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THE SEIKO SAMURAI (or maybe, The Last Samurai?)

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  • THE SEIKO SAMURAI (or maybe, The Last Samurai?)


    (I think of this more as an overview rather than a review. Please feel free to correct me if you spot anything you think is not right)

    I have always been ambivalent in my attitude regarding the Seiko Samurai - I’ve owned both; the Stainless Steel and the Titanium models. I like the look of the Ti case, but prefer the heft and scratch resistance of the S/Steel Sammie. But there again, IMHO the Ti Sammie's dial, hands and crown guard are better. So, what I’m saying is that if the two were combined then I’d definitely have to have one, (or two?).

    A few years ago I owned a S/Steel Black Samurai which I enjoyed for only a short while because, (without going into detail), I swapped it for a ‘Tuna’. I must admit though that I’ve kept my eyes open for a good one ever since, but possibly due to the fact that they have been discontinued; I found that any model of the “Sammie” didn’t seem to come available too often.

    Then recently, I came across a SNM009, (White Dialled), S/Steel Samurai. When I looked for some info or a review or anything at all on it, I found very little was available. I also noted that there was very little info on the Samurai overall, so, as I like to catalogue watches I have and watches I’m interested in, I put together my thoughts along with what little I could find.

    Then that led me to think of doing this Review which simply grew from trying to find out more about my White Dialled Samurai to catalogue. Hopefully I got it right, but in doing this as a Review to post on TKNZ Forum, I would welcome your comments; positive or negative, as they would further my knowledge of the Sammie.

    Firstly though, I have to admit that I’m entering reasonably uncharted territory, (for me), and I may be repeating what you already know anyway, so bear with me and please remember guys that 2011 is “Be Kind To Will” year!

    Also please accept that because I knew very little about the Sammie and had to go searching for what I could find, (which was reasonably minimal), what I’ve put together here is mainly mine but unashamedly, also a compilation/plagiarism/copy of what I found while searching.

    As I searched, I found because there is such a wide range of Samurai’s, that putting it together in some comprehensible form was quite a challenge. To illustrate what I mean regarding there being such a wide range of Samurais, here is a list of Samurai models.

    SBDA001 - 7S25 Cal, Black Dial, Titanium
    SBDA003 - 7S25 Cal, Blue Dial, Titanium
    SBDA005 - 7S25 Cal, Orange Dial, Titanium
    SNM009 - 7S35 Cal, White Dial, S/S
    SNM011 - 7S35 Cal, Black Dial, S/S
    SNM031 - 7S35 Cal, White Dial, S/S (US version)
    SNM033 - 7S35 Cal, Black Dial, S/S (US version)
    SNM015 - 7S35 Cal, Black Dial (Pepsi Bezel), S/S, Limited Edition 500 pieces, AKA Ninja
    SNM017 - 7S35 Cal, White Dial (Pepsi Bezel), S/S, Limited Edition 500 pieces, AKA Ninja
    SNM019 - 7S35 Cal, Yellow Dial (Blue/White Bezel) S/S, Limited Edition 300 pieces, AKA Ninja
    SNM021 - 7S35 Cal, Orange Dial (Blue/White Bezel) S/S, Limited Edition 300 pieces AKA Ninja


    The SBDA-series, (Titanium Samurai), divers first hit the limelight in 2004. The new Prospex diver didn’t have a memorable nickname so it got sort of christened as the “Samurai Diver”.

    The nickname was very apt as it is said that the hands somewhat resemble a Samurai’s sword or that it came about due to photos that were initially circulated of the watch in front of a Japanese Temple. Never-the-less Seiko diver watch enthusiasts embraced the “Samurai Diver” nickname warmly and it had stuck ever since.

    Whatever the reason, one way to easily identify a “Samurai” is by the unique Bezel design. The case design is more angular and less rugged in appearance than the ‘Monster’ and with the subtle white or black face versions could even be worn in a formal setting.

    Seiko initially brought in three models for the “Samurai Diver” line-up – the Black SBDA001, Dark Blue SBDA003 and the Orange dial, SBDA005 on a straight vent rubber strap.

    Seiko’s SBDA models appeared to be popular in the various watch forums and several months later, the company followed up a companion Samurai model in Stainless Steel form for the non-Japanese markets. Their Stainless Steel counterparts were quickly dubbed as the “S/S Samurais” and were priced cheaper than the Ti Samurais.

    For some reason Seiko made a few minor changes to the Stainless Steel models while retaining the basic case shape of the original Ti models. Only two variants were sold initially – the White Dialled SNM009K and the Black Dialled SNM011K with Limited Edition Samurais, (nicknamed “Ninja Samurais”), following suit in late 2005.

    The alterations made to the mainstream S/Steel Samurais were:
    • Lack of surrounding crown guards
    • Bezels oddly marked from 25 minutes to 55 minutes instead of the traditional 20-50 minutes
    • Chromed, applied indices on the dial
    • Guilloche patterned dials
    • Dissimilar hour, minute and second hand styling
    • Anodized black finish on the crown and bezel plus black date display for the SNM011K.
    • The use of Seiko’s 23-jewel, 7s35 calibre instead of the 7s25 calibre on the SBDA models.

    Unlike their revered Ti Samurais, the SNM-series S/Steel Samurais were initially met with resistance by those who were already used to the original SBDA Samurais. The response was hardly surprising as many had expected the S/Steel Samurais to be exactly like their Titanium cousins, except for the metal used.

    Critics were quick to criticise the strange wimpy, thin hands which defied the conventional wisdom that a diver’s watch should have prominent, thick hands coated with plenty of luminous material. The slim chronograph-like, red-tipped second hand didn’t exactly help either.

    Then there were the trivial, nit-picking issues of the absence of crown guards, the odd minute markings on the bezel and the poor contrast on the White Dialled SNM009K. However, Seiko mitigated these "shortcomings" by pricing them about 50% less than the Japan market Ti Samurais. Because the S/Steel Samurais were priced a lot cheaper than their Titanium cousins, they soon gained their own cult status.

    The Ti & S/Steel versions are similar in case style, (The case is almost like a modern interpretation of a cushion case. The square-ness of it seems to accentuate the bit of case that hangs out beyond the bezel assembly), but the Ti version weighs less and I believe the dials & especially the hands on the Ti models look better. Value-wise though, IMHO the S/Steel would have to win, especially as prices for the Ti are now ridiculously high.

    Both the Titanium and the S/Steel versions have been discontinued, (thus the Heading, "The Last Samurai"?) :roll: the S/S first and then the Ti version in January 2008 and so they can be quite difficult to get hold of.

    Thank you for perusing my Review. I trust it is, (or perhaps, will be), of some value for you…… Will 8-)

    Anyway, here’s pic’s of the White Sammie, (SNM009), and the Black Sammie, (SBDA001).

    Attached files

    The best watch is the one that makes you happiest... and tells the time.

  • #2
    Great review and a very dressy looking dive watch. Maybe the "whimpy" hands etc were becuase Seiko knows that 90% of divers never get wet anyway! IMHO some of the new divers have these huge fat hands which look out of propotion to the size of the faces. However never having dived deeper than the average puddle maybe fat hands are needed in the depth of the ocean Thanks for a great review.
    “I want to touch base on how we’ll synergize the pivot going forward”


    • #3
      Great review on the Seiko Samurai. After actually handling one I can really appreciate your comments and the quality of the watch . As you mention the white version plays both sports and formal roles easily . It frightens my monster with its class.


      • #4
        Brilliant Will , well researched and written .
        For those who are interested here is a link to some pics of the other rarer Ninja models Will is referring to .,13065.0.html
        Rest easy Matty , My best Mate and Son


        • #5
          Thanks Will, really interesting :D :D
          My karma ran over your dogma