This watch has no business being as nice as it is...
These were my first thoughts upon receiving the Seiko Automatic SRPB53K Prospex Divers Watch (for some reason, they have designations reminiscent of kitchen appliances). I had been looking for a solid and distinctly designed dive watch for my modest collection. Seiko is a brand that builds amazing watches for the money…but where to start?
It feels like there are hundreds of models at all kinds of different price points (like literally $300 or $8000 for similar looking watches) and initially it’s difficult to make out where to start for somebody that is new to collecting. This leads down the maze of materials and movements (Gah!).
Some Seiko fans will only buy Made in Japan Seikos. The crystal (glass) is either Seiko’s proprietary material, Hardlex (scratch easily but less prone to shattering), or some of the fancier models have the Sapphire Crystal (which is harder to scratch but can shatter easier in a big impact).
Also, there always seems to be a re-issued model that’s not as revered as the previous one for one reason or another, with endless forum posts arguing the points. The other thing you come across is the nick names that fans have placed on the watches, and before you know it, you come across watches called ‘Sumo, ‘Tuna’, ‘Turtle’, Arnie’…and even ‘Samurai’…it’s a long list and again, a range of specs...
So, if I was going with the Prospex (Professionals Specifications) line of watches, was I going to wait until I could afford a Japan Made model at 3 times the price or just get a Prospex watch at a very affordable price point? During this time, my beloved often caught me blank staring at the horizon, and rightly guessed that there was nothing particularly useful being processed in the upstairs department…
So anyway, I eventually decided that the one with the best nickname and the sharpest angles, the super cool ‘Samurai’ was next on the list. Yes, it has a movement that is made in Malaysia and would need some small adjustments at least weekly to tell exact time, and a Hardlex crystal. But…it’s the ‘Samurai’(!) and look at that awesome lug design! It has a tsunami wave logo on the back! Sold.
Next decision, metal bracelet or black silicon? One thing that is almost universal with the cheaper lines of Seiko watches is that people always complain about the metal bracelets, they look good but can feel a little cheap. What is also clear is that the silicon straps are very soft and comfortable. Since I’m going for the dive watch estetic here, I decided on the silicon strap. It makes the watch again a little easier to afford and seems to be the smarter option.
Finally, what colour? This is where a first time watch collector comes across another nickname: ‘Pepsi’. This refers to the watches that are red for the first 15 minutes of the bezel and blue for the rest of it. Then you have a grey/blue combo and a black/orange combo…These are nicknamed ‘Blue Samurai’ and ‘Orange Samurai’.
I really wanted at least one blue/red combo in my collection since I think they look great, so I ended up purchasing the ‘Samurai Pepsi’….not exactly a title you’d be likely to see in an Akira Kurosawa film, but the best looking model all the same (in my opinion).
Following are my impressions after about 6 months of ownership.
Interestingly, this watch has a ‘presence’ that’s hard to describe. It has heft, without feeling too heavy, and sits really nicely on the wrist. When I can’t decide on what watch to wear, I often default to this one. It’s comfortable, eye catching and has a design that can appear a bit messy upon first glance, but after further time with it, turns out to be very Japanese feeling, sharp and fun angles. It seems to work with both shirt combos/customer meetings and also for popping down to the shops in shorts and a t-shirt.
Whilst I don’t really care about such things, it also looks far more expensive than it actually is, this to me just comes down to the level of detail that Seiko manages to achieve even on a budget. The crown feels great, the crown guards look solid. The minute & hour hands are eye catching and the lume…wow…the lume.
Seiko is well known for their amazing lume on all of their watches, regardless of the price/model. It seems to have been richly applied and lasts for a long time. Even after the first 15 mins where most of it fades…the faded glow seems to last for a really long time and the time is easily readable for quite some time in the dark.
This is one of these small things that makes you feel good. I don’t need to bring up my phone in the cinema to tell what time it is, which means I’m also not one of those irritating people that do precisely that..
Band material is silicon but can also be purchased with steel bracelet.
200m / 660ft diver's
Thickness: 13.4 ㎜
Diameter: 43.8 ㎜
Unidirectional rotating bezel
Another detail that Seiko nails is the unidirectional bezel. There are articles out there that compares Seiko’s bezel movement to watches 10 times the price. Do the click action and feel matter? Are you going to time your dive using this? I’d say for 99% of people that is a hard no. However, owning a device of any kind is all about the attention to details. Adjusting the bezel, even if you’re just fiddling with it in a boring meeting, must feel solid and well thought out, else I’d argue you fall out of love with the device. The click action on this watch feels solid and I love it.
Finally on the visuals, there is a ‘waffle iron’ watch face on the watch that is again, a great looking detail. Typically in this price range, you’d get fairly bland & matte looking watch faces but not here. To me, it suits the tough look of the watch and lifts the rest of the design elements.
So has there been any downsides to me? Honestly, no. This is one of my absolute favourites. Even just the fact that it IS so decently prices means that the temptation to sell it to afford the next purchase is not even there, it’s quite simply a keeper.
Do I care about the movement loosing +/- x amount of seconds per day? Definitely not. Half of the pleasure of owning a mechanical watch is adjusting it when putting it on and really…it’s not like public transport in Melbourne is ever leaving/arriving at times stated on a timetable, nor are Australians in general that concerned with being on time for anything…so a more ‘holistic’ approach to time suits me just fine. My phone and outlook account keeps me on time for meetings, my watch is on my wrist to make me happy.
If I had to pick one thing to change, it would be to remove the date window. I am one of these watch people that don’t like them, perhaps since that is the one thing on an automatic watch that is a little time consuming to adjust since you need to nail the twice around 12 o'clock - but, that is simply nitpicking.
To wrap this up, this is a watch that is far better than the sum of its parts. I’ve owned watches that have sapphire this, ceramic that but have not even half of the personality of this watch and I love it. I’d buy it again if I lost it and it’ll stay in my collection forever.
A solid recommendation from me.
Here's a good start to buying your own model.
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Did you enjoy this review? Coffee fuels my night time ponderings.