Seiko is back, delivering a new set of durable diver’s watches created in support of PADI. The three new Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI Special Editions are suitably named for their blue gradient dials inspired by the views seen by a diver underwater as the sun reflects and shines on the surface.
A Little About Seiko & PADI
I’m a huge advocate for Seiko, and I’d quite confidently argue that Seiko makes some of the best affordable automatic watches in the world. The Seiko Prospex diver’s watch is their flagship, offering robust waterproof cases, handsome aesthetics and high-precision movements for very good value for money. What’s more, some Seiko Prospex watches are highly collectible and have increased in value over the years. Why this is, is still a bit of a mystery, and the answer lies somewhere between nostalgia, accessibility, and an extensive spectrum of choice.
SRPK01K1- Credit Seiko
Some of these collectible gems can be found within the Seiko Prospex PADI collection. Just a few years after the first Seiko diver’s watch was created in 1965, two American divers set out to officiate the standards of training in diving and founded the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Over the last half-century, PADI has become one of the world's largest and most trusted scuba diving training organizations. In 2016, Seiko became the exclusive global watch brand approved to create a line of professional diver's watches featuring the official colors and logos of PADI, and ever since we’ve seen a number of Seiko Prospex PADI timepieces hit the market.
The latest is the new trilogy of Seiko Prospex's ‘Great Blue’ PADI watches, and you’ll notice each of the three is confidently nicknamed either the “Turtle,” “Samurai,” or “Sumo.” These are just a handful of Seiko nicknames out there. These names were originally created by fans of the brand to help distinguish between the different models and are cleverly inspired by case and dial design elements. Interestingly, even Seiko now labels their watches as such, and I learned recently that their boutiques are signposted inside in the same way.
SPB375J1 - Credit Seiko
The Seiko Prospex “Turtle” was one of the first Seiko designs to receive a nickname. It was originally released in 1977 and later re-issued around 30 years later due to its popularity, named as such for its round silhouette that evokes the shape of a curved turtle shell. The Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI Turtle watch is no different, electing a cushion-shaped case measuring 45mm wide and 13.2mm thick. It also comes with the Turtle’s familiar rounded hour markers and a unique 4 o’clock crown placement.
Distinctively different in style, the Seiko Prospex “Samurai” watch is named after its sharp, angular profile and sword-shaped hands that look as if a Japanese samurai sword has sharpened them. This design was originally launched in 2004 as a Japanese-only release before later entering the worldwide market in 2017. The Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI Samurai watch honors its reputation with a large and angular 43.8mm wide and 12.8mm tall stainless steel case, tooth-like hour markers, and sword-shaped hands.
SRPJ93K - Credit Seiko
Finally, we have the Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ Sumo watch. The Seiko Sumo is one of the youngest of the brand’s nicknamed divers, launched in 2007, and is named as such for its large and curvy case and unusually shaped 12 o’clock marker. Many argue the latter replicates either a "chonmage,” the topknot adopted by a Sumo wrestler, or the shape of “mawashi,” the loincloth they wear during the competition. Whichever way you see it, the Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ Sumo watch is handsome but may be less suited to those with smaller wrists for its sturdy 45mm width and 13.35mm height.
The new Underwater-Inspired Dial
The dial is the novelty of the new Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI watches. Seiko describes it as “influenced by a diver’s underwater view as the sun reflects and shines on the surface,” and that image certainly transfers nicely onto the final product. The blue centerpiece has a nice gradient effect going from top to bottom, darkening as the water gets deeper beneath your feet. A charming visual touch is the subtle embossing on the upper half, which reflects the movement of the waves and the shimmers of light created on the water by the sun above. Each dial also has the PADI logo positioned above the 6 o’clock marker.
SRPJ93K1 - Credit Seiko
In the last couple of months, we’ve seen a couple of watch brands adorn their diver’s watches with gradient blue dials like this. Mido recently equipped their Ocean Star Tribute watch with a handsome gradient light blue dial, and more notably, Omega has celebrated the 75th anniversary of their Seamaster watch with a whole new collection of gradient blue-dialled watches. Omega has called the display the “Summer Blue” dial and trialed it across 11 models, including the Seamaster Aqua Terra World Timer and the Seamaster Ultra Deep. The blue center is slightly different on every model, my personal favorite being the Seamaster Diver 300m with its wave-adorned, fumé dial.
Leaving all other specifications and prices out of the equation and considering only the dials on offer here, I have to admit that I much prefer the finish of the Summer Blue dials on the Omega Seamasters compared to that of the Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI. I think the gradient finish is executed much better, and I can’t quite decide if the water reflections printed on the upper half of the Seiko dial are nice or tacky. I’d love to know what you guys think, so please argue with me in the comments. On the other hand, once you bring the rest of the specifications and pricing back into the mix, it’s very easy to see where you’re getting the best value for your money. Ultimately, you can score a Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI watch for a tenth of the price of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300m.
SRPK01K1 - Credit Seiko
As for the rest of the specifications, the Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI watches offer cases engineered from stainless steel, screw-in crowns, screw-down case backs, and water-resistant ratings of 200 meters. To match their dials, the unidirectional rotating bezels come with fresh blue color palettes. They have navy blue aluminum inserts with predominantly grey printed 60-minute scales other than the section between 0 and 15, which is done in a striking sky blue to match the minute's hand on each dial. The latter offers plenty of Lumibrite across its hardware for legibility in low lighting and is protected beneath sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective treatment on the inner surface.
The movements differ slightly in each design. The Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI Turtle delivers additional functionality over its counterparts with a magnified day and date display at 3 o’clock, powered by the Calibre 4R36 automatic winding movement with a 41-hour power reserve. The Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI Samurai offers classic time-and-date complications fuelled by the Calibre 4R35 with a matching 41-hour oxygen tank. Finally, the Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI Sumo trumps its brothers with a 70-hour power reserve driven by the Calibre 6R35.
SPB375J1 - Credit Seiko
As is always the case with Seiko Prospex watches, the new ‘Great Blue’ PADI Special Editions are great value diver’s watches. They have a good set of specs and impressive price points floating between £550 and £1,100. If you’re a diver who can fully appreciate the underwater-inspired dial, then these watches will be very much suited to you. For me, on the other hand, I am more tempted by more classic gradient blue dials on the market. But finding them at this quality and price is easier said than done. We’d love to know your thoughts, so let us know what you think of the Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ PADI watches in the comments below.
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