Once again, Seiko is presenting blacked-out versions of two of its classic models. This time, it’s the Alpinist (SPB337J1) and the Turtle Origin (SPB335J1) that took a dip in the black bath. I have seen the Alpinist in person in many different iterations, and I happen to own the “basic” steel version of the Turtle Origin. But it’s surprising how different familiar watches can look when you give them another color. Let’s take a look at how that’s possible with these new additions to Seiko’s “The Black Series.”

If blacked-out watches are your thing, Seiko is really doing its best to please you. When a steel re-edition of a Seiko classic comes out, a black version of it usually follows later. I often prefer the steel versions, but I must say I like how Seiko adapts the original designs to make them work in black. The brand’s designers do not just cover them in black paint and call it a day. They really try to adapt all of the other details on the watches to make them work with the new colorway. And in the case of the new SPB335J1 and the SPB337J1, I think they’ve done a great job.

Turquoise on black

Many of Seiko’s diver’s watches have already gotten the black treatment. Sometimes the black is complemented with orange details, like these three watches from last February. And then in May of last year, another trio of black watches was introduced but with turquoise details. That turquoise color comes from a new, longer-lasting Lumibrite that Seiko uses to improve legibility in the dark. Well, I can say that mission has been accomplished! The bright green markers stand in great contrast to the cool, grainy black dials of these watches, both in daylight and in darkness.

Other similarities between these two new references are the 200m water-resistance ratings and the movement inside. It’s Seiko’s 6R35 automatic caliber, which can be found in many of the current Prospex watches. With the black Alpinist, you can see it through the smoky black display case back. It has a power reserve of about 70 hours, runs at 21,600vph, and has an advertised accuracy of +25/-15 seconds a day. This is the same movement that’s inside my SPB317. Mine runs a bit fast at +15 seconds a day, but at least it runs within the promised limits. Now that we’re on the topic anyway, let’s take a closer look at the black Turtle Origin.

The SPB335J1: Turtle Origin

Of course, the completely brushed and streamlined 41mm C-shaped case with the screw-down crown at 4 o’clock is still here. None of the case measurements have changed for this black version. Lug to lug, it still measures just under 47mm, and it’s still one of Seiko’s slimmest automatic diver’s watches at 12.3mm thin. I really like how this one wraps itself around the wrist. The black rubber strap it comes with is very comfortable as well, although it could’ve been a bit shorter for my 17cm (6.7″) wrist. By the way, the stainless steel hardware on the strap has also gotten the black treatment, which makes total sense.

The bezel action is also still very smooth and “clicky” at the same time, just the way I like it. It reminds me of opening a safe with one of those big wheels when I’m fiddling with it. I’m quite jealous of the bezel insert on the SPB335, though. On mine, it’s a very simple and plain black aluminum insert with printed silver detailing. On this black version, the insert is made of stainless steel, and all the numerals and markings have been engraved into it. And instead of being all black, it’s actually dark gray from zero to 20 minutes. It all adds a sense of quality to the watch and matches very well with the grainy dial and dark gray hands. The “traffic light” seconds hand has a red dot, a turquoise lume plot, and a silver finish at the end, while the rest is glossy black.

The SPB337J1: Alpinist

The seconds hand on the Alpinist also has a glossy black finish, turquoise lume, and a silver tip. But whereas the stick hands on the SPB335J1 are both the same color, the cathedral hands on the SPB337J1 have a different finish. The minute hand is also glossy black, and the hour hand looks to be brushed stainless steel. I guess the designers chose this to make a smooth transition from the hands to the silver numerals or triangles at each hour. All in all, it looks great in the black context, and the red accents to indicate north on the internal bezel add a sporty touch. However, it goes without saying that this black version of the Alpinist looks a bit less classic than its predecessors.

Other than that, it’s still very much the same watch, and there’s nothing wrong with that. With its 39.5mm diameter, 13.2mm thickness, and 46.4mm lug-to-lug, the case still wears very well. And the black Oyster-style bracelet it comes on is simple, but it complements the watch nicely. I’m not a huge fan of the magnifier above the date, but it does make it easier to read. At 3 o’clock, you can find the screw-down crown to set the time and date, and at 4 o’clock is the non-screw-down crown for rotating the internal bezel to navigate yourself out of the wilderness.

Final thoughts

As I said, I like the stainless steel versions of these watches better, but that’s because I’m not a fan of black watches in general. When I look at these watches more objectively, though, I do think they look very coherent. The bright green Lumibrite and black treatment work especially well together. If you are more of a fan of black watches than I am, I’m sure you’ll like these.

Both of these watches are numbered limited editions. There will be 4,500 pieces of the SPB335J1 Turtle Origin and 5,500 pieces of the SPB337J1 Alpinist. They will be available soon and are priced at €1,000 for the SPB335J1 and €950 for the SPB337J1. For more information please check Seiko’s official website.

Let me know in the comments what you think of these new additions to Seiko’s “The Black Series.”

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