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Seiko Turtle!-SRP 775 Review, BluShark Alpha Strap
Before getting started on the watches, a bit about Seiko nomenclature. The vintage Seiko divers that the new Prospex models most resemble are the cushion-cased 6306/9, 150-meter-water-resistant watches made from (roughly) the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s. These weren't extremely pressure resistant, in contrast to professional/commercial diver-oriented watches like the 600m Pro Diver from 1975 (which was also the first commercially available watch with a titanium case) but they were extremely durable and reliable and above all, affordable, offering tremendous performance relative to price. These cushion-cased watches have recently come to be called "Turtles," which is a nickname that annoys the living daylights out of a certain veteran Seiko collector/connoisseur contingent, as it's a relatively recent coinage. However, the name seems to have stuck, and for better or worse a lot of folks are calling these new watches – SRP775/7 – "Turtle" reissues. (Nomenclature aside, vintage Seiko dive watches are fun to collect and to this day, relatively affordable, with the caveat that applies to all vintage tool watches: in many cases they were treated as tools, and they look it.)
Despite the closeness in name, these are actually two slightly different watches. SRP775 has gilt bezel markers, and gilt surrounds for the lume plots; SRP777 has polished steel hands and lume plot surrounds. Other than that they are identical. Both watches have 44.3 mm x 14 mm cushion cases, with screw-down crowns and case backs; both use the Seiko self-winding caliber 4R36, and both are water resistant to 200 meters, and are fully ISO 6425 compliant (that's the international standard, for all ISO member countries, that defines what can and cannot be called a diver's watch).
There has always been a certain deliberate simplicity about Seiko's low-to-mid-level dive watches. They're really tool watches in the most exact sense I can think of. Very few people who buy a hammer take into consideration how beautifully it is polished, or whether the color scheme is a good one or an ugly one, or whether or not other people who see you using that hammer are going to be impressed with how much it cost you to buy it, or use it as an aid in imagining the glamorous, exciting life of being a professional hammer-er. What people want when they buy a hammer is a good hammer. Dive watches are as popular as they are because if you want a tool watch, you want a watch that does the job of telling the time, anywhere, anywhen, with no distractions or cute nonsense about aesthetics, and a well-designed tool watch does just that.
For many years, the best hammer in the world in the dive watch universe was probably the Seiko SKX007 and variants. Above, we've placed the SKX007 side by side with the new SRP775. Aside from the gilt numbers and indices, and of course, the case shape, there is not a great deal to differentiate them, but at the same time, there's no doubt that the value offering here is slightly different. Functionally, the biggest difference is that you can actually hand-wind SRP775/7 if you want to, which obviates the necessity of swinging the watch in order to wind up the mainspring when you first pick it up (a signature trait of SKX007 and of Seiko 5 watches as well). It's a small thing that may make a big difference, depending on who you are – I've noticed I'm much more likely to wear a watch I can actually hand-wind, even if it's an automatic, just because I start off with a better sense of how much gas is in the tank.
One of the places you see a little extra quality in the SRP775 in particular is in the bracelet, which is noticeably nicer finished than has hitherto been the case in Seiko's entry level dive watches. The folding clasp is a simple, sturdy affair, but the level of polishing is higher and you get solid end-links, which is a very nice touch in a sub-$500 diver's watch. The lugs are pierced, making it easier to swap out a strap for a bracelet and vice-versa. Properly sized, even with a bracelet, these are really comfortable watches to wear, thanks to the close fit of the case to the wrist, and despite the 44.4 mm x 14 mm dimensions.