The Seiko ‘Baby Tuna’ is back and more strong than ever. The watch that is known with this nickname is a true icon from the Japanese brand Seiko, the affordable edition of the impressive and professionally oriented MarineMaster Tuna, with its very qualitative construction. However, the Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver 200m ‘Baby Tuna’ might be a lot cheaper, it also has the ‘Prospex‘ (meaning the Seiko Professional Specification) name written on its dial and all the attributes of a proper Seiko: solid, fully developed and manufactured in-house and a great value for money. Say hello to the new 2015 Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver 200m ‘Baby Tuna’ 4R36 ref. SRP655K1 (black) and ref. SRP653K1 (blue).
The range of dive watches by Seiko is wide but all the editions are full of interest. Starting from cheap (under 300 Euros) but solid beaters like the Seiko SKX007 to more well constructed watches like the Seiko Monster, proper tools like the Seiko SBDC007 or finally real professional watches like the Seiko MarineMaster 300 or MarineMaster Tuna 600 (yes, the range is wide), they all share the Seiko spirit, with their unbeatable quality / price ratio and their clear professional intentions. The new Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver 200m ‘Baby Tuna’ introduced during Baselworld 2015 is clearly a watch that collectors with smaller budgets will for sure like – and buy.
This new Seiko ‘Baby Tuna’ (as collectors like to call it) is part of the Prospex collections, meaning that it fulfills the difficult Seiko Professional Specifications. Everything started back in the 1960s, when SCUBA diving was on the rise. In 1965, Seiko introduced their first professional dive watch, the renown 6217, with a rotating bezel and a 150m water-resistance (more to read about it here, here and here). From now on, a part of the collection was build with the only intention to seduce professional divers and to fulfill their needs with purposely build watches. PROSPEX watches are not to be confused with Seiko’s standard mechanical line-up of watches. The build quality of these watches are far from cheap and Seiko’s PROSPEX is also one of the leading innovators in terms of dive watch advancement. Knowing that the 2015 Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver 200m has this mention on its dial should be the insurance of quite an interesting watch.
What is it about? This 2015 Seiko ‘Baby Tuna’ is the new edition of an icon, a watch with a true aura and its very personal design, recognizable among dozens of divers. It’s also a beast with its 50mm case. But once again, it’s part of its DNA and its purpose. The 2015 ‘Baby Tuna’ comes with the specific case, composed of a round stainless steel central part, with a curved caseback – a case called ‘scallop’ – that shows no protruding lugs. The other specification of this watch is the shape of its upper case, with an incomplete shroud that both protects the case and rotative bezel and also allows to perfectly grip this bezel, even with diving gloves (don’t forget the professional orientation of this watch). This added protective shroud is made of Stainless steel with a black or blue ‘Hard-Coating’ that should be ceramic (as the caseback indicated the use of such material). Previously made of plastic, this new material increases the overall quality.
The bezel is classical, as it rotates unidirectionally and its engraved with a 60-minute scale. Its is made of metal coated with a glossy black or blue laquer (depending on the edition) and large white markers and numerals. It also has some large and easy to grip deep groves to facilitate the prehension. The bezel is thus easy to operate and to read. This also goes for the dial. With its large luminous indexes and hands, it is a legible and practical tool even under the deep blue seas. Compared to the previous edition, the indexes are now round and triangular (for the quarters) instead of straight batons. The hands are also large and highly legible. As usual, the caseback and the crown are screwed to ensure the 200m water resistance.
Inside the ‘scallop’ case ticks a well known self-winding movement, the Seiko 4R36, a 24 jewels calibre, with hand-winding capability and 41 hours of power reserve. It ticks at a reasonable 21.600bph. This movement introduced in 2011 replaces the iconic 6R15 (that finds its roots in the 7S26 that equipped a large part of the Seiko divers from 1996 to now, including the very cool Seiko SKX007) and as it shares lots of its specifications, we can expect this 4R36 to be also reliable and efficient. As every of the movements cased into a Seiko, we’re talking about real in-house / manufacture movements, meaning that it was fully designed, developed and build by Seiko, with the rigorous Seiko standards. The Seiko 4R36 displays the hours, the minutes, the seconds on the central axis and two calendar indications; the date and the day, in a window at 3.
With a 50.2mm diameter, we won’t hide the fact that the Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver 200m ‘Baby Tuna’ is a huge watch – not to say a monster. It will certainly be more practical over a diving suit than on the wrist of an elegant gentleman wearing a tuxedo. However, this size is part of the DNA of the ‘Baby Tuna’ and, thanks to the curved caseback, to the soft silicone band and to the lack of external lugs, the comfort is here – and considering the success of the previous editions, this diameter will never be a barrier for collectors. This Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver 200m is available in two editions, a black one with black strap and indexes circled in red – ref. SRP655K1 – and a blue one with blue strap and indexes circled in white – ref. SRP653K1.
Now comes the question of the price… Take a look back at the article and the photos, consider the in-house self-winding movement, the functions, the 200m water resistance, the quality of the case and the PROSPEX indication on the dial. If we were talking about a Swiss watch, we could have expect a minimum of 2K Euros – or a least a price with 4 figures. Well, don’t forget that Seiko watches are great value for money because this 2015 edition of the Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver 200m ‘Baby Tuna’ ref. SRP655K1 or ref. SRP653K1 is priced at 629 Euros in Europe (including taxes). Quite a good deal isn’t it?