Hands-On Review – Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle – A nice, colorful, affordable dive watch for summer (live pics, specs & price)

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Brice Goulard | ic_query_builder_black_24px 7 minute read |
Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle

Imagine you are looking for a new watch, a watch that you could easily wear during summer, weekends, holidays, to the pool, for all kind of leisure activities, with a solid construction, a robust water resistance, a rather cool look, slightly vintage-inspired, from a reputable manufacture, with in-house movement and automatic (of course). What could be the options? A Tudor Black Bay? A Hulk Submariner? A Seamaster 300? If you don’t have (or don’t want to spend) €3k to €7k, the best option is coming from the other watchmaking heaven, Japan. And for an almost ridiculous 429 Euros, you can have all of that, in the name of the Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle. And here is why it’s such a cool and nice dive watch for summer (and more).

The Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle is cool because it’s a vintage reissue…

That’s something our own “professor“, Mister Ilias Giannopoulos, already explained when introducing and first testing the new Seiko SRP collection. This watch is a blast from the past. And you’ll be happy to know that the Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI is based on these watches. In the actual trend to look at the past, Seiko answered by introducing a vintage-oriented model that is reminiscent of an iconic vintage Seiko diver, the 63XX series, a.k.a the Seiko Turtle. The 63XX series, successor of the 6105, was launched in 1977 and it was true to what made Seiko dive watches so popular: it was cheap, super reliable, precise and tested for professional use. The main ingredient of the success of these watches today might be the shape of the case, that collectors names “turtle”.

Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle

That shape is back, a sort of pebble / cushion with recessed part in-between the lugs to attach the bracelet or the rubber strap. Back in all its glory, with the crown at 4, with the thin flanks, with the circular brushed pattern… everything is here and it of course creates stars in the eyes of collectors. This watch offers the possibility to enjoy the beauty of the past, with the safety and quality of the 21st century. And for once, collectors are not going to complain about a deliberate but irrelevant increase of size for the modern reissue. The old Seiko 6309 was big and so is the new one – approximately 45mm width in both cases.

Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle

Then there’s the dial, which also pays tribute to the old 6309. The Seiko Prospex SRPA21 has the exact same layout, same indexes, same hands (almost), same day-date display… It’s a copy-past, but then again with modern quality. The indexes are precisely crafted and affixed, the hands also have a great aspect and the overall dial transpire serious manufacturing – well, that’s Seiko we’re talking about.

The Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle is cool because it’s super good looking…

So, the Seiko Prospex Turtle 2016 edition looks like a vintage edition. But it also look extremely good in this special edition made with PADI. For the story, over the past fifty years, PADI has become the world’s most trusted scuba diving training organization. PADI has issued an amazing 24 million certifications and has done more than any other organization to introduce diving to the world. Thus, we can say that a partnership between Seiko and PADI makes quite a lot of sense. For this special edition, Seiko uses the SRP779 watch as a base, meaning that it features the iconic Pepsi bezel (yes, it’s not reserved to some GMT watches made by the Crown). However, the PADI watch adds a very nice looking blue dial, with sun-ray pattern, replacing the matte black dial of the normal edition (blue and red are the official colors of PADI, with a logo showing a red diver in a blue globe).

Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle

In addition to the new color, the PADI logo is printed at 6. You might also have noticed that the large arrow minute hand is not polished steel anymore but is now painted in red, again a specific feature of this Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI. Finally, while the Pepsi SRP779 is delivered on a rubber strap (with the old-school look but a much better quality than past versions), the PADI version will be offered on a metallic bracelet with folding buckle. Of course, we clearly encourage you to also get the rubber strap as an option. And by the way, know that it has the exact same price as the other SRP versions on steel bracelet, even with this new dial.

The Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle is cool because it’s fully in-house produced…

In the tradition of Seiko watches, even the cheapest versions are integrally produced by Seiko, in Seiko facilities, whether we talk about cases, dials, hands, bracelets or movements (and I mean, all the parts of the movement). We already told you, Seiko is the entry level to the world of haute horlogerie. This also goes for this new Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI. The overall quality, knowing the 429 Euros required, is superb. The case is precisely crafted and adjusted, the bezel feels solid and durable, the bracelet, even if not to the standards of a Rolex Oyster, is solid and well manufactured and the details, of the dial or the hands, are extremely pleasant.

Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle

Inside the SRPA21 PADI ticks a workhorse, but from the new generation of Seiko movements. While the older entry-level SKX007 watches were featured with the calibre 7S26, this new iteration has a calibre 4R36 ticking inside. It is a self-winding calibre with manual-winding capacity and hacking-seconds features (both absent of the SKX), beating at 21,600vph, having 24 jewels and a power reserve of approximately 40 hours – it is also featured in the 2015 Seiko Prospex Baby Tuna. This movement, introduced in 2011, is now known to be both extremely reliable and precise. It’s a great evolution for the family of dive watches by Seiko.

The Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle is cool because it’s a Prospex…

That’s certainly the part that hardcore-collectors will appreciate most. Indeed, this new SRP Turtle has the famous “X” Prospex logo printed on its dial, and it’s the first time such an affordable watch does have it. Prospex watches were starting at around 630 Euros, with the SRP655K1 and SRP653K1 Baby Tuna and watches such as the MarineMaster 300 or 1000 – both priced way over 1,500 Euros. Thus, having a watch under the 500 Euros price tag with the “professional specifications” is a real pleasure. What does it means? Well, it’s not about defined standards, but more of a spirit. Prospex watches are sturdy, rugged, reliable and designed for being used in professional conditions.

Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle

The Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle thus has a comfortable 200m water resistance, the required legibility of a proper dive watch – large hands and indexes, highly legible in day-time (good contrast) and in night-time (good lume), with no possible confusion between the indexes (the index at 12 is highly different to be recognized in a wink) and highly differentiated hands (no confusion between the minute and the hour hands possible) – a unidirectional bezel, with 60-minute scale and 20-minute area highlighted in red… No surprise to have, this watch fulfills the ISO 6425 standards for dive watches. No worries to have either if you are an avid diver, this can be your perfect companion. This Seiko SRPA21 PADI reunites the best of affordable Seiko dive watches with the quality of Seiko Prospex collections.

The Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle is cool because it’s a bargain…

When you think about it, for more than just a minute, looking at what this Seiko Prospex SRPA21 really is, you have to admit how great the deal is. Figure in your mind the concept of a dive watch, with water resistance over 200m, with in-house movement, with professional specifications (or at least being capable to resist to a trained diver, and not just to a jump in the pool), from a manufacture with such pedigree. You’ll probably end-up, for the most affordable I can think about, to a Tudor Black Bay 2016 edition. And then, the story goes on and on, with Seamasters, Submariners, Fifty Phatoms and more watches, all priced (at least) over 5,000 Euros.

Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI Turtle

But the Seiko Prospex SRPA21 is far from that, it is humble, with its 429 Euros price tag – but humble doesn’t mean that it’s not desirable. Of course, don’t expect here the luxurious appeal of a Rolex, neither the ceramic bezel of an Omega, the finishing of a Blancpain movement or the complex case of an Audemars ROO Diver. What you’ll have is just one of the coolest dive watches possible, with a package that will make you feel you paid 3 times more. This is a perfect summer watch for everyone, avid collectors, new comers, rich or not… And on that, it’s time for me to wish you a good summer break, as I’m also going to test my own dive watches, far from you.

29 responses

  1. Hi Brice,
    thanks for the article on one of the best latest releases from Seiko. Actually this watch has more appeal than its brothers in the SRP series and I would be curious to see its dial on the flesh…Unfortunately no Seiko dealer here in Italy seems to have this new collection available yet.

    This said I would not say Seiko – in general – is the entry level in haute orologerie….As we know this manufacture is able to produce the fantastic Grand Seiko and the Credor as well as this more accessible prof divers.

    Best regards
    slide68.

  2. Why exactly is this watch more than twice the price of my Orient Mako USA?

  3. Great article and pics. Picked one up from a local dealer in Toronto, Canada.

  4. To Bert, no offense, but the Orient Mako USA is garbage compared to Seiko. I bought the 2nd gen Mako USA with their “in-house” hacking/hand-winding movement, and it is worse than ANY Seiko I’ve owned (and I’ve owned dozens of Seiko, including an original 6309 thats still keeping great time). The Orient keeps terrible time, the movement is gritty, the crown is nearly impossible to screw down (and too small to boot). Regretted the Orient purchase tremendously, but have never regretted owning a Seiko. This Seiko Padi watch will be a future collectible for sure.

  5. Hi,
    I truly enjoy your reviews, I recently bought the Seiko SRP773K1. I was extremely thrilled with it until I noticed that the unidirectional bezel is very easy to move, actually it moves as it brushes (with extremely little force) against my clothes.
    I also bought the SBDC033 that has a different problem, although the bezel is nice and tight it is slightly misaligned, and the time keeping always falls short of about -5 to -10 seconds a day (never + always -)
    So the questions :
    1. For the Seiko SRP773K1 can I send it for service and request to tight up the rotating bezel ?
    2. for the Seiko SBDC033 can I request to align the bezel and maybe make it more accurate (actually I am afraid that the might make it worse).

    Lastly what is the difference between the Seiko SRP773K1 and the SRPA21 because the SRPA looks very appealing 🙂

    Thanks again for your wonderful reviews.
    Chris

  6. Hi Chris,

    thanks for your comment and here are my answers:
    – For your bezel, the watch should still be under warranty, so of course, you should send it back to Seiko to tighten the bezel. This is not normal (and not safe if you want to use it as a diver)
    – for the SBDC033, realign a bezel is always possible and for the accuracy, consider -5 or -10 as very decent values. Seiko watches are precise, and for a watch under 500USD, this is a very decent result. A talented watchmaker could possibly adjust the watch but the result is not guaranteed.
    – The only difference between the SRP773 and the SRPA21 is visual: a new dial, with sunburst pattern, and a new pepsi bezel. Not technical difference, as sharing the exact same case and movement

  7. Hi Brice,

    thanks for your input.

    One last question regarding the SBDC033 the fact that it is always on the – (minus) side of seconds should not bother me meaning having a faulty watch ?

    I mean I read a lot of people having + seconds and managing that by placing their watches on a certain way over night. If its on the minus side I don’t think there is anything similar I can do.

    Again I appreciate the quick response.

    Chris

  8. This watch has a striking resemblance with model 6309 from the 70’s, I have one of this , and until now, i am still using it. Originally my 6309 came from my old Vietnam war veteran friend who sell it to me in the mid 90’s, by whom he originally bought it in Japan during his R&R in the Vietnam war , Now, after 20 years in my possession, and Vietnam war was over for almost 40 yrs, the watch is still ticking and running and it almost nearing my age of 40 plus.

  9. Hi, great review and particularly enjoyed the way you described the Seiko Prospex SRPA21 PADI as a humble watch. I’ve recently begun what seems to be a bit of a horological obsession which could very well turn into a collector mind set if I’m not careful. Anyway at this stage the time piece items in my possession would be best described as humble.

    Not long ago I found an Omega Speedmaster (reduced) online for a lot less than the going price. Nevertheless having said that, for my standards, the cost of item was nothing short of obscene. I had never seen or handled one in person. And when I finally received the watch I was bitterly disappointed. I thought this can’t be an original. Surely Omega wouldn’t make something that felt so cheap. Anyway since owning the Reduced I’ve learned that comparing it to my other watches is probably not the best approach for truly appreciating the Speedmaster Automatic (for one thing the 90’s was a lot different to now, or even the last ten years lets say). I’ve since learned to appreciate the Reduced a lot more, although I must say taking it to the Omega store to have it unofficially verified did ease the anxiety a little. Another separate watch dealer opened the case and also acknowledged that the serial inside coincided with the correct Omega movement. Anyway the best I could do was take their word for it and learn to decipher an original vs fake for myself. The other important note to recognize is that the speedy reduced isn’t particularly high on the list of fake watch manufacturing. It doesn’t make sense to fake such a watch. The irony of it all is that it could be described as an original fake. At the end of the day though I think I’m starting to grow an attachment to this little speedy.

    Anyway I’m slightly off track here. The point of the above article is Seiko and especially how I was drawn to the description of humble. So when I received the Omega I almost felt like I’d lost a connection to humility. It immediately made me appreciate the watches I had and which I had slowly started to lose appreciation for due to consistent negative online critique. My initial plan was to get rid of all my watches and keep the Omega. This has now changed and ironically has me seeing the horological world from a different perspective. In fact it prompted me to purchase the above reviewed Seiko PADI. Of course the fact that it was on discount at $525 AUD was another motivating factor.

    Apologies for the lengthy response but overall I’m finding that horology is more than just numbers, for me at least. Overall It seems to have become a catalyst for expression and appreciation. Hopefully one day I can get that Patek, Panerai or Piguet but I’d like to think if that does eventuate, that I would also still be able to appreciate my Seiko PADI. I think that’s the unassuming beauty of Seiko, that it’s firmly grounded yet still has the capacity to garner respect..

  10. Very good watch, I just bought one last Christmas and I love to wear it for daily use, swimming and diving, it’s a bargain you get more than you asked for. Would not change it for another watch.

  11. I own many watches from rolex, omega,Grand Seiko, Breitling and Tag and with all due respect the Seiko dive watches are the best watch for the money. A truly underrated and IMO under appreciated watch company.

  12. I recently just purchased this watch. What a great timepiece and the feel is right on. I own a few other watches from Tudor, Oris, Tag, Hamilton, Tissot, etc. I have to say so far this is ranking right up there. Another great job by Seiko!
    The price for under $500, you just can’t beat it.

  13. Seiko is the most underrated watch company in the world IMO….all in house movement and manufacturing. Best watch for the money at all levels.

  14. I collect a few dive and adventure watches…started with Heuer and worked up to Omega, Breitling, Rolex…I recently read articles on the Seiko Padi dive watches and could not resist purchasing TWO pieces…the Red/Blue dial one…and the Blue Lagoon edition! Love them BOTH.

  15. Hi james here just purchased one waiting for delivery could not pass up 330.00 dollars one day sale at Maces. my wife bought me one for our first anniversary in 70’s seen this and brought back lots of memmories had to have it thanks for you’re review

  16. Great Article, I just ordered one of these. I have a question though. Some pictures of this watch show the calibre number stamped very small under the 6 and some do not. Is this an indication of a fake?

  17. Hi Brice, just wondering if the SRPA21 is compatible with a NAT strap? Great article by the way.

  18. Seiko is the best watchmaker for the money period.I have been wearing the Sport 200 Kinetic 7 days a week 365 for 18 years.It has never give me a single problem.It is on my wrist as I type this.Because of my job Iam very hard on watches and have trashed just about every working mans brand you can think of within a few mos. of purchase.The Sport 200 takes a lickin and keep on a tickin.I will never buy any other brand

  19. I just purchased this watch and this a great watch price or not. Although price does help. I have a Rolex and love it but this is right up there. The review of the watch was spot on great job. Thanks

  20. actually i just bought the PADI and I have Problems rotating the bezel, it is extremly HARD to rotate!

  21. Dear Adrian, this isn’t normal… It should be smooth and easy to rotate.
    Maybe a slight adjustment by a Seiko service center will help.

  22. Very good review. It spurred me to buy an SRPA21 and it was on sale at that ($310 via an AD). I was so excited until I put it on my wrist. It looked and felt BIG. My wrist size is 6.6″ and very flat. Even though the SRPA21 squarely fit my wrist with no overhang, it just looked too out of proportion. I was also not happy that the chapter ring and bezel were misaligned and the bezel was extremely hard to turn. So I returned it and bought the SRPC41J1, i.e., the Mini Turtle, which fits my wrist like a glove. I much prefer the Mini Turtle (which really isn’t a mini Turtle).

  23. Love this watch..had a Seiko Diver in the 70’s which was lost in the 90’s…bought this at Sears last year(2018) for 500.00 or so,and absolutely am impressed… Keeps perfect time and this summer will see it work in the ocean…. Haven’t a doubt it will hold up….

  24. Late to the game but about to purchase one. How hard is exchanging the bracelet for a rubber strap or NATO strap? I’d like to be able to do it myself if possible as my mood changes.

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