seiko turtle dive diving watch collection timepiece

Every man should have a Seiko Turtle in his watch collection

The design first surfaced almost half a century ago, but still the iconic Seiko endures. Here's why it's your perfect next watch.

Here at Gentleman’s Journal, we like the finer things in life. Of that, there is no question. But it doesn’t mean we’re blind to products and services that err on the affordable side. Far from it. In fact, some of our favourite things are incredibly cost-effective.

After all, why buy a steep bottle of red when Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Good Ordinary Claret is one of the best wines in town? Why splash out on a pair of raw denim, triple-stitched selvedge jeans when Levi’s trusty 501s would outlive them anyway? And why invest in a lavish mid-century classic grand tourer when you’d probably have more fun rocketing around in a nippy Peugeot 205 GTi?

The same principle applies to the Seiko Turtle. Officially the Seiko SRP series (and part of the brand’s Prospex family), this large cushion-cased design ticks away reliably, has all the slick steel style of its more expensive lookalikes and won’t break the bank. So, before you start stumping up for a Seamaster or a Submariner, perhaps it’s time to take a look at a Turtle?

Where did the Seiko Turtle come from?

The Turtle first surfaced in 1976, released solely for the Japanese market. It was an impressive piece of kit, with a depth rating of 150 metres making it perfect for recreational divers. The original, ref. 6306-7000/1, had a 60-click bezel and a black dial adorned with oversized lume markers in various blocky shapes. This first model also had an English/Kanji day-date wheel to appeal to the Japanese market.

But the case itself was the main talking point. While it may, at first glance, look like a simple cushion case, the corners are in fact even more rounded — to give the watch a less angular, aggressive look. This softly curving appearance also afforded the original Turtle its reptilian nickname. And it was exceedingly popular, with James Cameron featuring the watch in The Abyss, and Mick Jagger even being known to buckle one up.

By the early 1980s, Seiko brought out the trimmer ‘Slim Turtle’ — a sharper addition that began the watch’s slow decline from favour. By the 1990s, the love affair with the Turtle appeared to have finished. But, two decades later, Seiko relaunched the style in 2016 as part of its celebrated Prospex line. This version was undeniably an update — with a depth rating of 200 metres and modern components inside the case — but its case was almost identical to the beloved Turtle that had been launched 40 years previously.

So why is the Seiko Turtle a good addition to my collection?

seiko turtle dive diving watch collection timepiece

Good question. And one simply answered. No other watch on the planet has such a winning combination of heritage, reliability and affordability as a Seiko Turtle. Being a reissue of a vintage favourites, buying a Turtle shows you know a little something about watches — and respect the body of horological work that has led to this latest take on the timepiece.

But it’s also practical. With a hefty height of 14mm, a Seiko Turtle will never let you down — whether you’re on land or in water. That statement bezel will protect the Hardlex crystal at all costs, and all the luminescent material on the dial will keep legibility at an all time high. And, despite cramming Seiko’s logo, the Prospex symbol and ‘Automatic Diver’s 200M’ onto the dial, its design doesn’t feel busy.

And that’s before we’ve even got to the calibre. The 4R36 movement may be on the simpler side — but 41 hours of power reserve and exceedingly consistent timekeeping are really all you need. Pair all of the above with a sturdy steel bracelet that wouldn’t feel out of place on a top Swiss diver, and you’ve got one of the best additions to — or startings of — a collection we can think of.

What Seiko Turtle should I be looking at?

So which Seiko Turtle to go for? There are several options in the SRP series — with each one highlighting a different quality of the collection as a whole. If you’ve been struck by the heritage and vintage appeal of the Turtle, we’d recommend the SRPD21K1. Created in collaboration with the ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques, this Prospex is part of the ‘Save the Ocean’ collection and features a wave-patterned blue dial and shark fin hand ends.

Similarly, the Prospex SRP775K1, with its black and gold design, closely follows the design cues of the original — a modern interpretation of the much-loved ref. 6306-7000/1. Or, if you’re an active actual diver, why not the Pepsi-bezelled SRPA21K1? This special edition Turtle is affiliated with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and has an athletic red and blue dial and bezel for maximum practicality. And, whichever you go for, we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the price…

More of a Rolex Submariner man? Here’s a question: What do you think of the update?

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