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The Seiko Prospex PADI "Great Blue" King Samurai 200M Automatic Ref. SBDY123 is the latest collection to the "King” series collection in 2023, and with several upgrades that has been longing by collectors and enthusiasts. Prospex for Seiko basically means "Professional Specification" that their timepieces in this category are built with very high standards to be used by professionals. One of the most popular releases in recent years is probably the remake of the OG Seiko Samurai launched in 2004 till 2008 (short production period). The original Samurai divers are pretty rare given its short four years production lifespan, further with few examples floating around in the market. It is no wonder the new Prospex SBDY019 are so popular among Seiko and dive watch collectors, as the brand revived this fantastic line since 2017. And today we will dive into the details of the “crowned” Samurai that speaks of much refinement done to it.
|Seiko Prospex PADI "Great Blue" King Samurai 200M Automatic Ref. SBDY123
Before we get started, with much request since we introduced Seiko JDMs, we decided to bring in the MADE IN JAPAN Turtles meant for the Japanese Domestic Market, denoted by the "J" in the reference number and the "MADE IN JAPAN" at 6 on the dial. The Prospex SBDY123 is a never seen before design within its samurai armour. The SBDY123 a JDM model made available only in Japan. The difference might be subtle but this means a lot for Seiko collectors.
Next, the connection between Seiko and PADI (which stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors), the world’s most trusted scuba diving training organization, also merits attention. Established in 1966 and based in the US, PADI offers an array of courses ranging from entry-level to relatively advanced recreational diver certification courses. This association is reported to have awarded over 27 million scuba certifications, in over 6,300 diving centers globally. 2016 marked the beginning of the partnership between PADI and Seiko via the first special edition, the ever reliable PADI Turtle SRPA21J1. Other editions with novel designs and updated materials have since surfaced. Today we introduce the Seiko Prospex PADI “Great Blue" King Samurai 200M Automatic Ref. SBDY123.
Caliber 4R35 Seiko Automatic
The King Samurai 200M Automatic was released in mid of 2023, yet with another oceanic dial theme. The overall look of the Samurai is one of a kind, quirky and unique given its unusual case silhouette. Powered by Seiko's automatic caliber, 4R35, operating at 21,600 BPH (3 Hertz) with hacking and hand winding capabilities. It has 23 jewels with a power reserve of 40 hours.
The 200m water resistant stainless steel case measure 43.8mm case without the crown, but has a lug to lug length of only 48.7mm, and a height of about 12.8mm; along a lug width of 22mm. The short angled lugs to lugs length means this watch wraps around the wrist on all(small or big) wrist sizes like a glove making it extremely comfortable.
Notably, as of the “crown” of the King Samurai, the bezel is one of the newly introduced blue ceramic insert with the evergreen Seiko’s large printed markings on it in contrasting white colour, with the first 15 minutes in light turquoise blue. The bezel’s grooves are distinctive with intricate knurling, allowing better grip and rotates buttery smooth into 120 positions has little to no free play in a clockwise direction. Sitting atop of the case is another Seiko’s latest upgrade; a flat sapphire crystal with the elongated magnifying Cyclop for its day/date display.
|Samurai's iconic facetted case design|
Mixture of refined satin-brush finish on the surface and Seiko high polishing on sides, giving it a somewhat premium tool watch feel. The screw-down crown with unique cross-hatched knurling at three o'clock is easy for time-setting. Moving to the back of the watch, the screw-down-case back allows 200m water resistant, and is also brushed, featuring the recognizable tsunami emblem that is staple on the other Seiko divers. The case does comes with drilled lug-holes to allow swapping of straps with ease.
The highlight of this Seiko Prospex King Samurai has got to be the gradient wave textured dial. The most prominent being the nautical inspired dial done with a graduating oceanic aesthetic, whereby a kind of gradient tone that graduates from a dark blue at the bottom of the dial to an oceanic light blue color towards the top. Seiko has created a new wave pattern at lighter blue section on this model recalling the surface waves of the ocean, and recalling certain intricate motion just like the “great wave off Kanagawa” pictured by Hokusai. The hour markers and two-tone handset are kept with the classic Samurai’s design, and each individually applied with Seiko’s Lumibrite that glows ever-so brightly in the dark.
Seiko Prospex King Samura comes with a matching dark blue rubber strap with “Professional Association of Diving Instructors” printed at the tail side.
In all, Seiko once again replicated another successful version of its all new King Samurai, and the PADI Edition is probably one of the more exciting dive watch from Seiko in 2023. And one of the few watches that is worthy to be in any dive watch collection. With its excellent price point and good value for money, it is a watch that will probably find itself onto the wrist of most Seiko buyers. The unique gradient blue dial design based on the partnership serves as an essential factor that your purchase of one is actively supporting a brand who seeks to continue its dive-watchmaking legacy.