It is not often that I get to review a watch I’ve owned in the past. When Nacho put the Seiko SRPE05″King Turtle” on my desk, it was like unexpectedly running into an ex-girlfriend. So this review is a bit different for me. I am basically taking an ex out for coffee to compare how we both fared since the breakup. This can only end well…right?

Luckily, we split up on speaking terms! And I can already tell you that we got along just as well as in the past. Join me for this hands-back-on review.

The Seiko SRPE05 “King Turtle” upgrades

The Seiko SRPE05 is an interesting watch in the brand’s impressive dive-watch catalog. It bridges the gap between the entry-level divers and the mid-range ones. It also provides some greatly appreciated upgrades over the legendary “Turtle” divers. As cool as those are, many aficionados missed a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a ceramic bezel insert. Many Seiko enthusiasts resorted to modding their Turtles with aftermarket parts. Now, Seiko can take a hint, so the brand introduced the SRPE05 and its black-dial brother, the SRPE03 — no modding required!

The King Turtle also features a refined bezel with more pronounced clicks as you rotate it and a neater finish on the knurling. Lastly, the green dial is decorated with a stamped “grenade” checkered pattern. At the same time, the SRPE05 retains the entry-level 4R36 caliber found in regular Turtles.

In short, the exterior is pushed closer to Seiko’s mid-range divers in the €1,000–2,000 price range while the insides remain at the base level. With only a slight price hike compared to the non-King Turtles — or…Subject Turtles? — the package is quite compelling. At the time of writing, a base-spec black SRPE93 retails for US$495. The King Turtle comes in at US$595. I have to resort to comparing US prices as the base model is no longer available in my home market of the Netherlands.

Seiko SRPE05 King Turtle

Seiko SRPE05 “King Turtle” specs

At heart, this is still very much a classical Seiko Turtle, with its huge 45mm stainless steel case. The case is almost oval, with a 47.7mm lug-to-lug and 13.2mm thickness. It comes with a solid steel case back with the famous etching of the Hokusai wave. The crystal up top is, as mentioned, sapphire. Seiko applies an antireflective coating to the underside and glues a wide magnifier on the top, covering the entire day-date window at 3 o’clock. The crown is, of course, of the screw-down type, and water resistance is rated at 200 meters.

As previously mentioned, you will find the rather Spartan caliber 4R36 inside. This is an automatic movement with a 21,600vph beat rate. The power reserve comes in at around 41 hours. Compared to earlier entry-level Seiko calibers, this one features hacking and manual winding. Lastly, as is visible under the magnifier, you get a day and a date complication in line at 3 o’clock.

You may have spotted “Diver’s” on the dial. This isn’t something anyone is just allowed to put on a watch dial. It means this watch is compliant with ISO norms for certified dive watches. Combined with the extra-long silicone strap that will fit over a wetsuit, the King Turtle means business. This is no fancy desk diver.

Seiko SRPE05 King Turtle on wrist

Strapping the King Turtle back on

As mentioned, I used to own this exact reference Seiko SRPE05. It is safe to say, then, that I like it, or I wouldn’t have bought it. Let me get into what I like before I share why I no longer own one. For starters, these watches are incomparable on the wrist. They are simultaneously massive and surprisingly ergonomic. The big, round, curved case drapes over the wrist like a shield of armor. Still, at 47.7mm long, it falls neatly within the confines of my 17.5cm wrist.

This odd shape just screams 1970s diver to me. It triggers fun associations of Jacques Cousteau exploring the Mediterranean, with turquoise blue water glistening in the sunshine, hiding underwater secrets. The King Turtle on the wrist is the closest I have ever been to hitching a ride on the Calypso.

Oddly, I enjoy that this is arguably not a very pretty watch. In fact, I think it is quite ugly. But it is ugly in an endearing, utilitarian kind of way. It looks like it is here to do a job, not to look handsome. To me, this is the horological equivalent of the ex who looked good straight out of bed with hair messed up and an old T-shirt on, not trying but somehow succeeding.

Seiko SRPE05 King Turtle pocket shot

So, why did the SRPE05 and I split up?

As much as I like the King Turtle, I only owned one for a few months. I am by no means a watch flipper, so it is rare for me to part ways so quickly. What happened? In a sense, I think I fell prey to online infatuation syndrome. I am sure you recognize this: you run into a good picture of a watch, and it strikes you. You start going down the rabbit hole, studying it. You browse every Instagram post of the model and watch every YouTube review. Then, you reach the one inevitable conclusion: I need to get one.

The parcel arrives, and you put the new watch on. A flash of doubt is quickly suppressed, and you silence any cognitive dissonance that occurs. However, after a while, you must admit: “I like the watch as an entity of its own but not as a part of me. I admire it from a distance, but I don’t enjoy it on my wrist.” Ouch, online infatuation syndrome struck again!

Ultimately, I think the SRPE05 looked a bit too casual and technical for me. I tend to lean towards watches that pair ruggedness with a little more elegance. That is certainly not the King Turtle’s game. It kept feeling like I was wearing someone else’s watch, and it just didn’t click.

Seiko SRPE05 King Turtle

Closing thoughts

As you see, I don’t have a lot of negative things to say about the SRPE05. It was just a matter of a mismatch in style. I think the King Turtle is fantastic at its €610 price. I like the case shape, the upgrades over the regular Turtle, and the super soft silicone strap. The color of the dial is spot on too. I could do without the grenade dial and the huge magnifier. But, then again, those slightly awkward elements somehow work when you put them all together. It isn’t exactly beautiful, but it is something of a statement.

I also appreciate the carefully chosen compromises Seiko makes to stick to a price point like this. The rudimentary caliber and relatively coarse finishing are sensible cost savers, especially if you consider where the money goes: into a super solid build and ISO-compliant diving features.

So, no, coffee with my ex did not leave me overflowing with regrets and jealousy. On the contrary, it confirmed that she’s awesome, but we’re better off apart. Man, I feel like a grown-up.

What do you think of the Seiko SRPE05 King Turtle? Let us know in the comments below!

Watch specifications

Prospex Sea
Military green with "grenade" pattern, luminous indices, and day-date window
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
45mm (diameter) × 47.7mm (lug-to-lug) × 13.2mm (thickness)
Sapphire with underside antireflective coating
Case Back
Stainless steel, screw-in
Seiko 4R36: automatic with manual winding, 21,600vph frequency, 41-hour power reserve, 23 jewels, hacking seconds
Water Resistance
Green silicone (22mm width) with stainless steel keeper and pin buckle
Time (hours, minutes, seconds), day, date, 60-minute dive bezel
€610 / US$595