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”.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.