Seiko SNE537 Review: Seiko Prospex Street Series

By: Jason Rushin

So I’m out for a leisurely run a few weeks ago, listening, as always, to the Two Broke Watch Snobs podcast. Episode 118, to be exact. There’s a spring in my stride because I’m excited to be wearing my brand new Seiko SNE537 Prospex Solar “Street Series”, what with it’s comfy silicone strap, light weight, and smallish (relative) proportions. And just as I’m hitting my stride, Michael talks about the Seiko SNE498 he’s been reviewing and then mentions the Seiko Street Series (at 18:30, to be exact).

The reply from Kaz? “Those look so weird. I don’t like them.”

I stopped in my tracks and immediately fired off a message to those Snobs, extolling the virtues of this amazing watch. Mostly to save face and prove I truly have the cred to wear something called “street”. But ultimately because I really love this watch. Here’s why.

First Impressions

The Street Series comes in blue (SNE533), olive green (SNE535), and gray (SNE537). I was leaning blue but eventually pulled the trigger on a new gray version from eBay for a total of $394.30 shipped (MSRP is $450). They seem to be in the $420 range new ($429 on Amazon), which is $150-175 over the standard (and with a more typical diver look) SNE498 and SNE499. I also haven’t seen many on the forums except for a couple of the green going for about $350.

As background, I have the Christopher Ward C60 Trident Bronze Pro 600 diver as my daily beater and a dainty-by-comparison Oris Divers Sixty-Five. I’m not a diver and am not really into divers so much as to want more than two. But something about the last few Tunas are appealing to me (no, not those limited edition $2,400 ones). I’ve had a Seiko SBEP003 “Digi Tuna” in my shopping cart more than once but the near 50mm case size always held me back. Then the Street Series came along and offered a slightly smaller size with a very appealing matte finish. A couple of beers helped to grease the credit card (who hasn’t been there, right?) and here we are.

My first impression was that I made a good choice. Yes, the Seiko SNE537 is 47mm wide but it looks, feels, and wears a lot smaller. It has many different surfaces and finishes all visible at once yet they work together nicely. The dial itself seems small compared with the width of the watch but the large markers, big arrow hour hand, and thick minute hand all look well proportioned.

I liked it from first sight and that’s a rare experience for me.

The Seiko SNE537 Case

The case is your typical Tuna shroud with a few screwheads and a crown. It’s listed as 12.4mm tall in all of the online reviews but my calipers showed a consistent 13 mm. And, as mentioned, it’s 47mm wide and my calipers confirmed that measurement. I know I bagged on the Yema Watches Yachtingraf Heritage for being too tall for its diameter and the SNE537 is even taller for its width but it all works on the Seiko in ways it didn’t on the Yema.

The shroud adds a tank-like look and feel to the watch, as if it can handle anything you might throw at it. There’s a nice texture that reminds me of powder-coated metal. It’s plastic, definitely, but it looks like metal. Where the shroud has cutouts to spin the unidirectional bezel, the surface is flat and looks about 2mm wide. That’s a lot of protection and could have been skimped a bit to cut a millimeter or so off of the total diameter. Finally, the screwheads have a black anodized aluminum look to them, so not quite deep black.


 

The Seiko SNE537’s bezel finish goes a bit in the opposite direction of matte. It has very, very fine circular brushing on the silver portion and a not-quite-matte paint on the black portion covering the first 15 minutes. It’s definitely not shiny but it does offer a nice contrast with the other matte surfaces. As for numerals on the bezel, there are none. It’s just large lines at the fives and tiny dashes at the singles, plus a lume pip at 12.

On the TBWS podcast episode 118, Michael refers to the bezel clicks as “farty” while Kaz says they sound like someone shaking Yahtzee dice. I respectfully disagree. This bezel has a satisfying, reassuring click. I’d call it a micro click, since it feels like micro adjustments on some electronic device and reminds me of a sound effect from a MacGyver episode. There is about a half-click of clockwise play once you stop, however. And, I agree with what Michael said about the SNE 498/9 bezel markers as not all perfectly aligned with the dial markers. But it’s slight and I didn’t notice before he mentioned it.

The unsigned crown at 4 o’clock on the Seiko SNE537 has the same color as the screwheads and has a nice size with superfine grip and a chamfered top. It is, however, the most disappointing component of this watch because it spins freely in the down position. It just feels cheap, like it’s broken and not connected to anything. I’d have much preferred a screw-down crown, if only for water resistance reassurance. When pulled into time or date changing positions, however, it works fine and feels solid.

In contrast to everything on the SNE537, the screw-on case back is definitely shiny. It also has a cool wave relief to remind you that this watch has an underwater heritage.

The Dial

The dial adds yet another texture that Seiko calls “camo”. I wouldn’t call it camo but it does help cut the glare and it continues the overall matte/textured theme. The SNE537 markers are very similar to those on the typical Tuna, with an inverted triangle at 12 o’clock, rectangles at 3, 6, and 9, and circles at the rest. They all have depth to them and that adds to the appeal and textured nature of the overall piece. The puffy lume further adds to the 3D vibe and the larger 12, 3, 6, 9 markers have a neat line extending towards the dial center (as seen on other Tunas).

Legibility is great and the hands are huge on the SNE537. The large arrow hour hand is just awesome and the sword minute hand reaches nearly to the dial edge. Both are brushed silver and almost completely filled to their edges with lume. From the center post backwards they are painted matte black for a cool look, although gray would’ve been a nice match to the dial. The second hand is really tiny in comparison, almost hair-like, and nearly disappears. It does have a small circle of lume opposite the hand itself so it’s at least visible in the dark.

As mentioned, when looking at the whole watch, the dial does seem small against the shroud and bezel. Somehow it all works and I’m sure the great legibility is a part of that.

Lume on the SNE537 is fantastic, by the way. The big markers and hands do wonders for nighttime legibility.

The Movement

These Seiko Prospex Street Series are powered by the solar Caliber V157. Seiko claims “no battery change required” and a 10-month power reserve. I think both of those features are amazing. As my watch-yearning pendulum swung to the automatic/manual side, it’s nice to swap out to this piece and not have to worry about setting the time.

Although why can’t every month just have the same number of days? Grrr!

The Strap

The SNE series comes with a silicone strap that has a nice texture. It’s crinkly without trying to look like leather, which I find more appealing than a crazy pattern or even just smooth. However it adds yet another texture to the overall piece.

The underside of the SNE537 strap is smooth with a wide center channel. It’s very soft and comfortable, but I have to admit that it’s sticky and sweaty on hot, humid days. Rounding it out, the hardware is black and matches the crown and case screws. The gray of the strap may appear slightly lighter than the gray of the shroud in some lighting situations so take note if you’re really picky about that kind of thing.

The strap is about 10.25” measured tip to tip while on the watch. My wrist is 7.9” and I’m wearing it on the fourth of eleven holes so there’s plenty of room in both directions. It has the accordion-style extensions molded in and I was able to extend the overall length by about 0.75” to 11” total with a moderate tug. I know the concept is to add length while wearing it around a thick wetsuit but I just imagine it cutting off circulation.

Ultimately it’s a great strap, although it would have been nice for Seiko to get even further away from the diver aesthetic by eliminating the dive extensions or going with a colored leather strap.

The Verdict

I’ve had the Seiko SNE537 for 3 months now and have worn it off and on. It’s very lightweight, looks great as a casual piece or at the pool, and has a nice look and feel to the whole thing. It doesn’t scream “diver” but it also looks and feels the part. It’s rugged, waterproof to 200m, and can double as a hiking or outdoor watch without looking like a fish, um, diver out of water. I had a Suunto Vector back in the day and it kind of reminds me of that: really big and ready for anything. But this Seiko is much more svelte than the Suunto and definitely looks more stylish in any situation that requires proximity to other humans.

One thing to consider if you’re mulling the Seiko Prospex Street Series is the multiple textures. Working from the outside in, the strap has one texture, the shroud another, the crown and screws yet another, the bezel has two, and the dial adds one more. The textures are tiny, distinctly separated, and I like the look. It might not work for others, however. And even if the colors were all exactly identical across materials and components, the different textures work to give each piece a different hue. Just something to consider if you’re picky about those things.

Overall it’s a nice alternative to the typical me-too diver designs. It’s even a nice alternative to the other plastic Tunas and eliminates the big numbers from the bezel for even more “I’m not a diver” cred. Whether or not it has street cred is still undetermined.

The final verdict: I love my Seiko SNE537. So I guess I am into divers since this is the third in my collection. Now where can I find that Digi Tuna…and a beer…

Pros

  • Creative styling that delivers a rugged look without feeling too much like a diver.
  • Light and wearable even with its large size.
  • The blue and gray offer nice matte colors (the green isn’t my thing).
  • Never need to replace battery and a 10-month power reserve.

Cons

  • Crown spins like it’s broken.
  • It’s still big.
  • Lots of textures.

Would I buy it again? Yes!


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