Japan’s Seiko watches are on a roll and a slew of new watches for 2020 have something from just about all watch-lovers, whether their timepiece budget is a few hundred dollars or a few thousand. Today, I look at the Seiko Prospex “King Samurai” SRPE35 and SRPE37 watches that build upon the popular Seiko Prospex Samurai collection. The “King” part of the name implies a few welcome upgrades to the core watches, including a ceramic bezel insert, sapphire crystal, and new more attractive, textured dial.

Not long ago, I looked at some sister watches of the King Samurai with the Seiko Prospex King Turtle (aBlogtoWatch review here). Those Prospex Turtle watches got the same “King” treatment, including new crystals, bezel inserts, and fancy dial options. Now, fans of Seiko’s distinctive Samurai-style diver’s watch case have reason to celebrate. That said, aside from a different style, the Seiko King Turtle and King Samurai are more or less similar watches at similar price points. So which you choose if you are into these models is more or less entirely about personal taste.

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Seiko introduces the Prospex King Samurai with two references — the SRPE35 in black on a matching steel bracelet and the SRPE37 with the white dial on a black silicone strap. Each has a distinctive case in steel that is 44mm-wide and water resistant to 200 meters. As dive watches go, Seiko makes so many that it can be hard to determine which is right for you. The King Samurai is for those people who like the angular shape of the case, as well as the particular style of hour markers and hands on the dial. Speaking of the dial, the same “3D grid” texture on the dials for some of the King Turtle watches show up here on the King Samurai — a look that most watch collectors will associate with the “mega tapisserie” dial style found on many Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches. The textured dials look great, and it should be clear to all watch collectors that as part of their move up-market, Seiko timepieces, in general, will be getting better and better (and more artistic) dials now and in the years to come.

While the King Turtle has a day-date movement, the King Samurai has a more simple date movement with the in-house Seiko caliber 4R35 automatic. Over the date display on the dial is a magnifier on the sapphire crystal. The automatic movement operates at 3Hz with 41 hours of power reserve. One reason to step up to a more expensive Seiko Prospex model from the King Turtle or King Samurai is to get one of Seiko’s more high-end 4Hz (or even 5Hz or Spring Drive) movements.

Lumibrite, Seiko’s proprietary lume, offers excellent darkness viewing, and the overall King Samurai dials are very legible and a pleasure to read (even if I want the hands to be a touch bit longer). The sapphire crystal has AR coating on the underside, which, given its flat shape, makes for very little glare. At 44m-wide, the King Samurai isn’t a small watch, either, but it is very comfortable, especially on the strap. Seiko’s bracelet and strap options are durable and conservative, but for years now watch fans have improved and further personalized the look of their Seiko dive watches by putting them on a range of available third-party straps. To make these King Samurai watches stand out the most, I’d certainly recommend buyers to consider doing just that.

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Seiko has a lot of wonderful dive watches out right now (as always), and the pieces keep getting better and better. 2020 is really a standout year for the company, but I worry that consumers will have too many options to wade through. Personally, I like the aggressive stance and personality of the King Samurai cases and dials; they are a good choice for those who want a bold, yet utilitarian look on their wrist. Price for the Seiko Prospex King Samurai SRPE37 with the white dial on the strap is $595 USD, while the SRPE35 on the bracelet with the black dial is $625 USD. Learn more at the Seiko website here.

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