Looking at Seiko’s vintage collection of dive watches, there are dozens of icons… Among them is a watch nicknamed “Turtle”, due to the unique shape of its case. Known as the reference 6105-8110, or as the “Captain Willard” (it was worn by Sheen in Apocalypse Now), it would become the inspiration for one of the brand’s most successful modern dive watches, the Prospex Automatic Diver 200m “Turtle”, available in multiple editions (here, here or here). Robust, accessible, fun to wear, there’s not much to complain about this piece. Still, Seiko has decided to give its bestseller a nice upgrade. Meet the three new watches already dubbed “King Turtle”, or Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver 200m SRPE03, SRPE05 and SRPE07.
What are we talking about here? A new model? Or a simple upgrade? Well, the latter will be more appropriate. The base for these three new watches is perfectly familiar, the praised and acclaimed Prospex Automatic Diver 200m SRP Series – which we reviewed here. This is the entry-level automatic dive watch at Seiko Prospex, with a 200m water-resistance, a 45mm rounded case, the calibre 4R36 with a day-date function and a design strongly inspired by the 6105. Being in the EUR 400 range, you’ll get a lot of a watch for the price, but you’ll also have to deal with a few concessions, such as a mineral “Hardlex” crystal, a scratch-sensitive aluminium bezel and a plain dial. This is for the simple “Turtle” watch.
Now, Seiko has decided to add three new watches to the collection – don’t consider it as a replacement for the SRP series that are basically the same as before, but better… Or at least, with multiple updates to improve the perceived quality and the resistance of the watch to difficult situations. And it didn’t take long to the Seiko-Fans community to give this watch a nickname: “King Turtle”.
What’s new? At first, not much has been changed. The overall design obviously didn’t need many updates and the 45mm x 13.2mm case of the Seiko King Turtle – the SRPE series – is the same as the one used by the standard Turtle watches. It also means a screw-down crown positioned at 4 o’clock, a screwed caseback and guaranteed 200m water-resistance. The same can be said about the dial layout, which still retains the same indexes, dots and hands. And the day-date complication still finds its place at 3 o’clock.
The evolution lies in details, but details that can make quite a difference. The new Seiko Prospex King Turtle improves all the parts that could have been seen as slightly on the low-end side. First, the Hardlex glass – a mineral crystal – has been replaced by a much more resistant sapphire crystal. Also, and this will certainly be a point of debate, it now features a rectangular magnifier over the day-date window. Personally, I like it as it adds a certain old-school charm to that watch – even though it is not historically relevant.
The second update on the Seiko Prospex King Turtle is the bezel. First, it features a different pattern for the grip, with more defined grooves and a squared profile. This feels more modern, more aggressive than the rounded, soft pattern of the classical Turtle. But overall, it adds a sense of quality. Second (and major) update, the bezel’s insert is now made from ceramic, still with the 60-minute scale since the design of the scale itself is identical. Once again, this will make the watch more resistant in the long run.
Finally, there are the dials. If the layout and display are the same, the patterns are different. The two standard Seiko King Turtle models, ref. SRPE03 and SRPE05, come with a squared texture – call it Tapisserie if you want – that animates the watch and adds to the perceived quality.
Inside the watch, there are no signs of evolution fitted with the same movement, the tried-and-tested calibre 4R36. This automatic engine is known for its decent accuracy (it can easily run in the ±10 seconds a day) and its proven reliability. It features a hand-wound capacity as well as a stop-seconds. It runs at 21,600 vibrations/hour and stores around 40 hours of power reserve.
This new Seiko Prospex King Turtle collection has been launched in three different models. The first one, reference SRPE03K1, is an all-time classic with a black dial and squared pattern, a black ceramic bezel and is worn on a 3-link stainless steel bracelet. The latter has a folding clasp with release push-buttons and a diving extension. The SRPE03K1 will be priced at EUR 619 (Europe RRP).
The second model in this Seiko King Turtle collection is the reference SRPE05K1. It plays on military themes, with a khaki green dial, again with the squared pattern and a black ceramic bezel. It is worn on a matching khaki green silicone strap, with a stainless steel pin buckle. The SRPE05K1 will be priced at EUR 599 (Europe RRP).
Last but not least, the third model in the King Turtle collection is the reference SRPE07K1. This version is slightly different from the two others, as it features a dial with a wave pattern – somehow reminiscent of the “Save the Ocean” model but with better definition. The ceramic bezel is blue with a golden scale and the watch is worn on a black silicone strap, with a stainless steel pin buckle. The SRPE07K1 will be priced at EUR 599 (Europe RRP).
The three new Seiko Prospex King Turtle are nice additions to the collection. They bring a lot in terms of perceived quality, which goes along a price increase of around EUR 180. They are now available in stores (Feb. 2020). More details at seikowatches.com.