The Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition
There is no doubt that, among the existing Italian digital magazines, there is none of them that has ever given so much cover to SEIKO like Horbiter, I am talking in particular about the brand’s collection of diver’s timepieces. In some cases, we are probably the only magazine in Europe that has ever dealt with the future collector’s models like the Silver and the Green Sumo and if were not the only magazine to do so we were most definitely the first. When it comes to reviewing the manufacturer’s collection of diver’s watches, almost all of them are grouped under the letter “X” of the Prospex brand, the choice isn’t casual but it comes from passion and from a duty of reporting since no other brand can boast such an important tradition and an immaculate technical pedigree in this field like the Japanese manufacturer.
The scarce availability of many collections on this side of the pond and the poor familiarity that Italian people have with the history of this brand make it complicated to understand the ample selection of models and limited series that are grouped under the Prospex name, some of which even boast a very important history. The new SEIKO Turtle watches, for example, have been extensively featured all over the world except Italy despite being sold in Europe too. PADI – an acronym that stands for “Professional Association of Diving Instructors” – is the most important professional body in the US in this specific field and it is no surprise that SEIKO has decided to team up with PADI to boast the prestige of its branding and of its Prospex timepieces even further and to craft numerous limited series (I even came across the pictures of a blue and red MarineMaster 300 but I reckon that those photos are perhaps the result of some experienced Photoshopping.)
Whatever the details of a possible technical partnership between SEIKO and PADI are, the most relevant thing is this partnership’s commercial outcome that has immediately translated into the release of a special series – two, actually, if you include the Kinetic too – that represents the second version of the Japanese Pepsi. Pepsi is the name that American people use to define every SEIKO diver’s timepiece that sports both the blue and red colours on the bezel. The blue and red hues that appear on the dial draw inspiration from the colours that appear on the logo of the American association (not on the bezel, the same one as the Turtle’s that is usually part of the collection), the iridescence of the electric blue colour changes at the same pace as the speed you rotate your wrist at thanks to the Hardlex glass that works as an involuntarily optic filter.
MacroMonday is a made-up name that we chose to designate our new column, the meaning should be pretty straightforward. The SEIKO Prospex PADI Special Edition will be remembered for being the first to go under the magnifier of our magazine because three-hands-timepieces are the most suitable watches to take macro pictures of thanks to their easy geometry that maximizes the result of every type of photo. As far as the new Turtle watches go, SEIKO will export to Italy two models (the SRP773K1 and the SRP779K1 according to the Italian website) out of the four that make up its new collection that was launched in 2015 and that follows the 6309, one of the diver’s watches that SEIKO’s aficionados from all over the world have loved the most – Americans in the first place – and that was produced between 1976 and 1988 in two versions, the 7049 and the 7040 that were dedicated to the American market and to the rest of the world markets respectively.
Descriptions and reviews of this timepiece fill the pages of forums and social networks from everywhere in the world, the watch sports a cushion-shaped case that was originally launched in conjunction with the 6105, the timepiece worn by Martin Sheen in “Apocalypse Now”, the double curving on the polished and brushed case-middle is quite original and it is completed with a crown located at 4 o’clock that immediately tells us that we are in the presence of a Japanese diver’s watch – the only exception being the first diver’s watch from 1965 whose crown used to be placed at 3 o'clock -. The SEIKO 6309 was an access diver’s timepiece, followed up references such as the 6217 and the 6215 ones, and boasted a design that is still incredibly modern. The value of a 6309 is not the same as that of a 6105 but this is an exceptionally popular watch on the second hand market and the SEIKO Prospex PADI Special Edition is its perfect re-edition with the addition of the PADI brand’s endorsement. To make things clearer, this timepiece is not available in Italy (I didn't find it) but I managed to buy it through the Spanish “Relojesdemoda” store that I would also like to command for the top-quality service – the days of the month are both in English and Spanish but that’s not too big of an issue -. The winding crown left aside – the housing has been re-designed if compared to the 6309’s – the SEIKO Prospex PADI Special Edition is virtually identical to the original timepiece (the 6309 I mean).
The cushion-shaped case has been maintained, the double finishing and curving is broken by a chamfered and bent line that ends where the bracelet begins. SEIKO has added in the blue and red bezel that seems to have never existed before on the 6309 – what you can find on the market are actually aftermarket re-edited models that one can create thanks to the easiness to modify and maintain the 6309 – and the manufacturer has also added in the electric blue dial. The luminous indexes are quite bizarre; they are trapeze-shaped at 6 o’clock and at 9 o’clock while they are double at 12 o’clock where they also sport a sword in the middle, all the remaining ones are round. The indexes have been filled with Lumibrite and they emit a strong and uniform luminescence and, as you can notice when you observe the round indexes, they features a “gap” that separates the central circle from the outer ring.
An “X” letter located under the “SEIKO” writing reminds us that this model belongs to the Prospex collection while the PADI logo appears almost in the middle of the dial. A small writing located at 6 o’clock indicates the automatic caliber, the 4R36 that guarantees up to 41 hours of power reserve. On the sealed case-back – please note that you will never find a see-through-case-back on a Japanese diver’s timepiece – you can spot SEIKO’s iconic Tsunami logo and the “Special Edition” writing that indicates that this is a special series rather than a limited one. Once you have extracted the winding crown it is extremely easy and comfortable to use, the only light resistance being when you have to screw it back in to the very bottom.
The SEIKO Prospex PADI Special Edition has a resistance to magnetic field up to 4,800A/m and is water-proof up to 200 metres (50 additional metres if compared to its famous predecessor), these two characteristic would suggest that this an ISO6425-certified-watch despite SEIKO not declaring that, most of us, however, will be happy enough with the “Diver’s 200m” writing that appears on the dial. The SEIKO Prospex PADI Special Edition is clearly vintage-inspired, the caliber is entirely in-house-built and equipped with a manual winding function, the timepiece sports a nice finishing – bar the excessive play of the original bracelet in the area where it links to the case and a retail price of 430 euro – and it is the first official launch of a special series SEIKO Turtle, the easiest and quickest way to enter the world of made-in-Japan-collecting.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter