The Evolution of Seiko Turtle Vintage to Modern
Seiko's Turtle Family
Are you ready to dive into the fascinating world of Seiko dive watches? Buckle up because we're about to take you on an adventure through the history of the iconic "Turtle" watch family!
Seiko has been creating high-quality dive watches for decades, catering to both serious professionals and weekend enthusiasts alike. And in this three-part series, we're going to explore the legendary model of Turtle, from its histories to their evolution up to the present day's cutting-edge, professional diver focus Prospex models. We will also be covering the Quartz model as well.
Today, our focus is on the "Turtle," the beloved, rugged dive watch that's been a fan favourite for generations. This watch is so quirky and lovable that it has earned its own unofficial nickname, and we can't wait to share its story with you.
How Seiko Turtle earn its name?
Watch collectors and enthusiasts have long recognized the Seiko dive watch as a must-have tool for any serious collection. Unlike some of its Swiss competitors, Seiko has always been known for creating watches that stand out with their distinctive case shapes and unique features. These watches are not your typical run-of-the-mill timepieces, and that's precisely what makes them all the more coveted.
Enter the "Turtle," Seiko's cushion-case dive watch that's just strange enough to catch your eye but so exceptional that you can't help but fall in love with it. From its earliest models in the 70s to the modern re-launched SRP series, the Turtle has been the go-to entry point for anyone looking to get into Seiko divers. It's a watch that represents the everyman's choice, yet still stands up to the professional-grade competition.
The beginning of Seiko 6306 Turtle
The story of the Turtle began in 1976 with the reference Seiko 6306-7000/1, released exclusively for the Japanese market (JDM). With a depth rating of 150 meters, this watch was perfect for recreational divers or anyone looking for a reliable daily wear timepiece. Fast forward to today's SRP Turtles, and you'll find that little has changed, we can still find the design in the latest model. Seiko's original design worked in the 70s, and it still works now.
Seko 6306 with kenji day wheel
The Seiko 6306 Turtle was powered by Seiko's 6306A caliber and featured a 60-click bezel, a black dial with oversized lume plots and an English/Kanji day-date wheel, which its fans still treasure to this day. The lume Seiko 6306 and 6309 use have usually developed into a patina colour, added a feeling of vintage to the watch. And the texture of the lume plots is also an indicator of whether the dial is original. The 6309-7040/9 is essentially the worldwide version of the Seiko 6306-7000/1 that Seiko make for rest of the world. The main different is the day wheel they use in the Turtle, while the former is much rarer, the differences between the two are minimal. These watches' movements have proven reliable and robust over the decades, creating the widespread belief that Seiko calibers are almost indestructible.
Seiko 6309 (notice how small the different is between 6306)
The 6306 and the 6309 are both distinguished by an unusual case shape that looks like a traditional cushion case but with rounded corners that give the watch a more inviting and less aggressive appearance. Despite their weight, they're comfortable enough to wear all day long and have a sleek, organic feel. The oblong, softly curving appearance of the Turtle's case is what earned it its nickname, and its ability to perform both on land and in water only adds to its appeal.
Seiko Turtle becoming a pop culture hit
Thanks to their incredible durability, these early Turtles quickly became cultural icons throughout the 80s, appearing on the wrist of none other than Ed Harris in James Cameron's iconic 1989 underwater thriller, The Abyss. But the Turtle's cultural influence didn't stop there - even rock legend Mick Jagger has been spotted sporting one.
The early 80s saw the introduction of the 6309-7290, a transitional model that marked the beginning of a new series of watches that would become just as iconic as the Turtle. The Seiko 6309-7290 known to collectors as the “Slim Turtle.” This transitional model featured small changes to the familiar Turtle shape and served as the beginning for an entirely new series of watches that would become iconic in their own right.
The watch will later become the foundation of SKX007, perhaps the most popular accessibly priced dive watch of all time.
After a period of dormancy through the 90s, while Seiko shifted its focus to the SKX007 and non-mechanical timekeeping technologies, the brand relaunched the Turtle in 2015 as part of its Prospex line. Today’s Prospex Turtles retain the iconic cushion shape and sloping lines of their predecessors, but are packed with modern technology and features that make them highly sought-after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.
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