The Kobold SEAL is apparently making a comeback, but it’s never going to carry the same weight as the old one. Not the weight of the piece itself (we’re talking about the lightweight titanium model here after all), and not the weight of the big guy who iconically wore one while flipping the bird in a Kobold ad, but the weight that the watch carried as one of the earliest hardcore microbrand tool watches.
It just isn’t the same. The watch world isn’t the same. That’s why if you’re planning on adding a SEAL to your watchbox arsenal, you should try to get your hands on one of the original classic Kobolds, such as the ultra rare titanium model shown here.
The paperwork (can you believe the original owner still had it with the watch!) on this titanium model was signed by the watch company owner in 2005. The original stainless steel Soarway Diver SEAL was released in 2004. After 17 years, this design certainly has aged well. And considering how old this Ti model is, it has aged well too!
It’s still a good size, at 43mm diameter without the crown and 46mm with it. It’s a beast, with the domes sapphire crystal, the SEAL stands 17.5mm thick. This piece weighs 166 grams (about 5.9 ounces), which makes the titanium version comfortable to manage on the wrist.
As for the watch being reviewed here, it shows obvious wear on the case and bracelet, and some of the paint peeled away from the markers on the uni-directional rotating bezel (not uncommon for Kobold from that era).
The cosmetic flaws are merely battle scars to reinforce that these are tough tool watches and are meant to be worn. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to find them on the used market. It’s a lot easier to wear a watch they way it’s meant to be worn if it already has some scratches. Like a brand new car, a brand new watch is not as easy to enjoy and put to the test.
As is expected from a legit tool watch, the SEAL is equipped with a screw-down crown. This, combined with the solid caseback and helium release valve on the side of the case, helps it achieve a depth rating of up to 300m/1,000ft. Back in the day, Kobold used to advertise that their watches could endure up to 30m even with the crown unscrewed, although this is highly discouraged!
If you are into the brand already, then you know that Kobolds on metal are more rare then Kobolds on straps. While the SEAL is a total strap monster, it’s even more special that this piece has the extremely desirable titanium 5 link bracelet installed. A diver’s wetsuit extension is included on the clasp. This piece could use a quick refinish on the satin wheel, but it’s titanium so that’s a cinch.
One of the major issues of some of the newer Kobold’s is that they have solid design casebacks with no notches. Brands typically pull stunts like that to prevent the average person from getting under the hood and tinkering around (making it so you have to send it back to the brand for service), but it is a pain point for experienced watchmakers as well. Even will standard suction bench tools, pieces that were tightly sealed can be nearly impossible to get open. We know this from experience! This classic SEAL has the notches you need to get inside and get your watch serviced.
Speaking of under the hood, this piece is powered by a Swiss made ETA caliber 2824-2 automatic movement. A legendary workhorse for a legendary microbrand tool watch. Although the matte black dial on this particular watch is a no-date, the 2824-2 means it has a phantom date. They made SEALs with dates too if a calendar complication is more your thing.
The lackluster lume on this leaves much to be desired, but in fairness it’s almost two decade old and lume was overlooked a lot back then… even on tool watches. We always felt lume was important, so we started a YouTube series about it called LUME WARS! The newer microbrands are expected to layer on the Super-LumiNova, so that might be something to think about when deciding between a new or old watch.
This piece is no longer available for sale as it was recently sold in our watch store. The new owner is a Koboldian who is experienced to know that a piece like this does not make an appearance on the market very often.
As mentioned above, it was accompanied by the original signed Certificate of Authenticity and care instructions insert from 2015. It even had the classic hardwood Kobold 3 slot watchbox! It not easy to find older Kobolds with the box and papers, so if you find one out in the wild, be sure to grab it up!
The current retail price of the new SEAL is $4,950 USD in steel, $5,650 in titanium, $5,850 in black DLC steel, and $6,250 in bronze. These prices are for the SEAL on the brand’s Canvas Expedition Strap… the bracelet appears to be discontinued.
KTT is one of the only (if not the only) watch stores in the world that specializes in pre-owned Kobold watches. Explore our current collection of Kobold timepieces and rare expedition goods here…