The Best Seiko Tuna Models Available Today — A Big-Wristed Top 3
This story is one of the most selfishly motivated ones I have written in a while, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Through these last four or five years, I have had almost all the cult-classic Seiko divers rotating through my collection, from Turtle to Samurai, and from Shogun to Marinemaster. There is, however, a big, can-shaped hole in my Seiko history that needs filling up. No, I have never owned a Tuna. For some reason, this charmingly circular can of toughness has never graced either my glass-fronted cabinet or my mid-sized wrist.
I came close when Seiko released the fashion-forward Street series a couple of years ago. But for some reason, that color-coded approach seems to have failed, and the storied Tuna has returned to its tool-focused roots. That might be the right approach, but I can’t help thinking that a brace of vividly colored special editions would sell like hotcakes. The easy-going solar quartz movement and colors dialed up fresher than the Save The Oceans editions might spell a significant resurgence. The Street series models with their gray-blue and khaki tones were tonal cool but perhaps a bit too elegant for their own good. So maybe it’s time, as I can see an OG Tuna being my new summer watch of choice this year. Help me choose between these, my picks for the top three. Seiko, do consider a bright-colored summer trio, but these are the best for now.
Seiko SRPH77 Save The Oceans edition
Let’s start with what is the most accessible of the Tunas available today, still with a solid automatic movement. I’m sure the price-focused Street series will return in some shape or form because solar power is great for an everyday beater. But the 4R35 caliber is a proven wingman for many an adventure, with an acceptable 41-hour power reserve and a decent accuracy that can vary out of the box. I’m all for sustainability, but let’s face it, you can ignore service costs of above €100 when a new movement will only set you back half that (don’t tell anyone).
In order to produce this still-bulletproof Tuna for less than €600, the crystal is Hardlex rather than sapphire, but I’ve been totally happy with its strength in the past. What you do get is a 43.2mm tough guy that wears great thanks to a 44mm stubby-lugged length. The genius of the Tuna’s steel shroud design is present and correct, here with a tonal bezel and a frankly scintillating dial. As part of the annual Save The Oceans releases for a very worthy cause, the textured blue dial invokes the blue depths with silhouettes of swimming penguins. Available for €570.
Seiko S23631 — the “Darth Tuna”
OK, I’ll be truthful here. Even if I love the entry-level blue delights of the SRPH77 with its proper 200m depth rating, it’s still a bit of a lightweight in the Tuna stakes. The S23631 is the real deal, with no lugs, an accordion rubber strap, and a massive 1000m depth rating. Sure, none of us are going down to those depths, but it speaks about its toughness. And with the full-on black tool look, there’s no doubt about it. It has one of the most accurate of Seiko’s in-house quartz calibers, the 7C46, and is seriously large.
Those lighthouse-bright plots of the Lumibrite indices are big, and the case itself is a massive 49.4mm. At €2,500, this is one serious diver, and do not, whatever you do, scoff at its quartz movement. With a five-year battery life and an accuracy of +/-15 seconds per month, serious peace of mind is the key. And this thing is a wrist tank. The inner housing is black DLC-treated titanium with a sapphire crystal, while the shroud is black ceramic. So this is a serious piece of kit, and it might even be too tough for my light summer exploits. That doesn’t make it any less tempting.
Seiko SLA042 — “The Big One” with a touch of Grand Seiko glamour
For me, the SLA042 is the Daddy. Here we have a gorgeous Grand Seiko-derived 8L35 caliber. This, as does the high-torque quartz of the S23631, resides inside a monocoque case, a front loader. Just like my Marinemaster 300, it’s tougher, easily gains its 1000m stars, and is difficult to work on. But come on, you’re not buying a diving icon for your watchmaker. The SLA042(J1) is simply the best and has a tempting contrasting beauty. A price of €4,000 will get you the best, largest 52.4mm round dive watch there is, with the unlikely glamour of rose-gold-plated detailing to juxtapose black titanium and ceramic. Adding its Grand Seiko-alluring movement, the number-one spot on my Tuna list is easily occupied by the cheeky glamour of this SLA. I’ll just need to save up as it seems hard to go back down the ladder after talking myself into this hulking, rose-tone-infused tool.
So, my Fratelli, is it time for me to finally lay my hands on a can of Seiko history, or should I hold out for some color-popping summer editions if Seiko takes my hint? Let me know in the comments below.
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