In 2017, Seiko released the PROSPEX Samurai (Blue Lagoon) to massive fan enthusiasm. This began the model’s snowball through 2020, when Seiko upgraded the watch once again to the King Samurai versions.
However, the 2017 model was not the first Samurai to be released. In 2004, the first-gen Titanium Samurais entered the market (as well as stainless steel variants), were discontinued in 2008, and were resurrected in a new form in 2017.
Today, there are at least 20 models (and counting) that bear the moniker Samurai. If you’re like me, you’ll love seeing them all on one page in chronological order, as well as a description of the changes they went through over time. So here you go – enjoy!
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A Brief Review of the Seiko Samurai
The Seiko Samurai is an ISO-rated 200m dive watch that can be worn casually, or on serious dives. It’s got tons of dial options, has gone through many generations and variants, and will likely continue to change.
Today, the Samurai is considered to be one of Seiko’s Best Dive Watches, and with good reason.
While the first titanium and stainless steel models were released in 2004, the modern incarnations are all made of stainless steel. The watch has a thickness of 13mm and is about 44mm in diameter, and famously wears much smaller than that. One notable feature of the watch is the gnarled bezel edge and matching gnarled crown; this makes for easy gripping and operation of both.
One distinctive aspect of the Samurai diver is the shape of the case. It tapers steeply and compactly, with a trapezoidal shape. The case is fully brushed aside from a few polished surfaces, and it has the full 200m water resistance expected of a PROPSEX diver.
From my experience with the watch, I have a handful of complaints that are moot considering the price point. First, every Samurai I’ve owned has a misaligned date window. Seiko is notorious for some misalignments, but the date window on the Samurai is consistently off. Second, the misalignment of the chapter ring. I personally have never gotten a misaligned-chapter ring from Seiko across many of their divers, but many owners complain about it. I’m very luck, I guess. Third, the bracelet is kind of cheap, especially the clasp, but it gets the job done. I wish it was 20mm like the Sumo. Last, I don’t like the finishing on the hands, but I haven’t heard anyone else dislike that.
The Seiko Samurai is popular due to it’s strong and resilient construction at an affordable price point. However, it lacks some features that are deemed “premium” (for some reason) like a sapphire crystal, next-gen movement, and ceramic bezel insert. In 2020, Seiko announced the release of the King Samurai, which will have most of these upgrades (which Seiko modders have been implementing for years).
The Samurai Nickname – where does it come from?
As is typical with nicknames for Seiko watches, you name it first and justify it later. For the longest time I thought the name originated with the angular shape of the case. Later on I found out it was due to the angular shape of the hands on the gen 1 that vaguely resembled a samurai sword.
When the watch was resurrected in 2017 with non-Katana-reminiscent hands, the name remained because the case shape was largely unchanged. And I’m just going to point out that Katana swords are curved, as far as I’m aware, which is a silly thing to name straight hands after, but ok.
The First-Generation Seiko Samurai (2004-2008)
The First Seiko Samurais were released in 2004, and different editions were in and out of production until they were discontinued in 2008.
We can break down the 2004-2008 releases into three categories: Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) releases, which were made of titanium, international stainless steel versions, and Thailand Market Limited Editions nicknamed the “Ninja Samurai.”
Today, the first-generation Seiko Samurais are rare collector’s items, and are bordering on antique watches.
|Case Diameter||42 mm|
|Case Thickness||13.2 mm|
|Band Width||22 mm|
Gen 1 JDM Titanium Samurai
The JDM Titanium releases are what people usually think of when it comes to Gen 1 Seiko Samurais. Right off the bat, watch collectors and Seiko lovers were impressed with the next-level fit and finish, the lightweight titanium weight (only 120g with the bracelet), and the distinctive angular handset. The Titanium Samurai (Ti) has a case diameter of 42mm and a thickness of 13.2mm.
The Ti Samurais used the Seiko caliber 7s25 movement, which does not have hacking or hand-winding, and has an accuracy of +50/-20 sec per day. This is the same movement that is found in the SKX007 line (7s26), just without the day (date only).
Seiko SBDA001 – Black Titanium Samurai
The SBDA001 has a grey-black dial that contrasts sharply against the white hour markers, hands, date window, and dial text.
By today’s standards, the hands on the Samurai take a while to get used to. If you’ve been looking at them for a few dozen hours like me, they actually don’t seem “boxy,” but reasonable and like a sensible choice. The seconds hand lume pip has since reappeared as the iconic symbol of the Marinemaster 300m Seiko diver.
Seiko SBDA003 – Blue Titanium Samurai
The SBDA003 has a deep blue dial like a proto-Blue Lagoon. It doesn’t reflect in all lights, and certainly looks best in sunlight (as do all watches). The bezel insert here also matches the blue dial – with the exception of the first 15 minutes, which are blue-grey.
As for the dial writing, the Ti Samurais were released prior to Seiko’s rebranding of their divers as PROSPEX, with the corresponding X icon. Therefore, the dial has the following text instead:
Seiko SBDA005 – Orange Titanium Samurai
The SBDA005 is the orange Titanium Samurai. The orange dial is reminiscent of the modern orange SRPB97 Samurai. Here we see the early adoption of the orange for the first 15 minutes of the bezel insert, with a dark blue for the rest.
Whether it’s the Orange Monster, Orange SKX, or Orange Turtle, the Orange Seiko divers have always polarized fans due to their pumpkin nature. For those who have never seen an orange Seiko diver in person, they may be right to avoid them as the pictures never do them justice (do they ever?)
The Orange Ti Samurai is the only first gen Samurai that came on a rubber strap and no bracelet. As such, it weighed even less, at 85g. You wouldn’t have even been able to tell that it was on your wrist – aside from the blaring citrus dial.
Gen 1 Stainless Steel International Samurai
While the titanium Samurais were meant for the Japanese market, Seiko also released international editions for the rest of the world. These had similar features, but were also markedly different. Different dial colors, different handsets and indices, and even bezel inserts.
Seiko SNM009 / SNM031 – White Stainless Steel Samurai
As a companion to the black stainless steel Samurai, the SNM009 was a white-dial Samurai with a waffled dial as well. This is quite a rare find, as white-dialed Seiko divers are rare releases, and we don’t see this re-emerging until the King Samurai in 2020.
Along with the other SS models, this white-dialed version actually has the Seiko caliber 7s35, which is comparable to the 7s25, but has 2 extra jewels.
One noticeable difference between this model and the Ti Samurai is the handset is older. The hands are taper at the edge, and narrower and more conservative.
Lastly, the SNM Samurai series don’t have any crown guards, giving it a naked appearance.
Seiko SNM011 / SNM033 – Black Stainless Steel Samurai
The first generation Samurais also had a few variants in stainless steel, like this SNM011. This variant does not have the “TITANIUM” text on the dial, of course.
Furthermore, it has a different handset, dial, and hour markers than the Ti Samurai.
The dial is waffled (a la clous de paris found in the modern black waffled Samurai dial). Additionally, the handset is narrower; the bezel and crown are contrasted in gunmetal, like in the Save the Ocean models over ten years later.
The bezel style on the SNM series Samurais counts every 5-minute increment (instead of 10-minute increment on the Ti versions).
Gen 1 Stainless Steel Thailand “Ninja” Limited Edition Samurai
Even before their official “Zimbe” capaigns, Seiko has been releasing Thailand-market-only models wof various watches. Several of the 1st gen samurais got this “Thailand treatment,” and these have been nicknamed the “Ninja” editions due to the
batman Pepsi Ninja-style bezel inserts.
Seiko SNM015 – Black “Ninja” SS Samurai
The SNM015 is the first of the Limited Edition models nicknamed “Ninja.” This one comes in stainless steel, and, aside from the case shape, has few dial elements in common with the rest of the 1st gen Samurais. This one has the black dial, with the first 15 minutes of the chapter ring in red. Thus, “Ninja,” and not “Pepsi.”
The hands on this one look like something that would belong on a field watch or a pilot’s watch, and the huge seconds hand lume counterbalance is in the lollipop style (complete with a red-tipped seconds hand).
The SNM015K1 comes on a stainless steel bracelet, and the SNM015K2 comes on a waffle strap.
Seiko SNM017 – White “Ninja” SS Samurai
The SNM017 is the White Ninja Samurai. This one is also an SS Limited Edition with the same
Pepsi Ninja bezel insert and hands. The crown and bezel edge on these LE versions is gunmetal.
The dial is also textured in a subtle checkered pattern, and the date window has a frame around it.
The SNM017K1 comes on a stainless steel bracelet, and the SNM017K2 comes on a waffle strap.
Seiko SNM019 – Yellow “Ninja” SS Samurai
The yellow Ninja Samurai is the SNM019. This one looks like a racing watch more than a diver, with a rare yellow dial.
This version does away with the gunmetal crown and bezel edge. The hour and minute hands on this one are outlined in bold black. The bezel insert is dual-toned “Ninja” style, with the major minute markers contrasted in red.
Seiko SNM021 – Orange “Ninja” SS Samurai
The SNM021 is the orange version of the stainless steel “Ninja” Samurai. This one is the same as the yellow dial version, but orange.
On this model, you can clearly see an element that all the SS Ninja Samurais have, which is the raised minute and hour marker track.
The Second-Generation Seiko Samurai: PROSPEX (2017-Present)
Fast forward to 2017, and Seiko resurrects the Samurai as a PROSPEX diver. What does that mean? It’s basically a new way to categorize their collections – PROSPEX being watches made to “Professional Specifications.” Most of Seiko’s 200m ISO-rated divers got the PROSPEX treatment, and received the corresponding X on the dial (which continues to be very divisive).
Additional updates to the Samurai included an upgraded movement, updated handset, updated indices, increased diameter, changed crown guards, conversion from titanium to stainless steel, and tons of new colorways.
|Production||2017 – Present|
|Case Diameter||43.8 mm|
|Case Thickness||13 mm|
|Band Width||22 mm|
Gen 2 Reissue – Limited Edition Samurais
The first re-release of the Samurai in 2017 was the Blue Lagoon (which is why it’s appearing first in this list). This was a Limited Edition release, so I have grouped the other Limited Editions along with it.
Besides the Blue Lagoon, these are 2 Thailand “Zimbe” releases, a Europe-only release, and a gorgeous JDM.
Seiko SRPB09 – Samurai Blue Lagoon
In early 2017, nine years after being discontinued, Seiko released the Samurai Blue Lagoon to massive praise, quickly selling out.
The Blue Lagoon was released as a limited edition run for both the Samurai and the Seiko Turtle, yet it remains in production as a popular model. The blue on this bad boy is simply astounding.
One of the most noticeable updates to the Samurai re-release is the new hands. Really, these hands are simply borrowed from the Monster – bearing the signature aggressive and angular arrowhead fin shape. Despite changing the origin of its namesake, the name “Samurai” remained, as the case was largely unaltered.
The Samurai Blue Lagoon, model SRPB809, has a methodical yellow contrast at the major hour markers, complemented by the seconds hand. It makes for an impressive ensemble.
Seiko SRPC43 – Gold/Black Zimbe Samurai
The SRPC43 is one of the two 2nd gen “Zimbe” Samurais. This means that it was released as a Limited Edition for the Thailand market as part of Seikos “Save the Whales” campaign. Presumably this later turned into the international “Save the Ocean” campaign (and subsequent releases).
This model was limited to 1500 pieces, and came with a few handy upgrades: a cyclops magnified, and a sapphire crystal. Later on, in 2020, these features would become standard on the King Samurai.
Otherwise, the SRPC43 is very similar to the SRPB55 internal dual-tone Samurai (except for being stainless steel, on a bracelet, and no PVD).
Seiko SRPD13 – Reflective Gray Zimbe 9 Samurai
One of the more impressive Seiko designs is the SRPD13 – the “Zimbe 9” Samurai. It’s got a beautiful reflective gray dial, and a distinct handset
Unfortunately, it was only released in Thailand, and limited to 1300 pieces. The red and gray color scheme is unique and gorgeous.
This one would be killer in titanium.
Seiko SRPD03 – Samurai Grey Wave
Speaking of limited releases of cool models that would do really well in the United States, the Seiko SRPD03, nicknamed the “Grey Wave” was a limited Europe-only release. Released in 2018, this Samurai is limited to just 2,018 pieces, alongside a Seiko Turtle (also 2,018 pieces).
This model is allegedly meant to symbolize the ocean in a twilight dusky (or dusty?) Europe – Ireland perhaps? Doesn’t look like the ocean to me, but maybe it will soon.
The Grey Wave Samurai has a Grey waffle dial, with orange accents – a unique release in Seiko’s collections.
Seiko SBDY043 – Samurai Hulk – JDM Release
In the last few years, Seiko has released the SBDY043 Samurai Hulk (as it is sometimes known). While it doesn’t really look like the Hulk, it’s certainly green-tinted. In fact, it appears to be a reflective teal, a kind of green-blue.
Like the Blue Lagoon, the Samurai Hulk has a yellow-tipped seconds hand, but yellow-orange accents on the major hour indices on the chapter ring for accent.
As is typical for Seiko’s coolest models, this one is JDM only, meaning you will have to source it from Japan (and likely at a premium).
Gen 2 Reissue – Special Edition Samurai
There are several Special Editions of the Seiko Samurai – the PADI, the orange version, and the Save the Ocean models.
Seiko SRPB99– The PADI Samurai
In partnership with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), Seiko has many releases with the PADI logo in place of the PROSPEX X. This is to denote affiliation with PADI, and all the watches with this emblem are slightly different than their main lines. The Seiko SRPB99 is the PADI version of the Samurai.
One of the main features of PADI-branded Seiko divers is the Pepsi color scheme, which is color brand of the organization. And while there is already a blue-dialed Pepsi Samurai, this one has a black dial that is also wavy, reminiscent of a budget Omega Seamaster.
Seiko SRPB97 / SRPC07 – Samurai Orange Dial
For lovers of a bright orange dial, the Seiko SRPB97 is the orange Samurai to get. Like the gen 1 orange Samurai, this one is bright and loud, and has a matching orange bezel insert segment.
Unlike the gen 1, this one comes on a stainless steel bracelet.
Seiko SRPC93 – Samurai Save the Ocean v1
In 2019, Seiko released a new Limited Edition Samurai (and Turtle) – the Save the Ocean series (shortened as STO). The SRPC93 has a unique textured gradient dial which goes from indigo blue to dark blue to black. It’s also textured with non-parallel lines.
My favorite part about this watch is how reflective it is, and how it looks different in all lights. It’s a watch that I could never get enough of. Also, it has a gunmetal bezel edge, which matches to the gunmetal gnarled crown.
Seiko SRPD09 – Samurai Save the Ocean v2
Following the success of the Samurai Save the Ocean in stainless steel, Seiko released the SRPD09 – PVD Save the Ocean. This is now known as the version 2. The big change here is that the case and crown are now entirely PVD-coated.
Furthermore, the bracelet is replaced with a dark blue silicone strap (which presumably looks better than a PVD bracelet would). This is one of my favorite Samurai models to date.
Seiko SRPD23 – Samurai Save the Ocean v3 – Great White Shark Edition
Continuing the popularity of the Save the Ocean releases, the Seiko SRPD23 – Great White Edition has a new take on the model trend. Substituting the textured gradient dial, this Samurai now features a choppy blue ocean. It’s still reflective and textured, and different parts of the dial appear lighter or darker as you turn the watch in the light.
The new Save the Ocean dial now has a lighter blue dial with waves as the textures. Near the 8 o’clock, a Great White Shark fin can be seen protruding from the waves. This fin is complemented by the counterweight of the seconds hand, which has a bony or sharky-shape, which differentiates it from all other Samurais that came before.
Lastly, the bezel insert on this model has fine concentric grooves as an added level of detail.
Gen 2 Reissue – Stainless Steel Standard Versions
The remainder of the gen 2 Samurais are what is considered “normal release.” These come in typical black or blue dials that appeal to most people.
These Samurais can be categorized by their strap options: two with a stainless steel bracelet, and two with a rubber strap.
Seiko SRPB49 – Samurai Blue Waffle
Later that year, Seiko released a series of standard edition models (as they are now known). The first of these is the Seiko SRPB49, which has a blue waffle dial, and a corresponding bezel insert. This model has a greyed-out 1 to 15 minutes on the bezel, and a steel/white seconds hand.
One of the big changes in these second-generation Samurais is the upgraded movement. From the outdated 7s25 and 7s35 to the more modern 4r35, the new Samurais now have both hacking and handwinding. It also has a (slightly) better accuracy of +45/-35 sec per day.
Seiko SRPB51 – Samurai Black Waffle
Going up in model numbers, the Seiko SRPB51 is the standard black version of the Samurai. This model also has a waffle dial. The black version has a red-tipped seconds hand, and a grey-black bezel insert.
One of the other big changes in the second generation was the increase of the case diameter from 42mm to 43.8mm. Millimeters matter, and this seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Seiko SRPB53 – Samurai Blue Waffle Pepsi
Similar to the standard blue version, the SRPB53 has one major difference: the Pepsi bezel insert. This insert is matched by a red-tipped seconds hand similar to the black version. Aside from that, this model comes on a rubber strap instead of a stainless steel bracelet.
Another notable change from the first-generation Samurais is the change in crown guards. While the first-gen stainless steel Samurais didn’t even have crown guards (for some reason), the titanium versions had a more robust and bold set of crown guards. The new generation are a little thinner and beak-like.
Seiko SRPB55 – Samurai Black Waffle Dual-Tone Gold
One of the more striking versions of the standard Samurai collection is the dual-tone black-and-gold Seiko SRPB55. This one also has the black waffle dial. Additionally, the bezel insert has gold accents that are complemented by the outlined golden hands and golden hour markers. Lastly, the case and crown are PVD, giving it a cool “stealth bling” vibe.
Speaking of hour markers, this is another element that has been changed from the first generation of Samurais, and it’s one of the better changes too. The hour markers are now full bars of lume, compared to part-lume part-steel polish on the Ti, and god only knows what on the 1st gen stainless steel sammys.
The Third-Generation: PROSPEX Seiko King Samurai (2020-Present)
Fast forward to 2020. Amidst a global pandemic, Seiko heroically continues updating old diver models (as well as releasing completely new limited editions). Following the release of the King Turtles, which got some significant upgraded features, Seiko announced the release of three new King Samurai versions.
These King Samurais are set to be released in Q4 of 2020.
It finally seems like Seiko is listening to us fans (though they threw in a chunky price increase for the privilege). Some of the changes to the new lineup include: ceramic bezel insert, cyclops, sapphire crystal, and fancy new dial options.
What stayed the same: case size and shape, handset, and (sadly) the 4r35 movement.
|Model||Seiko King Samurai|
|Production||2020 – Present|
|Case Diameter||43.8 mm|
|Case Thickness||13 mm|
|Band Width||22 mm|
Seiko SRPE35 – King Samurai with White Dial
The first King Samurai is the white-dial version. Immediately noticeable, the white waffle dial has been updated. It’s not longer the soft silicone-strap-looking waffle of the mainstream Samurais. No, this is a bona fide 3D checkered grid reminiscent of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
The white dial version comes on a black silicone strap, which should be nice and comfy. The ceramic bezel insert upgrade really takes these Samurais to the next level, giving it a sheen we have grown to associate with luxury watches. Welcome to the 21st century, Seiko!
The white dial King Samurai has a yellow-orange-tipped seconds hand as the only accent, complemented by the color of the text in “DIVER’S 200m.”
Overall, this looks like an amazing update to the lineup!
Seiko SRPE37 – King Samurai with Black Dial
Next up is the Black Dial King Samurai. Similar to the white version, this one has a black dial. This is probably going to be more mainstream, as people love to play it safe with the standard black dial. While normally this would make the watch a veritable strap monster (it does), I think way more NATOs would look good on the white version that this. Either way, it’s a matter of preference.
One of the new changes that we saw in the King Turtle that is also implemented here is the addition of the cyclops crystal. This is a polarizing design element for many Seikoholics, but it’s not the worst thing they could have done. Personally, I find that you get used to it. As an added bonus, you can really be bothered by the misaligned date window even more.
The black dial King Samurai comes on a stainless steel bracelet.
Seiko SRPE33 – King Samurai Save the Ocean v4 – Manta Ray Edition
The final release of the King Samurais: The Save the Ocean Manta Ray Edition. This is a recent addition to the 2020 King Samurais, and time will tell what the dial really looks like. Based on early video releases, the blue dial is HELLA sparkly reflective blue.
Additionally, here are three manta rays tastefully floating in the background. I like the diversification of animals from sharks. Next, I would like to see some turtles, perhaps.
One final upgrade to the King Samurais that propels Seiko to the 21st Century is the sapphire crystal. We’ve been asking for this one for ages, and it’s finally here. Seiko’s move upmarket is almost complete.
Conclusion: The Last Samurai
The story of the Seiko Samurai is filled with twists and turns, angular case shapes, and hands that look like a katana to some people (I guess).
To close out, I wanted to paint a picture of the perfect Samurai that fans have really been asking for.
- Perfectly aligned date window
- Perfectly aligned chapter ring
- Upgraded movement to a 6R. The 4R range of movements is no longer acceptable. Even an NH35 is better.
- High quality bracelet
- No cyclops over the date window
- Ceramic bezel (check)
- Sapphire crystal (check)
- Bring back the Titanium case
- GMT hand (I’m a dreamer)
- 42mm case size
- 20mm bracelet
- 12mm thickness
- Small seconds hand
- Equation of time complication
- Just kidding guys, thanks for reading!
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