The name of the game for Seiko the last few years has been to reissue or reinterpret watches from their back catalog. They might as well rename the Prospex line to Reissue. With that said, they’ve done an excellent job of making people want those watches. They are properly proportioned, come in various dial colors, and are production releases not tied to a limited number (with a few exceptions).
The latest Seiko watch to get the reinterpretation treatment is the 6105-8000. The 6105-8000 was the successor to the original 62MAS and featured a cushion-style case. While not as blobby as the Turtle, it was a sleek and capable dive watch and one that fans have been scooping up on the vintage market. If you missed out on a vintage 6105-8000 and want all the modern touches Seiko can offer, the SPB317 is the watch for you. However, be warned that this watch is Seiko at its best…and its worst.
On the Wrist
This is being billed as Seiko’s thinnest dive watch currently available. It comes in at 41mm wide, 12mm thick, and 47mm lug-to-lug. Although this is almost 2mm thinner than the SPB143 (review here), it feels taller on the wrist. The lugs have a gentle curve to them, but it sits flat on the wrist, and when comparing the SPB317 and SPB143, the latter is sleeker. That isn’t to say this sits tall on the wrist, quite the contrary. Just don’t expect this watch to be the thinnest diver in your watch box.
The SPB317 is one of the most comfortable 41mm watches I’ve worn thanks to the thickness (or lack thereof), and with a wrist-to-crystal of 10mm, SPB317 shows that Seiko knows how to refine a case to modern proportions. The dial layout from the 6105-8000 is carried over to the SPB317 and provides all the legibility one could want from a black dial dive watch. I would like to see Seiko bring back the applied logo from their vintage divers to the upper-tier Prospex models.
Because the SPB317 is borrowing its case from a watch from the late 1960s, it looks undeniably vintage on the wrist. While more brands are using a similar case shape on their contemporary watches, like the Nodus Avalon, the SPB317 looks and feels like a watch that time traveled to the present time. The SPB317 rounds out the plethora of vintage-inspired case shapes available from Seiko. From the ultra blobby SPB151, this watch, and the SPB143, the vintage fans have their pick of the litter.
Seiko SPB317 Specs
This is a black dial dive watch from Seiko. Almost nothing will surprise you about the dial layout, lume, or overall execution of the dial. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things to talk about. Seiko’s standard branding and text are present at 12 and 6 o’clock. As I mentioned above, I wish Seiko would bring back the applied logo with Automatic printed under it. It had such a cool vibe, and I don’t know why they got away from it, especially on a $1,000 watch.
The elephant in the room is the 4:30 date window. You can expect these on many Seiko divers moving forward as an adjustment to ISO6425 recently required lume plots at all hour positions. This means you either need a lume plot next to a 3 o’clock date window (where Seiko usually puts them) or, as Seiko wants to do, a 4:30 date window. That said, this is one of the most discreet 4:30 date windows I’ve seen. It has a circular cutout and a color-matched date disc, making it practically disappear until you look for the date. I wouldn’t mind seeing time-only versions of these watches, though.
Seiko has used this handset on most of their ~$1,000 Prospex models, and I am here for it. It is one of my favorite handsets, especially the stop light seconds hand. Seiko uses a couple of versions of the hour and minute hands with a completely polished surface or a mixture of brushing and polishing, and the SPB317 has the latter. Not only is the handset legible, but it also looks cool. What more could you want?
On to the second elephant in the room, bezel alignment. Why bother asking at this point? Of course, it is misaligned. I have not purchased or reviewed a Seiko in the last 4 years that did not have a misaligned bezel. Seiko might be trying to make this less evident by cutting the tip off the triangle at 12 o’clock, but it’s still egregious enough to be noticed by the naked eye. The misalignment issues are so consistent that I have devised a solution for Seiko. Whatever machine places the insert into the bezel, rotate it counterclockwise by 1mm, and all the misalignment issues will be fixed. You’re welcome, Seiko.
Case & Strap
Much like the Nodus Avalon inspired by this watch, the bottom of the case has heavy cut-ins that significantly reduce the perceived real estate taken up by the case. Designed to be a tool watch, the SPB317 keeps the polishing to a minimum on the case and doesn’t feature any polished chamfers to speak of. The top and sides of the case are all brushed. In typical Seiko fashion, the brushing is flawless, and the brushing on the top of the case looks especially great with the case shape. The undercuts are polished, but you won’t see them when wearing the watch.
The sides of the case flare out from the bezel, which allows an easier grip and gives the SPB317 a smaller appearance than its 41mm would suggest. The bezel and dial size make the watch feel more like something in the 39mm range, and with the 47mm lug-to-lug, the proportions all feel spot on. Despite some of the other issues with this watch, the case design is just what you would expect from Seiko, perfection.
The rubber strap included with this watch is the same one they’ve used on the Prospex line for a couple of years. It is unremarkable. Granted, it is far better than the rubber straps they provided several years ago, but if you’re offering a strap-only option for one watch, it needs more effort. A proper fitted rubber strap would be nice. For whatever reason, Seiko likes to hamstring strap and bracelet options by only giving certain dial colors a bracelet or strap. The other two reference numbers in this line come on the bracelet, while this is strap only. Could you give us the option, Seiko?
I don’t know if it is the constant misalignment issues or the onslaught of reinterpretations that Seiko has been putting out recently, but this watch whelms me. It is a great watch, but compared to the rest of the market in the $1,000 segment, it is unremarkable.
The SPB317 is likely catering to the vintage crowd who doesn’t want to shell out the asinine prices that original Seikos from the 1960s are commanding now, and I don’t blame them. If you’ve always loved the Turtle but felt it was too large, this watch is perfect. If you thought the Willard reissue was too blobby looking, this watch is perfect for you. If you’re expecting a magic Seiko reinterpretation of one of their classics that will blow your mind, this one might not be for you. However, if you’re even slightly curious about this watch, definitely check it out because it might check some boxes that it didn’t for me. But be sure to check the alignment if you can.
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