Some watches are just right as digitals. By “right,” I mean that they just look as though they were always intended to have moving numbers rather than moving hands. There’s a good chance of getting burned at the horological stake for saying it, but the Seiko Tuna has always been one of them. Before you rush for the matches and the watch oil, a digital Tuna isn’t completely without precedent. After all, the H558-5009 “Arnie” in the early 1980s featured a small digital display.
And why not? Digitals are clear, reliable, robust, and good under both pressure and temperature variation. Diving watches need to be all those things and the Tuna, after all, is the arch-diver. And sure, a diving watch is a bit academic in these days of diving computers, but there are plenty of enthusiasts who still want a watch to go alongside their dive tech.
Looks like Seiko Japan have reached the same conclusion with the launch of the Prospex SBEP range. These are fully digital Tunas (you have no idea how hard it is to resist making some sort of bad pun about “fish fingers” at this point). Using Seiko’s typically snappy and memorable numbering system, the standard models have been christened SBEP001, SBEP003 and SBEP005. The SBEP007 model (so, Mr Bond, we meet again…) is limited to 600 units sold through Journal Standard shops, and there will be just 300 SBEP009s in Urban Research shops in Japan.
What does the range look like? The 001 has the standard black shroud case with silver pushers. The 003 features a neat nod to past glories with a Pepsi bezel, whereas the 005 blings it up with gold pushers. The 007 comes (of course) on a rugged nylon mil-strap (if only it had been the Bond pattern) with stainless pushers and screws, and the 009 is just black—plain black. If you’re a Hitchhikers’ Guide to Galaxy fan you may be reminded of Hotblack Desiato’s spaceship as described by Ford Perfect, “It’s so . . . black! You can hardly make out its shape . . . light just seems to fall into it!” If you’re a Tuna fan, you’re probably thinking more along the lines of a “Digi Darth.”