Friday, January 25, 2008

Seiko SBBN007 Tuna Can Review

On a waterproof leather band

On an aftermarket Watchadoo bracelet

On an aftermarket 22mm Nato

I love that line from Crocodile Dundee when he says "That's not a watch...THAT's a watch." All right, he may have said knife but if he had a Seiko Tuna Can, he would have said watch.

The Seiko SBBN007 is one of Seiko's Prospex Diver watches. The Prospex models are Seiko's upscale sports watches and the overall build quality, specifications and design are clearly at a much higher level than that of the more common 7S26 powered divers. All it really takes is one look at the SBBN007, nicknamed for obvious reasons the Tuna Can or just Tuna, and that difference becomes apparent. The fit and finish of the case and bezel on the Tuna are clearly a cut above what you find on models like the Monster. (Not that the Monster is a badly done watch at all. It’s a wonderful piece in its own right. The Tuna is just better, that's all).

The SBBN007 is a really massive timepiece. It's stainless steel case measures 48mm in diameter, not including the crown, 14mm in thickness and has a 22mm band lug width. It's crown is undecorated and, not surprisingly, screws down. It has a thick, domed, Hardlex crystal that is screwed down to the watch case for improved water resistance (Hardlex is Seiko's proprietary crystal material that is harder than regular mineral glass and more shatter resistant than sapphire (but not as scratch resistant). The lume is Seiko's Lumibright (Superluminova to Swiss watch fans. The Swiss actually license their lume paint from Seiko.) and lasts a long time for low light viewing (It's not quite in a Monster's league but it is close). The band is a rubber style diver's band, called the Daloaz, that is specially made for this watch, as I understand it. Water resistance is rated at 300 meters, which should certainly be deep enough for anyone.

Internally, a 7-jewel Seiko 7C46 quartz movement powers the Tuna. Battery life is rated at five years, which is really quite good. Accuracy, as is to be expected for a quartz movement, is excellent. So far, my example gained one second in the past week. I think I can live with that. The 7C46 is reputed to be a very strong movement as quartz movements go and, unlike many battery-powered movements, actually looks pretty good too. There is even some measure of decoration on this movement, a nice touch in my opinion. Additionally, the case back is inscribed with a set of numbers representing years. A small mark is engraved above the year that the Tuna’s battery should be changed. That is a neat little detail that further sets this watch apart from most others. It even has rate adjuster controls on the movement, not that I have the nerve to touch them.

The one characteristic of this watch that is most striking is the case design. It is essentially made of two main parts, a conventional watch case that holds the movement and an external shroud that surrounds it and is attached by screws. The result is a watch that really looks like a precision tool. The SBBN007 is one of a long series of shrouded Seiko divers that range from a 150-meter non-Prospex model to an all black model rated at 1000 meters water resistance (comforting to know that your watch will still work after your submarine has been crushed by water pressure).

I was very pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the Tuna is. For a really big watch, it does not feel unwieldy on the wrist at all. I think the reason for its good feel is that the lugs are very short. The watch wears closer to the wrist that way. It isn't dreadfully heavy either. All in all, even with its dimensions, it would still make for a good daily wearer.

The SBBN007 is generally not available in the U.S. through regular retail channels. I picked this one up, from a Japanese vendor named Seiya who was very good to deal with. The Tuna Can is not an inexpensive watch (this one set me back $479) but if you are ready to trade up to a higher end diver, I think its well worth it. Between its excellent quality and its striking and unique looks, it is a really exotic piece in my opinion. Seiko Tuna Can's have developed a very popular following and it's not hard to understand why. This model is that well done and I'm really expecting to enjoy it for a long time.

As an aside, if you really want in-depth information about this watch, or any Seiko for that matter, spend some time searching the Seiko-Citizen Watch Forum. There are some very knowledgeable folks over there.
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