I started this hobby getting into 6309s, 6105s, and SKX007s... I also fell into Sawtooths, Monsters and a few other things.
One thing I did not "get" was Tunas. Sure I read Petew's excellent review along with other articles by people like Randall etc. I recognized how well made these watches were; but I just could not get over their styling.
It was the "Darth" that was the first Tuna that I "got". I did not have the scratch to acquire one at the time so I ended up getting the SBBN007 Tuna instead. This watch showed me how well made these watches are and the movement impressed me with its history, construction, quality, and accuracy.
Over time I developed a begrudging respect for these divers. I also saw forumers I have befriended and repect falling for these watches like Badern and Poseiden Jim.
Over time I have come to love these watches and...
Well, this is the result:
On the bottom row left to right we have:
1975 6159-7010: the original!
This example was made in March 1975 so it is probably one of the earlier examples. You will notice that it only says "600" and not "600m". Apparently this was a misprint and later 1975 6159s have "600m" on the dial.
This is a very historically significant diver as it introduced many firsts. In its day a Titanium watch was pretty heady stuff. It also has a Grand Seiko derived movement running at 36000bph which is cool in any era in my opinion!
Next door to the 6159-7010 is the 7549-7009 which supplanted the 6159-7010 in 1978.
It is apparent that this is a very different watch. For one it is a Quartz movement instead of an auto. Today many see this as a step back or make the watch less desirable. Quartz watches were anything but "cheap" in 1978. By going with a quartz movement Seiko put a more accurate, and shock resistant movement which would be a progressive move at the time. The titanium on the case is also Titanium Nitride which is a very hard substance which apparently is harder than regular stainless steel. Although the watch is smaller (48mm wide versus 51mm for the 6159), it is still substantial and you know you are wearing a "tool" watch. This particular watch has an interesting history in that it was overhauled by Seiko Japan a few years ago with a new 7549 movement being installed along with some other work.
Now, next to the 7549 diver is the SBDS018 which supplanted the 7549 is either 1985 or early 1996. This example dates to February 1986 which should make it one of the earlier examples. You can see it on the right in this pic:
There are a couple of changes of note here. One is obviously the depth rating! The Pro diver is now rated at 1000m instead of 600m.The 7549 Tuna had been taken down attached to a submarine to below 1000m without incident. If the rating was upped due to this or because of internal changes I do not know. There was a significant change inside though. The movement was changed from the 7549 to the 7C46 which in my eyes is an upgrade. Every Tuna I own with this movement is accurate within a few seconds per month and they all have the second hand hitting each indice bang on. I am a big, big enthusiast for this movement and outside of it not being thermocompensated I cannot think of anything else I could want in a quartz movement. From my measurements with calipers it seems like the cases of these two divers (7549-7009 and SBDS018) are pretty much interchangeable. It is like Seiko swapped the movement, dial and hands and called it a day! Except... The bezel on the 018 is uni-direcitonal versus the bi-direcitonal bezel on the 7549. This is interesting as the "standard" Seiko divers continued to use a bi-direcitonal bezel until 1995 when the 7002-7039 which introduced a uni-direcitonal bezel to the standard Seiko diver along with a 200m rating.
Some years later Seiko made a subtle change to the SBDS018 and came out with the SSBS018. What are the differences? Check out the pics and see for yourself:
From what I can see the main changes are in the dial, strap, and caseback lettering. I am unsure what year Seiko made this change. For the record this example dates to August 2003 and is still on its original battery!
What next? Well... The watch that got me interested in these crazy Tunas of course. The "Darth" aka SBBN011! Here it is to the right of the SSBS018:
Once again I am unsure of when production switched from the SSBS018 to the SBBN011. This example dates to February 2007.
Some significant differences here. Okay maybe not that huge; but certainly more significant than the changes from the SBDS018 to the SSBS018. For the first time since 1978 the profesional Tuna no longer had Titanium Nitride. Now it is PVD coated and the strap is different with a titanium keeper and clasp instead of the titanium nitride used in the SSBS018. Instead of gold colored hands like the 018s used the SBBN011 uses what appears to be titanium hands. If they are not titanium they are certainly matched perfectly to the keeper and clasp on the OEM strap. A very cool touch!
Here's a pic of the Darth with its original strap:
You should be able to make out the color of the hands here:
What's missing here? Well I don't have the "re-issue" Tuna which is model #SBDX005:
These guys are rarer than rare and command more $ than the original 6159-7010s!
Tha main differences between the 6159 and 005 is in the bezel where the original has the "triangle" while the 005 has a lume pip. The second hand is different as well with the 6159 having the "meatball" all the way to the outer edge while the remake 005 has the "meatball" a little more medial (towards the middle). They of course have different movements as the are 25 years apart (6159 in 1975, the 005 in 2000). The 005 uses the same movement as the Marine Master: 8L35. Of interest is that the "auto Tuna" is making a comeback with a new model which will incorporate the styling and construction of the "Darth" with the 8L35 movement:
Should be a killer watch! More info on Chino's blog:
From what I can see (and based on other's comments) it appears that Seiko has dusted off the case from the "reissue" auto Tuna, PVD'd it, changed the dial and made this beautiful watch. I see fair pricing at $2500 USD compared to what a SBDX001 Marine Master costs. It will be interesting to see what these sell for when they come to our favourite on-line retailers and what they fetch used.
This is a "must read" for those who like Tunas or want to learn more:
I printed this off years ago and I can't count how many times I have read it.
For those who wonder why or how this watch is special in its construction should read this excellent post by Randall Benson:
Well, I hope you enjoyed this gathering of my "pros". In time I hope to find a nice SBDX005 or at least have the opportunity to handle one in person to see how it compares to the 6159-7010 that started it all. One thing is for certain: Tunas are here to stay. An auto is on its way for the first time since 2000 and I believe another Quartz will come along to supplant the Darth.
I will be curious to see how this all unfolds
"Making the world a better place one Sawtooth at a time!" (Zoodles 2006)