Seiko has been in the watchmaking market for several decades now. Even though their timeless expertise paved the way for creating high-quality watches, Seiko, in general, has yet to be considered as a luxury watch brand—with Grand Seiko being an exception. This, in turn, puts Seiko on par with Casio in terms of mass-producing several iconic and affordable wristwatches. But that does not necessarily mean that Seiko does not have a few gems hidden in its sleeves.
There is no doubt that Seiko has created a global following due to the reliability and iconic designs of their watches. This popularity has led to several pocket watches and wristwatches that have taken the modern era by storm. One of the many innovative watches that Seiko has produced is the Seiko Prospex Samurai. In this review, we will be discussing what makes the Seiko Prospex Samurai watch one of Seiko’s best diver’s watches in the 21st century.
History of Seiko Prospex Samurai
Seiko started as a small watch repair shop in Central Tokyo back in 1881. In 1892, Seiko founder Kintaro Hattori expanded by buying a factory in Tokyo which he named Seikosha. The massive success of the Seikosha, which roughly translates to “exquisite house” or “success house”, marked the start of Seiko becoming a substantial figure in the watchmaking industry. Competing with the prominent Swiss watchmakers, the Japanese watch brand captivated the world with its top-notch watchmaking expertise. This success was further amplified when Kintaro Hattori created the “The Laurel”, Japan’s first-ever wristwatch in 1913. With Seiko’s headstart in cutting-edge horological technology, Kintaro Hattori then went on to produce several more wristwatches under the Seiko brand name.
In 2004, Seiko introduced a promising watch model that embodies all the watchmaking principles of Kintaro Hattori, as well as the accumulated experiences of the brand. The model in question? The Seiko Prospex Samurai. This watch is widely regarded as one of the best diver’s watches Seiko has ever released. Not only does it have the classic bulky size of a regular diver’s watch, but it also has a reliable automatic calibre movement and a 200m water resistance. The first generation of the Seiko Samurai watch was made with both titanium and stainless steel, with later generations being made only in stainless steel.
You may be wondering why this particular watch is named “Samurai” of all things. Seiko, like many other watch brands, has been known to name its products in the most abstract way possible. A few examples are the Seiko Monster and the Seiko Turtle. The Seiko Monster got its name due to its size, while the Seiko Turtle has a shape reminiscent of a turtle’s shell. The Seiko Samurai, on the other hand, derives its name from the minute hands of the watch, which are shaped like a sword. This might be confusing to some since a samurai katana is a curved long sword, rather than a regular straight-edged sword. Regardless, it holds up, especially since Seiko has always been rather unpredictable in terms of naming their watches.
At a glance, the Seiko Prospex Samurai may seem like an ordinary diver’s watch. Without knowing the specifics of its name, you might be wondering: what makes this particular watch so special? There are several features that set the Seiko Samurai apart from other Seiko diver’s watches. One of them is the Seiko Samurai’s waffle-textured dial and the sleek stainless steel case. The watch’s sleek sword-shaped minute hand, as well as the unusually-shaped arrowhead hour hand, also serve to distinguish it from other watches. These unique design schemes are what make the Seiko Samurai an ideal diving companion that can also be used outside of the said activity.
Since the Seiko Prospex Samurai was initially a Japan-exclusive watch, not much was known regarding the specifics of the watch other than the name itself and the fact that it is a diver’s watch. However, over the years, it slowly gained the right kind of attention from watch enthusiasts, making this seemingly rare timepiece highly sought-after. The black dial variant is the most common option available in the market. Furthermore, since this was a highly exclusive watch, variations of the Seiko Samurai can be relatively hard to find. Seiko took advantage of the high demand for the Seiko Samurai and released a few limited edition colour variants—one of which is the rare Seiko Samurai Orange Dial SRPC07.
The indications and the AR35 calibre movement might make it seem like the Seiko Samurai series is just like any other dive watch in the market. With the hours, minutes, and seconds hands, as well as the date aperture, anyone would assume that it is just an ordinary watch. But a closer look reveals that the Seiko Samurai actually offers more than it initially seems.
Let’s take a look at the specifications of the Seiko Prospex Samurai and how they set it apart from other diver’s watches.
Looking at a Seiko watch for the first time may leave you thinking that there are only minor changes with each watch line. That is perfectly understandable since Seiko has been sporting similar design schemes to stay true to their established identity. A closer look, however, shows us how Seiko manages to create subtle, if not major, changes with each of their staple watches, giving a distinct look to each watch while still emphasizing consistency within the Seiko brand. If you prefer a larger case size, the Seiko Monster will surely meet your needs. If you are looking for a watch with a perfectly round shape and has a sizeable thickness, the Seiko Tuna is a perfect choice. The point is, Seiko watches stay true to their brand, while also making sure that each watch is uniquely suited to meet the user’s needs.
Case and Bracelet
Initially, the Seiko Prospex Samurai was introduced mostly in titanium, with stainless steel as a secondary option. The titanium versions, however, were later discontinued in 2008. That is why stainless steel variants are the ones that are more easily available in the market. Rest assured, however, that the stainless steel cases and bracelets are easily comparable with titanium materials in terms of durability and shine. The lugs were made smaller to balance out the proportions of the watch and provide maximum comfort on the wrist. On the other hand, the bezel adds more to the design of the whole watch with its engraved diamond shape patterns on the sides. If you look closely, this pattern also resembles the diamond pattern found on the hilt of a katana—a nice detail that stays true to the watch’s namesake.
The overall size of the Seiko Samurai is not as bulky as it seems. At 43.8mm in diameter and 13.4mm in thickness, this watch is slightly smaller than your average diver’s watch. Nevertheless, the stainless steel case still provides excellent durability, no matter the size.
The original Seiko Samurai was released with only a black dial with a waffle-like textured pattern. Following that, Seiko released several more variations that include a gradient ocean blue dial that goes from indigo-blue at the top to black at the bottom, and the seemingly rare orange dial. There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to the colour of the dial alone, but since the discontinuation of the Seiko Samurai series, finding your preferred Seiko Samurai watch may prove to be harder than it seems. Most people resort to buying pre-owned units, while others are still scouring official stores to find the one they are looking for. These dials exude a variety of styles such as sporty, chic, classy, and casual. Nonetheless, the original waffle-pattern textured dial still best represents the simplicity of the Seiko Samurai line.
The indications of the Seiko Samurai are minimalistic and focus more on reliability rather than style. A diver’s watch should always be clear and accurate when it comes to timekeeping. Otherwise, it could potentially lead to certain accidents, such as miscalculated decompression stops or running out of oxygen due to the inaccuracy of a watch. That said, the Seiko Samurai provides fairly simple watch functions that allow the user to tell the time as accurately as possible, without the risk of miscalculation. The watch also sports white hour markers and hands, providing maximum legibility even in the dark ocean depths, so telling the time will not pose much of a problem. Furthermore, with the help of the LumiBrite technology, you can easily read the time both in the dark and underwater.
As mentioned before, the minute hands of the watch are shaped like swords. While they do not resemble katanas, when these hands meet each other at a certain time, they do look more reminiscent of a sword when combined. This is a cool detail to take note of. The date aperture is found at the 3 o’clock position. Since it is a diver’s watch, the bezel of the Seiko Samurai can only be rotated counterclockwise. The markers on the bezel are also white, maintaining a consistent design scheme while also allowing for greater legibility. Rather than adding a more few bells and whistles, the straightforward nature of the Seiko Samurai prioritizes function, making it an extremely reliable dive watch that deserves the praise it’s getting.
There are a lot of people who frequently associate Seiko with Casio, mainly because both are Japanese companies. One difference to keep in mind is that Casio very rarely makes automatic watches, and instead produces quartz movement watches. In comparison, Seiko has many automatic movement watches to choose from. The calibre used in the Seiko Samurai is the AR35. This is an automatic calibre movement that allows hand-winding and provides many of the useful functions necessary for a dive watch.
One of the best functions the AR35 offers is the stop-seconds function. This allows the user to adjust the time without having to worry about the seconds hand, ensuring accurate synchronization, right down to the second. This function has existed in the industry for several years now but is still widely used in the horological craft. Another notable feature is the power reserve of the Seiko Samurai. This movement allows the watch to last for approximately 41 hours when not in use. Since it is both a self-winding and manual-winding watch movement, running out of power will not be a problem for the wearer.
A Few Notable Seiko Prospex Samurai ModelsSeiko Prospex Samurai Automatic Black Dial – SRPB51K1
Starting with the original model, the Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51K1 retains the simplicity of the Samurai watches that came before it. With the black waffle-textured dial and minimalistic indications, it is impossible to mistake the watch’s classic design. The watch also sports a 43.8mm stainless steel case and a stainless steel bracelet, ensuring that the durability of the watch remains the same. The bezel has a black and grey colour with a unidirectional movement. The hands and indexes are all coated in LumiBrite, which allows visibility even in the dark or underwater.
Speaking of underwater, all of the Seiko Samurai watches can go up to 200 meters underwater, and the Prospex Samurai SRPB51K1 is no different. This is to be expected, since it is a diver’s watch, and this is indicated on the dial itself. The watch is further equipped with the AR35 calibre movement, which gives it a 41-hour power reserve as well as the stop-seconds function. Overall, nothing can beat the original when it comes to subtlety and simplicity.Seiko Prospex Samurai Automatic Black Dial (Hard Coating) – SRPB55K1
The Seiko Samurai SRPB55K1 offers a similar design as the Samurai SRPB51K1, with a few notable differences. This model is reminiscent of the titanium variant due to the black coating of the case. Rest assured, though, that this watch uses stainless steel for its case, and thus maintains the same durability as other Samurai watches. The bracelet used for the Seiko Samurai SRPB55K1 is silicone instead of stainless steel. Not only does this add more comfort, but the soft exterior also adds more to the style of the watch.
The Seiko Samurai SRPB55K1 also retains the familiar black waffle pattern on its dial. However, it offers a different look on both the hands and the indexes. By using a gold-tone lining, the indicators are highlighted without any worry of legibility issues. The markings on the bezel also adopt a gold colour scheme to stay true to the overall design and provide a refined feel to the totality of the watch.Seiko Prospex Samurai Automatic “Save The Ocean” – SRPC93K1
Last on the list is the Seiko Samurai “Save The Ocean” SRPC93K1, a special edition timepiece introduced in 2018. Versions of this edition can be found in both the Seiko Turtle and Seiko Samurai lines as well. This model does not only look good, but it also provides a specific message for everyone in terms of marine conservation.
Much like the rest of the Seiko Samurai models, the Seiko Samurai SRPC93K1 holds the same design, size, and functionalities. The highlight of this watch is its beautiful gradient dial which perfectly captures the ocean depths. The engraved horizontal lines add a texture to the dial that resembles the unending waves of the sea. The black section at the bottom of the dial embodies the unknown depths of the ocean that are yet to be explored. The Seiko Samurai “Save The Ocean” SRPC93K1 is a watch that symbolizes the importance of marine life as well as the beauty of the vast ocean.
Seiko Samurai Price Range
The best thing about Seiko’s watches is that they are at a very affordable price range. Although Seiko is not considered a luxury brand, the watches are of amazing quality and should be considered for your collection. Seiko Samurai watches do not cost more than a thousand dollars apiece. Indeed, the functionalities and the classic designs of the Seiko Samurai ensure that this is the timepiece that will give you the most bang for your buck.
The Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51K1 currently costs $469 in the market. Since it features the common design of the Seiko Samurai collection, the price tag for it seems fairly reasonable compared to its fellow watches in the collection. Each model may differ in price, but the usual price range starts from $450 up to $600. Compared to the usual price of Casio watches, the Samurai is undoubtedly more expensive—but for good reason. For only a few hundred dollars more, you can own a dive watch that is equipped with an automatic movement, which is the best choice compared to a quartz watch. It may not be on par with the Rolex Submariner, but it is a great timepiece for those who plan on starting a watch collection. Either way, do not be discouraged about its price being below $1000; the Seiko Samurai is a solid automatic dive watch that offers more than what it is worth. If it is still above your desired budget, you can always rely on pre-owned watches. Depending on the condition, it can be bought for as low as $300—or even lower. Just be sure to find a reliable seller and avoid shady deals online.
The Seiko Prospex Samurai is truly one of Seiko’s most popular dive watches today. Not only does it provide the necessary tools for diving, but it also boasts impressive accuracy and reliability. The AR35 calibre movement exceeds all expectations when it comes to sustaining a diver’s watch while also prioritizing precision.
In addition to that, the Seiko Samurai is also flexible in terms of usage. The bezel can be used when timing recreational activities other than diving. Furthermore, the compact size of this watch makes for a great everyday watch. The various dial colours available are yet another reason for the Seiko Samurai’s popularity. With so many colors to choose from, you can mix them up with any event or activity as you see fit. Whether it’s professional or casual, the Seiko Samurai manages to be the perfect watch for any occasion.
Overall, the Seiko Prospex Samurai is a great diver’s watch that is easily on par with most of the top dive watches in the industry. For a very affordable watch, the Seiko Samurai is more than what it is worth—making it the perfect underwater companion for everyone.
Looking for the best Seiko timepiece to give to your girlfriend or mother? Take a look at our list of Best Seiko Women’s Watches for some great options.
Featured image courtesy of George Thomas from Flickr