Capable diving watches tend to be a high ticket item unless you look to Japan and Seiko. That’s not to say that they aren’t some of the better options on the market, it’s just that they tend to be more affordable than many premium brands.
They’ve teamed with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), which is a big deal for hobbyists, but how does it compare to their tried and trusted Prospex range?
(To celebrate and promote their partnership with the organization, Seiko created a special PADI diver’s watch with the PADI logo on the dial and red and blue PADI colors on the case.)
We’ve compared the Seiko Prospex and the Seiko PADI, aiming to achieve a consensus as to which is better overall.
Here’s everything you need to know about each one, including pros and cons, as well as whether there’s any point to their range of PADI watches.
What is the Seiko Prospex (buy now on eBay)
Seiko has a long, storied history, having launched Japan’s first diver’s watch in 1965. Having long produced serious tool watches for diving and military use, these were later unified under the Prospex brand, with some falling under the Prospex Master and Prospex Dive sub-brands.[su_pullquote]At the time, they were fairly expensive, with Seiko’s first-ever professional dive watch, the 62MAS, or (6217-8001), selling for ¥13,000, which was roughly equivalent to half a month’s salary for a college graduate at the time. It had a max depth of 150m. [/su_pullquote]
As one of their best-known products, there’s a large variety of Prospex watches on offer, and they’ve worked to make numerous improvements over the past 55 years.
A mid-range model such as the SPB185J1 retails for £1,060 and offers decent water resistance. It’s guaranteed for up to 200m / 660ft, which is good enough for most trips underwater.
Entry-level Prospex watches such as the SRPE35K1 are available for just over £500, offering the same water resistance guarantees as seen above. Finally, there are multiple limited editions, such as the SLA043J1. With only 1,700 pieces produced, it comes with a £4,080 price tag.
In other words, the Prospex is great if you’re working within a tight budget, or if you’re looking for a unique timepiece. It’s also a capable diver’s watch, so is there any real difference with their PADI range?
- Seiko struggle to be beaten for value, especially with entry-level pieces
- Lots of options and features to choose from depending on your budget
- Capable diver’s watch, used by many industry experts
- Great build quality
- Beautiful designs, using decades of experience
- Not many to speak of, although the low price of entry means that it isn’t the most prestigious option unless you look at special editions
- A lack of data on the watch face
What is the Seiko PADI (buy on eBay now)
Both Seiko and PADI started out serving the diving industry in 1965, and to celebrate this special relationship, Seiko announced two Special Edition pieces for the Prospex collection in 2016: the Seiko PADI Kinetic GMT’s Diver (SUN065) and the Seiko PADI Automatic Diver’s (SRPA21).
[su_pullquote]The organization has over 6,600 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts, and more than 137,000 individual PADI Professionals who have issued 27 million certifications around the world. That’s according to their 2019 corporate stats, although they’ve obviously been impacted by Covid-19 over the past 12 months.[/su_pullquote]
In any case, PADI is the undisputed king of the diving world, and it’s clear to see why it’s seen as an important move in the industry for both partners.
At the current time of writing, Seiko has 11 PADI watches in total, with a variety of different features and functions. They’re instantly recognizable, with ‘SPECIAL EDITION’ found on the case back for many. Then there are the colors, as every PADI option incorporates the famous red and blue to some extent.
For example, the SRPA21K1 features red and blue on the unidirectional rotating bezel, while the SPB071J1 is entirely blue and white, aside from a red second hand and red markers for every six hours on the face.
In terms of diving, the guarantee is the same as normal Prospex options. 200m / 660ft is the typical limit and should be fine if you decide to put your goggles on.
- Options like the Seiko Prospex Padi Solar (SNE435P1) are highly affordable
- The red and blue is a great colour combo
- It’s reassuring to know that PADI and Seiko have worked together on the watch, especially if you’re planning to use it for diving
- Fewer options compared to the normal Prospex range
- Once again, there’s a lack of data on the watch face
- Only works to 200m, which is the same as any of the watches discussed above
Seiko Prospex vs Seiko PADI
So, which is better? They typically offer the same level of water resistance, and there are limited editions found with each collection. As with most watches, it’s down to the personal preferences of the owner, and which they find to be more appealing overall.
Aesthetically, the blue and red of the PADI watches is great, although it does feel a bit like an advertisement that you’re paying to wear, especially when you see their logo emblazoned in large lettering on the front.
On the other hand, for diving, it’s hard to do better than PADI, and it is reassuring to see their name on the front. Of course, most owners won’t use it for plumbing the depths, but it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
The Prospex range is tried and trusted, and their understated options build on 55 years of experience. None of the PADI watches match up to a classic SEIKO Prospex Samurai, but I don’t do much diving in my spare time!
Seiko Prospex vs Seiko PADI Investment
If we had to pick one for a long-term investment it would be the Seiko Prospex… cheers!
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