Seiko has unveiled three special edition timepiece divers as part of their Prospex line. The SRPH55, SRPH57, and SRPH59 join the “Turtle” family this fall, and they are exclusive to the US market. These watches emphasize Seiko’s ongoing efforts to promote ocean exploration and conservation. In addition to an official partnership with PADI, the world’s leading scuba diver training operation, and sponsor of PADI Project Aware. Seiko has announced its official sponsorship of Oceanic Society, America’s first ocean conservation non-profit, and its global work to study and protect endangered sea turtles.
For years, Seiko’s “Turtle” dive watches have been the go-to choice for professional divers and more casual hobbyists alike. The cases are easy to wear, robust, and have all the classic Seiko dive watch design DNA you’d expect. The oversized cushion case that resembles a turtle shell is this watch’s trademark, and the reason the nickname has stuck around for decades. The three special editions seen here lean into the “turtle” naming convention, and offer collectors something unique in the process.
The dials on these three new watches all have a pattern inspired by the shell of a “turtle.” Given the popularity of the turtle divers over the years, it seems surprising, in retrospect, that this is the first time such a design has been deployed. Now that it’s here, it’s extremely effective as a tribute to the longstanding design of these watches and is aesthetically pleasing all on its own, with a texture and complex geometry that is uncommon on what’s typically thought of as a pure tool watch.
Most importantly, they call attention to the mission of the Oceanic Society, and serve to highlight their State of the World’s Sea Turtles (SWOT) program, a worldwide collaboration of thousands of individuals dedicated to protecting the world’s seven species of sea turtles and the ocean habitats they live in. Collectors have their choice of three dial options: brown, turquoise, and blue. The blue dial features a matching bezel, and all watches are paired with a matching silicone strap in addition to the stainless steel bracelet.
These watches are part of the newer line of “King Turtle” watches introduced early in 2020, and they offer some notable upgrades over the standard “turtle”. The 60-minute diving bezels on these references feature ceramic inserts as opposed to aluminum, so they won’t scratch or fade over time with regular wear. Similarly, the crystals here have been upgraded to sapphire glass, for clear optics and a scratch-resistant surface. The cases, though, are classic turtle and measure 45mm in diameter. Don’t let that measurement fool you, though. “Turtles” are surprisingly wearable for a larger dive watch thanks to the short lugs and an overall compact shape.
While the special edition “King Turtles” have been given an artful aesthetic treatment, they are still tool watches at heart, just like any watch in the Prospex lineup. They are water-resistant to 200 meters and are powered by the ultra-reliable 4R36 movement, which beats at a rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour and keeps a power reserve of 41 hours in total when fully wound. The hands and hour markers glow strongly thanks to the generous application of LumiBrite material, and the day/date display can tell you the day of the week in either English or Kanji.
An additional touch has been applied to the screw-down case back in the form of an engraved turtle sketch, a reminder of this watch’s connection both to the ocean and Seiko’s history. Also included with each watch is a booklet featuring additional information on some of the turtle species that the Oceanic Society and Seiko are working together to protect, as well as information on their partnership.
The new “King Turtle” Special Editions from Seiko are worthy additions to the turtle lineup and represent a unique take on a type of watch that Seiko has mastered over the years. At $750, there’s an awful lot of value here when you consider the special edition dials, reliable automatic movement, upgrades to the bezel and crystal, as well as additional color-coordinated silicone strap. The real joy in owning a watch like this, however, comes in knowing that you’re helping a great cause. A portion of the proceeds from each watch sold will go directly to the Ocean Society’s work, which is dedicated to creating connections between ordinary people and the world’s waterways. That’s a cause that any fan of dive watches, turtles, or otherwise, can get behind. Available this month at select Seiko retailers and starting in November on Seiko USA.