Seiko fans have a knack for coming up with nicknames for their favourite watches, and this one’s been coined the “King Samurai”. Has it earned its royal status, or is it just a king in name?
When it comes to Seiko, fans have seemingly no difficulty coming up with nicknames for their favourite watches. Some are named after the movies they’ve appeared in, or the characters who’ve worn them. Others are named after certain unique features, such as the Seiko Tuna series of watches, aptly named due to the case shape’s resemblance to tuna cans. I’ve always wondered how the names caught on, and how fans come to a consensus. Perhaps an annual conference held in secret?
Regardless, it sure is easier to remember a name compared to a random bunch of letters/numbers, and the Seiko SRPE37 sure has one badass nickname: the King Samurai. Not just any Samurai, but a King; pretty big shoes to fill if you ask me. Thankfully for Seiko, they’ve done a pretty good job on this one, and this monarch won’t need to worry about losing its rule for a while.
For those unfamiliar, the SRPE37 fits into an existing line of Seiko watches – the Seiko “Samurai” series. The King Samurai is the third generation in this line, and its royal status was earned through a few key upgrades over preceding versions.
The Case & Specifications
Compared to the other watches I’ve reviewed here previously, the King Samurai is a slightly larger piece, with a diameter of 43.8mm (without crown) and a lug-to-lug of 48.7mm. Watch thickness comes in at 12.8mm; add on just a bit more to include the cyclops.
With my wrists being on the smaller side (16.5cm give or take), I was initially quite worried the watch would look oversized. The sharply angled lugs however, help to keep the profile compact, and the King Samurai rests nicely on my wrist without any overhang. This is probably the limit for me as far as size goes though, so a trip to a retailer to personally try it on may be well worth your time, especially for those with smaller wrists.
The case is made up of stainless steel, and carries a certain heft to it. You certainly feel it on the wrist, but not in a bad way. The weight makes it feel robust, and the King will likely brush off a hit or two, though you’d probably feel some “heart pain”.
A mix of brushed and polished surfaces are used on the case, adding a nice touch in terms of visual textures. The Samurai series are particularly known for their sharp angles. The profile of the case where it meets the bezel is comparatively flatter than typical watches, before the lugs cut downwards at an angle. In my opinion, this is a more modern take on the dive watch; the sporty look is very refreshing and one I particularly enjoy.
Seiko has opted for drilled lugs here, making strap changes a breeze. Something I’m sure that everyone can appreciate.
A screw-down, knurled crown is found at 3 o’clock, flanked by a pair of pyramidal crown guards in keeping with the angular theme. Being on the larger side, the crown is easy to grip and operate. The crown is however, unsigned; a source of complaints for some, especially when watches at lower price points offer this feature.
Kings don’t shy away from the people, and neither does the King Samurai. Ample real estate is given for the dial to take centerstage, and it shines through in terms of wrist presence. The white dial is accompanied by a 120-click, unidirectional bezel with a ceramic insert, which is one of the upgrades that you’re getting over the regular Samurais. Ceramic inserts offer better scratch resistance than aluminum ones, and won’t fade over the years. Like the crown, the bezel features a knurled finish for better grip, and turns with a satisfying action. Bezel misalignment seems to be a common issue that buyers face (which they shouldn’t at this price); my own King Samurai seems to be more or less aligned, so you’ll just have to count on your luck for this one.
Flipping the watch around, we see a familiar sight; the stainless steel screwdown case back features an engraving of the Seiko wave, along with the usual information you’ll find about the watch. The watch is rated at 200m of water resistance, so you can take this for an actual dive if you want.
When it comes to the King Samurai, the highlight is undoubtedly the dial. This show stealer got me from the moment I first set eyes on it; the purchase came soon after at the (unfortunate) demise of my wallet.
While the previous iteration of the Samurai already featured a textured dial, the waffle pattern was more tightly knit and subtle. The waffle pattern on the King Samurai is way more obvious, with larger grids and more deeply cut lines. I like that Seiko has chosen to do something different here, which is increasingly important in a market that is getting more and more saturated. The new dial is bold, visually interesting, and well executed.
Hours are marked out with baton indices, with 6 and 9 o’ clock using trapezoidal indices that are slightly larger, and 12 o’ clock being marked with a double index. A date window is featured at 3 o’ clock, accompanied by a cyclops on the sapphire crystal. The cyclops may not be everyone’s cup of tea; I’m impartial on this, though having gotten used to it, I do find it charming in its own way. The white date wheel matches the dial here, but take note that the same date wheel is used for the black dial variant.
Legibility is not a problem, with the indices standing out clearly against the white dial. I hardly see white-dial divers and having owned one, I can confidently say that there’s simply something charming about the whole design package.
Keeping in line with previous Samurais, a broad-arrow styled hand is used for the hours, while a pencil hand is used for the minutes. This style of hour hands is also used in the Seiko Monster series of watches, and I’ve heard of them being referenced as “Seiko Monster Hands” before. The seconds hand is shaped like an arrow, with a long fine tip that reaches out to the seconds track, tipped in gold to add a touch of colour. The gold also matches with the “DIVER’s 200m” print; Seiko’s promise to you that the King Samurai is ultimately still a tool watch and one that means business.
Supposedly, the Seiko Samurai was originally its nickname, because its angular hands reminded people of the Samurai’s sword – the Katana. The hands that gave the Samurai nickname however, were only used in the first generation. The hand style that has since survived till today has been in use since the second generation, with the Samurai name being passed on.
I do feel that the current handset is a hit or miss, and not everyone may like the broad arrow. Personally, I would love to see Seiko revive the original handsets.
The indices and hands are all coated with generous amounts of Seiko’s Lumibrite, ensuring visibility even in the dark.
The King Samurai is an automatic watch and uses the Seiko 4R35 movement, with approximately 41 hours of power reserve. The movement offers manual winding and hacking, features the more affordable 7S26 movements used in the legendary SKX007 and Seiko 5 series lacked. As with most Seiko movements, it’s reliable and gets the job done. I’m not particular on movements, and I feel the 4R35 does suffice; if you’re looking for something better, expect to fork out the cash.
I’ve often heard people rave about Seiko’s diving straps and how comfortable they are, but having never tried one I’ve always been a bit skeptical about it. Having now experienced it for myself, I can attest that it lives up to its reputation. I fully expected it to be rather stiff, but was pleasantly surprised at the strap’s flexibility; offering comfort even for a whole day of wear.
Seiko also includes a few nice touches; the end of the rubber strap features an engraving of the Seiko wave also found on the case back, and a metal keeper engraved with the SEIKO branding is included in place of your typical, generic rubber keeper. The rubber strap is wider at the lugs, and fits nicely without any resultant awkward gaps.
I don’t have 22mm straps on hand, and only managed to swap in a leather strap from my other Seiko. Compared against the original rubber strap, I felt that the non-tapered leather strap did not fit as well. Visually, it didn’t quite make the cut for me either.
For metal bracelets, lots of people swear by the ones offered by Strapcode. They are a bit pricey, but apparently the quality’s worth it. I’ll probably get one soon and willl keep this space updated.
Pre-discount, the King Samurai retails in the SGD$500 – $550 range. The regular Samurais retail around SGD$450; in other words for 100 bucks more, you’re getting a ceramic bezel, sapphire crystal, and that lovely textured dial. To me, the upgrades are well worth it, and unless you prefer the Samurai’s design I’d say go for the King instead.
As far as the watch world goes, the King Samurai isn’t considered expensive, but $550 is definitely no small amount of cash. If you’re game for saving up for it though, the King Samurai offers everything an enthusiast looks for: a great design, good specs, and 140 years of Seiko heritage.
The Seiko Samurai has been on my radar for quite some time, but I never had the heart to actually pull the trigger, until I saw the King Samurai. I’ve always appreciated watches that bring something different to the scene, and the King Samurai does just that, with its sharp angles and boldly textured dial. The watch is a refreshing welcome to my collection, and has easily become my favourite go-to piece.
There are watches out there that charge more, yet give you less. Save up a bit, and the King Samurai will deliver value you won’t regret. Long live the king.
Refreshingly Different, the King Samurai Lives Up to its Name
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