After my recent loan and review of an SRPC95 (a.k.a. Nemo Turtle), I started missing having a Seiko diver in my collection. I've always wanted to try out a "King Turtle," and especially liked the green textured dial version known as the "Grenade." Curiosity finally got the best of me, and I bought one, putting a Turtle back in my collection for the first time in a few years. Is it worth the price premium over the standard Turtle, or even a modded one? Keep reading to find out.
What makes it a "King" Turtle?
If you're reading this blog, you likely already know that the Seiko community loves giving nicknames to popular dive watches. "Turtle" of course comes from the shell-like case shape, and this specific reference earned the "Grenade" nomenclature from the green, waffle-pattern dial's resemblance to the explosive device of the same name.
So why the King? Seiko has likely noticed the popular trend of enthusiasts modifying their Seiko divers with upgraded parts (like I once did with my previous (Golden Turtle SRPC44).
With the upgraded series of Turtles (and Samurais), Seiko has done the work for us. It has produced models that come equipped with anti-reflective sapphire crystals, and ceramic bezel inserts straight from the factory! The bezel itself (also a common mod part) has sharper edges to the grips too. Sometimes watch brands do listen.
The small changes work together to give the King Turtle a more impressive and interesting wrist presence compared to the standard models. The polished ceramic bezel insert is more reflective than the aluminum versions and plays with the light together with the sharper bezel and its polished chamfer. The AR on the crystal combined with the "candy bar" magnifier give it a higher-end look as well.
Seiko is known for its quality dials, and the sharp squares on the waffle are no exception. Applied markers stand above it and give a nice, three-dimensional look. Note that this watch has a 2020 serial number, and does not have the additional lume plot at 3 o'clock that the newer models have.
My one minor complaint straight out of the box was that the green color is darker than I expected. I was looking for a forest green, but this dial looks almost black in dimmer lighting. I do like the subtle gold accents on the dial text and tip of the second hand though.
Wearing the King Turtle
Because the King Turtle case wasn't changed over the standard models, it wears on the wrist just like the Nemo Turtle. As with many Seiko divers, it wears better than its 45mm wide x 14.5mm thick dimensions would indicate.
The smaller bezel makes it visually narrower, and the recessed, offset crown also makes the total width of the watch fairly narrow. The lug-to-lug height is also small for the case width at 47.5mm due to the compact lugs.
The case and finishing are on par with other Seikos at this price range. A brushed top surface meets polished sides. It would have been nice to see Seiko apply sharper case finishing to the King models, but if that is important to you, Seiko will be happy to sell you one of the more expensive SPB "Willard" models.
I didn't have a standard turtle to compare side by side, but from my memory, it doesn't feel like Seiko did anything to improve the precision of the King models' bezel clicks either.
Because of the nearly black dial, the legibility of the Grenade is even better than that of the Nemo turtle. Crisp white applied markers stand out and feature unique shapes at the quarter hours to make it very easy to read.
At night, Seiko's always great Lumibrite lume keeps things clear as well. This model seems to have an especially thick application.
In past Seiko diver reviews, such as the Safari Tuna, I've stated my (admittedly biased) opinion that I don't love Seiko's current silicone straps. They are soft and comfortable, but the silicone attracts dust, and the metal keepers are particularly comfortable, nor good at securing the strap ends.
Luckily I have plenty of other good options (scroll to the end of the article to shop for different straps for this watch)!
The movement is another thing that Seiko didn't upgrade on the "King" models. SRPE03 still uses the same Seiko 4R36 movement as other variants. I'm fine with this, as it helps keep the cost down.
Other than the slightly darker dial, there weren't a lot of surprises with the SRPE03. I've owned a Turtle modified with a ceramic bezel insert and sapphire crystal, so I knew that these small changes resulted in a much higher-end appearance.
But is it worth the price premium that Seiko charges? Modification parts for these watches are fairly affordable, but many people lack the skill or desire to modify their own watches.
At $595, the MSRP for SRPE03 is only $100 more than the standard black SRPE93 (the replacement for the original SRP777) on a strap. That's less than what you'd spend on modification parts, and also eliminates the risk of scratching up your case when removing the bezel (ask me how I know), plus you get a really cool dial
Unless you're looking for specific modifications, I say that it's worth the upgrade to the "King."
Name: Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver
Reference Number: SRPE03 (SBDY051)
Thickness: 14.5mm thick (at cyclops)
Lug Width: 22mm
Weight: 92g (head only)
Movement: Caliber 4R36
Power Reserve: 41 hours
Water Resistance: 200m
Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating and with magnifier
Bezel: Unidirectional, 120 clicks, steel with ceramic insert
Strap: Green silicone with metal keeper
Shop Other Straps for the Seiko King Turtle Grenade SRPE03 (SBDY051)