HANDS-ON: The Seiko Prospex Black Series is a hard-hitting stealth trio – all under $650 USD HANDS-ON: The Seiko Prospex Black Series is a hard-hitting stealth trio – all under $650 USD

HANDS-ON: The Seiko Prospex Black Series is a hard-hitting stealth trio – all under $650 USD

Zach Blass

If you are looking for a stealth entry-level watch to add to your collection, you may want to consider one of the latest trios to enter Seiko’s collection: the Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Editions. The offering is a reminder of the power that a vertically integrated manufacture holds, making each of the components in-house while also delivering the final product at an attractive price point. Presented in the collector classic “Tuna”, “Samurai”, and “Monster” formats, the three watches offer a lot of positives at the price point – with none of the watches over $650 USD / $850 AUD. Let’s dig in.

The cases

The entire trio of Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Editions feature matte black 200 metre water-resistant cases, with screw-down crowns for added security against moisture. While each of the three cases are beyond 40mm in diameter, they are all highly wearable with lug-to-lug dimensions under 50mm.

Seiko Prospex Black Series

The SNE577P is 46.7mm in diameter, 11.8mm thick, and surprisingly 45.8mm lug-to-lug across the wrist. So even though it is the widest of the trio, it actually has the shortest lug-to-lug – its measurement even shorter than compact divers like the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight. This is thanks to its rounded “Tuna” case with very short and stubby lugs that add little protrusion across the wrist. Sure, it is still a large watch. But I always remind people that a watch can never be wider than your arm, it can only be longer across the wrist. So, if you can get past the width you’re good to strap this solar diver to your wrist. The black timing bezel is heavily knurled, making it easy to grip even with a wet hand. The white timing scale surrounds the entire perimeter of the bezel, with every fifth numeral surrounded by dot marks.

The SRPH11K clocks in at a slightly smaller diameter of 43.8mm, thickness of 13.4mm, and still compact lug-to-lug of 48.4mm. Its “Samurai” case has a quite sharp and faceted profile. The angular nature of the lugs creates a welcome camber around the wrist, and based on its lug-to-lug the watch will wear akin to a Rolex Submariner across the wrist. The timing bezel for the SRPH11K is primarily black, with the 60 to 15 segment rendered in a lighter gray strictly denoting elapsed minutes through hashes. In the remaining black portion of the bezel, you have hashes and numerals every fifth minute beginning at 20 and ending at 55. Here you have a more coined knurling around the perimeter of the bezel rather than the more aggressive knurling of the SNE577P

Last but not least, the SRPH13K “Monster” actually has the smallest diameter despite its case nickname. Coming in at 42.4mm in diameter, 13.4mm thick, and 49.4mm lug-to-lug across the wrist, it arguably hits the middle ground of the three in size. The timing bezel, rendered with a grey scale on a black insert, has a stronger presence with bolder quarter numerals. It is the largest bezel of the three, and perhaps makes the watch look larger than it really is. The lugs also have a sloped profile, which further encourages the rubber strap to conform around the wrist.

The dials

Each of the dials, resting beneath Hardlex crystals, are very similar, with a colour scheme of grey, black, orange, and the warmth of faux-tina toned LumiBrite to the hands and applied hour indices. Yet, they are also distinct thanks to variations in the handsets, shapes of the applied hour indices, and date complication placement and styles. The SNE577P has a short and stubby syringe style hour hand, broader orange arrow minutes hand, and thin central seconds hand with a circular counterweight. The SRPH11K has a broad arrow hour hand, orange minutes hand, and alpha style central seconds hand akin to what you would find on the central chronograph seconds hand of an Omega Speedmaster.

The SRPH13K also has a broad arrow hour hand, but with a thinner border than the SRPH11K. It then continues the colour scheme trend with its orange minutes hand and also alpha-styled central seconds hand. In terms of the date complication, the SRPH11K and SRPH13K have calendar displays at 3′ – the SRPH11K displaying the calendar date and SRPH13K the calendar day and date. The SNE577P, however, displays the calendar date at the 4:30 position, which is a controversial placement for some. However, where its date window wins out against the other duo is through its better dial blending white on black date disc instead of the black on white discs found on the SRPH11K and SRPH13K.

The straps

The Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Editions are all offered on a black silicon rubber strap with black stainless steel buckle. The rubber material is both comfortable and robust, and, of course, very befitting of 200 metre water-resistant divers. Identical across the three references, each of the straps have horizontal hairline channels on the top side to add texture and pattern to its appearance.

Seiko Prospex Black Series

The movements

Comprising the three watches are one solar caliber and two mechanical calibers beneath solid engraved casebacks. The SNE577P has the in-house V157 solar caliber, with a 10 month power reserve on a full charge out of sunlight and a regulation of +/- 15 seconds per month. Inside the SRPH11K and SRPH13K you have the in house calibers 4R35 and 4R36. Both automatic movements have 41 hours of power reserve, but the 35 denotes the presence of a date window and 36 the presence of day and date windows. The 4R35 and 4R36 by no means promise chronometer accuracy, with an alleged regulation range of  +45/-35 second per day. That being said, wearers often report accuracy that is not close to the extremities of the range.

Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Editions pricing and availability:

Seiko Prospex Limited Edition Solar Divers Watch SNE577P (Tuna): $775 AUD

Seiko Prospex Limited Edition Automatic Divers Watch SRPH11K (Samurai): $850 AUD

Seiko Prospex Limited Edition Automatic Divers Watch SRPH13K (Monster): $825 AUD