The Seiko SBDC line, dubbed the “Sumo” or “Shogun” by online collectors communities, have been out for a couple of years. Nevertheless, they are worth a detailed review. Today we will be takeing a closer look at the SBDC005, which is the orange version of the Sumo. This particular example was purchased with the bracelet that is normally only available on the black or blue dialed models. The Sumo represents Seikos response to the modern dive watch, the SKX series and their 7S26 movements have been staples of the dive watch world for years, but movements and manufacturing processes have improved. Seiko responded by making a Prospex dive watch with the venerable 6R15 movement from the Alpinist line. How does it stack up against the competition or even its cheaper SKX siblings?
The head on the Sumo is very nice, it is a definite step forward compared to my trusty SKX007 (see photos – black dial). The Sumo has some very nice finishing on the sides of the case, mixing vectored lines, brushed and polished surfaces and even lug holes (!). The bezel action is smooth and clicky but the notched edge of the bezel is useless. Water or sweat will make using this bezel difficult without gloves. So much about the Sumo seemed to be designed with the intention of owners using it for diving that the bezel is a definite disappointment. While I think calling the SBDC a “tool” watch might be a stretch, it has the calling cards of a tool diver. Big hands and markers, an excellent screw down crown, and lug holes. I know many Seiko fans didn’t like seeing lug holes on such a dressy looking diver, but it makes strap changes a blast and I love lug holes on any watch. Many divers have used the SKX (007 or 779) as dive watches and I believe the Sumo would easily be up to this task.
The orange dial on the SBDC005 really pops, it is bright and rich and really makes this watch feel like a dive watch. I generally prefer black dials on my dive watches but have very much enjoyed the orange dial, especially on a black rubber strap. The hands are sword style, like those seen on the SBDA005, and have a black border. This last point brings us to my biggest problem with the watch – the hour markers are outlined in a shiny chrome but the hands are outlined in black. This is a small inconsistency that I am reminded of every time I look at the watch. While we don’t know why they made it like this, I think the markers would have looked awesome outlined in black. My guess is the chrome accents are to remind buyers of the upmarket Seiko SBDX001 Marine Master. All other marks, writing and even the border of the date window (at three o’clock) are black. On the SBDC001 and 003 (black dial, blue dial respectively) the hands are outlined in chrome, so this issue is only present on the orange dialed model. The lume on the Sumo is excellent and lives up to the repoutation set by its siblings.
The bracelet is very nice, the 20mm width that the lugs is odd at first as 22mm would be more standard for both Seiko and the size of the watch. That said, the bracelet is of standard Seiko quality: it’s quiet, doesn’t pull hair, and has solid end-links. The clasp is a push button fold over style with four micro adjustments and a safety. These links are secured by standard push-pins and there is a simple wetsuit extension hidden under the clasp.
In the end, the SBDC005 is a classic Seiko dive watch and there is very little to complain about. The movement is an upgrade from the more commonly seen 7s26, and the build quality is great. The Sumo will cost you quite a bit more than a SKX series watch – on bracelet the SBDC001 retails around $600. For your money you get a classy but dive-capable watch that will keep up with most styles, and may just make a perfect daily wearer.
By James Stacey