Seiko arguably rules the dive watch segment, especially under $1000. They are one of the few watch brands in which you are in the minority if you don’t own one. They somehow managed to find a way to put an SKX series diver on every watch collector’s wrist at one point or another. While the Seiko SKX is an amazing watch with a history and background that is fabled in the diving community, it is an old watch. The 7S26 series SKX divers have been around for well over 20 years and no one can confirm or deny that Seiko has discontinued them. While the SKX and the 7S26 movement have a long history of reliability, Seiko will want to replace the watch at one point or another. The fact that they haven’t released a new 7S26 ISO-certified diver in recent memory should be enough proof. I personally believe the replacement or next-generation SKX is the Seiko SRPC “Mini-Turtle” (or minnow as the Two Broke Watch Snobs call it). Coming in the standard Seiko diver color combinations of black, blue and PADI, this is the watch that embodies everything the SKX was. An affordable, purpose build dive watch with ISO 6425 certification that will fit on almost anyone’ wrist.
Anyone familiar with Seiko divers will know how deceiving their case dimensions can be. Large watches often appear smaller on your wrist and smaller watches tend to look just right. The Seiko SRPC39 I have here is no different. Coming in with a case width of 42mm, a dimension which by itself might scare off smaller wrists, is accompanied by a short 43mm lug to lug length. The round shape of the case (hence the Mini-Turtle moniker) lets the SRPC39 sit comfortably on my 6.75” wrist. It is comfortable and provides just enough wrist presence to make you feel like you’re wearing a solid built dive watch. A welcome change with this watch is the 20mm lug width. I own more 20mm lug width watches than any other size, so finding straps to go with this watch was easy. Changing those straps will be a breeze thanks to the drilled lug holes.
The sides of the case are brushed before dropping off and sloping inwards towards your wrist with high polished surfaces. The crown is situated at 3 o’clock without crown guards. This is going to upset some dive watch purists, which believe a crown on a dive watch should always be located at 4 o’clock. Personally, I don’t see a difference and I have no problem with the crown being where it is. The crown screws and unscrews easily and the 4R35 movement is a pleasure to wind. If you are unfamiliar with this movement, it is worth noting that it also is a hackable movement with a date only complication.
To Cyclops or Not to Cyclops?
Moving on to the face of the watch, you are greeted with nicely applied markers with Seiko’s excellent Lumibrite lume. The silver surrounds on the markers give the lume filled areas segregation from the dial and light up in a pleasant way when hit by bright lights. The handset on this watch is the same found in the SKX007/009 series and will look familiar to those who own those watches. Another point of familiarity for SKX owners will be the bezel. This watch shares the same bezel layout as the SKX series. The bezel action is what you would expect from a Seiko diver. It gives nice feedback when being turned and doesn’t have any significant back play. The main point of contention with this dial layout is going to be the cyclops over the date. I genuinely thought I was not going to like it but after using the watch for a few days, I found that it made reading the date quick and easy. If you love the rest of the watch with the exception of the cyclops, there are plenty of tutorials online on how to easily and safely remove it.
The Mini-Turtle wears like a dream on the wrist. It strikes balance between being small and having some heft to it. While not super-slim nor thick at 13mm, it balances well with the overall proportions of the rest of the case. I wore the watch to the office multiple times and it never had a problem sliding under my shirt cuff. This watch is going to fit a lot of wrists very well, except for those over 7.5”. It might appear a tad too small on very large wrists. Given the overall dimensions of this watch, I believe this watch would be a great candidate for a his and hers watch. This could easily be swapped between a couple’s wrists and neither of them would feel out of place wearing it.
A Future Classic?
All things considered, is the Seiko Mini-Turtle the next SKX? It’s hard to say. There are going to be those that argue the design is too different from the original SKX to be a direct replacement. You can also make the argument that other Seiko divers are the more appropriate replacement. Where I think this watch falls into the category of an SKX replacement stems from a few places. You’re going to have a hard time finding an SKX owner that didn’t wish they had a hacking and hand winding movement. Many SKX owners mod their watch to accomplish this. This watch easily checks that box. The applied markers are also a nice upgrade from the SKX dial. A similar handset and bezel from the SKX also give this watch its roots in the SKX family. Perhaps the one that hits it home for me is the price. This watch has an MSRP of just under $400 depending on the colorway and bracelet option you choose. However, I have seen this watch come down to around $250 frequently enough that I wouldn’t buy one above that price. That is the same price point a SKX J model will go for and look how much more you are getting in this package.
The adoption rate on this watch is most likely never going to touch SKX territory, that watch is just too much of a cult classic. With that said, it’s hard to call a watch a classic when it is so new. Perhaps in 20 years, we will be looking at the Mini-Turtle and lamenting at its discontinuation and discussing which Seiko diver replaces it.
More images of the Seiko SRPC39
Check out the Seiko USA website