The big, chunky, tuna-can-shaped “Tuna” diver has been a stalwart analog watch in the brand’s lineup since its introduction decades ago, but for 2018 the watchmaker is taking it in a bit of an unexpected direction by introducing a digital version, the SBEP series. The new SBEP is not without precedent — Seiko made the H558-5009, an analog-digital hybrid version of the Tuna back in the ’80s — but this is the first time we’ve seen the watch go fully-digital.
While it may not have been Seiko’s intent, the final product looks poised to go toe-to-toe with Casio’s G-Shock line. It’s water-resistant to 200 meters, boldly-sized at 49.5mm in diameter and features a solar-powered movement with alarm, world time and timer functions. (Sounds familiar, right?) One of the few vestiges of the Tuna’s analog roots is the rotating diving bezel. This sounds silly on a fully digital watch until you realize the progression of minutes is shown not just on the analog display but also on a minute track on the outer edge of the display, allowing you to use the bezel as a makeshift timer if need be.
Seiko is making five SBEP references, with two of them — SBP007 and SBP009 — being limited pieces. The rest are all full-time models in the lineup, though they appear to be Japan exclusives right now. No worries, though: a proxy shopping service means you can smuggle these stateside and make all your G-Shock-wearing friends envious. And with a starting price around $256 they won’t be terribly expensive, either.
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