This year at BaselWorld, one of Seiko’s most impressive novelties was undoubtedly the Seiko Prospex S23626 1000M Limited Edition. With a price tag that broke $2k and a look that had hardcore collectors drooling, the watch effortlessly paid tribute to the original Seiko 7549 “Golden Tuna” released in 1978. As with many of Seiko’s recent vintage reissues, I found myself quickly priced out and in many ways, disappointed.
But, after the dust settled and press day began to wind down, Seiko quietly started rolling out slightly miniaturized shrouded Solar Tuna models—one of which also pays tribute to the immortalized Golden Tuna. The weirdest part? We haven’t seen too many folks talking about these. And that’s surprising, considering the fact that the Seiko Prospex SNE498 & SNE499 Solar Tuna dive watches can both be had for well under $500. Plus, there’s even a PADI version in blue and red if you’re looking for a pop of color.
Now, while both of these watches play a part in idolizing the big, bad Seiko Tunas of the past, it’s important to note one fundamental difference: water resistance. Both the SNE498 & SNE499 are water-resistant to 200m while the original Golden Tuna was capable of 600m. The S23626 reissue, by the way, delivers 1,000m of water resistance while some of the lower-end Prospex Tunas like the SBBN035 provide 300m of water resistance. A bit nauseating, I know, but it gives you an idea of what these new models are capable of and by all means, 200m is nothing to sneeze at.
Speaking of the Seiko SBBN035, for a while it seemed like the ultimate choice if you were looking for a shrouded Seiko dive watch in a more compact package. However, these two new models slim things down slightly and measure in at just under 47mm with a 12.4mm case thickness. That seems pretty comfy for a Seiko design that can often feel intimidating, but I’m sure both models will wear with plenty of wrist presence either way.
The Seiko SNE498* (my favorite) features an all-black plastic shroud with a stainless steel case, flat hardlex crystal, 120-click unidirectional bezel, and gorgeous gold accents throughout. The design is further complimented by a well-balanced dial that pushes the date window to 4 o’clock for dial marker symmetry and features a much more graceful handset than what is found in many of Seiko’s modern Tunas. Note that the hour hand itself is not segmented. So while it isn’t exactly what you’d find on an original 7549-7000, it’s much more attractive than the modern handset.
Ticking inside both models is the caliber V157 Solar Quartz movement with what I believe is a 10-month power reserve and a +/-15 second accuracy range. Both feature the usual, generous applications of Seiko LumiBrite (even possibly on the bezel for both models) and come on the latest version of Seiko’s comfy 22mm silicone vented dive strap.
The Seiko PADI SNE499 edition*, of course, features the typical blue and red color accents together with a nice wave pattern dial to set it apart from its sibling. It’s a bit of a gimmick I still haven’t fallen for but a color scheme that really seems to be popular with collectors.
Seiko Prospex SNE498 & SNE499 Specs
- Case Diameter: 47mm
- Lug-To-Lug Measurement: Approx. 47mm
- Thickness: 12.4mm
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Water Resistance: Rated for 200m
- Movement: Caliber V157 with 10-month power reserve
- Crystal: Seiko Hardlex
- Strap: Vented Silicone
- Price: MRSP $450 USD (Check Amazon Pricing for the SNE498* & SNE499* – they should hover between $200-$300)
Overall, I’m very impressed with this stealthy Seiko release. It opens doors for several budget-conscious watch enthusiasts looking to get as close as possible to the Golden Tuna look without bleeding themselves dry. Tell us what you think and if you feel differently, let us know which of Seiko’s latest affordable dive watches you’d choose. Seiko
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.