Seiko Dive attraction
The Prospex Padi Special Edition SPB071J1 diver's watch distances itself from its predecessors.
Seiko’s Prospex PADI Special Edition, the SPB071J1, launched in February 2018, is unlike all its predecessors. Firstly, it is “special” for Seiko collectors because unlike its other high water-resistant sports watches like the “Tuna” or “Samurai”, it is housed in a new case, one that doesn’t even have an unofficial nickname… yet.
Secondly, the design of the Prospex PADI Special Edition SPB071J1 is a modern interpretation of the first Seiko diver’s watch of 1965 and it follows in the footsteps of its two slightly older siblings, the SPB051J1 with its dial and bezel in black and the SPB053J1 with its dial and bezel in blue, both of which were launched at BaselWorld in March 2017.
Prospex SPB051J1 and SPB053J1 - Modern Re-interpretation © Seiko
The first Seiko diver’s watch from 1965 is known as the 62MAS because it came equipped with the 6217 automatic movement. The “62” comes from the first two numerals of the calibre while “MAS” is derived from the “automatic self-dater” movement description type where “ma” is taken from the fifth and sixth alphabets of the word “automatic” and the “s” is first alphabet of “self-dater”.
Do note that the case which comes closest to the original 1965 diver’s watch is the Prospex SLA017 which the brand has named the “First Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition”. It is housed in a 39.9mm diameter case, an increase of 1.9mm over the 1965 original and with a thickness of 14.1mm.
Prospex SLA017 - First Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition © Seiko
The third reason why the SPB071J1 is special is visually obvious – it features a blue to black graduated dial that is decorated with wave-like patterns. This is possibly the first time Seiko has had a two-tone dial. Interestingly, while the bezel insert is in black, the bezel itself is in blue.
The colour graduated dial may remind one of the Rolex Deepsea D-Blue but trust me, each wears differently. The blue-to-black graduated dial isn’t similar and both evoke different emotions for me; they are both worlds apart and the differences can be saved for a future story.
Seiko’s SPB071J1 features a 120-click bezel; in other words, there are two clicks for every minute for those who want more precise timing of elapsed time. The bezel turns are smooth, perhaps too smooth as at times, it was easy for me to accidentally make a double-click instead of a single one.
Prospex PADI Special Edition SPB071J1 © Seiko
For me, the Seiko Prospex PADI SPB071J1 is by far, the most elegant diver’s watch in the brand’s current collection. You’d be surprised to note that it does appear slimmer than the Seiko “Samurai” SRPB53K1, also launched at BaselWorld in 2017.
However, the much sportier and chunkier SRPB53K1 is actually slimmer at 13.4mm as compared to the SPB071J1 which is 13.8mm thick. Such an illusion is created thanks to its rear inward sloping case.
If you are lamenting over the lack of a crown guard on the SPB071J1, it is best to be gently reminded that this is a “re-interpretation” of the original which did not have one then.
In darkness, the SPB071J1 is also a two-tone beauty. With Seiko’s proprietary Lumibrite luminescence, the hour markers at 6, 9 and 12, the minute hand including the reference marker on the bezel emit a blue glow. Meanwhile, all the other hour markers, the minute hand and the counterweight of the sweep seconds hand fluoresce in green. There isn’t any glow at 3 o’clock as that is where the date display is.
Prospex PADI Special Edition by night © WorldTempus/Timmy Tan
Beating inside the SPB071J1 is the Calibre 6R15 automatic movement, a higher-end enhanced derivative of the well-known Calibre 7S26. The main enhancements of the Calibre 6R15 come in the form of the hacking seconds and the Spron 510 mainspring that results in the longer 50-hour power reserve as compared to the 7S26 which uses a traditional mainspring.
Based on a personal experience, the Calibre 6R15 is a highly robust and reliable movement. On the first dive outing with the SPB071J1 in February 2018, it accidentally fell more than one-metre and landed smack onto a concrete surface. Part of the lug was damaged yet the movement continued to run and maintained its accuracy till this day.
It isn’t surprising to hear those from some quarters labelling the Seiko Prospex PADI SPB071J1 “expensive” as it is priced at EUR910. Pricing is relative: yes, it is much dearer if one were to compare it with the brand’s more affordable diving watches. However, what then can one say when the SPB071J1 is compared with the SLA017 that is limited to 2,000 pieces and priced at EUR3,800? If compared with its closest comparable, its SPB053 sibling that also comes with a silicone strap and is priced at EUR900, is the additional EUR10 for a PADI Special Edition truly more expensive?
How does the Prospex PADI SPB071J1 fare as a dive watch? On our first daytime dive, we were satisfied with the high legibility it offered underwater. What’s more, the SPB071J1 even attracted a baby moray eel which swam out of its protective hiding place in the rocks to take a closer look. It was a real surprise to see the curious moray eel leave its comfort zone and expose itself out in the open just to be near the Prospex PADI SPB071J1, at least that’s what I want to believe. Now, how’s that for an underwater attraction?
On the first dive experience with the Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition in February 2018, the author’s PADI dive watch attracted this super-friendly baby moray eel © WorldTempus/Timmy Tan
Editor’s Note: The author owns both the Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition and the Rolex Deepsea Ref. 116660 with D-Blue Dial.
The history of Seiko is a more than 130 year story of innovation. From the very start, Kintaro Hattori was determined to be at the forefront of the industry and his oft-repeated credo was that Seiko should be “Always one step ahead of the rest.”Find out more >
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