The Seiko Turtle is undoubtedly Seiko’s most famous and best-selling dive watch. Its combination of attractive dials, user-friendliness, robustness and excellent quality/price ratio has made the Turtle an all-time favourite. Having a best-selling watch like this is the dream of any brand, but it can also pose a risk. Watches have to evolve and finding the balance between a product that appeals to people and introducing improvements becomes a delicate task since any alterations will be judged more harshly than if the brand were to launch a brand new line. The Seiko Prospex King Turtle has done its homework well but has taken things a little further generating the usual controversy that arises when a watchmaking icon undergoes change.
Same shapes, new materials
Although the ‘King’ in the name of the Prospex King Turtle suggests a watch with kingly dimensions, this is not the case. The diameter of 45mm and height of 13mm are the same measurements of the original Turtle. Coupled with the relatively short but well-proportioned length (48mm), this watch is just as comfortable to wear as earlier Turtles. The top surfaces of the case are brushed, the sides are polished and the crown at 4 o’clock, as you would expect from a certified dive watch, is screwed down to ensure its water-resistance of 200m.
The redesigned bezel with more pronounced grooves is easier to grip and is now made of ceramic, a material that increases its durability exponentially and improves its presence. Rotating the bezel produces a solid reassuring click underscoring its vocation as a tool watch. The amount of luminescence is also greater enhancing legibility and giving the watch a more balanced design.
Another important upgrade in the new Seiko King Turtle is the replacement of the Hardlex with sapphire crystal. Although Hardlex, Seiko’s proprietary watch crystal, is renowned for its superior resistance to blows and impacts, nowadays the use of sapphire crystal is essential. If this normally translates into a higher price with Swiss watches, Seiko is proud of offering more for a lower price.
However, the most controversial aspect of the watch lies in another aspect regarding the sapphire crystal: now the Seiko King Turtle has a magnifying glass covering the day and date window (in two languages). The sapphire magnifier does not form part of the historical tradition of these watches. Technically, it is a challenge to find a loupe that really functions properly because there are many watches with magnifying crystals that do not enhance legibility. The magnifying glass also has to withstand water pressure of up to 250 metres, which is the real depth rating these watches have been tested. Legibility is faultless and it is evident that the sapphire used is of excellent quality. You can debate whether you like it or not, but luckily, the discussion will never revolve around its technical quality.
The second novelty – big novelty – of the Seiko King Turtle is the decoration of the dial. Seiko has opted for a square or waffle-shaped pattern on the dial that boosts the quality factor of the watch a great deal. Again, the application of the indices and the inscriptions on the dial reflects the high level of quality we associate with Seiko. The indices and hands are the same style as those featured on previous Turtles but the central seconds hand is now yellow to match the inscription ‘Divers 200m’. LumiBrite, Seiko’s proprietary luminescent paint that is considered the best in its class, is applied generously ensuring excellent readings in the dark.
For now, the launch models come in black and green but there will certainly be other combinations in the near future.
Powering the King Turtle is Seiko’s hearty 4R automatic calibre, a resilient durable calibre that performs within much stricter parameters (daily variations) than the specifications would indicate. The power reserve could use a few more hours because the autonomy is just 41 hours. As usual, the movement is covered by a metal caseback with an engraving of the Seiko wave.
The King Turtle sits very well on the wrist. If we factor in the design upgrades, the experience is even more satisfying. The price of the Seiko Prospex King Turtle with a green silicone strap is EUR 610, the model with a steel bracelet retails for EUR 630. There will always be the doomsday predictors on forums who will complain that ‘Seiko has lost its mind’, that ‘Seiko is expensive’ and that Seiko is going to crash’. Personally, I think that the increase in price (between EUR 100 and 150) for the upgrades is entirely justified and am convinced that this new sovereign has a long reign ahead.
More information at seikowatches.com.