Seiko SPB079J1(SBDC063) Review : An In-Depth Look at Seiko's Modern Re-Interpretation of the Iconic 6159 Diver
In 1968 Seiko released a diver's watch that took them to new depths (and heights), the 6159-7001. With a 300m depth rating and a high beat Grand Seiko movement, the 6159 firmly stated Seiko's ambitions to keep pace with the Swiss in the blossoming world of dive watches. The 6159 is an iconic watch in Seiko's diver lineage and its roots can be seen most notably today in the Marine Master 300. In 2018 the 6159 has been successfully re-created in the limited edition SLA025, this follows the recent trend, from a lot of brands, of re-issuing updated versions of their vintage divers. However, if you can't grab an SLA025 with its scarce production numbers and high price, or if you have an aversion to gilt, Seiko has also issued "The 1968 Automatic Diver's Modern Re-interpretation SPB077 and SPB079" for the masses. The model has been released in Japan as the SBDC061/3 and the SPB077/9 designation is for the international market. I will be calling it the "79" in this review for the sake of brevity. Now that we have sorted that out, how does the 79 live up to its professional diver designation and desire to echo the rich marine history of Seiko?
Turn off Hawaii 5-0, turn down the volume on "Hey, Jude" and hoist code flag Alpha. Grab your snorkel and fins- let's dive in!
From the Seiko Website:
Feature•Automatic with manual winding mechanism
•200m water resistance suitable for air diving
Driving systemAutomatic with manual winding mechanism
CaseStainless steel case
Case coatingDia shield
Glass coatingAnti-reflective coating on inner surface
Lumi BriteHands and indexes
Drive durationPower reserve: 50 hours
Accuracy-15 to +25 seconds per day (when static)
Water resistance200m water resistance suitable for air diving
Magnetic reluctanceMagnetic resistance
SizeH51mm x W44mm x D13.1mm
The perimeter of bracelet210mm
Driving system•Screw case back
•Screw down crown
•Jewels: 23 jewels
•Stop second hand function
My measurements, taken using digital calipers.
Case Diameter – 43.6mm
Bezel Diameter – 40.9mm
Crystal Diameter – 32mm
Lug to Lug Length – 50.3mm
Lug Width – 20mm
Total Height (bottom of caseback to top of bezel) –13.2mm
Crown Diameter – 7mm
Weight – 120g on the stock rubber strap
The SPB079 is a non-limited run piece and as such it should be widely available over time. The SBDC063 variant is a Japanese Domestic Model (JDM) and it was released first. Currently the 63 is available from all the big Japanese Seiko dealers; Seiya, Chino, Higuchi, JapanOnlineStore, ShoppingIn Japan, as well as Gnomon and other reputable dealers of JDM Seikos. The 79 international version is starting to trickle out now (Late July 2018). I was fortunate that I was able to order my 79 from Maple Jewelers, an authorized dealer (AD) here in Canada. Their pricing was competitive with the usual big Seiko dealers, but I had the added benefit of being able to call them directly to discuss the watch and even see pictures of the specific piece that would be sent. On top of that there are no import taxes and fees to deal with and Seiko Canada bumps the standard warranty from 1 year to 3. Overall, l I had a great experience in ordering and there should be several quality options and ADs to choose from when purchasing a 79 depending on your needs and location. It's exciting to order from Japan but there is an element of risk associated with that too, I was very happy with the route I took, and I wouldn’t hesitate to contact Maple again if I was looking for a special Seiko. The JDM 63 has a retail price of 90,000 YEN and the 79 retails for$1,095 CAD. Prices seem to vary but you should be looking at around $700-$800USD from a reputable dealer.
The SPB079 is accompanied in this release by its sibling the SPB077, which differs in that it has a black bezel insert and comes on bracelet.
Arrival and Unboxing
The 79 arrived quickly, within a week, and was very sturdily packaged by the AD. Inside the shipping box, there was a Seiko branded black thick cardboard box with a white outer sleeve. Inside, the watch sat on a white vinyl pillow and was festooned with a couple of paper hang tags. The instruction manual and warranty info nestled below the pillow. Underwhelming. It is about the same level of packaging I have received from Seiko and Citizens priced under $200. I have stated before that when I buy a watch from a small company that I don’t need or want to pay more for packaging and presentation that ultimately ends up in my closet and can detract from the overall value proposition. However, if I am buying from a large company like Seiko, who can easily leverage economies of scale, I would like to see some quality presentation, especially at this price point. Seiko falls short here. For a sticker price of around $1,000 I think it is fair to expect more in the area of presentation for the SPB079. It is a significant amount of money and I think it is reasonable to feel like you have just purchased something special. The initial impression one receives from packaging and presentation can contribute to that. Good thing I wasn’t buying a box though, so off to the closet with it and let's take a closer look at the watch itself.
The SPB079's case is sculpted out of 316L stainless steel. 316L is regard as the standard case construction material for a quality steel case and it will withstand whatever you abuse it with, in and out of the water. The 79's case has been treated with Seiko's proprietary DiaShield coating to increase its scratch resistance to 2-3 times that of stainless steel. I have no previous experience with diashield directly, but I assume it will provided a little boost to scratch resistance but not prevent it altogether. I have certainly scratched SS cases from other brands that have been treated in a clear scratch resistant coating. I won't expect any miracles from the diashield coating, but if it staves off some of the lighter swirlies, scuffs and kraken bites that's great.
The size of the case is very intriguing. Seiko lists it is as 44mm wide, 51mm long lug to lug and 13.1mm high. That sounds like a big case. My measurements were very close at 43.6mm wide (case), 50.3mm long and 13.2mm tall. But even more critical is the bezel diameter of just 40.9mm. With the case flaring out beautifully and subtly beyond the bezel the effect really is that this feels like a 41mm watch not a 44mm watch. When I initially saw the 79 I liked it, but then I quickly ruled it out for me as I thought 44mm would be too big. However, this a perfect example of where pure specs and measurements are not telling the whole story. The bezel diameter really governs the overall feel and look of the watch and the additional 1.5mm on each side from the flared case is negligible in person. The 50.3mm lug to lug length is moderate, but it is also diminished by the heavily beveled and undercut shape to the curved down lugs. At 13.2mm in height the SPB079 is probably right on the average mark for a 2-300m automatic diver. Like the other dimensions of the watch, the height is restrained by the shape of the case in profile. The lugs curve down nicely, and the heavily undercut beveled case sides create a visual minimization. Your eye is drawn mostly to the section of the case above the beveled ridge line. This makes the apparent height of the midcase quite slim, a measurement and proportion that I have found to be a significant factor in how well a watch wears. The nice bottom curvature of the case also allows the 79 to nestle snuggly against the wrist, keeping height down. All of these factors combine to make the SPB079 wear smaller than the Seiko provided specs indicate. It is by no means a small watch, but clever and aesthetically pleasing design work allow it to wear comfortably on a range of wrist sizes. I would describe it as a "midsize" piece.
The 79s case is wonderfully designed with graceful flowing curves and bevels that echo the robust strength of the more angular 6159 while giving it its own character in a more gentle, slender and wearable case. The broad lugs have a circular brushed finish on the top that smoothly and cleanly transition into the highly polished case sides. The brushing is nicely weighted and evenly applied. Some have reported that the case is polished using the Zaratsu technique that is used on the high-end Grand Seiko line. I can't find a definitive answer on that, but I will acknowledge that the polishing is very well done, leaving a mirror finish and fabulous edge work. The case flares out with the bevels creating a dynamic shape that is full of interest and character. I find my eye drawn to the brushed sections on top and the polished sections blend into the wrist, giving another illusion that reduces the bulk of the piece. The inside edges of the lugs have a delightful and subtle polished micro bevel that spills into the highly polished interior of the lugs. It is great to see quality finishing between the oft neglected area between the lugs. The extra strength fat spring bars and strap sit fairly low in the lugs, so this is especially important as that area is quite visible. I am not sure if it is the diashield, the quality finishing or a combination of the two but the case has a really nice feel in the hand.
The SPB079 has the crown located at 4 o'clock. This is a classic Seiko diver design cue that originated with the 6215, the lower-beat sibling to the 6159. This crown location has been carried on in many Seiko divers since. I personally love it and find it works well with the case shape, giving the crown a small measure of protection while omitting crown guards and keeping the crown from digging into the wrist on these larger cased divers.
A screw in solid caseback keeps the movement dry. I am a fan of this simple and practical arrangement. The 6159 and SLA025 have monobloc cases which are a wonderful design achievement for water resistance, but the tradeoff comes down the road when servicing is needed. With a relatively plain movement inside, a display back would also have been unnecessary, just adding one more potential point of water ingress. The case back on the 79 is simple and strong. I enjoy the circular brushed finish, topped by the iconic Seiko tsunami wave in high polish. The standard caseback markings are rather lightly laser etched and it would be nice to have seen them there in heavier relief.
The SPB079 has drilled lugs. This a good practical decision for a dive watch and acknowledges the reality that straps are changed often, sometimes depending on its use in or out of the water. A lot of dress or desk divers omit the drilled lugs for aesthetic reasons or simplicity. On the 79 the lug holes are discretely tucked beneath the case side bevel and are visually unobtrusive yet add the functionality of being able to do easy strap changes. This should help to preserve the beautiful polish on the underside of the watch in case you wield your spring bar tool with the finesse of a caffeinated spear fisherman.
Overall the case design and finishing are excellent. I find the case shape itself to be one of the most appealing aspects of the 79. I love its unique design, combination of heritage inspiration and modern comfort in a beautifully executed package. It conveys strength as well as elegance and it is a delight to watch the light play over it as it sits comfortably on the wrist.
The SPB079 has a 120 click unidirectional stainless-steel bezel. The bezel has a solid feel with no vertical play and an extremely pleasing dampened feel to the action. The clicks are frelatively light with some play in between, but it doesn’t feel sloppy at all due to the thick rubbery sensation. It gives a very smooth feel and moves with just the right amount of pressure. The action is similar to a sumo I had, but I would say much better overall. The bezel has a nice polished coin style grip that keeps the aesthetic clean and refined but provides a decent grip. It is not a common style and it has a gentle flare to it that mimics the more dramatic sides of the case. I think the teeth could be sharper, though I have heard some people complain about bezels that are too sharp. With that said, I was able to use it easily in both wet dry conditions, just perhaps not quite as grippy as I was expecting. The bezel is most easily manipulated when grasped at 12 and 6 as the bezel is slightly recessed into the case outside the lugs. That itself is another subtle design touch one comes to appreciate up close and in hand with the 79. The bezel feels very refined and I find myself spinning it just for the pure joy of the tactile experience.
It is hard to find definitive information, but I believe the bezel insert to be lacquered steel. The bezel insert slopes gently up towards the crystal. The insert has a beautiful deep rich gloss finish in a lovely blue colour. The blue is simply mesmerizing. It is both dynamic and subtle. The colour will change from black, to navy blue, to bright blue, to various shades of teal as different lighting conditions come in to play. It is noticeably blue and adds a nice contrast to the matte black dial.
I have not had a watch with this type of insert before, but I will assume that it will be about as scratch resistant as aluminum, maybe even a little less. It would be great to see Seiko introduce ceramic inserts around this price point, but I suspect that is unlikely to happen anytime soon as they tend to reserve premium features for a higher price point. The colour and finish of the bezel insert is so beautiful and unique though that I will happily live with its more scratch prone surface. If it does become too damaged over time I am sure there will be suitable aftermarket inserts available in ceramic as some have already surfaced for the SBDC053, last year's release of a similar nature. The 79s bezel insert picks up fingerprints similarly to a ceramic bezel, so be prepared to pull out the shirt hem to give it a buff on occasion.
The 79s insert layout mirrors that of the 6159. There is a luminous pip at the 0/60 triangle and a it is fully graduated through 60 minutes. The printing is nicely done in a metallic silver tone. The font is slim and light and is nicely weighted to not crowd the insert through the 60 minute graduation. The lume pip is inset into the bezel to keep it protected as it sits just below the surface of the insert. The silver markings appear to be a more matte finish than the gloss blue. With the reflective gloss of the insert, the numerals can disappear in some lights but, overall, I found the legibility to be fairly good. I like the overall proportions of the narrow insert, it keeps the watch from feeling too brutish or heavy. The broad triangle, dots, hashes and arabic numerals create a pleasing balance. I am not sure how the bezel insert is made, but whatever alchemy is used the end result is very well done.
The bezel alignment is good.
The bezel of the SPB079 is a nice balance between function and form and is overall a pleasure to use. The dynamic, mercurial blue colour brings welcome life and personality to the 79.
The SPB079 has a scratch resistant flat sapphire crystal. The crystal is flat and sits slightly below the top lip of the bezel.
Seiko has long resisted placing sapphire crystals in the majority of their divers, instead preferring to use Hardlex, their proprietary hardened mineral glass crystal. The rational is that the Hardlex crystal would be less prone to shattering upon impact and that it was a worthwhile trade for decreased scratch resistance as compared to sapphire. I, for one, have never shattered a sapphire crystal and vastly prefer having one for dealing with the wear and tear of the daily abuse a watch is subjected to. Sapphire is pretty much the standard for any quality watch over $300 these days, so it's nice to see Seiko getting onboard with market demand and expectations. The fact that the 79 has a sapphire crystal definitely influenced my willingness to purchase this watch.
The crystal is exceptionally clear and provides excellent viewing angles and clarity. I am not sure if it has any anti-reflective coating on the underside of the crystal, but reflections are very minimal. This may be a product of the matte dial and the flat crystal combining to reduce unwanted reflections. Domed crystals are very popular right now, especially on vintage inspired models, but I like that Seiko went with a flat crystal on the 79. It is practical, keeps the overall height down and helps with the legibility.
Taking cues from the 6159, the dial of the SPB079 is boldly legible with its large applied markers set against a matte black background. The matte black dial has a smooth even texture that can appear a dark charcoal grey in brighter lights. In the past I have disliked matte dials that become too "washed out" looking in bright light. That isn't the case with the 79 though. Even when it draws towards a grey tone there still feels like there is a richness and quality to it.
The hour indices are applied polished stainless-steel filled with Seiko Lumibrite. The shapes are very similar to the 6159 except with more taper on the 12,6 and 9 indices. The 12 o'clock index is a split shield shape. That theme is repeated with smaller solid shields at 6 and 9. The remaining indices are circles. The overall size of the indices is just right. If they were any bigger they would begin to look like a caricature or comical and if any smaller they would lose legibility and balance with the overall size of the watch. The layout creates a nice balance of negative space that suits the watch well, making it appear visually balanced and not too heavy. The applied markers are nicely polished and reflect the light very well. The reflective visibility is aided by the indices being hollow and the filled lume material sitting flush with their tops. This gives a high-quality look to the dial and markers as opposed to say the Sumo where the lume is applied on top of the markers, which can be off center and restrict reflections at some angles. The indices themselves are actually fairly thin and don’t stand very tall off of the dial. I would like to see the indices be a little taller to provide a bit more depth and weight to the dial. Despite how thin the applied indices are they in no way inhibit the performance of the lume, more on that shortly. The layout and application of the indices is bold and clean, giving superb legibility to the dial in all lighting conditions. It is always easy to tell the time at a quick glance, day or night.
The dial printing is clean and done in a nice reflective metallic silver. The silver tone catches light nicely but never in a distracting way. It adds a nice touch of interest to the matte dial. "Seiko" is printed below the 12 marker and above 6 is the Prospex "X", "Automatic" and "Diver's 200m". The weight of the printing is appropriate to the feel of the watch and doesn’t clutter the face too much, especially with the silver printing softening the contrast. Like many I would be happier without the "X", but is not a detail that bothers me.
At 3 o'clock is a date window with a rounded corner border in matching silver printing. It is a good strong classic location on the dial and it feels balanced on the whole. I am pleased to see Seiko used black numerals on a white background. The white helps fill the void left by the absent 3 index and doesn’t leave too much negative space. Colour matched date wheels work well when it is necessary to blend into the dial but when the date is serving as an hour index I much prefer a contrasting date background.
Around the outside of the dial is a black chapter ring with the minute hashes printed on it, again seen here in matching metallic silver. The hashes are thicker at the hour markers to help with visual location. The silver printing catches the light beautifully and is especially engaging when reflecting the lume at night. Because the markings are not a pure white, the chapter ring is subtle yet visible and doesn’t crowd the dial too much. Seiko is notorious for having poorly aligned and printed chapter rings. My 79 has very good alignment. I would say it is almost perfect, but perhaps if I look very closely it is off ever so slightly. I was able to see pictures of my particular watch in advance of shipping which gave me confidence that it would meet my expectations for alignment. The dealer I used indicated that they receive "A stock" and that they rarely see misaligned bezels. That’s great if true, but also begs the question then about potential "B Stock" or worse. Seiko's Achilles heel seems to be the misaligned chapter rings that plague so many of their divers across the price spectrum. I haven't seen or heard of any significant chapter ring misalignment with this model yet, but I reckon it is still a strong possibility.
I really enjoy the clean, bold ultra-legible dial of the 79. It shows that first and foremost SPB079 knows its purpose as a diving tool watch. There is just enough added details and interest present on the face to make it engaging to look at beyond the quick glance needed to pick up the time. Big thumbs up on the dial from me.
The 79 has a bold handset that can be seen shared across several models of the Prospex line. The hour hand is a large arrow and the minute hand a sword or pointed baton shape. Both hands have what appears to be a metallic silver painted finish with matte black counter weight extensions. The silver finish has a similar effect to that of a blasted or brushed steel finish. The ends of the hands have squared tips. The hands are filled with lumibrite. The silver finish catches the light well in a wide spectrum of lighting conditions and the hand borders don’t disappear or go dark like a polished finish will. In close up macro shots the finish bothered me, mostly as not matching the polished indices, but in hand I don’t notice it at all. The large lumed centres and metallic borders ensure that the hands are always easily visible. I appreciate the great legibility of the hands and that they match the silver printing on the dial, chapter ring and bezel, tying the various components together. The length and size of the hands is very good and they feel appropriately balanced to the dial. The tip of the minute hand lands just shy of the chapter ring minute track and the hour hand gives just enough space between the larger 12,6 and 9 indices. Make no mistake, it is a big bold handset, especially the large arrow hour hand, but this speaks to its functionality as a dive watch and gives the 79 some character.
The second hand is a lollipop style, sharing the silver and black finish of the hour and minute hands. The lume is on the counter weight and a simple clean needle shape traces around the perimeter of the dial. The counterweight lume circle pleasingly traces the arc of the underside of the hour hand's large arrow tip. I like the clean look this provides on the watch face, but I have found myself struggling to find the inverted second hand on occasion in dim light situations. I think it is a minor issue as I rarely need to know the time to the second at a glance.
This hand set is the greatest departure from the 6159 from which the SPB079 draws inspiration. The hands were one of the aspects of the 79 that initially held me back from purchasing. I think it was more so the fact that it was a common handset that had been seen before, rather than an actual criticism of the hands themselves. They were most similarly seen on last year's retro-modern release the SBDC051/3. I warmed to them enough to order the watch and in person I have actually been quite pleased with them on the wrist. I would have loved to have seen the beautiful handset from the 6159 or SLA025 on the 79, but if taken in isolation from the rest of the Prospex line the handset used works quite nicely.
The hands, dial indices and bezel lume pip of the SPB079 are filled with Seiko lumibrite. Lumibrite has a pale green daylight colour and will grow green in the dark. Seiko divers are renowned for their brilliant lume and the 79 holds true to that lineage. The lume is excellent. It charges extremely quickly even in low or indirect light and will emit a brilliant initial blaze then gradually dim to a moderate glow that is visible all through the night. I can easily read the time in the morning with dark adjusted eyes with no intentional charging the evening before. The lume intensity is evenly applied on the hands and dial, however the lume pip is weaker initially and will fade more quickly.
I have thought that Seiko's lumibrite and superluminova C3 were essentially the same thing but my experience with the 79s fantastic lume has changed that. The brilliant glow it shows in the short and long term seems to outstrip the quality C3 divers I have had. The indice lume plots are fairly large in surface area but as mentioned earlier they are housed in pretty shallow applied markers. In light of that, it is extremely impressive how well they glow compared to other quality watches with thicker applications of lume whether printed or in deeper applied index lume wells.
The lume is a joy to look at as it as frequently active and plays wonderfully with the silver elements on the dial and chapter ring. The lume intensity coupled with the highly legible dial and hands make the SPB079 the easiest watch I have to read in lowlight or dark conditions. Sometimes watches have brilliant lume but are then let down by the dial and hand layout which can make it messy or less legible than intended in the dark. The 79 stands out again here as a straightforward legible watch that could be easily read in any lighting situation.
Below is an elapsed time comparison to 3 other quality divers that use C3 lume; the Halios Seaforth, Magrette Regatarre and Omega SMP 2264. As you can see the 79 does very well in this company.
A 7mm polished stainless-steel screw-down crown looks after the movement control duties for the SPB079. The crown is straight forward and practical in its execution. The grip is positive and threads smoothly in and out. With no crown guards and adequate size the crown is very easy to grasp and use. There is minimal wobble in the time setting position. The crown is unsigned just as on the 6159. Having a signed crown has become a way to show some character and attention to detail on most quality watches. I am ok with the plain crown as opposed to having the Seiko "S' or Prospex "X" engraved there. It keeps the attention on the beautifully polished and sculpted case sides.
The "Diver's 200m" designation on the dial is a mark of the ISO (International Standards Organization) rating bestowed on the SPB079. ISO 6425 is a voluntary standard that a manufacturer can subject their watches to that includes, amongst other criteria, tests for water resistance, thermal shock, magnetic resistance, visibility, shock, corrosion and strap strength. Most dive watches do not have this designation and it shows Seiko's commitment to produce a capable watch that can meet the expectations of their professional naming. ISO Diver's 200m is a higher standard and should give confidence in and around the water to the wearer.
200m is a great depth rating for practical use (especially with the ISO Diver's rating) and will provide substantial water resistance to see you through almost anything you can subject a watch to aquatically. There is a plethora of watches available with ratings of 500m and up into the thousands of meters, but aside from bragging rights the added water resistance of those watches would do very little for your practical use and will add noticeable thickness to a watch. I am personally happy with a 2 or 300m watch from a quality brand. It will provide ample protection without the added bulk.
Driving the SPB079 is Seiko's 6R15 movement. The 6R15 is a 23 jewel mid-range automatic movement from Seiko that beats at 21,600 bph. The lower beat rate helps translate to a strong 50-hour power reserve. While not as smooth as a more typical modern 28,800 rate movement, I don’t find I really notice the slower beat rate as the second hand traces the dial of the 79. The advertised accuracy range is +25/-15 seconds per day. Hand-winding and hacking round out the functionality of the movement. Seiko is known for making tough movements and the 6R15 should deliver solid dependable performance over the life of the watch. My personal experience with the 6R15 has been very good. I had a Sumo with near perfect accuracy and the SPB079 is currently running well within spec at about +5 seconds per day. There can be variation with any mechanical movement but anecdotally it seems the 6R15 tends to preform within its specs or better.
The SPB079 comes on a silicone strap and along with its blue bezel that is what differentiates it from its black bezeled sibling on bracelet, the SPB077. The strap is a very high-quality silicone. It is smooth, soft, flexible and extremely comfortable. It isn't as sticky as many other silicone straps I have tried and it seems to attract lint and dust less too, though it will still pick up more than a natural rubber strap.
The strap is 20mm at the lugs, flares out to 24 at the accordion section and then tapers back down to 20mm at the buckle. The strap is moderately thick at just under 4mm. It is quite long though at 140mm x 80mm. The strap is certainly designed and laid out as a diving strap to be used over a wetsuit. The accordion section deals with compression at depth and the length will accommodate a wetsuit comfortably. The flare out to 24mm seems unnecessary and out of place on the 79. If it was a straight 20mm strap with the accordion section it likely would have appealed to me more.
The end of the strap has a round seiko diver tsunami logo embossed in it. Aside from being a neat detail, I have found it provides excellent grip when putting the watch on and off, easing some fears of the dreaded drop.
There is a single steel keeper branded with "Seiko". The keeper is sized perfectly to accept both parts of the strap without slack or undue tightness and is easy to use. One benefit I found with the keeper is that as it needs to sit around the side of my wrist it is much more comfortable than a rubber keeper as it very thin and doesn’t press against my wrist bone. I suspected one keeper wouldn’t do the job on such a long strap, but the friction is just right and there wasn’t much sag between the buckle and the solitary keeper.
The buckle is substantial and well made. It has a brushed finish with polished sides and "Seiko" deeply engraved on it. It has an aggressive curve to hug the wrist nicely and wrap around the strap. The tang is solid and drilled through, not the cheaper and more commonly seen folded style. Despite its heft it is comfortable and visually balances the watch head.
Before ordering I knew I would be replacing the strap ASAP. I found the accordion style strap too bulky visually and wanted to replace it with something sleeker. However, once I had it on my wrist i found it so incredibly comfortable that I have worn it much more than I expected as I await the replacement strap. The unapologetic diver aesthetic has also grown on me and it suites the watch well. I do still plan to replace the strap and I will update the review when I have some feedback in that department.
EDIT: I received and installed a Scurfa rubber strap to try on the 79. Please go to post #80 in this thread for more pics and thoughts.
The SPB079 is extremely comfortable to wear. The curved case and soft silicone strap make it almost disappear on the wrist. I don’t take notice of it from a comfort perspective and I really appreciate that.
The inset bezel with a thin insert, compact dial and sculpted case all help the 79 to wear smaller than its 44mm diameter suggests. However, there is still enough presence there to appease larger wristed folk.
I have a flatish 6.75-7" wrist and I find the 79 to be a great size for me even with the bulky and long stock strap onboard. It should be able to accommodate slightly smaller wrists than mine and also large wrists.
I did find getting the SPB079 under a cuff a challenge, akin to squeezing a reluctant octopus back into its lair. I would chalk that up more to the accordion bulk and texture of the stock strap though. The case sits fairly low to the wrist with some dome to the bezel, so I imagine on a bracelet or sleeker strap it should fit nicely under a cuff if needed.
The 79 is most definitely a casual and functional dive watch highlighted by the bold dial and hands, but there are enough polished and glossy elements to allow it to moonlight as a dress diver on occasion. I think with the addition of the OEM bracelet or a nice strap it could find its way into some dressy situations with ease.
But really the SPB079 would be most at home adventuring on and around the water. Preferably strapped to your sun-charred forearm decorated with a faded anchor tattoo, who's pale blue ink matches the bezel colour and gives hint to a rich and intriguing nautical past.
Below are some photos with similar sized watches for a size comparison. I have tried to keep things equal by having the tops of the watches on a similar horizontal plane.
Steinhart Ocean Titanium Premium – 43mm Bezel, 42mm Case
Magrette Regattare 2011 LE – 44mm case
Halios Seaforth – 41mm Bezel, 40mm case
The Seiko SPB079 does an excellent job of echoing the brand's diving heritage while adding some modern materials and design. It boldly states that it is a functional Seiko diver while also making some concessions to comfort and style. It is a delicate balance to walk and I think Seiko did a great job. I personally felt that I needed a Seiko diver in my collection and the 79 is a great piece to fulfill that spot. It exudes character while also being straight forward and direct in its styling and purpose. This is a watch that would be perfectly capable spending months on a South Pacific dive boat as well as being used casually or at the office. It is definitely a very well-made watch and I am proud to wear it. To the wearer its quality is evident, yet it won't draw unwanted attention. If you want a well-made, unique, understated and versatile watch from a brand with real diving heritage, look no further than the Seiko SPB079.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments.
PS – The broad flat lugs and sweeping curves of "The 1968 Automatic Diver's Modern Re-interpretation SPB077 and SPB079" remind me of the graceful and powerful Manta Ray. With some people taking exception to the "Baby MM (Marine Master)" and "MM200" monikers that are cropping up for this model, i would suggest Seiko Manta (Ray) if I had a vote for a name to create a standalone identity (added benefit of your hand not cramping up like it has got the bends whenever you have to type the name).
And now some extra pics because you made it this far!