Few brands can claim to have watches that are so iconic that they are actually known after monikers. Rolex and Omega are amongst them – think “Paul Newman”, “Bart Simpson” or “Deep Blue” – but Seiko is also on par in this “nickname game”. Many of their watches have been dubbed with funky sobriquets, as for instance the “Turtle” or the “62Mas”. Another one, more modern, is the “Samurai”, known to be a sporty watch with a high quality-to-value ratio. After a discreet comeback with the (sold-out) Lagoon Limited Edition, aficionados will be pleased to see that the Seiko Prospex Samurai is back in the 2017 collection, and now in non-limited editions.
As a reminder, the Seiko Samurai (you can see an old example below) was launched in 2004 and was produced for a few years, until being removed from the catalogue. Already at that time, it was a rather large, sturdy, 200m water resistant and modernly-designed watch, with no vintage inspiration – yet it features some unmistakable signs it was a Seiko diver’s watch. This watch existed in various editions, including versions with titanium case (discontinued in 2008, and reserved for the Japanese market) or steel case with “Clou de Paris” textured dial.
An old version of the Samurai, here with Titanium case – Source: www.watchfreeks.com
After almost 10 years of absence, the Samurai was back, at least for a short period of time, and for the few collectors that were fast enough to get their hands on it. Indeed, the comeback of the Seiko Prospex Samurai was somehow announced with a teaser, the Lagoon limited edition – 6,000 pieces produced, which sounds like a large amount, however knowing the interest of collectors for Seiko dive watches and the 489 Euro price tag, it’s no surprise that this model went sold-out relatively quickly. Happily you don’t have to worry anymore, as the Samurai is well and truly back, and is about to make its return for 2017, with an entire collection of 4 watches – references SRPB49K1, SRPB51K1, SRPB53K1 and SRPB55K1.
The evolutions that appeared on the Blue Lagoon edition are also present on these standard Seiko Prospex Samurai models for 2017. It means that overall, we’re perfectly in front of a Samurai, yet many details have been updated compared to the 2004 watches. Shape, style and specifications are the same, although there are notable evolutions. First, the case… That very sharp, bold, modern, masculine, sturdy case of the Samurai (choose the right mention). This sobriquet is totally understandable when handling the watch; it is a proper warrior.
Compared to the 2004 version, the main evolution is that Seiko only proposes the Prospex Samurai in stainless steel and no titanium case is offered (yet). However, the typical shape of the case remains, with a 43.8mm diameter – no drama as it wears much smaller than expected, even if it remains, of course, quite a watch on the wrist. The facetted case, with the lugs and the end-link of the bracelet going down just at the edge of the bezel, makes this Samurai rather compact. Other details that were present on the previous version, including the knurled texture of the bezel and the crown, are still present. Overall, make no mistake, the Samurai is back, and it’s as good as it ever was.
The overall quality of the case and bracelet has also been improved compared to the older version, with a cleaner finishing of the parts, as well as slightly smoother angles on the case. The Seiko Prospex Samurai is fully brushed, for a nice tool styling. While appearing similar, the bezel insert has also been updated, with more precise printings, thinner and more angular numerals. The bezel is as it should be on a diving instrument, with sharp clicks, unidirectional rotation and the first 15-minute of the scale enlightened in a different colour and with sharp markers.
The second and probably largest evolution concerns the facelifted dial of the Seiko Prospex Samurai. Both the indexes and the hand set have been redesigned to be large, easier to read and overall more modern. The distinction between the quarters and the other indexes is easier to make, and the new arrow hour hand makes confusion with the minute hand impossible. Also, a small but useful marker appears next to the date window (absent on the 2004 version). Finally, and most importantly, the dial now has a nice and thin “Clou de Paris” texture, as well as the “X” logo, common to all Prospex watches.
Inside the case is the Calibre 4R35 – a movement introduced in 2011, as a replacement for the 7S family, which had powered, among other watches, the previous Samurai. This movement is shared with the Turtle collection, yet with a sole date display (and not the day-date indication). The 4R3x family brought several updates, including a hacking function and a manual winding capacity. This calibre 4R35 beats at 21,600vph, features 24 jewels and boasts a power reserve of approximately 41 hours. Seiko indicates an accuracy of -35/+45 seconds per day, which is extremely pessimistic (from my own experience, I can tell that my PADI Turtle, with the same base movement, is close to being chronometer rated…)
For 2017, the new Seiko Prospex Samurai will include 4 watches:
- SRPB49K1 – Blue dial, blue and grey bezel, steel bracelet
- SRPB51K1 – Black dial, black and grey bezel, steel bracelet
- SRPB53K1 – Blue dial, blue and red “Pepsi” bezel, rubber strap
- SRPB55K1 – Black coated case, black dial with golden hands, black and gold bezel, rubber strap
The Seiko Prospex Samurai Collection for 2017 is a standard collection, not limited in production and available all around the world. Prices range from 419 Euro for the SRPB53K1 (Pepsi bezel) to 459 Euro for the 3 other versions. More details on seiko-prospex.com.
Technical Specifications – Seiko Prospex Samurai 2017 Collection
- Case: 43.8mm diameter – stainless steel case, brushed – Hardlex crystal on the dial side – plain steel back – 200m water resistant
- Movement: calibre 4R35, in-house – automatic winding – 3Hz frequency – 41h power reserve – 23 jewels – hours, minutes, central second, date
- Strap/bracelet: rubber strap or steel bracelet
- References: SRPB49K1, SRPB51K1, SRPB53K1, SRPB55K1
- Availability: now in stores
- Price: from 419 Euro to 459 Euro