So, let’s say that the vintage 6159 market has you frustrated or you simply like buying new; what is the best choice if you’re yearning for a purely mechanical Seiko Tuna? The answer is simple: the so-called “Emperor” Tuna. After the Seiko 6159-7010 production ended, the world turned its eyes to quartz and Seiko created now-legendary quartz Tunas for many years and still does with its 1,000-meter “Darth” Tuna model and its smaller, 300-meter models. In 2009, however, a new automatic Tuna was released in the Seiko Prospex line as the SBDX011 Marinemaster Automatic Professional. Cloaked in PVD titanium with a diameter of almost 52 mm, the Emperor Tuna is a menacing beast indeed. It ups the ante on its spiritual predecessor by bringing a 1,000-meter depth rating to the game while continuing to forgo any type of helium valve. The movement is Seiko’s fantastic, hand-winding, hacking 8L35 (also being used in the Seiko Marinemaster 300 SBDX001), which is basically an unadjusted Grand Seiko 9S55 movement. A nice upgrade over the Seiko 6159-7010 is the use of an AR-coated sapphire crystal. Like the Seiko 6159-7010, you’re getting a top class, although not hi-beat, movement in a workhorse case. The date adjust is quick set but the bezel changes to unidirectional with 120 fine clicks.
Some quick notes on the Emperor; it’s a fantastically well-built watch that oozes quality while looking like something that could take on almost anything that comes its way. Lume is simply ridiculous and the finishing is on a par with watches twice its price (or more). Despite being in black, which is supposedly slimming, and only slightly larger than the Seiko 6159-7010, the Emperor does wear a bit bigger than its Grandfather. I suspect it has to do with the slightly thicker case (more than 17 mm) and drooping lugs. Here again, I opted for a thin, 22-mm NATO due to my still puny wrists. For those who love strap changes, this piece features drilled lugs.
Despite the fact that the piece is still essentially Japan-only, finding an Emperor is easy! Once again, places like eBay or even Chrono24 are good sources and the Seiko boutiques outside of Japan are finally starting to carry them. Also, some of the Japanese retailers are good sources. I am personally guilty of picking up this piece at one of the ubiquitous “camera shops” that are all over Japan. These shops are official sellers, offer great duty-free prices, and often give additional discounts for using certain credit cards. Prices vary with the strength of the Japanese Yen but I’ve seen pricing at less than $2,000 to well over that amount. Plus, the service in Japan is legendary and, hey, it makes for a great story!
I hope you enjoyed a brief introduction to a couple legendary Seiko Tunas. If you are thinking of adding a high-end, non-Swiss dive watch to your collection, I’d highly recommend taking a look at one of these. A word of caution, though: once you enter the deep world of Seiko, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll emerge!