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The Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT pays tribute to Seiko’s diving origins. In addition to the GMT function, the Japanese manufacturer has given its classic many other extras that bring the all-rounder up to date….

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When will it really be summer again?

Summer is in full swing. At least in terms of the calendar, because to speak of ‘summer’ in the current British weather at the beginning of August in Germany with wind, drizzle and 16 degrees would be asking too much. Nevertheless, summer is and remains the time when most of us travel. Gladly with family and finally with a little more time in the luggage to devote to the beautiful things in life. Beach, water and good food spontaneously come to mind. And of course, watches. The watch I brought you today is perfect for travel time because it is a GMT timepiece. The test watch also brings real all-rounder qualities to the wrist with diving functions. So, what’s the point of beating around the bush. 

Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT SPB381
Photo © 2023 by WATCHDAVID® David Drilling – All rights reserved

I brought you the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT. As the name suggests, the traditional Japanese manufacturer didn’t pull a completely new model out of the hat, but instead drew inspiration from a design from its own archives. Under the vintage shell, of course, everything is new. Timelessly beautiful, the green 1968 Diver’s definitely looks – and thus like a watch that could be fun to wear. Whether the Toolwatch can confirm its good first impression, I want to find out in detail.

How it all began

Let’s start this watch review first with a little excursion into history – just so you know the significance of this model for once. The reissued reference SPB381 and its sister model SPB383 recall a time when Seiko introduced its first diving watch and continuously improved it in the following years. Introduced in 1968, the watch is a technical revision of the 1965 first, and the divers from Japan passed initial endurance tests on the first try. At that time, Seiko equipped researchers who wore the wristwatches on their expeditions to the North and South Poles. Extreme cold did not seem to pose a challenge for the 1968 diver’s watch. So the new edition should just about survive the German summer.

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Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT SPB381
Photo © 2023 by WATCHDAVID® David Drilling – All rights reserved

Before transforming it into a GMT watch, Seiko already released limited edition special editions of its Diver’s last fall – there still as a three-hand watch and part of its “Save the Ocean” campaign. How the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s SPB299J1 did in the test, you can also read in my blog. 

But now back to the green GMT watch, which at first glance bears Seiko’s clearly recognizable signature and also looks confusingly similar to the “Save the Ocean” Special Edition. Unsurprisingly, the watches share the same iconic case of the 1968 model with its polished sides. There are small differences in design and specifications. However, you have to look closely.

Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT SPB381
Photo © 2023 by WATCHDAVID® David Drilling – All rights reserved

The case of the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT

Actually, there’s not much to say about the case. Its shape is classic, the beveled edges iconic as well as sporty, and the 42 millimeter diameter is a safe bet when it comes to the question of whether the watch sits harmoniously on the wrist. The length of 48.6 millimeters between the lugs is also fine and provides me with a pleasant wearing experience with plenty of comfort in everyday life. At 12.9 millimeters in height, the GMT variant has turned out to be minimally thicker than its three-hand equivalent, which is due to the different movements. It’s easy to see why this classic has lost none of its popularity for 55 years now. The name now includes the addition of Modern Re-interpretation, but purely from the outside, an update was hardly necessary. It’s nice that Seiko has therefore proceeded so cautiously.

Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT SPB381
Photo © 2023 by WATCHDAVID® David Drilling – All rights reserved

Fine materials make the difference

Classic stainless steel is the material from which the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT is made. As a result, the tool watch weighs in at a hefty 176 grams. On the front, a scratch-resistant watch glass protects the dial. Unlike cheaper Prospex watches in the triple-digit price segment, Seiko does not rely on its well-known Hardlex crystal here, but instead installs higher-quality sapphire, which is appropriate for a premium watch like this. In order to ensure a perfect view of the dial even in high light, the sapphire crystal was provided with an anti-reflective coating on the inside.

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Up to a depth of 200 meters, the case of the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s SPB381 is water resistant. This classifies the timepiece as a serious diver’s watch. Then, of course, the unidirectional rotating bezel should not be missed. The caseback is screw-down, as is the crown.

Photo © 2023 by WATCHDAVID® David Drilling – All rights reserved

3 days awake

While the three-hand watch is powered by a 6R35 automatic movement, this task is taken over in the GMT watch by the even slightly more powerful 6R54, also from the 6R series. With a power reserve of two hours more, it now powers the watch for three full days, provided the movement is fully wound. This feature seems to be particularly important to Seiko – after all, it’s printed on the dial.

The accuracy is just as good. Seiko specifies -15 to +25 seconds per day for both movements, which is a generous interval. Besides minute, second, hour and date, the 6R54 also features a 24-hour time and a stop-second function. 

Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT SPB381
Photo © 2023 by WATCHDAVID® David Drilling – All rights reserved

Dial and bracelet of the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT

Personally, I find the dial much more harmonious now that the date window has inconspicuously migrated between 4 and 5 o’clock. This is especially true in the dark, where the rectangular and round indices shine with Lumibrite luminous material. Hour and minute hands are now less blunt at the tip. The yellow GMT hand stands out with its sword-like shape and the seconds hand stands out with a red marking. All elements are perfectly readable without being too prominent. This makes the green dial of the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT look particularly tidy. 

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The excellent overall impression is rounded off by a stainless steel bracelet, which I find extremely comfortable in everyday wear. A secure hold is ensured by the triple-folding clasp with safety pusher. If you want to wear the 1968 Diver’s on dives, a press-on dive extension adds valuable millimeters so that the watch still fits over your wetsuit.

Photo © 2023 by WATCHDAVID® David Drilling – All rights reserved

My conclusion about the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT

It is not by chance that people buy and love a watch model today as they did 55 years ago. The 1968 Diver’s is a timeless classic, which I consider one of the most recommendable diving watches in the premium segment. The “premium” designation has been more than earned by the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT. It is emblematic of what Seiko excels at these days: very good quality that you can feel when you wear the watch. In addition, the traditional Japanese manufacturer mixes precise technology and functional timelessness in design. By the way, all this still comes from the same house. This makes Seiko’s position in the watch world unique. 

The 1968 Diver’s re-interpretation cannot be called an entry-level watch. I clearly recommend the tool watch to those who are looking for a durable, powerful and timeless watch that is both sporty and versatile.

Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT SPB381
Photo © 2023 by WATCHDAVID® David Drilling – All rights reserved

Currently, in addition to the green reference SPB381 presented here, Seiko also offers a black sister model (Ref. SPB383) and a limited “Save the Ocean” special edition, which also celebrates Seiko’s 110th birthday. Unlike the two base models, the reference SPB385 is limited to 4000 pieces and costs a bit more accordingly. Seiko sells the green and black 1968 Diver’s at 1,700.00 euros each, and the ice blue Limited Edition at 1,900.00 euros. 

All important links to the watch, its sister models and even more Seiko tests in my blog can be found below. 

More about Seiko and the Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation GMT SPB381

Here you can find the watch in the store

The reference SPB383

The reference SPB385 in the store

More Seiko watch reviews in my blog

18 Best Diver Watches 2022/23

Watch photography

Technical Details

NameProspex 1968 Diver's Modern Re-interpretation GMT

Reference numberSPB381

BrandSeiko

Categorydiving watches / GMT watches

Price from1,700.00 euros

Warranty2 years

Case Material316L stainless steel

Diameter42.00 mm

High12.90 mm

Watch Glassanti-reflective coating / Sapphire Crystal

Watch TypeAutomatic

Waterproof20 bar (200 m / 660 ft)

Movement Name6R54

Power Reserve72 hours

Functionsdate / GMT / hour / Minute / second

Dialgreen

Indicesdots

Special Featureshands filled with luminous material / indices filled with luminous material

Bezeldiving bezel / green

Bracelet Colorgrey

Bracelet Material316L stainless steel

Clasp316L stainless steel / diver extension / folding clasp

Auch verfügbar auf Deutsch