Looking at the Seiko Prospex collection – as a reminder, “Prospex” being the nomenclature for PROfesional SPEcification, thus the range of sports watches of the Japanese manufacture – you have the standard models and then some recurring special editions. In addition to the PADI or “Save the Oceans” watches, a theme we’ve seen coming back for a few years now is the so-called “Black Series”. All dressed in black, with coloured accents, it has been seen on almost all the brand’s emblematic dive watches. And for 2022, The Black Series is back with touches of bright green and applied to the King Samurai (SRPH97K1) and to the recently-launched Tortoise (SRPH99K1).
The Black Series sub-collection isn’t new and has been around for several years now. It’s been reserved mostly to dive watches and has been adopted by the entire Prospex range, from accessible models such as the Samurai and Monster watches in 2021, to mid-range models such as the 62MAS-inspired and Captain Willard earlier this year, or even the higher-end 1970 Diver here. The principle is always the same; take a classic steel version as a base, apply a black coating on it, mix it with a dark dial and bezel, and finally give some flashy touches on the hands or markers. No mechanical or in-depth design transformations are done, but the result is most of the time rather pleasant, as long as dark-themed watches are your thing.
This year, the Seiko Prospex “The Black Series” welcomes two new models, which have never been part of this collection so far. On one side we have the evolution of one of the brand’s most classic dive watches, the King Samurai. On the other, we have a new adventure-oriented watch, made for all-terrain exploitation, the so-called Tortoise – a land-oriented evolution of the iconic Turtle collection. And both have a specific focus, that of contrast and legibility, with bright green Lumibrite on hands and markers – the colour that stands out best in the dark, and that gives great contrast with the dark grey matte finish of the dials.
The Prospex “Black Series” King Samurai SRPH97K1
First and foremost, let’s start with the most classic of the two new watches in this new Black Series collection, the King Samurai. This specific watch is an evolution of a modern Seiko icon, the Samurai, which was relaunched in 2017, after a pause in its production, knowing that the initial version dates back to 2004. The King Samurai is basically an evolution that looks at perceived quality and durability. If the overall design is still that of the Samurai, the King version comes with sapphire crystal and a polished ceramic insert for the bezel.
For the 2022 Black Series, the King Samurai SRPH97K1 sees the 43.8mm case (12.8mm height and 48.7mm lug-to-lug) being made of stainless steel with black Hardcoating – which is used here for the case itself, but also the bezel and the crown. The shape, on the other hand, is entirely familiar and still has that bold, angular, almost aggressive look that has long defined the Samurai. The screwed caseback is untreated steel, and combined with the screw-down crown, water-resistance is rated at 200 metres. The SRPH97K1 retains the fully graduated ceramic bezel, with the first 15 minutes filled with white paint, while the rest of the scale is darker.
While the classic King Samurai watches were characterized by their waffle-like texture on the dial, the Black Series King Samurai SRPH97K1 stays clean, with a simple, matte textured dark grey dial. The hands and markers are typical of the collection, yet the main novelty comes from the colour of the luminescent material, which is here executed in bright green – a relatively discreet touch of colour that still animates the watch. The date is printed on a tone-on-tone disc, resulting in a stealth look. Inside is the Calibre 4R35 that also equips the classic Samurai models and offering the same 41h power reserve, a 3Hz frequency, a hand-wound capacity and stop-seconds function.
The Seiko Prospex “Black Series” King Samurai SRPH97K1 comes in a special box, as a limited edition of 8,000 pieces. It will be priced at EUR 690.
Quick facts: 43.8mm x 12.8mm – black hardcoated stainless steel, sapphire crystal, ceramic unidirectional bezel, 200m water-resistance – 4R35 calibre, automatic, 3Hz, 41h power reserve – black silicone strap – 8,000 pieces – EUR 690
The Prospex “Black Series” Tortoise SRPH99K1
The second watch to come in this 2022 “Black Series” collection is based on the Tortoise… A rather strange name that actually says a lot about the watch in question. This was is an evolution of the Turtle, by far one of the most famous dive watches produced by Seiko. Last year, the brand decided to give this watch a slightly less aquatic purpose, by changing the colours (all with “earthy” tones) and the insert of the bezel. The latter no more having a 60-minute scale but now a compass, with the idea of giving the watch a “land/adventure” orientation. And how do you call a land turtle…? A tortoise.
With this in mind, Seiko applies here the same recipe as above to its Tortoise watch. The 42.4mm x 11.7mm x 45.2mm stainless steel case is blackened with hardcoating – for the case, bezel and crown. The case is topped by a sapphire crystal, framed by a rotating bezel with aluminium insert and compass scale. Despite being land-oriented, it shares its case with the classic Turtle, meaning that it features a screwed caseback, a screw-down crown and retains its 200-metre water-resistance. The caseback is decorated with ground-to-air emergency signal codes.
The dial of this Tortoise SRPH99K1 is matte dark grey and features applied markers and hands that are filled in bright green luminous material. The display is classic and the date window is also executed in black here. The watch is worn on a black textile strap. Inside beats the calibre 4R35 with automatic winding, 3Hz frequency and 41h power reserve.
Delivered in a special box, the Seiko Prospex “Black Series” Tortoise SRPH99K1 is limited to 7,000 pieces. It will be priced at EUR 590. For more details, please visit www.seikowatches.com.
Quick facts: 42.4mm x 11.7mm – black hardcoated stainless steel, sapphire crystal, aluminium unidirectional bezel, 200m water-resistance – 4R35 calibre, automatic, 3Hz, 41h power reserve – black textile strap – 7,000 pieces – EUR 590