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Cool Stuff: Ultimate Seiko Samoa

Back in the good 'ol days (better in retrospect?) our Toa Samoa warriors used to bring back those wonderful heavy Seiko self wind dive watches from their tour of duty in Vietnam. They would pick them up for $35-$50 in Hong Kong and bring them back to the islands.

I had several I picked up used for $20. They seemed to last forever if you got them cleaned every three years. Yet because they were absolutely waterproof, looked so macho, and required no yearly battery replacement, any time a respected matai visited us, my wife would make me give mine up... even before the dreaded "malo, malo."

My dearest darlingest wife is always right... she reminds me daily. And yes I have observed our matai are generally quality guys that have served our family with wisdom and dignity.  Only thing is... all those classic Seiko automatic self winders vanished. No more $20 swap meet or pawnshop specials.

After searching for years I finally found the new and improved magic Seiko.  The new Seiko Solar Chronograph is 200 meters depth worthy, with a screw down crown, Hardlex scratch resistant crystal, full stainless steel case.... and fantastically requires no battery changes since it is solar powered. Yup, I am reckoning 10 years maintenance free. If you care, da buggah only loses 15 seconds a year.

This solar capability is critical for us who live or spend time in Samoa. And I guess we don't have a shortage of sunlight most of the year. While we have people in Tutuila and Apia that can replace your battery, they probably can't have it pressure tested without sending it to New Zealand, Oz, or the US Mainland. A conventional quartz dive watch might cost you $15 to change a battery plus $70 to have it pressure tested if you do proper annual maintenance. After grabbing the latest Samoan CD's at Mr Lava Lava and treating my mates to brown bottle Vailimas... I am my usual mativa self with no $85 for annual repairs.

My work entails jumping on and off purse seiners (limping in my case), shooting videos for hours in cannery cold storage, standing in the rain for days shooting our Manu Samoa, our gridiron football kids, shoot for hours in furnace like live lava fields, and sadly covering hurricane, tsunami and earthquake devastation. Not once did I mention diving a hundred meters. Might free dive 35 ft if a fe'e looks yummy.

So while the Seiko Solar Chronograph is built for diving, we have dust, tropical downpours and guaback plantation rough roads which always test our watch.

When I shoot news or documentaries I have deadlines to change locations, meet for interviews or meet my deadlines. I do not have the courage to defy my bosses Patty or Rhonda on deadlines. If I ever fail them they might make me cover those... yawn... exciting Pago campaign speeches.  

If our local Samoa retailers don't stock this watch, contact my uce's at Feldmar Watch Company in West Los Angeles

Feldmar has cared for our family since the mid 1950's including 37 years ago my 1975 Seiko, real early quartz, graduation watch. Almost every time I wander into Feldmar I meet somebody interesting from Rudy Valee to David Caruso. Caruso you know from CSI Miami, but old guys like me and Melila Purcell who know who Rudy Valee was, remember Caruso as a whiny police officer that gets wiped out by Sylvester Stallone in the first Rambo.  

The most interesting guy at Feldmar is the boss, Sol Meller. Sol knows his stuff, will make magic happen to fix your watch, or get you into a Samoa sized watchband. Mention you are a Coolio and Sol might invite you to one of his gigs... yup Sol and his boys leave Ted Nugent, and Sting in the dust as cult rock stars. Rumors are they have a star on the Encino "Walk of Fame", and turned down a request to headline Obama's last fundraising party at George Clooney's  LA Valley mansion.

The Seiko Solar Chronograph is listed at $399, but I got mine cheaper. If Sol knows you are a Coolio, that reads Cool Stuff, he might give you a deal... or as we say in Savaii, "charge by the face."

So smile, bring Sol some Koko Samoa, and an autograph book... or just order online or over the phone. Sol has a pressure tester too, if you want to salvage some old school dive watches.

And if you have one of those 'ol beater Seiko self wind dive watches, working or not... just show Patty or Rhonda. I still have that same $20 sitting around for my Coolio pals.

Seiko, Solar, Feldmar, & Cool Stuff for Life!