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Spotlight on Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle

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Seiko. Synonymous with value, diving, and history. Whether you’re looking at the Seiko King Turtle or just the regular Turtle, both offer extreme value and an amazing design. But which one would work best for you?

Well, today, we’ll be comparing these two titans of the watch world, and we’ll be discussing far more than just the difference in water resistance.

As a dive watch, you need to be more than just a diver (in today’s world). You need to be practical, look good with a T-shirt, offered with a stainless steel bracelet and a rubber strap, and above all else, as a Seiko diver, you should offer extreme value. 

What is the Seiko Turtle?

The Seiko Turtle is actually not a new invention, and the term finds its origins back in 1976. Also, it’s not a specific watch but rather a watch style or range within the Seiko catalogue. Some of the defining characteristics include a cushion-shaped case, a suitable water resistance rating, a 4 o’clock crown, and often offered on a rubber strap.

The first Turtle was offered as a JDM (Seiko’s Japanese Domestic Market) model only, ref. 6306-7000/1, released in 1976. This bad boy had a water depth rating of 150m and was powered by Seiko’s 6306A calibre, offering a 47-hour power reserve – pretty handy, to be honest.

Seiko 6306-7000 Turtle - 1976 - Spotlight on Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle Article
Seiko 6306-7000 Turtle – 1976 — WATCH VAULT

Another attribute loved by fans is the English/Kanji day-date wheel, often recreated in modern versions. The rest of the world was introduced to the Turtle with the release of the ref. 6309-7040/9, with the only real change being the addition of the 6309A calibre movement. Otherwise, this model remained eerily similar to the previous model. 

Of course, the thing most people notice most about the watch is the shape of the case, which seems to take a lot of real estate on your wrist, but despite its size, these watches are rather ergonomic and wear quite easily. They are usually lighter than they seem and can slide under a dress cuff rather easily. This ease of wearing experience made it a prime choice for the film industry, as it soon found a spotlight in James Cameron’s 1989 film, The Abyss. 

Virgil ‘Bud’ Brigman (played by Ed Harris) wearing the Seiko 6309 in the movie Abyss - Spotlight on Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle Article
Virgil ‘Bud’ Brigman (played by Ed Harris) wearing the Seiko 6309 in the movie Abyss – Source

Through the years, there have been multiple iterations of this iconic timepiece, and with more and more people choosing it as their prime diver’s watch, it’ll continue to be so. The modern iteration is called the SRPE93, and it does offer quite a lot of nice things when compared to other divers at the price point. A redesigned bezel from the original, paired with a 200m water resistance rating from the 45mm stainless steel case, makes for a compelling case.

Seiko Turtle Prospex SRPE93
Seiko Turtle Prospex SRPE93 – Source

Sure, this might not be a smaller size watch, but then again, it was made for diving… Also, as most Turtle owners will be eager to inform you, the case shape sits a lot easier on your wrist than the numbers would make you believe, seeing as the lug-to-lug is quite snug. The new generation of Turtles are, therefore, similar to the original in more ways than one. 

Some are even calling the Turtle the new SKX, a legendary diver in Seiko’s history who has achieved fame beyond belief. Getting an SKX second-hand is going to cost you, and a new Turtle might not cost you as much, thus offering better value. New models also include better movements, so there’s always that to throw into the faces of those rocking an SKX007.

What is the Seiko King Turtle? 

Add a bit of spice to the name, and you have the King Turtle. What makes this model so royal? Well, it’s simply more. Unlike the regular Turtle, the King Turtle is a rather new invention, only first seeing Daylight in 2020, whereas the modern Turtle was reissued in 2016. 

Seiko King Turtle Prospex SRPE05
Seiko King Turtle Prospex SRPE05 Source

The King came in hard and swinging as well, the King. It offered ceramic inserts for the bezel, a dial pattern, and only a sapphire crystal as opposed to a hardlex crystal. The King was certainly just more, a time and place for Seiko engineers and designers to let their hair down and do what they want. It still sported an automatic movement, but it looked the part. The diameter is measured at 44.5mm, and the lug-to-lug is 47mm, meaning it might wear a bit bigger than a Turtle but certainly not large overall. 

But which of these two is best for you? Your mum gave you a couple of bucks to spend on a birthday gift for yourself, and you want a diver, so which do you get? 

Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle: Capabilities

Let’s face it, both of these are divers made by a company that knows a thing or two about making good divers. It’s only fitting that we compare the capabilities of the two head-to-head to see what’s up. You might not actually be taking your Turtle to swim with other Turtles, and that’s on you, but some people might, and we have to make sure we are covering everything. 

Firstly, the King Turtle has a depth rating of 200m, but so does the normal Turtle. Both parties are fashioned from stainless steel, and both are perfectly capable of diving with you in your pool. The King Turtle does come with a sapphire crystal, meaning it might offer you a slightly easier reading experience, which might come in handy when you’re down in the trenches. This means that the edge, in this case, goes to the King. 

Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE03 Rivet Edge
Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE03 Rivet Edge – Source

But then you have to consider some other things as well. Both bezels are riveted around the edge to make sure you can grip it even when wet, but yet again, the ceramic insert does give the edge to the King, seeing as ceramic is a bit more resistant to scratches. So, overall, the Turtle is certainly extremely capable. However, the King is ever so slightly more so. 

Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle: Looks and Finishing 

This is perhaps the biggest difference between these two offerings, seeing as the King is often referred to as the ‘upper tier model’. The first thing you’ll notice is the waffle pattern present on the King Turtle, often referred to as a ‘grenade dial’; it’s a 3D texture somewhat similar to the AP Tapisserie dial pattern. Pair this with the raised hour indices with silver accents and green luminous fills, and you get a remarkable look. 

Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05 Dial
Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05 Dial – Source

If you prefer a more simple design, then the Turtle is perhaps the one to go for. It has a simple black dial matched with a black bezel and even a contrasting day-date wheel. The bigger difference here (besides the texture of the dial) is the fact that the Turtle does not have a cyclops, whereas the King Turtle does. For some, this makes a more streamlined diver and is more like a ‘true’ diver. Personally, I prefer the Cyclops; however, I’m not a diver… 

Seiko Turtle Prospex SRPE93 Dial
Seiko Turtle Prospex SRPE93 Dial – Source

Otherwise, these two are peas in a pod. Same hands, same case design, same marker types, same everything. So, it really comes down to the dial. What I can say from personal experience is the King does pull your attention a lot more when walking past the Seiko exhibit – definitely the one I prefer. 

Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle: Movement 

Now that we’ve looked at the aesthetics let’s look at the innards. After all, Mum used to say it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The King features the Seiko 4R36 Automatic Caliber, whereas the normal Turtle also features the Seiko 4R36.

SEIKO 4R36 Movement
SEIKO 4R36 Movement Source

There isn’t really anything to split the two here. The movement offers a 41-hour power reserve and a hacking seconds functionality as well. Overall, this is a reliable and trusted movement used by more brands than purely Seiko. When taking the price difference into account, the Turtle is certainly the better value.  

Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle: Value

Talking about value, let’s discuss the biggest difference between the two! The price! The King Turtle is about $100 more expensive, meaning you’re paying $100 for looks – and that’s about it. Sure, you do get a ceramic bezel, and you do get a sapphire crystal, but let’s not beat around the bush; you’re paying for that striking dial. This comes down to personal taste and what you like more. The King would be limited in its wearing opportunities as the black-on-black Turtle is a wee bit more subtle and would be suited for more opportunities – certainly when paired with an aftermarket stainless steel bracelet. 

That said, I know I would pay the extra $100. I’ve tried both of these on, and sure, you could argue that $100 could go towards a nice G-Shock, but I think the King is worth the extra money. It’s slightly more unique and stands out from other Seiko models, something easier said than done. And if you have the opportunity, I would highly suggest you go out and try both on before making a decision. Both offer great wearing experiences, but the choice is almost 100% aesthetics-based. 

Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle: Size 

The size is another factor most people will be focused on when making a decision between the two. Reviews of the two both claim that they wear smaller than the numbers would make it appear, and I can vouch for this as well. The shorter lug-to-lug and the cushion-shaped case make for a far easier wearing experience than the numbers would make it seem. Other than that, there aren’t a lot of differences between the two. You should really try both on before making a final decision, seeing as the colour scheme and lug distance might make a small difference. 

Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05 Wrist shot - Spotlight on Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle Article
Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE05 Wrist shot – Source

Seiko Turtle vs King Turtle: Conclusion

In conclusion, you really cannot go wrong with either of these offerings. Both are exceptional timepieces, but there are a few subtle differences to take note of: 

– The dial of the King is something unique, offering a grenade texture in khaki green (this would look amazing in white), and the hour markers and hands also seem to pop a bit better.

– The King also features a ceramic bezel, meaning it is not only better looking but also slightly more robust and scratch-resistant as well. This could be useful for the person planning to use their Seiko in multiple environments.

– The King also offers a sapphire crystal with a cyclops function, which some find trouble with. Personally, I do not mind it at all. It makes for an easier reading experience, but some find it attention-grabbing in all the wrong ways

At the end of the day, the extra $100 you’re spending on the King goes to that stunning dial and ceramic bezel. The movement is the same, the brand is the same, and the reliability is the same. Thus, you need to go into a shop and try both on. From there, play with the bezel. Move around. Feel and use the watch for what it is rather than just looking at how it looks. Personally, after doing this a couple of times, the King not only wins, it wins – royally. It certainly is worth $100 more!

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