Seiko Samurai: Huge Blunder or Seiko Icon?

By: Kaz Mirza

Every piece in my collection has a story. And this Seiko Samurai SRPB09K1 is no different. The story of how the Seiko Boutique down in Miami, FL, USA did me a huge favor after a local AD let me down can be found in Episode #22 of the podcast. When I first heard they were bringing back the Samurai, I didn’t think it would be a release that would interest me. Oh, how wrong I was.

Jump To:

Common Questions | Specs | Case | Bracelet | Movement | Dial | Overall | Popular Models

Commonly Asked Questions About The Seiko Samurai

Why is it called Seiko Samurai?

When the watch was originally released back in 2004, Seiko fans noticed that the hour hand resembled the shape of a sword. From that point the name “Seiko Samurai” was adopted as a nod to the watch brand’s Japanese origins.

What is the price of the Seiko Samurai

Anywhere between $300 – $700+ depending on the model you’re looking at and whether you’re able to purchase the watch during a sale.

Is Seiko Samurai a dress watch?

No – this is a sporty Seiko diver. The style and size of the watch don’t lend themselves well to being a dress watch. However there’s nothing stopping you from wearing it for more dressy occasions if you chose to do so.

Is Seiko Samurai discontinued?

Not anymore – the first generation Seiko Samurai models from Japan were active between 2004 – 2008. But the current generation was refreshed and brought back into production in 2017.

Seiko Samurai Specs

Case Dimensions43.8mm x 47mm x 13mm
Lug Width20mm
CrystalHardlex
Movement4R35 Automatic
Water Resistance200m

A Unique Dive Watch Case:

There’s no getting around it, the stainless steel case on the Seiko Samurai is just incredible. It’s the culmination of aesthetically pleasing sharp angles and slopes that present quite an aggressive case design. What I found to be interesting about such dramatic angles is that the watch plays with light very interestingly in that certain angles of the watch are either very well lit or quite shadowed.

This is in contrast to more round case shapes you may see in the Seiko Prospex lineup that tend to diffuse and roll light even around and across the shape of the case (like what you see on the Seiko Turtle). When you look at the watch, it’s easy to think that it may wear quite large or even be a touch too tall on the wrist, but this is not the case.

As I’ve found with other Seiko diver’s watch models, the numbers may look large on paper, but on the wrist is a different story. These watches are designed for comfort, which means they tend to hug the wrist, which the Seiko Samurai certainly does.

That being said, the ethos that the Blue Lagoon Samurai seems to put off is that it’s a no-nonsense tool watch. In conjunction with the aggressive case design that we’ve discussed, the watch is basically entirely brushed (as opposed to polished, which tends to evoke a more refined presentation). The lugs of the case are drilled through, making strap changes a breeze. Although, I haven’t been compelled to change the stock bracelet out once (more on that in a bit).

The lugs taper from the middle diameter of the case to a very comfortable and appropriate 22mm lug width. The crown guard features a sloping cutaway that allows for very easy access to the crown while also offering a bold presentation and the practical purpose of crown protection. Speaking of the crown, how about the knurling? This tends to enforce the tool watch vibe Seiko is trying to engender here with the Samurai. This is also a screw-down crown.

We also see a similar knurling on the unidirectional bezel, which is beautiful. It sports the familiar samurai ticks in the 0-15 portion of the bezel with the proceeding sections partitioned off into 10-tick increments, which eventually lead to a triangle pip area.

My only complaint with the bezel is that it’s quite difficult to turn. Although I’m not sure this is something endemic to the Seiko Samurai. It’s been my understanding that many of the Prospex line pieces vary in terms of bezel stiffness off-the-line. So if anyone has any insight on that, it’d be greatly appreciated.

Bold But Comfortable Bracelet:

So let’s move from the case to focus on the stainless steel bracelet because we see something unique here. Unlike many timepieces that tend to have a fairly noticeable delineation between where the bracelet meets the case, the Seiko Samurai offers us something unique.

The slope of the case is both contingent upon and accentuated by the slope of the bracelet’s endlinks. One gets the sense that with the endlinks gone, the case would feel almost incomplete (like something had taken a bite out of it).

I suspect this is one of the reasons why I haven’t taken the bracelet off yet, which for those who know me well know that I do often with my other pieces. The reason why I know I haven’t taken the bracelet off is that it’s just too damn comfortable. At 22mm it’s appropriately wide enough to secure the watch while also ensuring a snug comfortable fit.

Like the case, the majority of the Seiko Samurai’s bracelet is brushed – except for the sides and small in-between areas of the links. The clasp is pretty typical in what we see from sub $1k USD Prospex pieces: three piece stamped folding clasp. Again, it’s my understanding that the quality within the Prospex wrist watch line tends to vary on the bracelet, but mine seems to be really sturdy and crafted well.

Reliable 4R35 Automatic Movement:

Sporting the fairly popular and reliable 23 Jeweled 4R35, the automatic movement focus of this piece will be pretty straightforward. The automatic self-winding 4R35 hacks and manually winds (the hand-winding is quite smooth actually). In addition, the power reserve is rated at approximately 40 hours and the watch has been factory charted at +45/-35 seconds a day, parameters that my automatic dive watch seems to be functioning within.

Eye-Catching Special Edition Dial:

The blue dial on the Seiko Samurai SRPB09K1 is really quite striking. In the light it tends to pull from two different hues of blue that draw inspiration from the ocean: the lighter blues remind me of shallow water while that deep, rich blue reminds me of dark, deeper water.

The indices are applied and feature that powerful Seiko lume we all’ve come to love. The lume is also just as bright on the hands. It should be noted here that the iconic Samurai hands from the original release are missing here and have been replaced with Seiko Monster hands.

I know many enthusiasts and purists among Seiko watches may find that offense sacrilegious, but for me, objectively and aesthetically, I like them. The aggressive nature of these Monster hands complements the aggressive nature of the case shape on this Prospex diver.

The second hand here is also a lot of fun. It’s a spear shape with a dramatically exaggerated yellow point. The yellow is also noted in the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions of the interior chapter ring. This very subtle pop of color brings a refreshing spritz of relief to the possibly overwhelming sense of blue the watch has. It’s also easy to miss and forget about them only to be surprised when the light hits the watch just right and they stand out – it’s the little things really.

Final Thoughts On The Seiko Prospex Samurai:

I love my Seiko Blue Lagoon Samurai – I really do. But I have to compare it to other Seiko divers that I own and have experienced in the metal and something is just off. I think what we’re possibly dealing with here is a case of over-designing.

Let me explain: for years Seiko has deftly designed their divers in such a way that the very essence and presentation of the watch feels organic – to design something organic is to draw out the natural shape and state of the watch itself. This is what I feel really enforces the romanticism we tend to associated with Seiko beaters. A watch that has been designed to evoke an organic ethos only looks better with age – all the dings, nicks, scratches, and scraps only accentuate the natural state of the watch.

In the case of my Seiko Sumo SBDC033, I’m really looking forward to growing with that watch – to watch the accumulation of marks and scratches that tell a story of all the times we’ve shared together. However, I’m not looking forward to time passing with the Samurai. In my opinion, the aggressive case shape is indicative of an ethos being forced out of the watch (over designed). So I’m afraid that the watch won’t wear damage very well over time.

So if you’re looking for an everyday beater, I wouldn’t necessarily seek out the Seiko Blue Lagoon Samurai. There are plenty of other incredible options like the SKX line or the Sumo. However, if you’re looking for something fun to add to your collection to bust out when you want to mix it up every now and then, there are now many variations of the Seiko Samurai Available. You’ve got PADI Samurais, Black waffle dial Samurai models, even more limited edition Save The Ocean Seiko Samurai watches, and many more.

10 thoughts on “Seiko Samurai: Huge Blunder or Seiko Icon?”

    • Very good point actually, man. Some variation in the polishing choices could have brought out some more interesting nuances of the piece to possibly make it feel more organic. But for some reason they stuck pretty hard on the majority of it being brushed. Like I said in the review, it’s def a fun piece but not the first watch I’d suggest to someone looking for a seiko diver.

      Reply
  1. Good review! You gave me something to think about. I’ve been in love with the samurai since I saw the original SBDA001. I’m planning to get one of the new ones, SRBP55 or 49 when they hit the stores in june, but we’ll see.
    You actually did it like you sad in the latest episode, to tell your truth both pros and cons. I am interested in objectivity in the world of watch blogs and podcasts and it is a sensetive matter. It’s easy to do with your own watches but what will happen when manufacturers starts to send you watches??

    Reply
    • Glad you liked the review! Those new reissues/releases really do look awesome – love that waffle texture you see on the dials!

      Yea that’s the goal here, man – the same type of vibe and flavor you get on the show is what you’ll get on these reviews. There are good points and points about all watches – even watches you love! You can totally be in love with a watch that has flaws lol (I’m looking at you Raketa Big Zero!).

      Also, honestly, we’re currently reaching out to brands for reviews and we’re explicitly telling them we’re going to be doing an unbiased, authentic review of the product they’ve created. So we’re being very selective in that we’re talking to folks who stand by their products and who are prepared for an honest assessment. So basically, to answer your question, our reviews will always be honest regardless of what watch we’re looking at because an honest review is exactly what you and the rest of the TBWS community deserves!

      Reply
  2. Having chased the original SBDA003 Samurai for a bit (and not getting one) I know that the inside lip of the bezel insert seems stick up above the crystal, adding to your worry of the wabisabi accumulation on this one (personally not the first spot I would wear to show up). This is a cool addition to Seiko’s line up though, and I know the dials are very photogenic.
    I recently went with a blumo over this one (Thanks again for that! ) because I liked that style of hands best.
    Nice write up!

    Reply
    • Glad you liked the write-up, man!

      You know, its strange but between the Sumo and the Samurai I’d probably go Sumo lol. I’m probably biased just because of my current attachment to the watch, but there’s something more wholesome (wtf, wholesome?) about the Blumo that just lends itself more to the idea of it being a piece you can grow with.

      I still really feel that the Sumo will age better than the Samurai, which for me is a factory (although I didn’t realize it until I started to spend time with the Samurai lol).

      Really happy you like the Blumo, man – it’s an amazing piece and I’ll recommend the hell out of it to anyone

      Reply
  3. Great review man and your photos are just stunning!!!!
    I do love this piece, and can understand your points in regards to over-designing however I think Seiko did the right thing here, sometimes it is great to over-design!! Also think that overtime that case will look sexy, I mean as long as you don’t polish and remove the sharp angles, every scratch will show up beautifully overtime!! Only thing that bothers me (and it bothers for 99.9% of all watches) is the date window, as I think they should have spent more time and finish it better, or just remove it, but I do understand that average people love to have date window on their watches.

    Keep up the fantastic work you guys!

    Cheers,

    Reply
  4. Case shape is very dramatic, I’m a black dial guy but personal preferences aside it remains a great looking piece. Not a fan of any Seiko bracelet that I’ve seen but on Strapcode’s Hexad which continues the angular theme the watch is (IMO) elevated significantly. The bezel action is a little better than Seiko’s usual “god awful” at this price and in my own experience, but it does align and is useable. I think most who purchase this watch will buy it for it’s looks, sure it’s a little different than the typical Seiko diver, but it seems to have a loyal following. Great pic of Yang giving it some love.

    Reply

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