Seiko SBDC061 Watch Review

By: Michael Penate

As expected, when Seiko announced their flagship models at Baselworld 2018, the SLA025 6159 reissue was front and center – for a price of $5,400. While beautiful in almost every way, we can probably agree that many Seiko fanatics weren’t ready to drop Oyster Perpetual money on a re-edition, so many turned to Seiko’s 6R15-equipped “reinterpretation” models. The Seiko SBDC061 is one of those products and in some ways, I almost prefer it to some of the pricier Seiko reissues I’ve seen in person. Unlike the Seiko SBDC051 – a modern 62MAS alternative – this is a watch I could really get behind and one that has tempted me ever since having it in for review.

Seiko SBDC061 on the wrist
About $800 on Amazon!

It’s worth noting that this watch is available with a black bezel (SBDC061) and a blue bezel (SBDC063). It seems that the blue bezel model is only available with Seiko’s newer vented rubber strap but I’ve noticed that Gnomon Watches will also sell that one to you on the bracelet. Either way, both options are visually attractive with restrained case proportions, a reliable movement, and modern construction that can serve several lifetimes. Overall, it’s probably one of Seiko’s most attractive modern 6R divers and one that will probably give the Sumo a run for its money.

Seiko SBDC061 dial closeup

Case

Let’s start with the best part. What we have here is a chunky stainless steel case measuring 44mm wide, 13.1mm thick, and 51mm lug to lug. It’s a daunting set of dimensions on paper but, as usual, Seiko’s case dimensions are deceiving. While the 62MAS reinterpretation diver appeared bulky and awkward on my wrist, this diver just wore beautifully thanks to the conservative, sloped lug design. In fact, I’d bet that if you took a pair of calipers to the case, you’d probably find that Seiko was overestimating the actual size. Upon further inspection, you’ll probably realize that the case design is also quite similar to the flagship SBDX017 Marinemaster, which left this watch with the affectionate “Marinemaster 200” title. So if you’re a fan of that design, just know that the Seiko SBDC061 is an easy-wearing, compact version of that watch.

Seiko SBDC061 side view on wrist

The unidirectional, fully graduated dive bezel was the absolute smoothest I ever tried on a Seiko. It almost reminded me of the buttery effect you’d experience on something like a well-worn ’90s Submariner. As usual, throughout the case sides and the lugs, you’ll find a combination of brushed and Zaratsu-polished surfaces that are on par with Seiko divers in this price range. Not necessarily anything to write home about but if you think about, in-house Seiko case finishing is truly a thing of beauty – in several of their price ranges. Finally, with 200m of water resistance in a modern Seiko diver, I felt the kind of security and durability you can only get in a modern diver.


 

Seiko SBDC061 tilted on side dial view

Dial

The dial serves as perhaps the most obvious departure from the 6159 source material. Most notably, we get the controversial “Moster” handset that took me quite some time to warm up to. But, if you look closely, it’s really quite legible and easy to love. Besides, that fat pointer hour hand is a real treat when you consider the thick application of Seiko’s proprietary Lumibrite material. Overall I’m not too upset about Seiko utilizing these hands for modern iterations of their famous dive watches – and that’s saying a lot. I have to admit I was a pretty vocal prick when it came to this handset early on, but really, it’s hard to find a real day to day issue with these hands. They work and they’re easy to read.

A quick dial comparison between the SBDC061 and the lovable Seiko Minnow

Other than that, we have a nicely framed date window at 3 o’clock, an attractive set of hour markers, and nice, needle-like seconds hand that gets the job done. Again, as a modern Prospex edition, we get the ‘X’ logo above 6 o’clock but if this really bothers you, then you should be hunting down some of the older pre-Prospex models for your collection. Another plus – Seiko fitted the SBDC061 with an AR-coated sapphire crystal, which is usually a huge talking point for those that find it difficult to live with the Hardlex material found on Seiko’s entry-level watches. Overall, I found the simple, high-contrast dial to be a huge plus and as usual, Seio pulls off an incredibly easy-to-read dive watch dial. No complaints here.

Bracelet

Ugh, just look at that milled clasp. Seiko has really been pushing the boundaries of their Prospex divers – even if they fall under the $1,000 price bracket. With a 20mm lug width, it’s easy to wear, doesn’t feel bulky, and tapers nicely at the clasp. As expected I found the clasp to function nicely compared to the entry-level SKX bracelets and I was never worried about maintaining a secure fit on the wrist. The side-mounted push buttons were easy to use and also added an extra sense of security.

Like the case, we also have a combination of brushed and polished surfaces – but nothing gaudy or overly dressy. Some might prefer a chunkier 22mm bracelet, but I think that 20mm works with Seiko’s 44mm cases (pretty sure I’m in the minority). The center links are slightly faceted, adding an added sense of refinement – but overall I think this is the kind of bracelet that can really take a beating without looking shitty. Thanks to the 20mm lug width, it would also be cool to see this on some of the aftermarket Uncle Seiko rubber straps or a nice leather strap from ealeathergoods.

Movement

Inside the Seiko SBDC061, we get the popular 6R15 automatic movement. With 50 hours of power reserve, a Spron 510 mainspring, and 3Hz operational frequency, it’s a movement just slightly one step above stuff like the 7s26. Manufacturing inconsistencies are an issue but for the most part, I’ve never had a problem with this movement and this review sample was no different. The winding action is so smooth, it’s as if you can’t even hear or feel the action when powering up the watch. If we’re talking about this price range, the 6R is what I would expect in a watch like the Seiko SBDC061, so I’m glad to see it used here and in other more “high-end” models outside of Marinemaster territory.

Seiko SBDC061 on the wrist
Available for $800 on Amazon

Final Thoughts

After the mess of 62MAS models released in 2017, I feel that both the SLA and SBDC variants of the 6159 reissues are some of the best modern Seiko releases in recent memory. Besides something like the Shogun (SBDC029), I think this watch is probably the most solid Seiko diver you can get for this kind of money – and that’s not to say it’s inexpensive. But, even at the $899 street price (and sometimes lower on Amazon), I think the combination of features and quality makes this a high-value prospect. I enjoyed my time with this watch and now that I think of it, I may want to put this head to head with one of the newer Shoguns to see if it can make its way into my collection… I’ve never owned a 6R-equipped Seiko diver. Learn more about the Seiko SBDC061 on Seiko’s official Prospex site. Seiko Prospex


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