The Seiko Turtle is back in black and it’s cooler than ever.
by James Buttery
Seiko’s logic is undeniably strong. In a bid to create ever more collectable pieces as fuel for the fervent army of Seiko collectors out there, the Japanese brand has clearly asked itself what it could do to imbue its ever-popular divers watches with even higher levels of cool. Dressing from head-to-toe in black usually does the trick when stepping out on the town and Seiko has now proved that the same applies to its Prospex collection with a black-coated trio of dive watches. Seiko has a more interesting narrative taking its inspiration from night-diving, which sounds entirely plausible too.
The limited edition series consists of two solar-powered quartz models – a time and date and a chronograph – and the model we’re really interested in, an automatic Turtle with day/date, the SRPC49K (£429).
Seiko aren’t releasing the total number they have made worldwide but they have told us it is a one-off production run and 400 pieces will be making their way to the UK. It is worth noting that there appears to be a near identical Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) only version of the Turtle, which was limited to 300 and quickly sold out.
While the two Solar models look handsome enough in their new black guise it is the Turtle that really shines, with an effective mix of matt and gloss surfaces on the caseband, case front and on the coin-edge of its unidirectional bezel really highlighting the unusual form of the Turtle case. Seiko’s fanbase is known for coining nicknames for their favourite models and the SRPC49K has already earned the frankly genius moniker Ninja Turtle.
The 60-minute bezel insert is mid-grey between zero and 20 minutes and black for the remainder of the hour which again helps prevent the black being overpowering. A gloss finish screw-down crown is recessed at the four o’clock position. Seiko tell us the black coating is achieved through ion plating, the same method used to plate metals with gold.
At 45mm in diameter the Turtle sounds like a huge watch but the curved lines of the case go some way to diffusing the impact of the overall size, making it far more wearable than one might first suspect. The bezel is a good couple of millimetres narrower than the overall case, which also helps to shrink the watch on the wrist somewhat. None of this will be news to Seiko fans – these are, after all, totally identical to other Turtles in every way other than colour – but it’s nice to remind ourselves what makes this such a wearable watch in the first place.
Thanks to the supplied silicone concertina divers strap it is also exceedingly comfortable; as per usual the Turtle has 22mm lugs with some chunky spring bars, making a strap swap a formality. The black silicone works a treat, but you could have a lot of fun swapping it for more colourful NATO options.
The Turtle’s easily recognisable dial has been given the ‘night-diving’ treatment too; matt black chapter ring and dial with lume pot hour markers filled with lashings of beige lume while the lumed handset consists of a vivid orange arrow minute hand, black sword hour hand and lollipop seconds hand which sweeps along courtesy of Seiko’s 4R36 3Hz automatic movement, which sustains a 41 hour power reserve and features hacking seconds.
The faux-vintage Luminova trend has now been around so long it hardly feels like a trend at all (you know things are bad when you see hour markers which are actually white, and you think there’s something odd about them) but these are really nicely executed. Get close to the watch with a loupe and you’ll see that the edges of each circular hour marker have a rusty trace of pre-aged patina to them. Some brands just reach for the beige paint but Seiko has gone the extra mile.
The combination of all of these elements would be attractive enough in a £429 watch but Seiko’s level of fit and finish – likely to be a byproduct of economies of scale – takes things to another level. There’s absolutely no play in the bezel or crown, the anti-reflective coating is excellent (something a bizarrely high number of brands skimp on – how expensive can it be?) and the whole thing feels rock solid. In fact I was so impressed with the Ninja Turtle I have one on order.