When it comes to value for the money and efficient dive watches, Seiko is not an alternative, it’s one of the definitive choices. Mixing accessible prices with superior quality and entirely in-house construction, entry-level Seiko Prospex watches are never a bad choice. And while you can choose to go classic with a Samurai or a Turtle watch, the brand has recently launched more urban alternatives… No less powerful and capable, but with a design and colours better fitted for the concrete jungle than the depth of the oceans. Let’s take a closer look at the new Seiko Prospex Street Series “Urban Safari” SRPE29K1 & SRPE31K1.
Many watches in this price range offer the look and feel of a sports/dive watch but not the performances. Often, accessible sports watches are design statements, without the specifications to make them truly capable. But here, we’re talking about Seiko, a brand that knows a thing or two about dive watches… The new “Urban Safari” watches are certainly less hardcore, less instrument-oriented, less rugged (visually, at least) and they come with a streetwear vibe. The Prospex for the streets, not for the ocean depths… Well, in fact, they are. Even though visually civilized, the new SRPE29K1 & SRPE31K1 are first and foremost diver’s watches from the Prospex collection and, yes, they still perform.
What Seiko has done here is to take one of its most emblematic and most robust design, the 1970s Tuna, and adapt it to a contemporary lifestyle, as a watch that is meant to be worn on a daily basis, with a pair of jeans and cool sneakers, and sized accordingly. But these watches remain Tuna-inspired models, with all the necessary equipment.
As such, these two watches are downsized editions of the classic Seiko Tuna style, meaning the ultra-protected shrouded case, the uni-directional bezel partially inserted inside this protective shroud, visible assembly screws on the casebands and a crown positioned at 4 o’clock. What changes compared to the more instrument-like Tuna watches is the size. A proper Tuna can easily go up to 48mm in diameter. Here, Seiko went for a 43.2mm diameter. And while this might feels big at first sight, the watches are far more compact than you’d expect and the lug-to-lug dimension is only 44mm – and that’s far smaller than most of the 40mm watches on the market. With a 12.7mm height, somehow classic for an automatic diver’s watch, the result is that the SRPE29K1 and SRPE31K1 are extremely comfortable and versatile, and can easily be worn on a 16cm wrist – Frank, who’s wearing the watches here, has an 18cm wrist. Compact, balanced, comfy!
The second aspect that makes these watches more street-friendly is the colour schemes, monochromatic and quite desirable in the flesh. The SRPE31K1, with its mid-grey colour for both the dial, the bezel and the strap, is more the “Urban” side of the collection. the SRPE29K1, with its Khaki beige dial, strap and bezel, is the “Safari” model. Combined with a stainless steel case with dark grey coating, these two models are very appealing and fresh.
One of the best aspects of these Seiko Prospex Street Series Urban Safari watches is to be seen on the bezel. Made from the same dark-grey coated steel as the rest of the case, the insert feels special, as made from transparent crystal with a 60-minute scale printed on the internal surface, with a 3D effect. Partially black for the first 20 minutes, with the rest of the scale matching the dial, the insert is, like the dial, filled with Lumibrite so the scale is luminescent in the dark too. For the rest, no surprises, with a dial that is typically Seiko – large luminous applied indexes, oversized hands and day-date display at 3 o’clock.
Powering these accessible watches is the Calibre 4R36, a classic movement found in most entry-level diver’s watches. This automatic calibre beats at a 3Hz frequency, can be hand-wound and features a stop-seconds. It features 24 jewels and stores up to 41 hours of power reserve.
Both watches are worn on accordion-style silicone straps with a leather texture and colours matching the dials. They are secured by a steel pin-buckle with the same dark-grey coating as the case.
Price and availability
The Seiko Prospex Street Series Urban Safari SRPE29K1 & SRPE31K1 are not limited in production and can now be purchased at retailers and boutiques. The price of each model is EUR 580.
More details at www.seikowatches.com.