Cheap Thrills- Seiko's 10th Zimbe
There has been a growing trend in the watch industry to pump out more and more limited edition releases throughout the year. This creates a sense of urgency for consumers to purchase but has a negative impact on brand reputation, as seen with the upset over Hodinkee's blue Alpinist. Seiko clearly doesn't shy away from this faux pas, and generates dozens of limited edition models annually across every price point, from Seiko 5 all the way up to Galante.
The recently released Seiko SRPD17 (greeen) and SRPD19 (yellow) "mini turtles" are the 10th limited edition Zimbe release and limited to 999 pieces each. Starting in 2016, the first in the Zimbe (whale shark) line was a slick release that delivered something special over the regular models. Over the past three years, Zimbe releases have failed to come close to the initial greatness and mainly offer peculiar color combinations that appeal to the Thai market. After owning four different Zimbe models, they all do something to make you question the validity of your taste in watches.
Featuring the same case, crystal and rubber strap as the regular "mini turtle" models, the iridescent dials with truly unique pattern is what sets the SRPD17 and SRPD19 apart from the pack. These watches have a 42mm case and wear more comfortably on the wrist than their full-sized counterpart. The brushed/polished finishing would be familiar to anyone that has handled an SKX model, but is more than adequate for something coming it at under $500. A cyclops over the date stands out like a wart on the hardlex crystal, helping to differentiate these models from other Seiko divers in this price point. The rubber strap is leaps and bounds better than what shipped on entry-level divers from back in the day and is the same style as what's found on the current Turtle, Samurai and Tuna models.
Back to the dials. I've read that Seiko's aim was coral, but it looks like they took inspiration from a head of cabbage. That said, these are simply gorgeous in natural light. The green dial springs to life with layers and layers of... cabbage, and the yellow glows with the ridges all playing off of each other. The markers are highly polished with generous amounts of lume, something stock images fail to capture. These dials have no right being on watches this affordable and make the trouble of tracking them down extra rewarding.
Surprise! Powering the latest Zimbe is the 4R35, a hacking, hand-winding, workhorse with 41 hours of power reserve. Mine are running within 6 seconds per day, which is in the better range from my experience with the movement.
The 10th Zimbe release is only groundbreaking in that it's not especially ugly in any aspect of the design. They are great versions of the mini turtle and well worth the going rate of +/- $500. Don't pay over $600 for one and you'll be pleased with your purchase.