Seiko Tuna Collectors Guide

Behind the Shroud: The Ultimate Seiko Tuna Collector’s Guide

Posted by Mike Johnson on in Articles, Collector's Guides

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In 1975, A saturation diver from Kure City in the Hiroshima prefecture of Japan sent Seiko a complaint regarding the reliability of it’s existing line of professional dive watches. The complaint exposed some notable flaws in it’s existing design, most notably their susceptability to the absorption of helium gas, a component of the air mixture that saturation divers were enveloped in.

In response, Seiko’s engineers (led by Ikuo Tokunga), set out to make the perfect dive watch for professional saturation divers. Nicknamed the “Tuna” because of it’s cylindrical slab of lugless casing, the resulting product was a marvel of modern engineering. It’s monocoque titanium case, L-shaped gasket, and unique shrouded design were all firsts in the industry.

The result was a watch that was impervious to helium gas penetration, and one that could withstand the pressure of massive depths up to 600m. It instantly became a modern classic for Seiko, and has been in continuous production for the last 42 years.

The Tuna has evolved over the years, although many of the modern incarnations share the iconic design of their predecessors. Available in a variety of sizes, materials, and colors, the Seiko Tuna is an extremely collectible model with a rich history and an affordable price-point.

Today, the Seiko Tuna is powered primarily by Seiko’s innovative 7C46A quartz movement. Although many purists will look down upon the fact that the majority of Seiko Tuna’s are battery powered, a deeper look suggests that this unique movement is one of the most robust and highest quality quartz movements money can buy.

Let’s take a deeper look.

Seiko Tuna Movements

ReferenceTypeJewelsRatePowerHackingDayDate
6159AAutomatic2536,000 bph46 hours
6159BAutomatic2536,000 bph60 hours
H558Quartz/Digital33600 bph3 years
8L35Automatic2628,800 bph50 hours
8L55Automatic3736,000 bph55 hours
7549AQuartz53600 bph3 years
7C46AQuartz73600 bph5 years
5R65Spring Drive3032,768 Hz72 hours

The Seiko Tuna series primarily utilizes Quartz movements, with the exception of the early models (“The Grandfather Tuna”) and some of the higher-end modern incarnations (namely the “Emporer” and “Hockey Puck”, which utilize the 8L35 and 6159 respectively). These high-end quartz movements are not your average $25 Chinese quartz module, they are designed specifically for the Tuna by Seiko and are incredibly accurate and reliable.

The most common movement found in these watches is the Seiko 7C46, a 7-jewel high-torque quartz movement with a 5-year battery life. These movements are designed by Seiko in-house and not utilized in watchs from any other brand. They are fully serviceable, anti-magnetic, and incredibly energy efficient. It is easily one of the highest quality quartz movements that money can buy.

The 8L35 movement found in the “Emporer Tuna” is an undecorated derivation of the Grand Seiko 9S55, a highly-accurate mechanical movement with a 28,800 beat rate and a 50 hour power reserve. It’s a high-end movement utilized in some of the best Grand Seiko dress watches, although lacking some of the polish and finishing. Since these watches do not have display casebacks, it’s a perfectly acceptable trade-off for the increase in performance.

The new Seiko Tuna SBDB009 and SBDB013 contains Seiko’s incredible spring drive movement. It’s a quartz/automatic hybrid that has such a high beat rate that it appears to glide continuously around the dial. Additionally, this movement has a power reserve indicator, lacks the ‘day’ window, and places the date between the 20 and 25 minute demarcations. It is considered by many to be one of the most technically impressive Seiko movements.

The automatic Tunas are an excellent choice for mechanical movement afficianados. I would argue, however, that the Quartz movement found in the majority of these models is the superior choice. Their accuracy and reliability make it a perfect fit for a tool watch of this caliber.

Seiko Tuna Quick Comparison

ReferenceCodeNicknameMaterialDepthSizeL2LThickness
SAD018H558-500X“Arnie / Arnold”Steel / Plastic150m45mm46.5mm11.3mm
SAD017H559-500X“Orange Arnie”Steel / Plastic150m45mm46.5mm11.3mm
PYF0287549-7010“Tuna Can”Steel / Steel300m47.1mm44.3mm15mm
SBBN0077C46-7011“Tuna Can”Steel / Steel300m47.2mm44.5mm15.1mm
SBBN0157C46-0AC0“Tuna Can”Steel / Steel300m47.6mm44.4m15.1mm
SBBN0177C46-0AC0“Tuna Can”Steel / Steel300m47.6mm44.4m15mm
SBBN0317C46-0AG0“Tuna”Titanium / Ceramic300m48mm48.5mm14.7mm
S23155J7C46-6009“Ashtray”Steel600m49mm44mm15mm
YAQ0286159-7010/19“Grandfather Tuna”Titanium / Ceramic600m50.5mm52.2mm15.9mm
PYF0187549-7000“Golden Tuna”Titanium / Ceramic600m49.2mm48.4mm16mm
SBDB0135R65-OAK1“Spring Drive Tuna”Titanium / Titanium600m49.60mm50.70mm16.2mm
SBDX0058L35-0030“Hockey Puck”Titanium / PVD600m52mm51.5mm16.23mm
SBBS0187C46-7009“Golden Tuna”Titanium / Ceramic1000m49.1mm48.6mm16.1mm
SBBN0117C46-0AA0“Darth Tuna”Titanium / Ceramic1000m49.2mm48.5mm15.9mm
SBBN00E7C46-0AA0“Robert F. Marx LETitanium / Ceramic1000m49.2mm48.5mm15.9mm
SBBN0137C46-0AA0“Darth Tuna”Titanium / Ceramic1000m49.2mm48.5mm15.9mm
SBBN0197C46-0AA0“Dolphin”White Ceramic1000m49.2mm48.5mm15.9mm
SBDX0118L35-0030“Emporer Tuna”PVD Titanium1000m51.9mm52.8mm17.2mm
SBBN0217C46-0AA0“Blue Ocean Tuna”Blue Ceramic1000m49.2mm48.5mm15.9mm

Analog/Digital Seiko Tunas

The Ana-digi Tunas from the early 80’s have been lovingly nicknamed “Arnies” by hardcore Seiko fans. This funky vintage shrouded diver was worn by Arnold Schwartzenegger in a bunch of his action movies (Predator, Raw Deal, Commando, Running Man, and Twins). Whether you’re a Seiko fan or a classic action movie fan, this is a great model to grab.

It utilizes the H558 movement, which is a basic 3-jewel quartz movement with a module for an LD display at the top of the dial. It has a digital alarm and chronograph functionality, a plastic shroud, and a bi-directional bezel, making it a very unique entry in the series. It is available in both black and orange.

SAD018 (Arnie)

Seiko SAD018
Model:
SAD018
Code:
H558-500X
Size:
45mm
Lug to Lug:
46.5mm
Material:
Stainless Steel
Shroud:
Plastic
Depth:
150M
Thickness:
11.3mm
Ebay (US) Find SAD018 on WatchPatrol
Basic ana-digi watch with alarm, chronograph, and three-handed quartz movement. Does not have a day/date display, that functionality is placed in the LCD.

SAD017 (Orange Arnie)

Seiko SAD017
Model:
SAD017
Code:
H559-500X
Size:
45mm
Lug to Lug:
46.5mm
Material:
Stainless Steel
Shroud:
Plastic
Depth:
150M
Thickness:
11.3mm
Ebay (US) Find SAD017 on WatchPatrol
Similar to the H558 but with an orange face, much rarer than the H558.

300M Seiko Tunas

The 300M Tunas are the heart of the Seiko Tuna line, and by far the most common and collectible models. The majority of these models have a stainless steel case and a stainless steel shroud, with the exception of the SBBN031 which is titanium and ceramic.

Seiko was actually the first company to utilize Titanium in their watch construction, a material that is highly corrosion resistant and light-weight, making it a highly functional choice for a dive watch meant to be exposed to the elements.

The SBBN015 and SBB017 are the most popular of the “last generation” Tunas, and are differentiated simply by the color of the date wheels and the bezel.

PYF028 (Tuna Can)

Seiko PYF028
Model:
PYF028
Code:
7549-7010
Size:
47.1mm
Lug to Lug:
44.3mm
Material:
Stainless Steel
Shroud:
Stainless Steel
Depth:
300M
Thickness:
15mm
Ebay (US) Find PYF028 on WatchPatrol
First released in 1978, these were the first quartz watches Seiko produced. This iconic style has been maintained in many of the modern Tuna watches

SBBN007 (Tuna Can)

Seiko SBBN007
Model:
SBBN007
Code:
7C46-7011
Size:
47.2mm
Lug to Lug:
44.4mm
Material:
Stainless Steel
Shroud:
Stainless Steel
Depth:
300M
Thickness:
15.1mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN007 on WatchPatrol
This model has a unique dial with its 'crop-circle' markers. It has a stainless steel bezel and bead-blasted stainless steel shroud.

SBBN015 (Tuna Can)

Seiko SBBN015
Model:
SBBN015
Code:
7C46-0AC0
Size:
47.6mm
Lug to Lug:
44.4mm
Material:
Stainless Steel
Shroud:
Stainless Steel
Depth:
300M
Thickness:
15.1mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN015 on WatchPatrol
This modern tuna is based off the design of the 7549-7010, but has a black bezel.

SBBN017 (Tuna Can)

Seiko SBBN017
Model:
SBBN017
Code:
7C46-0AC0
Size:
47.6mm
Lug to Lug:
44.4mm
Material:
Stainless Steel
Shroud:
Stainless Steel
Depth:
300M
Thickness:
15mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN017 on WatchPatrol
Modern incarnation of the 7549-7010. Has recently been replaced by the sbbn031 and will likely go out of production

SBBN031 (Tuna Can)

Seiko SBBN031
Model:
SBBN031
Code:
7C46-0AG0
Size:
49.2mm
Lug to Lug:
48.5mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Ceramic
Depth:
300M
Thickness:
14.7mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN031 on WatchPatrol
The current Tuna model in production, it's currently divided fans with its dial and bezel updates. Some do not like the changes made on the iconic handset, but it is supremely legible nonetheless. It also has a couple of variations: the SBBN033 (silver bezel) and SBBN035 (DLC)

600M Seiko Tunas

The 600M range of Tunas contains a few oddities. The “Ash Tray” eschews the classic shroud for a scalloped titanium bumper. The “Golden Tunas” introduce rose gold accents on the bezel and crown. And the “Hockey Puck” is an absolute monstrosity, coming in at 52mm in size and 16.23mm in thickness, better left to the large-wristed among us.

Of note in this range is the “Grandfather Tuna”. This particular model was the first Tuna released in 1975, and broke all kinds of technological barriers with its titanium case, L-shaped gasket, ceramic-coated shroud, and vented rubber strap. Additionally, it’s one of the only Tuna models with a mechanical movement. These are exceedingly rare these days, and you’re going to have to pay a premium if you want to get your hands on one.

S23155J (Ash Tray / UFO)

Seiko S23155J
Model:
S23155J
Code:
7C46-6009/10
Size:
49mm
Lug to Lug:
44.4mm
Material:
Steel / Titanium
Shroud:
None
Depth:
600M
Thickness:
15mm
Ebay (US) Find S23155J on WatchPatrol
Unique shroudless Tuna with a large titanium bumper around the case. Hard to find in good condition.

YAQ028 (Grandfather Tuna)

Seiko YAQ028
Model:
YAQ028
Code:
6159-7010/19
Size:
50.5mm
Lug to Lug:
55.2mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Ceramic Titanium
Depth:
600M
Thickness:
15.9mm
Ebay (US) Find YAQ028 on WatchPatrol
First Tuna ever produced in 1975. Unique automatic movement. Very expensive.

PYF018 (Golden Tuna)

Seiko PYF018
Model:
PYF018
Code:
7549-7000
Size:
49.2mm
Lug to Lug:
48.4mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Ceramic Titanium
Depth:
600M
Thickness:
16mm
Ebay (US) Find PYF018 on WatchPatrol
The first of the Tunas to feature this classic design. Featured im the James Bond 007 movie 'For Your Eyes Only' in 1981. (image courtesy of Tantankian Watches)

PYF018 (Golden Tuna)

Seiko PYF018
Model:
PYF018
Code:
7549-7009
Size:
49.2mm
Lug to Lug:
48.4mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Ceramic Titanium
Depth:
600M
Thickness:
16mm
Ebay (US) Find PYF018 on WatchPatrol
Similar to the 7000, but built for the international market. Differences include the 'Battery Change Ring' on the caseback and the 'Divers' print at 6 o'clock.

SBDX005 (Hockey Puck)

Seiko SBDX005
Model:
SBDX005
Code:
8L35-0030
Size:
52mm
Lug to Lug:
51.5mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
PVD Titanium
Depth:
600M
Thickness:
16.23mm
Ebay (US) Find SBDX005 on WatchPatrol
Limited to 1000 units. One of the most saught after Tunas due to it's rarity. Reissue of the 6159 hi-beat Tuna.

SBDB013 (Spring Drive Tuna)

Seiko SBDB013
Model:
SBDB013
Code:
5R65-OAK1
Size:
49.6mm
Lug to Lug:
50.7mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
PVD Titanium
Depth:
600M
Thickness:
16.2mm
Ebay (US) Find SBDB013 on WatchPatrol
The incredible spring drive tuna is available in three variations. The SBDB009 is a gold accent version of this watch, and the SBDB013 and SBDB009 are nearly identical, swapping the Seiko 'S' crown for a Prospex 'X' crown.

1000M Seiko Tunas

The 1000M Tunas are the most functionally robust models in the line and contain a few unique variations and special editions. The “Darth Tuna” is named for it’s insidious black case and shroud, and the “Dolphin” and “Blue Ocean” introduce a few brightly colored ceramic shrouds to the lineup.

Most notable in this range is the “Emporer Tuna”, an absolutely massive titanium dive watch powered by an incredible GS derived mechanical movement (the 8L35). This is the boss-man of the Tuna line-up and not to be trifled with by those with small wrists or small egos.

SBBS018 (Golden Tuna)

Seiko SBBS018
Model:
SBBS018
Code:
7C46-7008
Size:
49.1mm
Lug to Lug:
48.6mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Ceramic
Depth:
1000M
Thickness:
16.1mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBS018 on WatchPatrol
Gold bezel and crown. Produced in 1991.

SBBN011 (Darth Tuna)

Seiko SBBN011
Model:
SBBN011
Code:
7C46-0AA0
Size:
49.2mm
Lug to Lug:
48.5mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Ceramic
Depth:
1000M
Thickness:
15.9mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN011 on WatchPatrol
One piece monocoque case, PVD coated titanium. Flat AR-coated sapphire instead of the domed hardlex. (image courtesy of Tantankian Watches)

SBBN00E (Robert F. Marx LE)

Seiko SBBN00E
Model:
SBBN00E
Code:
7C46-0AA0
Size:
49.2mm
Lug to Lug:
48.5mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Ceramic
Depth:
1000M
Thickness:
15.9mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN00E on WatchPatrol
Limited to 300 pieces. Collaboration with Robert Marx, a marine archaelogist. Same as the Darth Tuna but with a unique dial.

SBBN013 (Darth Tuna)

Seiko SBBN013
Model:
SBBN013
Code:
7C46-0AA0
Size:
49.2mm
Lug to Lug:
48.5mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Ceramic
Depth:
1000M
Thickness:
15.9mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN013 on WatchPatrol
Identical to the SBBN011 except for the 'Marine Master' branding on the dial and signed crown.

SBBN019 (Dolphin)

Seiko SBBN019
Model:
SBBN019
Code:
7C46-0AA0
Size:
49.2mm
Lug to Lug:
48.5mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
White Ceramic
Depth:
1000M
Thickness:
15.9mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN019 on WatchPatrol
Unique Limited Edition Tuna with a white ceramic shroud. 300 pieces worldwide.

SBBN021 (Blue Ocean Tuna)

Seiko SBBN021
Model:
SBBN021
Code:
7C46-0AA0
Size:
49.2mm
Lug to Lug:
48.5mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
Blue Ceramic
Depth:
1000M
Thickness:
15.9mm
Ebay (US) Find SBBN021 on WatchPatrol
Unique Tuna with a blue ceramic shroud. 130th anniversary edition. Blue accents on the dial.

SBDX011 (Emporer Tuna)

Seiko SBDX011
Model:
SBDX011
Code:
8L35-0030
Size:
51.9mm
Lug to Lug:
52.8mm
Material:
Titanium
Shroud:
PVD Titanium
Depth:
1000M
Thickness:
17.2mm
Ebay (US) Find SBDX011 on WatchPatrol
Largest of the Tunas but features a high-end Grand Seiko automatic movement

Overall, the Seiko Tuna is a must-own for any serious tool watch afficianado. It’s lugless design makes it comfortable for any wrist size, and it’s no-nonsense toolish design is backed up by serious dive watch capabilities. Whether you’re a saturation diver or a desk diver, this watch has serious collector appeal and belongs in the conversation with much more expensive competitors.

Please let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorite Tuna models in the comments below!


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About the Author
Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson is the managing editor and primary contributor to 60clicks.com. Born into a military family as the son of US Navy pilot, Mike spent many of his formative years studying Computer Science and User Experience Design. When not obsessing over watches, Mike spends time hiking, traveling, and spending time with his family in Phoenix, Arizona.

Comments 5

    1. Mike Johnson Post
      Author
  1. Mike

    Hi Mike, nice Tuna guide!!!
    One question, how was your measurement data gathered (Size-L2L-Thickness)?
    Did you put calipers on the actual watches or just find the data online?

    I don\’t know if you wished to include LE models, but you do call this \”The Ultimate Seiko Tuna Collector’s Guide\”, and for collectors wanting to use this as the \”ultimate\” reference it should be definitive.

    Missing – 300m

    SBBN023 – GOLGO 13 – LE of 500
    SBBN00C 1999 SCUBAPRO – LE of 300
    DIME MD – LE of 50
    SBBN037 – Blue Tuna
    SBBN039 – PADI Tuna – LE of 700

    600m edit

    SBDB008 – no mention of the SBDB008, the SBDB009 isn\’t the gold accent version the SBDB008 is. (probably just a typo)

    Missing 1000m + Edits

    SBBN011 – your image is actually an SBDX011 (Emperor Tuna) not an SBBN011 Darth Tuna.
    S23619J1 – Export Darth Tuna (worth mentioning as it does exist)
    SBBN025 – replaces SBBN013
    SBBN027
    SBBN029 – Platinum Ocean – 50th Anniversary – LE of 700

    1. Mike Johnson Post
      Author

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