Battle of the Affordable Seiko Divers
Some feel that the Seiko 5 Sports Collection was designed to fill the void left after the SKX was discontinued in 2019. However, I would argue that the so-called “5KX” is not a replacement at all, but rather a different fish–aimed at a different fisherman–altogether. In fact, I think that Seiko filled the SKX void several years before they knew it would exist, with both the SRP777 (and all of its iterations)–lovingly referred to as the Turtle–and the SRPB/SRPC, heretofore referred to simply as the Samurai.
The question is, which one is the better replacement?
The Turtle, released in 2016, is essentially a reissue of the 6309–a watch produced by Seiko for 12 years during the 70s and 80s. The Samurai, while officially released as part of the Prospex Series in 2017, has been around in various forms since 2004–including a discontinued titanium version. In styling, it lies somewhere between the old school vibes of the SKX and the more modern build of the Monster. Both are serious divers. Both are excellent value propositions. And I have owned both for a little over two years.
If you look at the specs, there is very little between the two divers. Both have 200m water resistance and excellent lume. Each uses a 3Hz 4R30 series movement. Each has bold, highly legible dials. Each has a Hardlex crystal. And while the Turtle has a slight edge in size (44.3mm vs 43.8mm), visually the difference is negligible. You might say it simply comes down to an argument over aesthetics–the vintage, curvaceous Turtle vs the contemporary, angular Samurai. Numerous colourways exist for each, so it isn’t just a question of black or orange.
|The Turtle (SRP)||The Samurai (SRPC)|
|Case||316L Stainless Steel||316L Stainless Steel|
|Lug to Lug||48mm||45mm|
|Bezel||120-click unidirectional||120-click unidirectional|
|Crown & Caseback||Screwed||Screwed|
|Movement||4R36 (Day/Date)||4R35 (Date)|
|Strap||Silicone Strap||Stainless Steel Bracelet|
However, despite their similarities, there are a few notable differences to take into consideration. For two chunky divers, neither watch wears according to its size. In the instance of the Turtle, the effect is an optical illusion of sorts. While the case may be pushing 45mm, the bezel is a much smaller 40mm–and the dial width is only 32mm! Its cushion case is also a relatively moderate 48mm lug to lug. This has the effect of visually shrinking the presence when on wrist. By comparison, even though the Samurai’s dial real estate is the same, its bezel actually surpasses the edge of its case. Add to that the position of the crown at 3 (versus the 4 of the Turtle) and its assertive crown guards, and you have a watch with a significantly larger presence.
So, does that mean the Turtle is the more comfortable of the two? Actually, no. For the wearer, the most important specification is often the lug to to lug measurement. And here is one of the greatest differences between these two watches. The Samurai is a full 3mm smaller than the Turtle in this category. You will also notice that despite the curvature of the Turtle, the watch sits quite flat on the wrist because of its bulbous caseback. Whereas the slope of the Samurai lug profile actually dips beyond its caseback, allowing it to essentially hug the wrist.
Another measurement to note is that of case thickness. Again, here, the Samurai nips the Turtle, coming in more than a millimeter slimmer. The main difference? Bezel height. In addition, the trimmer Samurai bezel sits flat against the case, whereas the much larger Turtle bezel sits a proud to top it off.
However, this leads us to another consideration. While the Samurai might be the more comfortable on wrist, this comes at a small cost. The slim profile and attractive knurling of the Samurai bezel also make it a little more difficult to manipulate. The angular corners of the case and the large crown guards don’t help. As such, the Samurai bezel is best gripped at 6 and 12. With dry, ungloved hands, this is not a terrible compromise. However, if you hope to use the Samurai as it was intended–as a diver and sports watch, or under less than ideal conditions–then perhaps this will matter more.
The Samurai comes standard on a bracelet, the Turtle on silicone (though an OEM bracelet is available). This accounts for a small difference in price. However, while both are acceptable, it is not uncommon to swap them out. At a 22mm lug width, both watches have a plethora of choice–Tropics, waffles, NATOS. Even fitted straps and aftermarket bracelet options abound from the likes of Uncle Seiko and Strapcode. There is nothing between the two here.
However, if modding is your thing–or you think it might be down the road–the Turtle has a much larger community with many more options, despite a burgeoning Samurai clique and some degree of bezel compatibility.
So…here is the point where I weasel out and say they are both great watches, right? Sort of. But not really. As a strict tool watch–a diver and a beater–the Turtle is the better choice. Sure it’s chunky. But it’s also charming. The bezel is easy to grip and actually use for its intended purposes in all conditions. The crown at 4, as an added bonus, is easier to manipulate while on wrist, if necessary. If you smack it irreparably, parts and options for change are plentiful. However, as an everyday timepiece with attractive, sporty styling–just look at that bezel…and those hands–the Samurai is your man. It just sits better and lower on wrist. And let’s be honest, it’s still a killer diver. I am just splitting hairs here. In the end, the death of the affordable Seiko diver has been greatly exaggerated.
Now…they could both use a little sapphire glass…but that’s a whole other story.
The Turtle and Samurai retail for $475 and $525USD, respectively. However, both are frequently available for less at authorized dealers, and can also be snapped up second hand. For more information, visit the brand website.
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