Just about a few hours ago, we presented to you the brand new Seiko Sumo collection, a combination of classic design with multiple upgrades to make this emblematic and powerful model from the Prospex collection more high-end and more resistant to action. A new ceramic bezel, a steel case that hasn’t visually changed but now has Super-Hard coating, a newly-designed bracelet and clasp and new gradient and textured dials for the cool factor. But there’s more than the SPB321J1 & SPB323J1… Alongside these two new classic models, Seiko is also releasing a third Sumo dive watch, one with a more toolish look and made in association with PADI, the new SPB325J1. And yes, it might be the best of the updated collection.
Seiko x PADI
Before we move into the details about this new Sumo SPB325J1, let’s have a quick overview of the connection between Seiko and PADI (which stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors), the world’s most trusted scuba diving training organization. Founded in 1966 and based in the US, PADI’s courses range from entry-level to relatively advanced recreational diver certification. Over the years, the association is said to have issued over 27 million scuba certifications, in over 6,300 diving centres over the world.
The partnership between PADI and Seiko began in 2016, with the launch of the first special edition, the very cool, accessible and reliable PADI Turtle SRPA21J1. Based on the beloved 1970s-inspired model, it was dressed in blue and red, the signature colours of the diving association. There was also a Kinetic GMT Diver, the SUN065. Since then, we’ve seen new models every year to celebrate this natural connection between both parties. Alongside the Turtle, Seiko also released a cool PADI edition of the Samurai, the SRPB99J1.
Then came the PADI Monster SRPE27K1, still dressed in blue and red. 2021 marked an evolution for the PADI Series, which moved away from its signature colour scheme, to become slightly more discreet. Indeed, with the King Turtle & King Samurai PADI Editions of last year, the dials are now black and only small touches of light blue are found on the hands and bezel. The connection to PADI was made thanks to new textured dials, with the association’s globe emblem in positive relief.
The new Seiko PADI Sumo SPB325J1
First things first… What’s a Seiko Sumo? As with many other watches from the Prospex collection, such as the Tuna, the Samurai, or the Turtle, the Sumo moniker wasn’t official at first. But the name stuck and is now somehow accepted by Seiko themselves. There are multiple theories regarding the origin of the name, but most have to do either with the overall bulky, powerful design or a small design element, the 12 o’clock marker that reminds of a mawashi, a sumo belt. Whatever the origin, the Sumo, a watch born in 2007, has since become an integral member of the collection with its fans.
Large, chiselled, and slightly weird in its proportions, the Sumo has known several evolutions. First, from its north to 2018, with a low-end vibe, a Hardlex crystal and a 6R15 movement. In 2019, the second generation arrived with sapphire crystal, redesigned aluminium bezel and 6R35 movement. And the third generation has just been launched, with once again its lot of upgrades, mostly regarding the quality of the materials used for the habillage. Solidity and perceived quality are the guiding principles of this latest evolution, which first materialised with the classic models you can see below:
Overall, even after multiple updates, the Seiko Sumo Prospex Diver is still very much in line with the original concept of 2007. The case, at least in this newest edition, measures an unmistakable 45mm diameter, with a height of 12.9mm. Lug-to-lug… A rather present 52.6mm. Not the most relevant watch to offer your 14 years old nephew, right? That being said, this bulky case, combined with a small lug width of 20mm, somehow makes the charm of this Sumo watch. Same goes for the twisted lugs, the curved profile and the succession of large polished surfaces with thin brushed lines in-between. There are smaller watches in Seiko’s collection if ever you want something easier to wear.
With the crown at 4 o’clock, a strong bezel that frames a relatively small dial, massive lugs and a rounded shape, the design of the Sumo is almost intact, even in this latest generation. What Seiko has done, however, is to gradually improve the quality of the materials. As said, in 2018, we’ve seen the arrival of a sapphire crystal, which is still in use here, and with an inner anti-reflective coating. The update of 2022 adds two things. First, the bezel is now made of glossy scratch-resistant ceramic, even if it has lost its inner facet. Also, the scale is less pronounced than before, for a bit more “elegance” than before. The second update has to do with the case and bracelet, which are still made of stainless steel but now with Seiko’s Super-Hard Coating. This surface treatment adds to the scratch-resistant of the watch, making it about 2 to 3 times harder.
Inside the case, no evolution is to be noted, as the 2022 Seiko Sumo, including the PADI SPB325J1, still relies on the mid-range, 3Hz and 70h power reserve calibre 6R35. Another evolution that doesn’t concern the present model is the bracelet, which has been redesigned, clasp included.
So what’s special with this PADI version of the Sumo? Well, multiple elements. As said, since the introduction of the King Samurai and King Turtle PADI editions of 2021, the collaboration between Seiko and the diving association has given birth to a new design language. The classic blue-red colour scheme is gone, leaving space for a more discreet, more instrumental-looking design. And the new SPB325J1 sticks to the formula used in the 2021 series.
As such, the ceramic bezel, which is glossy black, sees its 60-minute scale treated in two-tone, with the zero markers and the first 20 minutes of the scale done in light blue. The rest is classic white. Then comes the dial, which is rather different from the classic version of the 2022 Sumo. These are rather trendy, with a fine wave pattern and a gradient effect on both the blue and grey dial. Surely, this is visually attractive, but maybe not the best for a watch meant to be used by professional divers.
Thus, the PADI Sumo SPB325J1 has the same matte black dial with a globe pattern embossed as the 2021 editions. And if the applied hour markers are identical, the handset is specific. First of all, the long minute hand is light blue-coloured, just like the bezel. Then, the hands have a “floating” design with the base executed in matte black. Overall, this brings more contrast, less reflections to the display.
The final difference is the fact that this PADI Sumo is worn on a vented silicone strap and not on a steel bracelet. The strap is a classic Seiko design, and is here done in dark blue – I’m not entirely sure about this combo and I’d be curious to see it on a black strap… The strap is closed by a pin buckle and is long enough to be worn over a wetsuit.
There’s one last thing… the price. Because not only in my books the Sumo PADI Edition SPB325J1 is the best-looking, most focused model, and the one that truly feels like a tool watch, but it’s also the most accessible of the new collection, being priced at EUR 1,100. What’s not to love then, as long as you’re fine with the dimensions of the watch, of course. For a watch with a similar style and background, a slightly more compact case and an even more attainable price, you can also look at the PADI King Samurai SRPG21K1.
For more details about the Seiko Sumo PADI Edition SPB325J1, please visit seikowatches.com.