Sooner or later, every watch collector worth their salt gets into Seikos. And every Seiko collector worth their salt owns a Turtle. Guilty. And guilty.
So, it took me a bit longer to get around to the Turtle. I took a right turn at Grand Seiko, a left at a Tuna and then took a cruise down Astron lane. But three weeks ago I finally got a Turtle. I don’t know why I waited so long. The fit and finish on this watch far surpasses its US$495 price (or the $278 I paid for it at the Seiko Outlet Store).
While I would have preferred for this Turtle “reissue” (the 6309 was the original from the 70s) to not have the Prospex “X” logo emblazoned on it (not that I find anything wrong with the logo itself), it’s there just below the hands. Other than that, the dial is perfect.
It’s the blackest matte black, which makes the overabundance of Lumabrite lume that much more punchy. Heck – the lume material is applied so thickly that I think you can see the face glow outside at high noon.
Another thing I like about the dial area is that the rehaut actually has something going on – the chapter ring at a slight inset angle. It adds some depth and dimension to the face and does something with a part of dials that I wish more watch designers did. Rolex now does their engraving on the rehaut, Breitling’s been known to put a slide rule there, the IWC Portuguese has a really nice one and the Cartier Calibre De Cartier has something really interesting going in this department.
The bezel is what defines this watch. I got the “Pepsi” model as I think it’s the most iconic (and I also have the Tuna with a black bezel). The aluminum bezel insert has a nice matte finish to it and a lume pip as 12 o’clock. Overall, the unidirectional bezel has a meaty grip to it and has 120 very noticeable “clicks” as you turn it. It’s slightly taller than the mineral glass crystal.
For a mass-manufactured watch under $500, the stainless steel case has some nice finishing. The screw-in back has an interesting design to it. The case itself is a combination of highly polished and brushed finishes. Head on, the case looks all brushed, making the polished bezel grip more pronounced.
The shape of the reissued Turtle case is elongated, accentuated by the screw-in crown being 4 o’clock. And speaking of the crown, it’s the only thing I was a bit disappointed with. It is unbranded with no logo or insignia – which I think is a missed opportunity to really make this watch special. Now, to Seiko’s defense, they do need to keep some things reserved for their higher-end timepieces.
One thing they didn’t reserve for the high-end was the water resistance – a very respectful 200m. This is a true tool watch and I bet these Turtles see more dive time than most desk divers because of its legacy.
The amazing rubber strap is the same silicone material on my Seiko Marinemaster (Tuna) Spring Drive that cost ten times as much. Even the brushed stainless steel keeper and tang buckle seem very similar (although not DLC-coated). Even the end of the long strap has the same insignia from the watch’s caseback stamped into it – nice touch.
Overall, this is one of my favorite diving watch straps – full stop.
The 4R36 is Seiko’s newest mainstream (read budget) movement, and it’s a pretty good one. Again, for a watch I paid $278 for new, it can hold its own. On the timegrapher, I was getting +4.1 sec/day – not too shabby and almost COSC!
It features a hacking seconds hand and both day and date complications. A 40-hour power reserve isn’t forever, but again just fine for this watch, application and price.
The 4R36 replaces Seiko’s 7S36 in the mainstrem/budget department and from what I can glean online (and an awesome review on WUS here), is considerably better in almost every way.
The Turtle is an iconic watch, never mind that it’s an iconic Seiko. You have several choices for dial and bezel color (Pepsi, black, yellow) and whether you want it on a jubilee bracelet or the rubber strap. Now, the jubilee bracelet is probably the purest of the reissues, but I’ve never been too much of a fan of Seiko bracelets. I tried it on at the Seiko Outlet Store but there was simply no comparison for me when I tried on the black rubber strap – what I AM a huge fan of.
I hope you enjoy this watch as much as me, and get one that is just as accurate. It’s the pure definition of a Seiko sports watch!
WHAT I LIKE:
- A legendary Seiko diving watch from the 70s with a brand new (and better) movement.
- One of the greatest rubber straps in existence (at any price)
- Always like crowns NOT at 3 o’clock
NOT SO MUCH:
- I’d pay more for a sapphire crystal.
- Is it too much to ask for a branded crown?
MODEL NAME: Seiko Prospex SRP779 “Turtle” Automatic Diver
REFERENCE NUMBER: SRP779
MOVEMENT: Seiko 4R36 (40-hour power reserve)
CASE SIZE: 44mm
WATER RESISTANCE: 200m
MANUFACTURER LINK: http://seikousa.com/collections/prospex/SRP779
OTHER REVIEW: http://watchjudge.com/blog/the-best-watch-under-300-seiko-turtle-review/
Nice review! What I do not like about modern Seiko divers is that so many of them suffer from alignment problems. Looking at your pictures, it seems like the alignment between the dial, chapter ring, and bezel is also not perfect on your watch. I really think Seiko should work on their QC, and it surprises me that a Japanese company allows this to happen.
That’s a good point, Johan. I think the tolerances for Seiko’s higher-end watches (like the Astron, Premier and certainly Grand Seiko lines) are a little bit better. It’s no excuse – and I do agree with you – but the volume of watches coming out of Seiko factories is pretty incredible. I have heard that watches that come out of their Japan facilities rather than from China and other Asian countries do have a bit better QC.