For the past couple of years, Seiko has been really focussed on reissuing some of its most iconic dive watches. Which is by no means a bad thing, because it gives us a chance to own some of their best designs with all the benefits of modern manufacturing techniques.
The latest watch to be reissued, or reinterpreted as Seiko prefers to say, is their 6105-8000 “Turtle”. This was only the second dive watch that Seiko produced, and it had a fairly short production run, only being made from 1968-1970. The original model has naturally become pretty collectable, and with Seiko reissuing the 62MAS and the Captain Willard, the 6105 Turtle was the next logical choice.
The new collection is officially called the “Prospex Heritage Turtle 1968 Re-Interpretation”, and there are three different models to choose from. The white dialled SPB313J1, the black and gilt SPB315J1, and the black and white SPB317J1. It’s the latter model I’ve got in to review, and it was kindly loaned to me by Francis & Gaye Jewellers. As always I thoroughly recommend them as a UK-based authorised dealer and they have a fantastic selection of brands to choose from. Regarding pricing, the SPB317J1 retails for £810 on a rubber strap, and the other models go for £990 on a steel bracelet.
The Specifications Of The SPB317J1
On paper, the SPB317J1 has all the features that are hallmarks of these higher-end Prospex divers. The watch has a 200m depth rating, a sapphire crystal, and the case is treated with Seiko’s scratch-resistant DiaShield coating. It also goes without saying that the lume on the SPB317J1 is exceptionally bright.
Inside the SPB317J1 beats Seiko’s in-house calibre 6R35. This automatic movement has 24 jewels, a beat rate of 21,600 bph, and a 70-hour power reserve. Though these movement specs are pretty solid, the 6R35 is only rated to be accurate to between +25 to -15 seconds per day, which isn’t what I’d expect from a watch at this price point. It’s something that I really hope Seiko improves on in the near future, as I think it’s the main thing that detracts from their watches at the moment. Not to mention that I’m getting sick of mentioning the same point each time I review a Seiko!
The bezel insert is aluminium and uses the same design that Seiko has been using for decades. It’s one of the features that helps to give the SPB317J1 that classic Seiko look, but of course, the aluminium is nowhere near as durable as the steel inserts used on Seiko’s 62MAS reinterpretations. You might also have already noticed that predictably the bezel is misaligned. Again, it’s not something that you expect in a watch that retails for over £800, and bezel alignment is the second major improvement I think Seiko need to make to their watches.
A Classic Seiko Design
The design of the SPB317J1 is very true to the 6105-8000 it’s based on, with just a few minor tweaks to tie the watch into Seiko’s other Prospex divers. In fact, the dial layout is almost identical to that used on the Willard reissue, with chunky polished baton markers on a matte black dial. It’s not exactly an imaginative layout, but it provides the high contrast you expect on a professional dive watch.
Meanwhile, the baton handset is also the same as that used on the Willard reissues, with a dual brushed and polished finish that creates some interesting light play. The shovel-tipped seconds hand is the same too, with a red lume spot that serves as the only splash of colour on the watch.
The biggest talking point about the design of the SPB317J1 is actually its date window. Date windows can be quite divisive features, with some people finding them useful and others disliking that they can ruin the symmetry of a watch. For anyone who falls into the latter camp, I wouldn’t worry about the one on the SPB317J1, because it’s actually barely noticeable. It’s positioned at 4:30, and with its colour-matched date wheel, it’s actually very unobtrusive. I think its placement is Seiko’s attempt to compromise between the two sides of the date or no date debate, whilst also allowing them to follow the latest ISO6425 guidelines, which require dive watches to have lume plots at all hour markers.
All this is housed in a brushed steel cushion case that’s not really any different from the original Turtle. The combination of all these elements results in a watch that’s best described as a no-frills dive watch. And I mean that in a good way, because it’s got all the functionality you want in a diver, with absolutely no excess design features. The simple black and white dial looks really crisp, with the hands and markers really popping out at you, and it’s therefore exceptionally legible.
The SPB317J1 Is Very Comfortable On The Wrist
One of the best things about the SPB317J1 is just how well it wears on the wrist. This is partly due to its dimensions. The case is 41mm wide, with a 46.9mm lug length, and a thickness of 12.25mm. This makes the SPB317J1 Seiko’s thinnest Prospex diver yet, and because of that, the watch sits really unobtrusively on the wrist.
The other reason it wears so well is because the crown is located at 4 o’clock, and as a result, it can’t dig into the back of my hand. This is far from an unusual design choice for Seiko, but on the SPB317J1 I really noticed just how much more comfortable it made the watch to wear.
The last thing to talk about when it comes to the comfort of the SPB317J1 is the rubber strap it comes on. The strap is well-made, with supple rubber, chunky steel hardware, and a subtle pattern. It’s certainly not anything special, but it’s comfortable and exactly what I’d expect to see fitted to this watch. Plus with 20mm drilled lugs the SPB317J1 will suit a plethora of aftermarket straps if the stock one isn’t your thing.
As I said earlier, I think of the SPB317J1 as a no-frills diver. It’s a watch that’s not concerned with fancy finishing and over-the-top design elements. Everything is functional and to the point, and as this is a reissue of the 6105, the design is packed with Seiko DNA. All of which makes the SPB317J1 the quintessential Seiko dive watch in my opinion.
It’s hardly a revolutionary watch, but rather the SPB317J1 is a tasteful evolution of an iconic Seiko design that’s a classic for a reason. It’s legible, toolish and easy to wear. It’s just a pity that the usual Seiko issues of bezel alignment and movement accuracy continue to rear their ugly heads. I’m also conscious that with a retail price of £810, the SPB317J1 is hardly cheap. However, it seems that Seiko has realised the value of its history and factored that into the price of these Prospex reinterpretations. But, besides those small issues, I think the SPB317J1 is a solid dive watch that makes for a great daily beater.
Thanks once again to Francis & Gaye for loaning the watch to us. You can purchase the Prospex SPB317J1 Turtle Re-Interpretation from their website here.