Both Longines and Seiko are well-established, long-standing names in the watch industry. That’s why it makes sense that they give their signature dive watches such imposing names as Legend Diver and Marinemaster. We thought it would be a good idea to put these revamped classics up against each other. Why? First, they’re both based on and inspired by older watches from their respective brands, and they’re also very similar in size. Finally, they even sell for roughly the same price. But luckily, there are also more than enough differences that set these two watches apart. Thomas and Daan will tell you all about them in today’s Sunday Morning Showdown.

Both these watches have already participated in earlier installments of our Sunday Morning Showdown series. The surprising thing, however, is that both of them lost their previous battles. The Longines Legend Diver took quite a hit against the Tudor Black Bay 54, and the Seiko Marinemaster fell to the Formex Reef. The last battle between today’s brands saw Longines win by quite a landslide. Let’s find out whether Seiko can keep its head above the water in today’s dive-watch duel.

There can only be one Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

But first, we’ll look at what happened during last week’s clash between the classic black-dial and the new white-dial Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professionals. Of course, there have been white-dial anniversary/limited editions. But many enthusiasts longed for a “regular” Speedmaster with a white dial. Well, it’s finally here, and tons of people are very excited about it, which isn’t surprising because it looks rather stunning.

white-dial Omega Speedmaster Professional

However, when put up against the original black-dial version, it becomes clear that there’s still only one real Moonwatch. Although, with 44% of the votes, it looks like the new white Speedy at least stood a chance. If you were only to get one Speedmaster, then you’re probably best off buying the black one. But if you’re in the market for a second one, the new white version is a very compelling option. All right, back to our battle between two classic divers.

Longines Legend Diver 39mm header

Daan: Longines Legend Diver 39mm

I’ve always been attracted to Longines’s re-edition of its vintage reference 7042 from the ’60s. However, the first 36mm and 42mm versions seemed either too small or too big. Also, the date window at 3 o’clock messed with the balance on the dial, and the crowns were unnecessarily big. Then, last year, Longines introduced a new 39mm version of its Legend Diver. All those missteps from the previous re-editions were corrected, and next to the classic black dial, a very fitting blue-dial option debuted. It’s almost like Longines listened carefully to what the watch enthusiasts out there wanted.

Longines Legend Diver 39mm black dial bracelet on wrist

The new 39mm case, with its 12.7mm thickness and 47mm lug-to-lug, works very well on a wide variety of wrists. The same applies to the Marinemaster, by the way. The Seiko is very similarly sized at 39.5mm wide, 12.3mm thick, and 47.2mm from lug to lug. On paper, the Longines is a bit thicker than the Seiko, but that’s only due to its domed sapphire crystal. That’s not something you’ll quickly notice on your wrist. What you will notice, however, is the design. And I strongly prefer the Legend Diver’s more classic appeal instead of the deck-side design on the Marinemaster’s dial.

Longines Legend Diver 39mm blue dial bracelet

A perfectly matching beads-of-rice bracelet

Oh, and there’s one very important new feature that I’ve neglected to mention so far — the new stainless steel beads-of-rice bracelet. With the 36mm and 42mm versions, Longines only offered a stainless steel mesh bracelet with straight ends. Admittedly, that combination didn’t look bad at all, but the beads-of-rice bracelet looks so much better. Besides, if you’re making the design of a watch more similar to the original, why not include the bracelet, right? I also really like the Legend Diver on a NATO, especially one of Longines’s very nice OEM ones. But the winning combo here is the 39mm Legend Diver on its perfectly matching BoR bracelet.

When I look at that new Marinemaster and its bracelet, “perfectly matching” aren’t exactly the first words that come to mind. Yes, the bracelet has been slimmed down compared to earlier Seiko bracelets. But still, the end links don’t seem to match the sharp angles on the Marinemaster’s case. And it’s not the only watch in Seiko’s portfolio that suffers from this problem. For some reason, only the bracelet on the current King Seiko works particularly well with the case design. Most of the other bracelets seem to be generic options that Seiko randomly pairs with different watch cases.

Neither of these watches has a quick-adjustment feature in its clasp. However, the Legend Diver does offer five micro-adjustment positions. The Marinemaster only has two, which will make it harder to find the right fit.

More attention to detail

Another thing I don’t get is why Seiko doesn’t bother to make the Marinemaster more accurate than -10/+15 seconds per day. Honestly, I’m not the type to check the accuracy of my watches too often. However, when I buy a €3,400 watch, I’d like and expect it to run at least within COSC parameters. No, it’s not because I’m afraid to arrive late at my next appointment. Rather, the fact that a watch is more accurate means that it has received a little more care and attention before the brand shipped it out. That’s something I expect when I buy a watch at this price point — just like a matching bracelet.

At €3,650, the Longines Legend Diver sells for a little more than the Seiko Marinemaster. But at least it comes with a perfectly matching bracelet and is a COSC-certified chronometer. This means it’ll run somewhere between -4 and +6 seconds a day but will probably even be more accurate than that.

Longines Legend Diver 39mm lume shot

Another detail of the Legend Diver that I appreciate is that it features both blue and green lume. Not only does it look cool, but it should also make it easy to distinguish the hands from each other when diving. All right, now it’s your turn, Thomas. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Thomas: Seiko Marinemaster SJE101

Daan, my dear Daan, please listen to our esteemed colleagues’ recent podcast on excuses to buy (or not buy) watches. Who chooses a watch because of its COSC certificate or because it has a few holes in its clasp? We might as well create an Excel spreadsheet and mark which watch is better at every specification. And if we then assign values to each spec, we can quantify which is the better watch afterward. Before you get any ideas, Daan, that will be the day I quit writing about watches!

No, there isn’t an objectively better option here. These are merely two different approaches to reissuing a back-catalog brand hero. You might look at these and say, “Here we have two vintage-inspired dive watches in the same price segment.” But that doesn’t feel like it does justice to what we see here, does it?

That is because there is one key difference between these two: the Longines Legend Diver looks back, while the Seiko Marinemaster looks forward. That is all it is, and if you ask me, it’s the key factor in determining which you prefer.

The Longines Legend Diver looks back; the Marinemaster looks forward

So, what do I mean? Well, the Longines is a very faithful re-edition of a historic watch from the brand. Granted, it is executed to today’s standards and even downsized to today’s fashion. But, at its core, this looks like a vintage watch. It is very tastefully done. I love the solid execution and lack of faux patina, for instance. But, in essence, it is a watch that lives in the past.

The Seiko Marinemaster SJE101, however, takes its core design language from a long line of ancestors and uses it to tell a new story. It bravely adds a chapter to the Marinemaster and broader Seiko diver novel.

This is a subjective point, admittedly. The Longines is perfect if you want a vintage watch with a modern build. But I will always hand out bonus points for being original and looking forward. If I were spending my money, I would buy a vintage Longines diver and the current Marinemaster.

The Seiko Marinemaster SJE101 wants you to get it wet

The result of these differing philosophies is that the Longines Legend Diver looks like a fashion statement. The Seiko Marinemaster looks like it wants you to get it wet ASAP. “Can we get into the sea today, please? No? At least take me to the pool, then. Come on!” It exudes more of the character of an actual dive watch rather than a romanticized version of one.

The Marinemaster isn’t perfect in the way it does it, I will give you that. Yes, greater accuracy would be nice. Sure, more micro-adjustability would be welcome. And yes, prints on display case backs aggravate me just a tiny bit.

All in all, the Longines is the more polished product, both figuratively and literally in this case. It is more refined and a little slicker. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think it would win a popular vote on looks too. The question is: is that what you want in a dive watch?

Cast your vote!

It is up to you now, Fratelli! Which do you prefer? The slick, romantic Longines Legend Diver or the more original tough guy from Seiko? Cast your vote and share your motivations in the comments section below.

Longines Legend Diver 39mm vs. Seiko Marinemaster SJE101