- Type: Professional diver’s watch, automatic
- Production year: 2000 (limited to 1,000 units)
- Retail price: JPY300,000
- Status: Discontinued
The SBDX005 was the last 600m automatic dive watch that Seiko produced. Limited to just 1,000 pieces it represents a tribute to the classic 6159-7010 shrouded diver that was made between 1975 and 1978. Some say that its sheer rarity puts its desirability well above above its predecessor, the 6159-7010.
Released in in the year 2000, this watch is part of Seiko’s Prospex line of professional diver’s watches and is marketed as the Historical Collection The Year 2000 with only 1,000 pieces to be shared amongst serious diver’s watch collectors worldwide. Before getting to know the SBDX005, it would be beneficial to understand its ancestry so that we can appreciate this phenomenal industrial grade diver’s watch.
The 25-jeweled, vintage 6159B caliber itself is a well respected Seiko movement – robust, long lived and offers an accurate 33,600bph high beat rate as well as hacking and hand-winding features. Its use was confined to professional Seiko dive watches in its time and was never used in any other Seiko model.
The 6159 lineage can be traced to the highly collectible, 6159-7001 Professional 300m (a very likely precursor to the present SBDX001 Marine Master) sold in the late 1960s and the movement was later chosen to power the shrouded 6159-7010.
Seiko designed the 6159-7010 Professional 600m as the most technologically advanced professional diver in its era, with over 20 patents to its credit. It used a revolutionary case with excellent resistance to helium gas penetration.
(All pictures in this post belong to their respective copyright owners)
The 6159B movement exposed (left) and the legendary 6159-7010 (right)
At extreme humanly possible depths, professional divers breathe helium gas that is mixed with oxygen since nitrogen is more toxic than helium at equivalent underwater pressure. Divers are required to undergo decompression in special decompression chambers to avoid the potentially fatal diver’s bends.
Since helium atoms are smaller than oxygen’s, they can easily penetrate the rubber seals of a watch that’s worn in a pressurized environment. Watch crystals are likely to crack during the decompression stage if the difference in internal and external pressures is high enough.
For this reason, many competing professional dive watches were equipped with special helium escape valves to relieve the watch’s internal pressure. The 6159-7010 was however, constructed in such a way that no escape valve was required.
With its patented seals and design, the 6159-7010 surpassed ISO testing standards such as:
- pressure resistance
- shock resistance (up to 10Gs)
- extreme high and low temperature resistance
- high degree of magnetic resistance (60 Gauss)
- helium gas intrusion resistance
The SBDX005 Historical Collection carries on the 6159-7010’s legacy, with the same manufacturing and design standards but with an updated movement. The 6159 caliber was long gone and instead of retooling their dies, Seiko selected their excellent 8L35 caliber as the substitute movement.
The 26-jeweled 8L35 is not exclusive to the SBDX005 – in fact, it’s also used in the Seiko’s SBDX001 Marine Master and SBDX003 Historical Edition Professional 300m divers and also the SBDX007 Landmaster models.
Aside from the movement, the SBDX005 also has minor differences from its legendary 6159-7010 predecessor:
The use of Seiko’s proprietary, non-radioactive LumiBrite luminous compound instead of radioactive, tritium based paint
A lumed dot on the bezel’s triangle marker
Slightly differing font for the bezel markings
The original 6159-7010 (left) and the SBDX005 (right)
The SBDX005’s size is as follows:
- Diameter: 51.5 mm (w/o crown), 54.2mm (w/crown)
- Lug-to-lug: 51.5 mm
- Thickness: 16.9 mm
- Lug width: 22 mm
- Weight: 134.5 grams with factory rubber strap
As you can imagine, the watch is one heck of a chunk on your wrist. 🙂
Look and Feel
Seiko certainly hit a home run with the SBDX005. The water-tight crown screws in securely and smoothly with just four twists of the crown. The unidirectional rotating bezel turns with a firm feel and the 120-graduation notches assure the wearer that the bezel clicks in place with no free play.
The 8L35 movement hand-winds smoothly with no trace of coarseness. With a tad over 50 hours’ worth of power reserve at full wind you can tuck this watch away for two full days before wearing it again.
The case is of a monocoque design, which means access to the 8L35 movement is through the front of the watch. The bezel has to be removed first, followed by the flat Hardlex crystal and the dial. Due to the complexity of the watch construction, disassembly of this watch is best performed by experienced watchmakers. Seiko recommends that the watch be sent to their Japan service center for any repairs or adjustments.
The shroud is protected by a layer of PVD (Physical Vapor Deposit) to help stave off scratches and scuffs. This watch was obviously designed to be used in rigorous conditions underwater although I doubt if any owners of this limited edition watch would subject their prized timepiece to rough use and abuse. 🙂
The lume is quite bright and has the same characteristics as the lume used in the Prospex SBBN007 “Tuna Can”. It glows well into the wee hours of the morning.
Some closeup photos of the SBDX005
- Caliber: 8L35A, 26 jewels
- Caseback type: 8L35-0030
- Movement: Automatic, hacking and hand-winding
- Loss/gain: Less than 15 secs/day
- Power reserve: About 50 hours
- Calendar: Date only
- Beat rate: 28,800 bph (8 beats/sec)
- Loss/gain: Less than 40 sec/day
- Crown: Screw-in type
- Construction: Titanium & stainless steel, one-piece case
- Crystal: Hardlex glass, flat profile
- Bezel: Unidirectional, 120 graduations
- W.R. rating: 600m, ISO certified for saturation diving
- Luminous material: LumiBrite™
- Movement Japan, cased in Japan
Every SBDX005 comes in a deluxe 3-piece presentation box set, including the outer box and sleeves. The thick cardboard box is lined with a combination of leather and velvet, complete with silk-screened Seiko Historical reissue logos. The premium box and presentation befits the SBDX005’s special status as an extraordinary diver’s watch.
The watch comes with a 22mm rubber strap with a titanium buckle.
A dual-language, English/Japanese instruction manual and Japan-only warranty card accompanies the watch.
Some views of the SBDX005’s packing and hang tags
If I had the money and someone willing to part with one, I’d surely own the SBDX005. Due to its highly collectible status, expect to find a mint condition one for not less than USD1,700. Some may point out that for that asking price, the currently produced SBDX001 Marine Master with the same 8L35 movement would be the better purchase, but then again the SBDX005 is not your everyday watch!
As Seiko doesn’t allow any of their 8L35 caliber watches (such as the SBDX005) to be serviced only in Japan and not by their regional Seiko service centers overseas, you’ll have to send the watch to Seiko Japan for any rectifications. You’ll have to factor this into the total cost of ownership of the SBDX005 should you wish to own one for the long term.
For serious collectors only who appreciate high end dive watches and money to spare. 🙂
This review would not have been possible without the kind assistance of my good friend Jimmy Collins, a.k.a “Poseidon Jim”, who has kindly provided me with valuable information and his own impressions of his SBDX005. 🙂
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