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The Seiko Shogun: A Guide to the Lightest Diver
Seiko dive watches represent the best in their price bracket and category. Most divers from the same price bracket don’t perform as well as Seiko watches do. The Seiko Prospex Shogun or simply the “Seiko Shogun” is proof of why the brand tops this category. In particular, the Seiko Shogun SBDC029, formerly SBDC007, goes beyond just top-of-the-line construction. Coming from the Seiko Prospex line, you can only expect the best from this automatic diver.
But first, a little background on the Shogun.
Where did Seiko get the nickname Shogun?
Seiko remains a powerful force in the industry. The brand’s cultural presence continues to invite fans around the world. With Seiko’s track record, it’s only rightful that many collectors adore the brand. Despite being an entry-level to mid-tier brand, Seiko continues to propel its way to the hearts of storied collectors for the narrative of their watches alone. Prices don’t really matter anymore when all you’re after is the name and the brand’s astounding reputation.
Fans have been naming certain watch models their own way for various reasons. Firstly, it’s easier to remember nicknames bestowed by fans rather than a combination of letters and numbers. Some also like to give watches a nickname for their unique traits. Take, for example, the Rolex GMT Master “Batman” or the Omega Speedmaster “Ultraman.” Just like these luxury brands, Seiko also gained the privilege to have fans give nicknames to its watches.
This trait makes Seiko watches truly a collector’s must-have. The little quirks that make the brand completely changed the way other people see Seiko. There are a few names that should be familiar to you whether or not you’re a Seiko fan. We have the Seiko Samurai, Seiko Sumo, Seiko Turtle, Seiko Arnie (thanks, Arnold SwarSchwarzenegger), Seiko Sea Urchin, Seiko Monster, Zimbe, and a whole lot more. All these nicknames are given by fans for certain qualities that each watch possesses.
However, let’s focus on the watch at the spotlight: the Seiko Shogun. How did this particular watch earn such a nickname? There are a few theories but one certainly stands out.
Seiko Shogun: Strong as an Armor, Light as a Feather
The watch, Seiko SBDC007, was launched in December of 2008. Upon its highly-anticipated launch, it earned the iconic nickname — Shogun. For the designers of Seiko, having such a nickname gave them the idea of how foreign fans see Japan.
Fans gave the watch the nickname ‘Shogun’ due to its armour-like look. Combine this with crisp lines, and it’s an overall appealing watch. The Seiko Shogun has the hardness of metal with armour-like elements. Among those, the triangular notches as well as the pointed markers on the bezel. Right off the bat, it’s obvious that the nickname came from the appearance of the watch.
However, even designers from Seiko would agree that appearance alone is the basis for the nickname. This is due to the lightness of the watch that contrasts the heaviness a Shogun’s armour has. While the Shogun looks hefty and heavy due to its design, the titanium construction makes it extremely light. If anything, the watch can even have alternative nicknames like ‘Ninja’ or ‘Shinobi’ for its lightness.
Seiko Prospex Shogun SBDC029 Specifications
Compared to other watches from the brand, The Seiko Prospex Shogun SBDC029 surely has a reason for being on the more high-end scale. Especially for a brand like Seiko, you can only expect to get what you pay for. Previously released as the SBDC007, the SBDC029 bears great similarities with its predecessor. As expected, we still have the Seiko in-house movement 6R15, as well as a Hardlex crystal to match. Here are the specs you should familiarise yourself with when it comes to the Seiko Shogun:
- Case Diameter: 44mm
- Material: Titanium
- Features: Date window at 3 o’clock
- Water Resistance: 200 metres or 660 feet
- Crystal: Hardlex (mineral)
- Movement: Seiko in-house 6R15 movement
- Power Reserve: 50 hours
Alongside these, you can expect a bright lume as well as a screw-down crown. But are these features any good? Read on to learn more.
Seiko Shogun SBDC029 Review
Case & Strap
At 44mm, the case of the watch is pretty large. It’s also hefty at 13.3mm of thickness. Lug-to-lug, it measures about 50.75mm with lug widths of 22mm each. Despite this, however, it’s a very light watch. So, you won’t feel the measurements at all when you wear it.
With a brushed top and polished sides, it looks like a luxury watch in itself. It’s sophisticated with shiny sides that give the watch even greater dimensions than it already has. The crown also comes polished with a simple “S” signed on it. As expected of the watch, it is screw-down which turned up its water-resistance to 200 metres.
The caseback also comes screw-in and brushed. Underneath it, you can find the Seiko Divers Tsunami Logo, as well as other specs of the watch, such as water-resistance, movement, and more.
The unidirectional bezel of the watch comes with ribbed edges for ease of use even when wearing your diving gear. At 12 o’clock, you get a lume that indicates its position.
Meanwhile, the watch’s bracelet comes with a double push-button deployment clasp. For convenient wear during dive, it also has a diver’s extension available. On the clasp, you’ll find the Seiko logo engraved. However, it is very discreet so you might not notice it immediately
The case and the strap of the Shogun are both in titanium. With such a material, the price of the watch ultimately gets justified. It’s a more expensive material compared to stainless steel. Firstly, it’s lighter so it won’t get in the way. Weighing only 110 grams, Seiko designers compared its weight to just two medium-sized eggs. So, the watch’s titanium built will surely subvert your expectations due to the bulkiness of the watch. If you prefer a hefty watch without a presence easily felt at all times, this is the right watch for you.
Another great thing about a titanium watch is its rust-resistant trait. Compared to stainless steel, it’s a material that won’t easily get rust. For a diver, this is a very important trait to have. However, if you want to keep your watch looking like new, you might want to protect it from scratches. You can use the accompanying rubber strap when you buy it from Seiko. This makes sure your strap doesn’t get scratched.
The dial of the Shogun definitely looks a lot like other Seiko watches. That’s why it’s easy to confuse it with other watches. However, a deeper look into the dial will give you the impression that it’s still an overall different timepiece in itself.
Firstly, the watch’s dial comes in black with applied markers. These markers have generous Lumibrite on each one of them. You won’t see any Arabic numbers on the dial except for the 200m that appends the “Diver’s” inscription to 6 o’clock. The markers also come in three shapes. At 12 o’clock, you see an arrow pointing down with a line in the middle. Meanwhile, the 6 and 9 o’clock markers come in sword tip shapes. The rest are in circles. It’s noticeable how the 12 o’clock marker matches the hour hand, while the sword tips reflect the minute hand.
With the watch’s markers and hands alone, the dial already looks cohesive in itself. Not to mention, the Lumibrite on the hands and markers make them extremely legible. Whether you check the watch in a well-lit place or a dimly-lit place, it’s easy to read the time. They’re all wide enough and balance well within the dial.
At 3 o’clock, you’ll find a date window. It’s also big enough to stand out on such a big watch. Moreover, the frame of the window is in white so it’s easier to spot against the darkness of the black dial.
Protecting the dial is a Hardlex crystal. This is Seiko’s proprietary mineral crystal that dons most of its watches. The opinion on the Hardlex can be polarising. People who are used to having a sapphire crystal protect their watches can downplay the wonders of the Hardlex. Many people also point out the lack of anti-scratch coating on the Hardlex. Compared to regular mineral crystals from other manufacturers, Hardlex is more prone to scratches.
To avoid scratching your Shogun, you might not want to use it on hardcore outdoor activities. Everyday use may be more appropriate for this watch. However, if you’re really worried about scratching it, many Seiko watch owners opt to customise their watches. Others swap their Hardlex for other mineral crystals, while others opt for sapphire crystals instead. A custom Seiko is always on the table for many Seiko collectors, giving their watches even more value, especially with such a change.
With the Seiko in-house 6R15 movement, you can only expect the best from this watch. The Seiko Shogun works with a movement that comes with 23 jewels and beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour. Moreover, it comes with a whopping 50 hours of power reserve. Many collectors buy a Seiko watch for this movement and it’s understandable why. Even better, this movement also supports manual winding and hacking. Not a lot of watches from the same price bracket comes with such a feature. However, for a Prospex watch, this isn’t a surprise at all.
Furthermore, this movement has an accuracy rate of +25/-15 seconds per day. However, independent measurements report only about 3 to 4 seconds of advancement every day. It gets even less over time.
There’s really no telling how much more time you have left before the power reserve runs out. So, you have to keep track of that yourself. This is due to the lack of a power reserve indicator on the watch. To be sure, check on the watch a whole two days (that’s 48 hours) after you’ve taken it off or put it down.
At 200 metres or 660 feet, this watch proves a great starter dive watch. While it’s a fairly standard rate, it’s a great assurance for wearers who can get in contact with water. You can use the watch from a recreational swim to low-depth diving.
How to Identify a Seiko Shogun vs. Other Seiko Watches
Easily, one can confuse Seiko watches due to the many similarities they can bear. However, there’s an easy way to identify each one of the Seiko watches. Firstly, if you put them side by side, you can check the shape of the cases. With the Shogun, it’s noticeable how it’s slimmer and more angular compared to other watches like Sumo or Monster. However, the Shogun is a tad less sharp than the Samurai.
You can also check the dial markers and hands for a clue. However, you might notice the similarities between the Shogun and the Monster’s markers and hands. Despite this, you can notice the visible difference in their shapes. The Monster is also way heavier than the other. So, when all else fails, you might want to compare their weights. The Seiko Shogun, given its titanium built, is way lighter than other Seiko watches in comparison.
Seiko SBDC029 vs. SBDC007
Essentially, the SBDC029 is the SBDC007 with little changes on the dial. So, you get the same movement, case material, and everything else. Even the markers and hands of the watches don’t differ. How do they differ then? Dial inscriptions!
The SBDC007 comes with an italicised “Automatic” inscription. Instead of the word “Diver’s”, you also get “SCUBA” then “200m” underneath it. The SBDC029 comes with the Prospex “X” logo as well as the word “Automatic”, but this time in all caps. Underneath that is the inscription that says, “DIVER’S 200m.”
Other Seiko Shogun Watches
Seiko Shogun SPB189 & SPB191
In 2020, Seiko introduced the Shogun SPB189 and SPB191. Both watches match the design of the Shogun as well as the titanium built of the watch. However, its dial design can differ. The SPB191 comes with a white dial instead of a black. The difference with these models lies in their improved movements. With the in-house calibre 6R35, this watch comes with 70 hours of power reserve while still beating at 21,600 vibrations per hour.
Seiko Shogun SBDC029 Price & Availability
You can get a Seiko Shogun SBDC029 for $1,200 USD. However, pre-owned Seiko Shogun SBDC029 comes more affordable at a little over $800 USD.
The best thing about the Seiko Shogun is its titanium case. Anyone who appreciates a light watch while enjoying its big size would love this timepiece. It doesn’t wear as heavy as it looks. This trait alone puts the Shogun on a different tier in itself within the Seiko Prospex collection. Even better, the new Shogun watches definitely up the game effortlessly.
All photos courtesy of Seiko Watches.