Field Test: @TheVanMan Goes Lakeside With the Seiko “Turtle” SRP775

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I think to say that the watch world was excited by Seiko’s launch of the SRP77x-range would be a rather large understatement. I’ve been knocking around blogs, message boards, and social networks where WIS convene for nearly a decade now (hard to believe it’s been that long), and the only comparable event I can recall was Tudor’s big brand relaunch and the subsequent release of their tool divers.

SEIKO_SRP775_SRP777_SLIDEREverywhere I turned there were photos, videos, and long threads gushing over the re-release of the “Turtle.” While I’d never owned or even handled its historical counterpart, the 6309, I knew I’d eventually have to get my hands on the reissue—preferably sooner than later. Last month the opportunity arose when Zach was kind enough to lend me his SRP775 for a few weeks to put through the paces. A few days in Zach mentioned that he already missed the watch, and now that I’ve spent some time with it I completely understand why.

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Not unlike most watch lovers, Seiko holds a special place in my heart. I clearly remember my dad buying himself a new Seiko Kinetic when I was was a just a kid, and him letting me try it on to feel the lightness of the titanium. While I knew in the abstract what Rolex was, Seiko was my first live introduction to a good watch. That brand association would hang around in the back of my mind until my early 20s when watches finally became an interest (read: obsession) and I made my first dive watch purchase, a Seiko 6105-8000. I loved that watch, but as is often the way with a WIS a trade opportunity too good to pass arose and it found a new home. Testing the SRP775 was an opportunity to get a Seiko back on my wrist for the first time in years.

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While I love dive watches, I am not in fact a diver. I am, however, a waterman, if you will. Summers find me spending most weekends at the lakes of New England and winters can find me unceremoniously stuffed into 5mm worth of neoprene getting brain freeze in the ocean. Dive watches simply fit my lifestyle. Testing Seiko’s new Turtle, I wore it for a weekend at a lakeside camp in Maine—a place where time kind of stands still with cabins dating back to the turn of the century doting the shoreline. Cell service has only recently begun to poke its unwelcome nose into the area. It’s an escape. Where the Turtle is a thoroughly modern watch with a clear nod to the past, this seemed like the proper proving grounds.

I wore the Turtle on one of our worn&wound shell cordovan straps. The bracelet looked solid and it was certainly a nice complement to the SRP’s cushion case, but I just preferred the look and feel of the watch on leather. I know that leather and water shouldn’t mix, but the cordovan was hard wearing and dried rather quickly after a dip or two.

Speaking of the cushion case, the Turtle is officially the most comfortable diver I’ve worn to date. Moving kayaks in and out of the water, loading canoes on roof racks, and carrying 100-pound outboard motors would normally result in a watch grinding and digging into my wrist. Not the Turtle. While it measures at a tad over 44mm wide and 14mm thick, the case bevels up and away and a crown at 4 o’clock means it won’t dig into the wrist. In fact, it’s so comfortable and light for a watch of its size that I found myself forgetting I had it on.

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The water hadn’t yet warmed up in Maine, but the ice was out so the Turtle accompanied me on a few frigid dips. Obviously, swimming a few meters below the surface was no challenge for the watch, nor was the temperature. I appreciated not having to worry about the crown loosening from rubbing against my wrist (yes, it’s happened in the past). I did, however, find some issue with the bezel; it was a bit difficult to operate underwater, with the knurling not offering as much grip as I would have liked. I was surprised that Seiko chose to polish the bezel surface, which seems to only exacerbate the issue. I could see it being equally as challenging with gloves.

SEIKO_SRP775_SRP777_26The matte dial and copiously lumed indices meant that the Turtle was incredibly legible both during the day and more importantly during the night—old clocks of questionable accuracy abound at the camp. The hands and 6-9-12 indices scream Seiko and are rather bold, just as effective as they were on the original.

SeikoTurtleSRP775_FieldTest-8I threw the best of a lakeside summer weekend at the Turtle—kayaking, boating, swimming, beers on the dock, and some hotly contested games of Jenga. I only remembered the watch was there when I needed to know the time or felt like hearing the satisfying click of the bezel. It garnered a lot of compliments and questions that weekend.

The reality is that Seiko nailed their reissue of the 6309. Dial printing aside, with a few dings, swirls, and scuffs most people wouldn’t be able to tell the SRP77x from the original. It’s a true testament to the longevity and timelessness of the design. Should its quirky shape and dial appeal to you, it’s guaranteed to be a reliable partner in crime for many years to come.

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Jon is a native New Englander who enjoys traveling as much as returning home. He has a passion for watches that his significant other kindly tolerates whilst shaking her head in consternation. A tendency to plow through life with little finesse has led him to appreciate and pursue the utility of a good tool watch.
thevanman
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  • Matt Rowe

    While I’m always tempted to sport a mechanical on trips like that I tend to wuss out and grab one of the Casio’s. Looks like I need a Seiko diver… oh the dilemma…

    • Jon

      I figure divers were made to handle worse conditions than I usually throw at them. Plus, I get to work on developing my own patina. G-Shock’s are legitimately awesome though.

      • Matt Rowe

        You’re right. I needs a good diver!

  • Peter D

    Cwc RN diver quartz is my go to. A long history and military career and not been altered since 1983

    • Jon

      Those are great!

  • TS

    Can you clarify which strap that is? The color of the leather and stitching doesn’t match any of the cordovan straps as far as I can see. Thanks!

    • It is one of our whiskey shell cordovan straps with a different thread color. We’re unfortunately sold out of whiskey for the time being.

  • Mark Silgalis

    I have the 777. It has (in my 10 watch collection) quickly become my daily wear. My copy has no such problems with the bezel as I find it both easy and sure to turn. I can’t recommend this watch enough.

    • Jon

      Good to hear Mark! I wouldn’t classify it as a problem per say, just a constructive criticism. It’s one of the least grip-able bezels I’ve tested and I found it odd to polish a surface that’s intended to be gripped under water. The spring was also stiff, but it’s a pretty new watch and I find click springs loosen up a little with use (which I personally prefer). I can totally see what it’s become your daily wearer, so damn comfy and great to look at. Wear it well!

  • Jon

    Hey Roman, thanks for reading! I found it to be very practical in the outdoors and getting it wet, a little dirty, and some sweat. The shell cordovan is an incredibly durable leather (it’s literally made from a horse’s rear haunches). It also looks good. That said I usually go for a NATO in these use cases. But, I wanted to change it up and test out how a leather strap performed. I think part of the reason this leather strap worked well is it’s not padded so it dried out quickly and given the sturdy stitching at the ends I didn’t have any concerns with it coming apart.

    Cheers,

    Jon

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