Most people (including myself) tend to think of dive watches when it comes to Seiko Prospex timepieces. Prospex (Seiko’s cute way of saying “professional specifications”) also includes “Air” and “Land” collection models in addition to the more typical diving watch face. This Seiko Prospex SRPA71 Land Automatic (SRPA71K1) is part of the less common but equally interesting Prospex Land collection and is new for 2017. It takes the popular “land explorer” look and beefs it up with a slick refined design, great legibility, and a solid movement.
The entire idea of a “Land” sport watch is in a sense a bit passé. The most specific application Seiko or other brands that make these style watches indicate as to their intended purpose are terms such as “adventure” and “exploration.” Dive watches are meant to survive the depths, aviation watches are meant to be legible and precise in the skies, and land watches are supposed to be…able to tumble on the ground? What typifies most watches of this style is having something either specifically or aesthetically to do with compass navigation. The Seiko SRPA71 (and its variant cousin models) all have internal rotating bezels with compass markers on them.
This function, when combined with a view of the sun, allows you to know the compass directions. The dial is aviator style, and the case is chunky and water resistant to 100m. Land watches are sort of a dressy hiking watch, and there is certainly a market for that. I really like to think of them as a type of hybrid sport watch which combines appeal of various types of timepiece themes, but isn’t wholly any one of them. Accordingly, if you peruse Seiko’s Prospex watch collections you’ll see the biggest number of models in the “Sea” family, a bit less in the “Sky” family, and the least number of models in the “Land” family. My final note on that will be reminding you of what Seiko themselves say about the purpose of their Prospex Land models and that is; “For any person challenging the vast earth, a reliable partner with expert knowledge is essential. This watch is exactly that, supporting the adventurer every step of the way.” Vague enough for you?
The appeal of the Seiko Prospex SRPA71 isn’t that vague however. It wins when it comes to being an attractive tool watch with a handsome look and a really fair price. The straight-forward and legible design will appeal to many people wanting a solid, traditional, high-value-for-money timepiece without any unnecessary decorative frills.
The case is 42mm wide in steel, with one version coming in an entirely black-coated model. The SPRA71 comes on a matching steel bracelet and with a black-coated steel bezel that acts to visually increase the size of the dial. The case manages to have 100m of water resistance without a screw-down crown either.
A separate crown at 4 o’clock is used to control the internal rotating navigational bezel. It moves freely without any clicks, which is common for navigational bezels. Seiko does a good job of making the turning feel as high-end as possible, though the rotating action on a watch in the several thousand dollar range is usually better. For the money, the internal rotating bezel works really nicely, with a good level of resistance and nothing like those crappy, almost totally free turning internal bezels of yore. It may very well be that one in 100 (or less) Prospex Land watch users will ever actually use the internal rotating bezel for anything aside from a finger toy to release idle tension.
The heft of the steel case and the thick proportions of the case (along with the sizable crown guards) give the entire Seiko SRPA71 case a very durable look to it, which I really like. Most of the case is polished, while some of the top surfaces are brushed. The included bracelet is reasonably attractive with a three-link design that has some polished sections between the otherwise all brushed surfaces. The bracelet doesn’t taper, which might have upgraded the look a bit – but again stuff like that ups the cost of production and a watch like this is really an exercise in successful efficiency.
I do like that the bracelet used end-links and that the deployant is durable and secure feeling. Seiko has always had a good ability to make a bracelet both inexpensive and solid-feeling – which is a tough thing to do. Little features such as the micro-adjust holes on the folding and locking deployant clasp allow for a comfortable fit – a staple of any Seiko Prospex watch wearing experience.