Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05K1
Hands-on with the new Turtle featuring a ceramic bezel and sapphire crystal.
Seiko keeps extending the Prospex collection and repositioning the brand. This time around, the Japanese watchmaker has revived the legendary label "King," once reserved to a selected group of Seiko watches (it is among the most discussed topics in our Club, SEIKOLOGY), to identify three specific new editions of the Seiko Turtle.
The Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05K1 is one out of three new up-scale timepieces showcasing significant upgrades for the collection, that will be extended to the Seiko Samurai too, this year.
Which Seiko Turtle would you choose? PADI, King (or Batman)?
Offered in various limited edition models since it came out, some of them belonging to co-branding projects (like the PADI version, for example), the Seiko Turtle is growing to become more than just the professional diving watch it used to be, initially. It has paved the way for Seiko to introduce new color variations among its diving watches both within the collection, i.e., the Seiko Prospex Turtle Dawn Grey, and outside, as that's the case with the Seiko Prospex SPB097J1 200m Twilight Blue, introduced last year.
What makes a Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05K1 different from a standard Turtle? Let's start with the new dial, the more noticeable change so far: its 3D pattern reticular design reminds a kinda "Mega-tapisserie" motif. It's not breaking news within the Seiko Group's brand catalog. A similar pattern appeared, for instance, on the Grand Seiko Diver's Hi-Beat SBGH255 and SBGH257 watches, although as a slightly refined aesthetically variant.
As far as Seiko Prospex watches concern, a similar pattern also appeared on the Seiko Prospex Samurai Dawn Gray SRPD03K1, back in 2018.
The 2020 Seiko official catalog reveals Seiko's vision regarding its "recreational diving watches".
Is this motif something that will recurrently appear on future Seiko diving watches? We'll find out; the take-away is that if we pay a look at the 2020 Seiko new catalog, the so-called "recreational divers" are the range extenders in terms of both new styles and colors. Additionally, Seiko paired this pattern to a military-inspired matte green and upgraded this Turtle with a sapphire crystal and a black ceramic inlay on the rotating bezel.
I have worn the Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05K1 you see pictured here for almost two weeks, more than enough to make many comparisons with my Seiko Turtle PADI, where it all began with the new Turtle series. Keeping style and color scheme apart, since they are subjective, the King Turtle offers a far greater experience and superior "touch and feel." However, I have mixed feelings regarding the new technical features. In essence, the black ceramic inlay, for example, outperforms the aluminum ring of any standard Turtle and nicely contrasts with the satin-finished case.
The sapphire crystal, conversely, is a great addition, yet not when paired to that magnifying glass, in my opinion. The Turtle is a "Day-Date" watch, but the large squared "cyclops lens" appears out-of-context on an otherwise flat glass that offers enhanced transparency in comparison to standard Hardlex glass. Here is where I would further improve a timepiece that ticks otherwise all the boxes. The case is 45mm wide, but its cushion shape helps it taper around many wrists, especially when paired to this military green silicone strap. The Accordion strap is as comfortable as well crafted: sporting a wide tang buckle and additional safety fastener with engraved Seiko logo, be sure you won't look for any aftermarket replacement.
The King Turtle is powered by Seiko caliber 4R36, which ensures more than 41 hours' maximum power reserve, offers hand-winding capability, and that's enough to keep the price attractive. The Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05K1 is an "all-rounder," a diving watch that Seiko has strategically priced under the €600 threshold. It challenges most Swiss Made diving watches that cannot rival in terms of performance, pedigree, price. Finally, allow me to raise a question: are we sure the King Turtle is not cannibalizing other Prospex watches? The Seiko Sumo, for example, has a higher positioning and a more refined mechanical caliber, but not such a premium ceramic bezel, for example. Is a "King" Sumo in the works too?
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®