Behold the Seiko King Turtle – three additions to their popular line of vintage-inspired “Turtle” dive watches. The new references – SRPE03, SRPE05 and SRPE07 – add features beloved by tool watch aficionados. As expected, bought-and-paid internet watch gazers at wornandwound.com are wetting themselves over these new models. gearpatrol.com proclaimed them a “massive upgrade.” But for whom?
What did Seiko change? The Seiko King Turtle boasts bezels upgraded with ceramic inserts with better texturing on the perimeter. The crystals are swapped for sapphire with a magnifier over the day/date window. New, textured dials are installed.
These changes makes the watches look and feel a more like serious dive tools, which of course they are not. The heavy-handed ad man at Worn & Wound says “the 03 and 05 feature a dial pattern that reminds me of the ‘Mega Tapisserie’ dial of the Royal Oak Offshore.” Why make such a bougie comparison? Turtles are modestly priced watches. I see a similarity to Japanese waffle weave linen towels. Being pedestrian is not a crime.
The real effect of these changes is to ruin the Turtle’s vintage good looks. This watch was cool specifically because it faithfully recalled Seiko’s beloved ref. 6309 cushion case diver from 1976. Adding these unnecessary features takes it further away from that heritage. If you already have a Turtle, these “Kings” are a downgrade.
From a manufacturing standpoint, none of these changes are new or innovative for Seiko. The Seiko King Turtle parts are decidedly off the shelf for a massive, vertically integrated watchmaking machine like the shonen shojo from Ginza. In fact, there’s maybe five bucks worth of upgrades here at volume. Yet…
…the MSRPs increased by $100 across the board. That means a clean extra Benjamin of gross margin in Seiko’s pocket for each watch sold. So in the end, as with the Alpinist, the real upgrade here is for Seiko. Or for the guys in Tokyo selling them new money machines to account for all the manufactured hype.