After much deliberation, I have decided to purchase a modest birthday present for myself, in the shape of a second Seiko Turtle – this time the SRP-779 model, with the Pepsi bezel, compared to the SRP-775 which is the gold two-tone version. So the watch is the same apart from cosmetic differences and that the Pepsi comes not with a bracelet but with a Seiko rubber band.
I had my eye on a number of more expensive Seiko divers which, sparing you esoteric model numbers, come with nicknames such as the Sumo and the Shogun. In the watch world, Seiko divers have a strong following and you would be sure to receive an unfavourable response if you said on being shown a diver with a £1,000 price tag; “It’s only a Seiko.” They represent excellent value for money, are frequently and easily modified to change the official offerings and come with either in-house automatic or quartz movements.
Turtles are equipped with Seiko’s 4R36 movement which is utilitarian and on my 775 working very well indeed, within COSC rates and better than the specified rating of ±20 seconds per day. Unlike the older 7S26 movements, it hacks and is hand windable.
I’ve ordered from a global reseller who is based in Hong Kong, after much dithering. My indecision was caused by my initially wanting a J or Made in Japan version, compared to the K or Not Made in Japan version.
There is a certain, snobbish cachet about having Japanese made watches, from a Japanese vendor, rather than the lesser “made somewhere else” version; Seiko has manufacturing plants in Japan, China and possibly elsewhere. However given the price difference between the two, at about £100, and the only real difference apart from a line of text on the dial, is the date wheel shows the days in different languages, meant that I decided upon a bog-standard K. This will likely not make a jot of difference in wearing or using it.
I very nearly bought it from Rob at MonsterWatches – motto: Gek van horloges – Mad for watches – in the Netherlands (thereby combining two passions of mine) who has an increadible range of Seiko models, often hard to find, with many of them in the prefered J class. An added attraction is that Rob is able to offer a J model with a double-domed sapphire crystal in place of the rather pedestrian, standard, hardlex. Sapphire is more scratch resistant, looks shinier and with a double-dome would offer some interesting distortions while looking through it to the dial. Sadly the price of about €380 is just too high, given that I already have this watch, that the J version is the same as the cheaper K and the crystal on my 775 does just fine.
The other reason I bought the Pepsi dialled Turtle, was to see how I get on with a watch which I know is comfortable but with the different aesthetics of the blue and red bezel. While this is not the same as a GMT watch, like the famous Rolex GMT Pepsi, it is close enough in rough looks to see whether I would like to even contemplate possibly purchasing one at some stage. I think I like the look but living with it for some time rather than a quick look on the wrist will help.
Another advantage of duplicating a Turtle in my collection, is that I will be able to fit my Strapcode Super Jubilee bracelet and the steel bracelet which comes with the 775. Reviews of the 779’s rubber strap are mixed, with people stating that it picks up a lot of lint and that the keeper moves around annoyingly.
Before finally deciding to buy the 779, I was swithering on going up-market to either a Sumo or Shogun. These are JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) watches only and come in different configurations. They have attractive cases, shapes and Seiko in-house movements. Compared to Swiss brands they’re fantastic value for money.
However the Sumo, as it’s nickname suggests, is one large watch and I prefer nothing too hefty, being delicate and refined myself. The Shogun, see right, is very much more attractive. I love Titanium and this watch is made exclusively from that metal. It’s sized to fit human rather than Sumo wrists. However it’s £930. The hands come from an entry-level diver called The Monster – they have the unique feature of looking like a rocket when all aligned above each other. The crystal is still “only” hardlex – paying over £900 I expect a sapphire crystal. The bracelet’s links are retained by collar and pins which again at this price point, is somewhat lacking – I’d expect screwed links which can be dealt with by a small slot-headed screwdriver, not a hammer and specialised pin tools which the Shogun’s links need. Finally the movement is a 6R15, a step up in quality from the 4R36 but it’s still nothing magical. If Seiko could produce the Shogun with a sapphire crystal, include the 8L35 automatic movement and have screwed links (maybe that’s difficult with the steel connecting to titanium?) – I would buy one, even with the Monster’s hands.
So after all that – a very reasonable £190 bought me the Pepsi Turtle which may be with me in time to celebrate my birthday. Even if it’s not, I hope soon to enjoy it and bore everyone I meet, forcing them to look and admire it.