We take a range of Seiko Prospex dive watches on trial.
Mark Evans: Seiko has a rich heritage when it comes to dive watches. The company launched its first dive watch way back in 1965, and also devised the expansion strap, to keep it tight on the wrist through pressure changes, and an L-shaped gasket that achieved world-class impermeability. Ever the innovators, the brand released the world’s first computerized dive watch in the form of the Scuba Master in 1990, which was equipped with water and depth sensors so it could show dive time and depth, and this was followed up in 2000 with the Diving Computer Watch, which as the name suggests was a real precursor to many of the wristwatch-style dive computers on the market today.
Over 55 years later, Seiko is still producing solid, dependable and desirable dive watches. Head over to the Seiko website and click on their Prospex range and you will be literally spoilt for choice, as there are myriad versions available.
Seiko Prospex Save the Ocean ‘King Turtle'
I took a selection for test dive just to whet your appetite. The Seiko Prospex Save the Ocean ‘King Turtle’ SRPF77K1 (SRP: £550) is particularly noteworthy. At first glance it looks like a traditional, old-school dive watch. Water-resistant to 200m, it has a screw-case back and screw-down crown (in the 4pm position, rather than 3pm, which I prefer, both for looks and practicality – it doesn’t snag on things as much), a chunky uni-directional bezel which is easy to adjust even wearing thick neoprene gloves, a durable sapphire crystal with magnifier for the date, LumiBrite on the hands, indices and bezel to make it easy to see regardless of light conditions, and a comfortable silicone band, which will fit around a wetsuited arm, or the wrist of your glove if you are wearing a drysuit.
So far, so good – and with automatic movement with manual winding, you’ll never have to worry about missing the dive boat ‘ropes off’ again!
It is when you take a closer look at the dial that you understand why this is a special edition. Manta rays can be seen gliding across the face. The image is extremely subtle, and you really have to look at the watch closely to see the rays – from a distance, the dial just looks to have a blue-fade colour scheme. I like little details like this – it really makes the watch stand out from the crowd.
Seiko Prospex PADI Chronograph
Seiko is also the only watch company working with PADI, and is the official partner of the PADI AWARE Foundation’s marine debris programme, helping to fund local ocean-protection initiatives hosted by PADI dive centres. As well as supporting Dive Against Debris through this programme, they also offer a range of Prospex watches adorned with the PADI logo and adopting the blue/red PADI colour scheme, and donate a portion of the proceeds from the Save the Ocean collection.
One of the most eye-catching is the Prospex PADI Chronograph SSC785P1, with its stainless-steel case, red-and-blue uni-directional bezel and durable blue rubber strap. Solar-powered, the PADI Chronograph has a slick black wave-print dial that contrasts strikingly with the LumiBrite hour markers and hands, which are given additional ‘pop’ with vivid red accents at 12, 3, 6 and 9, and on the minute hand. This bright red ties in nicely with the red on the uni-directional bezel, and the red detailing on the screw-down crown. As with the aforementioned King Turtle, it will fit around a wetsuited arm, or the wrist of your glove if you are wearing a drysuit, and the bright colouration certainly stands out against black neoprene.
If the vibrant PADI colour scheme is a little in-your-face for your liking, Seiko also offers a solar-powered Prospex Sumo Chronograph in more-subtle tones, the SSC759J1 (SRP: £550). This has a blue dial with a deep blue uni-directional bezel, sapphire crystal, LumiBrite on the hands and indices, and a black silicone strap.
In this modern-era, many divers choose to dive with a computer, be that a console, wrist or even wristwatch variant. Some may opt to wear a dive watch as a secondary timer as a back-up – and any of the Seiko Prospex series are capable in that respect – but by and large, you’ll find keen divers wearing their dive watches when they are out of the water. A dive watch on your wrist signifies to others, especially other divers, that is what you are – a diver. And of course, there are those ‘wannabes’ who don’t dive but want to wear a dive watch to look like a diver – and there is nothing wrong with that!