By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
For the last three years, Seiko has started to reissue (more like reinterpret) some of its classic models for the modern collector. This is very exciting for collectors such as myself as it gives me an opportunity to get watches that are no longer in production. In November 2015, Seiko announced a modern reinterpretation of the classic turtle divers of the 1960s and 1970s.
The watch comes in four options. I decided on the blue dial SRP773K1 that comes with a bracelet. The watch has a Prospex designation.
The watch comes with a day and date function. It has a width of 44.3 mm and a height of 14 mm. The lug width is 22 mm while the lug-to-lug distance is 48 mm. The iconic cushion case features a unidirectional bezel, an unsigned screw down crown, a water resistance of 200 meters, and a screw case back featuring the famous ‘Tsunami’ logo.
The glass protecting the dial is Seiko’s proprietary “Hardlex” crystal. This material is a Seiko in-house hardened mineral crystal. Since this watch is under the Prospex line and is also an ISO certified diver.
I was made to understand that the set-up is similar to the original Seiko 6309 diver. Only the seconds hand is a more modern interpretation of where the “lollipop” is on the back instead of the front in the original 6309. All major indices, as well as the two main hands, are liberally painted with of Seiko’s “LumiBrite” paint. In fact, the thick amount of LumiBrite paint gives a 3-dimentional effect to the dial which is obvious at any angle of view.
The bezel is unidirectional with 120 clicks. A luminous pip is located at 12 o’clock. There are minute markers and Arabic numbers at every 10 minutes mark. The bezel is sloped towards the crystal and it has a coin-edge side to facilitate gripping.
The SRP773 has lug holes which were missing in the original 6309. This is a convenient way for changing straps and bracelets.
The bracelet that comes with this watch tapers to 20 mm at the centre clasp. It has a simple diver’s extension and four micro-adjustment points. The links are connected by a pin-collar retaining system.
Earlier I mentioned that this watch is an ISO certified diver. What I meant is that this watch conforms to the ISO 6425 international standards for diving watches.
Under the rather clean screw-down caseback is the Seiko 4R36 caliber movement. Operating with 25 jewels and 21,600 bph (or 3 Hertz), it is an automatic movement with hand “windable” and seconds hand stop capabilities. It also powers day and date wheels and its main springs have 41 hours of power reserve. Based on specifications, it is rated for an acceptable error of -35/+45 seconds a day. In reality, the actual performance is far superior.
There are a number of reasons that I like the turtle case (or more commonly known as cushion case). The most obvious is the shape. It helps the wearer to use the watch with formal wear. The case slides smoothly under cuffs and reduces the possibility of snagging on things.
The shape of the lugs also contributes towards wearing comfort. The curvature designed into the lugs hugs the wrist naturally and it allows wearers with thinner wrist to carry the watch more confidently.
The last reason is the most subjective, the overall shape. It is hard to put it in words but to me, it looks so pleasing on my wrist. Compared to the typical round case watch, the turtle (cushion shaped) casing looks more in sync to a human wrist – it looks more natural. I just love it.
Nevertheless, I do have some suggestions that would make the SRP779 even sweeter.
The most obvious is replacing the Hardlex glass with Sapphire crystal. Granted it will push the price up but the shine and reflection of Sapphire crystal is worth the additional premium.
The second is replacing the 4R36 movement by the more refined 6R15 series movement. The 4R36 movement is a common movement used even for the lower end Seiko 5 series. Since this watch is under the Prospex series, it should be differentiated as such.
However, these are commercial decisions that have to be made by Seiko. For most enthusiasts, the price point is the most critical purchasing criteria. To be able to make a product more affordable to a bigger consumer market, certain compromises would have to be made to keep costs down. Nevertheless, knowing Seiko, I suspect a ‘special’ premium model will be made available soon with all the high-end bits for purists to choose from. Anyway, I can’t wait. The SRP779 is already good enough for me.
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MEOR AMRI MEOR AYOB – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Meor Amri is a passionate watch collector from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches (excessively!!!) on his own free time. His blogs on the same subject are: Eastern Watch & Western Watch Read his articles here