I don’t know about you, but I sometimes tend to forget about the Seiko “Samurai.” It’s not a model that is on my radar a lot, partially because Seiko releases so many watches at a breakneck pace. Another reason is that it’s angular case design is not one of my favorites. I prefer the rounder shapes of the Prospex watches inspired by the brand’s 1960s divers. Having said that, the Samurai has been a fan favorite for years, so why not give the updated Seiko Prospex “Samurai” SRPL11, SRPL13, and SRPL15 a chance? With a smaller case and an updated design, it could be the ultimate shot at redemption.

I love that Seiko started creating smaller dive watches over the past few years. Not long ago, many watch fans, including me, were asking Seiko to create smaller Prospex divers. The brand has given us what we wanted through various new releases with more modestly sized cases. Continuing with that change, we now get a smaller, updated Seiko Prospex “Samurai.” It was a great chance to determine whether the new SRPL11, SRPL13, and SRPL15 could win me over.

The updated case design of the new SRPL11, SRPL13, and SRPL15

Let’s start with the most important update. All three new models feature a 41.7 × 12.3mm case with a 20mm lug spacing. This is a significant reduction compared to the bigger Samurai models’ 43.8 × 14mm case and 22mm-wide strap. Despite the updated case design, these are still recognizable as Samurai watches and retain their bigger counterparts’ 200m depth rating. Also, to be clear, both sizes will be available next to each other in the Prospex collection.

The characteristic angular lines have remained, although the design is slightly different. The lug design is less edgy, and therefore, the case flow feels a bit more natural. What has stayed the same is the crown design with the accompanying crown guards. But there is no gap between the guards and the crown on the new watches, which is a nice improvement.

Additionally, the case looks a bit different in its overall silhouette. It seems longer and more curvier, whereas the bigger Samurai models look slightly more squared. It gives the new watches a less technical feel, you could say. Seiko has also combined the new case with updated designs for the dial, handset, and bezel.

The aluminum bezel insert features different markings and numerals that, to me, look more conventional. I like this, but if you are a fan of the previous Samurai, it might be something to get used to.

The combination of elements gives the new Samurai a more traditional feel

The same goes for the updated dial design. The rectangular hour markers from the previous “Samurai” have been replaced by long, pentagonal ones. The larger hour markers used for the cardinal points on the previous dial have also been updated in line with the other indices to create a better overall balance.

As you can see, the date window has also moved. The bigger Samurai models have a date window at 3 o’clock, while the new models have one between the 4 and 5 o’clock markers. I like that update because it gives the dial a full set of properly sized indices. On top of that, the black date disc with white printing blends in nicely on two of the three new variants.

Along with the new dial design comes an updated handset to match the indices better. The seconds hand hasn’t changed all that much, though the luminous triangle is now a bit closer to the tip. The hour and minute hands, however, are quite different. First, the hour hand now has a smaller spearhead-like design rather than the enormous but characteristic arrowhead shape. Second, the base of the minute hand no longer tapers but, instead, gets wider. All of the hands and indices are filled with Seiko’s LumiBrite for good legibility in the dark. I think the Seiko designers did a great job creating a watch that feels more balanced and organic while still linking back to the previous-generation Samurai.

The Seiko Prospex SRPL13 is a potential hit

Let’s go over the three new versions Seiko has introduced. The first is the SRPL11, which features a red dial and bezel insert. It’s not my favorite because of the red dial. I immediately wondered why Seiko did not make the dial black and keep the bezel insert burgundy.

It would be a popular combination of colors that watch fans love. It would also take care of the black date disc. As it is now, it stands out as an element that does not suit the color scheme well.

The second model is the SRPL13, which features a black dial and bezel insert. It also has the same green-glowing white LumiBrite found on the red version, giving this model a familiar yet attractive look.

I expect this new “standard” variant to become a hit with fans of the Samurai. Just like the red-dial version, it comes on a stainless steel three-row bracelet with a basic folding clasp and the safety lock that we know from other Prospex models.

The third and last model is the blacked-out SRPL15. This watch has a black-coated stainless steel case matched with a black dial and a black bezel insert with dark gray markers. The hands and indices on this model are filled with vintage-inspired lume that contrasts nicely with the black aesthetic. Seiko has paired this version with a black silicone strap with a black buckle to complete the stealthy look.

Mechanically, things stayed the same

Inside the cases of all three watches, you will find the Seiko caliber 4R35. It’s the same movement that powers the bigger Samurai models. This in-house automatic movement operates at 21,600vph and has 23 jewels and 41 hours of power reserve. It’s Seiko’s standard movement for affordable models, and while it is reliable, it is nothing special in terms of accuracy.

Seiko indicates that the standard accuracy is between +45 and -35 seconds per day. I have several Seikos with the 4R35, and I have come to love them because they start running as soon as you pick up the watch. As I am not a stickler for accuracy, it’s not something I look for with this movement.

Wearing the Seiko Prospex SRPL11, SRPL13, and SRPL15

All three watches immediately feel much better on the wrist than their bigger predecessors. The smaller case is great for various wrist sizes. Several Fratello colleagues tried on the new watches, which looked good on all wrists. They immediately stand out among other Seiko models thanks to their angular lugs.

But the case also sits well on my 19cm (7.5″) wrist. From the second I slipped the SRPL13 on, I was seriously impressed by the updated design. These new models have a certain charm that is missing from the bigger Samurai. Additionally, the updated proportions make the watch feel more organic and less technical.

The new bracelet is also an improvement that wears great. As mentioned earlier, at 20mm wide, it’s 2mm narrower at the end links than the bracelet of the bigger Samurai models. It has an updated three-row design with noticeable bevels between the links, and it suits the case nicely. Each link on the bigger Samurai models’ bracelets is just one piece with a wider center portion and slimmer outer ones. To me, the new bracelet’s links look much more balanced.

The folding clasp has a simple design with a dive extension that gets the job done. However, I feel that Seiko can still improve its bracelet clasps in both quality and practicality. There is no option for toolless micro-adjustment here, and the clasp is stamped rather than milled. Thankfully, this does not get in the way of the watches being super comfortable on the wrist.

Final thoughts on the new Seiko Prospex Samurai models

The new Seiko Prospex Samurai models offer welcome updates to a longstanding staple. I am sure that the die-hard fans of the Samurai will have to get used to the new design and maybe also the new proportions. But for many Seiko fans, this is a great update. I thoroughly enjoyed wearing the new watches. My two favorites are the black-dial SRPL13 and the blacked-out SRPL15.

While I am usually not a big fan of blacked-out watches, the SRPL15 looks nice with this stealthy presence. I might have preferred the bezel numerals in the same color as the lume to give it more charm. However, I understand that would’ve reduced the stealthiness, so that was not the way to go.

All three models are available now. The red SRPL11 and black SRPL13 have a list price of €650, while the blacked-out SRPL15 is slightly cheaper at €600. Those prices align with the larger Samurai models remaining in the collection, making these new Seiko Prospex Samurai models great entry-level offerings in the Prospex line. I do not doubt that they will win lots of fans. I am one of them.

The watches are now available through the Seiko website, the brand’s boutiques, and select Seiko dealers. Let us know what you think of these new Samurai models in the comments below.

Watch specifications

Brand
Model
Seiko Prospex "Samurai"
Reference
SRPL11 / SRPL13 / SRPL15
Dial
Red (SRPL11), black (SRPL13), black (SRPL15) with luminous indices
Case Material
Stainless steel (with black plating for SRPL15 only), aluminum bezel insert
Case Dimensions
41.7 mm (diameter) × 46.2mm (lug-to-lug) × 12.3 mm (thickness)
Crystal
Hardlex mineral glass
Case Back
Stainless steel (with black plating for SRPL15 only), screw-in
Movement
Seiko 4R35: automatic with manual winding, 21,600vph frequency, 41-hour power reserve, 23 jewels
Water Resistance
20 ATM (200 meters)
Strap
Stainless steel three-row bracelet (20mm width) with push-button clasp and safety lock (SRPL11 and SRPL13) or black silicone strap (SRPL15)
Functions
Time (hours, minutes, seconds), date, 60-minute dive bezel
Price
€650 (SRPL11 and SRPL13) / €600 (SRPL15)