Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seiko has recently released a line of Seiko Prospex Divers heavily inspired by 2004's Seiko "Samurai." The collection marks the non-limited-edition return of what's arguably Seiko's most sought after dive watch style. The chunky, yet handsome Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 features a handful of dial options and brings back some features Seiko collectors have found most appealing about the brand's divers – and it packs a lot of features in considering the relative affordability.

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seiko has always been one of the few brands that have a following that nicknames their watches and that's something Seiko has adopted and eagerly catered to. The Seiko "Samurai" first made its appearance in 2004 and was quickly and aptly named after its hands, giving the vague appearance of a samurai sword. It was discontinued a few years later, however, but collectors have kept it circulating and appreciating ever since. The Seiko Prospex SRPB09 or "The Blue Lagoon" (Wrist Time Review here) was released in February of this year and quickly sold out before I could get my hands on one – much to my disappointment. A few weeks ago, Seiko released the "Orange Samurai," giving a nod to the original SBDA005 from days past. Unfortunately, Orange isn't a color scheme that catches my eye, despite Seiko making a number of "famous" pumpkin colored watches, so I passed. When I heard that Seiko was releasing another line of Prospex Divers with the Samurai handset, I was ecstatic. I settled on the SRPB51 – the black and grey model on a bracelet –and have barely taken it off my wrist since.

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seiko enthusiasts were first drawn to the Samurai for its unconventional, clean, bulky handset, and a titanium case and bracelet option (note: titanium isn't available on these new iterations of the diver – they are only in steel). Unlike the many many dive watch options from Seiko, the Samurai has worn smaller and been a more refined timepiece – one that can be worn on serious dives or a night downtown. The angular and intentional lines of the Samurai put the model in a league of its own. The 2004 iteration had a boxier handset, but the more modern releases of the samurai have much cleaner lines and an updated hour hand shape. I feel that it brings an older concept to not only a potentially newer audience, but also caters to existing fans of the Seiko Samurai.

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Let's start with the case. Measuring in at 43.8mm, the stainless steel case fits just about perfectly. While almost 44mm seems large, the steeply tapered and thin lugs paired with the relative thinness (for a dive watch anyway) makes this a seriously compact piece – something that not all Seiko divers can boast. It's not too heavy and doesn't twist off to the side of my wrist like many bracelet divers tend to do in this price range. The black and grey bezel insert has a lumed pip and is simply well finished. Updated from the older models are the minute indicators on the bezel being less round and "bubbly."

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The hobnail design around the edge makes twisting and gripping much easier – a welcome feature that adds a touch of perceived quality and a neat nod to the original. The case is fully brushed minus a small polished gap on the opposite side of the crown, giving this a defined tool look. And on that front, paired with 200m of water resistance, this watch is a sturdy tool. During a hike, I fell and absolutely slammed the edge of the bezel against a cave wall and was dreading coming out to see the damage. When I finally got into the sun, there wasn't even a scratch. In fact, I couldn't even tell where I dinged it.

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Aesthetically, this watch certainly isn't boring. Like a proper dive watch, the unidirectional bezel insert features the first 15-minutes in grey instead of black, while the markers actually line up with the indices – something you would be surprised doesn't happen as often as it should. The hobnail screw-down crown with realistically sized crown guards adds a nice touch that the original Samurai was lacking. The indices are superbly finished, and the crisp lines that pay homage to the original's DNA put the little bow on the package. But the real stars of the show are the hands, which have been updated to fit the modern landscape. I mentioned earlier that the boxy and straight design has been replaced with a cleaner, polished handset. Gone is the seconds hand with (what I feel) is an awkward lumed box for a pointer, and included is a thin, classy spear-tipped hand with a smaller luminescent indicator.

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Something this handset boasts that isn't even in the newer iterations of the Samurai is a polished handset. Personally, I love them. Besides water resistance, legibility is arguably the most important aspect of a dive watch, and the thick, bold hands and indices make this among the most legible watches in my collection. During the day, the Clou de Paris texture of the dial really makes the hands and indices pop. The clean polished hands against the matte square textures simply make it easier to tell the time at any angle. With previous models having brushed hands, the polish on the SRPB51 looks a lot more defined.

What do you think?
  • I want it! (66)
  • Thumbs up (33)
  • I love it! (16)
  • Interesting (11)
  • Classy (3)
  • Marius

    I like it. Not as much as the blue one though…

    • Travis Cannata

      I do like the blue one. However I’m getting blue-fatigue. I don’t have enough black watches so this worked.

      • Sheez Gagoo

        Is there a layer of hardlex on the bezel?

        • Travis Cannata

          There is not.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            Thanks

  • Pete Pete

    so much better quality and value for money than any microsh*tstarter diver.

    • Bert Kanne

      It lacks a sapphire crystal and the hands are too short. There are better choices out there for the money that do not have these flaws.

  • Mikita

    Very handsome dive watch for an honest price. My only gripe is the bezel material: I think that aluminum insert is impractical either in Oris Diver’s 65 (otherwise great watch!) or in Seiko Samurai.

    • SuperStrapper

      Totally agree. A hardlex insert would have been preferable to exposed aluminum and shouldn’t have any effect on price.

      • Mikita

        Have never seen them using Hardlex for bezel inserts – I think the reason is that the Hardlex isn’t much harder. Sapphire or ceramic insert is, of course, harder – but more expensive. And as far as I know, Seiko doesn’t use any ceramic inserts way up to MarineMaster (around $1,500+).

        • SuperStrapper

          Ceramic would be preferred over other options, but I know that the scale on that material has not yet been achieved to bring it to watches in this range. But despite them having not done it before, I bet Seiko could certainly achieve a hardlex insert, which while not as scratch resistant as sapphire is certainly more so than exposed aluminum. I’m also sure the Seiko faithful would gobble it up heartedly.

          • Mikita

            Indeed, a hardlex bezel may be more attractive than aluminum. P.S. I was wrong regarding the MM – it has a SS+laquer bezel, not very scratch resistant either.

          • SuperStrapper

            I thought there was an updated iteration with Ceramic?

          • Mikita
          • SuperStrapper

            Maybe. I’m not a Seiko expert, I thought I remember an MM update with Ceramic.

          • The SBEX003 is a great watch, but 10x the cost of the one featured in this post.

          • Mikita

            True.

        • BNABOD

          About the only miss on the MM300. The bezel is super nice but sapphire would be a big step up. The lacquered alu is a one mistake and it’s toast bezel. Aside from this the MM300 to me is the way to go. Just a tad thick but meant to be a tool watch

          • Mikita

            Absolutely agree.

      • I wonder why not heat treat and then hard anodize the aluminium. It won’t be scratch proof but certainly more scratch resistant.

  • SuperStrapper

    Handsome enough and certainly fine value, although it does seem to lack any real distinction from a few other popular Seiko divers in this tier. Maybe it’s just me but the red on the seconds hand is out of place and looks mismatched. White would have been a better option for that bit methinks.
    Hobnail texture on the bezel and clous de Paris on the dial? Quite the worldly watch!

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This is nice, Can’t go wrong with a Seiko unless they stick Grand on the front. Would happily wear it but one scratch and it’s gone.

    • Seth Ribe

      What’s wrong with the Grand Seiko’s?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        It has ideas above it’s station. It insists upon itself

        • SuperStrapper

          Do you know of a brand that doesn’t?

          • Raymond Wilkie

            I do yes.

          • SuperStrapper

            And without any elaboration. Classic Ray.

            Have a great weekend.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Cheers 🙂

          • Seth Ribe

            I love the Grand Seiko’s (I own two). However, I can appreciate that they’re not for everyone, but “above it’s station”? I’m confused …

          • SuperStrapper

            He can’t explain his own ramblings, I don’t suggest you try.

  • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Lovely watch. Great back story. Very nice write up.
    Although, as others have mentioned, in this time piece, I am partial to the blue one.

  • BNABOD

    This one I am sorry to say leaves me cold. Maybe it is the dial pattern looks to be a tad dated on a modern watch. The case finish at least on the pics looks spartan and one gets used to really nice finish on Seiko’s at a minimal price. Here I don’t really see it. All they need to do is:
    A/ use ceramic bezel. Micros can do it for cheap
    B/ replace the clasp w a on the fly adjustable one
    C/ keep the price the same

  • Yan Fin

    For some reason, while admiring Samurai from afar, I never wanted one for myself. Just not my astetics.

  • Travis Cannata
    • Mikita

      Seiko covered in Nikon 🙂

      • Can’t see his Sony headphones though 🙂

        • Mikita

          Plugged into his Onkyo player 🙂

  • I Like it, but don’t love it.. I would buy a Sumo first.

  • TrevorXM

    Why does this watch have to suffer a crappy crystal when even right now on ABTW is an independent watch on Indiegogo that has a thick sapphire crystal and a superior in accuracy ETA movement for $590? The Seiko corporate suits sure do look on their customers with contempt.

    • I’m not sure you’re right: hardlex IS more shatter resistant than sapphire, this being tool watches, isn’t Seiko implying their customers are more likely to take their watches on the field, on real dives, on caves, and thus the need for a less brittle crystal? It’s actually the opposite of contempt.
      Desktop divers are a dime a dozen.

      • TrevorXM

        I’ve never seen even a photo of a sapphire crystal shattering — except when some jackass uses a sledge on his watch to “test” it. They are doing it to save a buck. Typical Japanese corporate penny pinching. I guess you haven’t noticed, but their best watches (which are inexplicably priced even above comparable Swiss brands in some cases) all have sapphire crystals. They sure have got you fooled.

        • I was just playing devil’s advocate, and the logic (on both sides) is sound.
          They haven’t fooled me, as I’ve never bought a new Seiko!

  • Omegaboy

    The dial and hands on this watch really remind me of one of the Alba divers. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7079a1141c788caca988a0b19b1d38e13e650e63bddc865a14f4c2a6051a28cb.jpg

    • Mikita

      ALBA is a cheaper subbrand by Seiko.

  • Ranchracer

    Another solid Seiko diver. Tough to find fault with their pieces. My Baby Tuna has had more bumps and bangs than any of my other pieces, and yet the Hardlex crystal remains totally undamaged. I do agree though that it smudges and collects dust particles rather easily. I’m constantly cleaning it. I’ll probably end up popping for the recently released orange dial version of this watch. Unlike the author, I’m a big fan of orange dials.

  • “Aesthetically, this watch certainly isn’t boring” what are you talking about? You hardly can get more boring than this!

    Seiko divers (sorry, diver’s) are great, solid, good looking, great buy, and I’d very much like to have one, why call them what they’re -very clearly to anyone- not? Boring sometimes is fine. Nothing wrong with a sober, discrete and boring tool watch. Maybe the orange ones aren’t boring, but a black/grey one?

    Come on. Don’t be scared of words.

    • Travis Cannata

      To each their own I suppose. I’ve seen (and own) my share of “boring” dive watches, and this one is definitely more pleasing to the eye than a lot of offerings in this category. Especially for a black/grey model… especially for a Seiko.

      Perhaps it takes more of a nuanced look, or an in-person study, but I found after spending a significant amount of time with the SRPB51, the last word I would use to describe it would be “boring”.

  • TrevorXM

    I started doing a little research to see what else is out there and came across the new and greatly improved 2017 Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba — which has a sapphire crystal, an 80 hour power reserve, far more accurate Swiss movement, new bright blue super lume, and priced at about the same or less on the net with a little looking around. One right now on bracelet can be had for $475. Seiko continues to be the most overrated “bargain” watch.

    • Mikita

      But Seiko have much much stronger lume than any Hamilton. This does attract some lume freaks 🙂

  • Tea Hound

    Dull. Dull. Dull. Dull. Dull.