vs Seiko article we do a comparison of the Seiko Flightmaster vs Citizen Nighthawk if you’re interested in learning more. For example, both feature a 200m water resistance, which is comparatively rare for a non-dive watch.
Conclusions: Seiko Flightmaster
Few watches can stand to be so complex, eye-catching, artistic, and tool-y as the Flightmaster.
Seiko Men's SNA411 Flight Alarm Chronograph Watch
- Round watch with black dial featuring gear-edge bezel, multiple subdials, date window, and fluted crown
- 42 mm stainless steel case with Hardlex dial window
- Japanese quartz movement with display
- Stainless steel link bracelet with fold-over push-button clasp and safety closure
- Water resistant to 200 m (660 ft): In general, suitable for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports, but not scuba diving
After weeks on your wrist, you will find yourself constantly discovering new things to love about it, and new ways of appreciating it – from the alarm function, to using it as a dual-time watch, to fidgeting with the bezel and screw-down chronograph pushers.
Best of all, it is a chronograph with a sweeping second hand – a vibrant ticking arrow of time. If you’re captivated by the SNA411 Seiko Flightmaster and considering it for your next watch, you can check out the reviews on Amazon.
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