Seiko quietly added a new version of its new Prospex 200M Diver watch with the reference SBDB017 and SBDB018 models recently. What’s interesting for me is that this is among the rare occasions that Seiko has used one of its higher-end Spring Drive movements in an otherwise mid-range collection. Even the basic three-hand version of this generation Prospex 200M Diver costs about $1,000 so this is no slouch collection, but with the Spring Drive movement inside, these SBDB017 and SBDB018 watches are near the top of ladder for these favored tool watches. While it isn’t an official name used by Seiko, as new dive watches styles from the brand often get an informal nickname, this current generation Seiko Prospex 200M watch case is sometimes known as the “Transocean.”
We’ve seen Seiko use Spring Drive movements in Marinemaster collection models, but as far as I know, this is the first time a Seiko Spring Drive GMT movement has been used in mid-range collection. For the most part, you see the in-house-made Seiko caliber 5R66 Spring Drive GMT movement in Grand Seiko models. The 5R66 movement is accurate to one second per day and has 72 hours of power reserve, being powered by a traditional mainspring with a quartz regulation system. Functions here include the time, date, power reserve indicator, and of course, GMT hand. If you haven’t played with a Spring Drive movement in the past, what you’ll really be impressed with the first time around is just how smooth the “gliding” seconds hand is.
When I was in Japan a few months ago, it was impossible to not see a variety of these new Seiko Prospex 200M watches in various forms. This newly updated collection has a very aggressive design and a large 45mm-wide case. Thick dimensions and strong angular lines define the case, while the dial is a mixture of elements we’ve seen in popular Seiko dive watches from the past, distilled and emulated in a new form for this fresh collection.
Seiko offers the Prospex 200M in a few case materials and movements. These SBDB017 and SBDB018 models have titanium cases with the latter being coated in both black and rose gold tones. The chunky rotating diver’s bezels are in black ceramic. This is easily one of the most futuristic-looking mainstream dive watches Seiko has produced to date. I have to admit that when I first saw the collection in pictures I wasn’t overly impressed with them, but after putting them on my wrist I gained a lot more appreciation for the design and the comfort of the case. The Seiko Prospex 200M Transocean is simply one of those watches you need to put on to appreciate.
I think it is a good thing that Seiko is (albeit lightly) democratizing the Spring Drive movement. The brand has sort of gone back and forth with how they want to present their most impressive in-house movement technology. In any event, whether they put it in a ritzy Grand Seiko or a more pedestrian dive watch, the Spring Drive movements are high-end enough to merit $3,000-plus prices. Even so, in watches like this, you get a Spring Drive for a relative bargain.
This particular version of the Seiko Prospex 200M GMT is the reference SBDB018, and it comes in a slightly flashy black with rose gold tone middle case and dial accents. Legibility is pretty good under the flat AR-coated sapphire crystal. The red makes a lot of sense from a legibility standpoint, but I think this watch would have been a bit more refined looking with a bit less red (just a personal preference). As a GMT watch, there are 24-hour markers on the sloped flange ring, and the date window does not remove any of the hour markers, making for solid symmetry. Good use of black date discs on the black dials, Seiko… Seiko’s proprietary Lumibrite lume is used on the dial (for a likely positive luminant effect).
Pretty slick-looking, these SBDB017 and SBDB018 watches are nevertheless “luxury-priced” meaning that they will be for the serious enthusiasts only. On the plus side, these are going to be excellent sport watches with a very accurate movement and very real durability. On the negative side, only a few people are going to know the value of the watch and these can easily be mistaken for something a fraction of the price. Let’s just chalk this one up to “stealth wealth.” Retail price for the Seiko Prospex 200M Spring Drive GMT reference SBDB017 and the reference SBDB018 is $3,700 each. seikowatches.com