In front of me lay the vast stretches of the pacific ocean as our small dive boat chugged out of Hawaii Kai and into the open waters of Maunalua Bay. This is my first time in Hawaii and, as a diver trained in the cold and dark waters of Vancouver, I’ve been looking forward to my first tropical dive with no small amount of anticipation. In preparation for my Hawaii diving I’ve brought most of my core diving gear (happily left the dry suit at home) and an ideal watch, the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN023 diver.
Looking as much a piece of dive gear as my Suunto Zoop, the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN023 seems tailor made for the traveling diver. Its combination of dive watch traits and a true GMT complication made it an excellent companion when I lost two hours on the flight to Oahu. Being accustomed to the size of my SKX007 diver, the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN023’s 48 mm width seemed rather daunting, but when I received the watch and tried it on, I found it to wear smaller than I expected. At 48 x 16mm, it certainly wears larger than an SXK, but because the bezel is just 42mm across, it doesn’t seem a full 6 mm wider. The additional width comes from the shroud-like external case element that also forms the lugs. On the SUN023 version of the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT, the outer case is black and visually less noticeable than the bright orange font on the bezel, which in turn makes the overall case appear smaller than its true dimensions.
The considerable thickness of the watch helps to package the movement, a 4th “home” hour hand (blue), and some of the three-dimensional dial design elements we’ve seen on other current Seiko models like the Astron. The Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN023 sports a very large and legible hand and marker set, and the markers sit high above the flat black dial. Lume is what we have all come to expect (and love) from Seiko, and both the bezel minute scale and the 24-hour scale are color-coded to match with their specific hand.
Sporting Seiko’s 5M85 kinetic movement, the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN02X series uses a quartz movement with a rechargeable battery that is charged by the motion of your wrist which, when full, will offer six months of power reserve. Along with standard time, the 5M85 offers a push-button power reserve indication (button at two o’clock), a date display, an independent 24-hour hand and a jumping local hour hand for moving between timezones.
This is probably my favorite complication for an everyday watch, and it means that you can adjust the main “local” hour hand (and date) in either direction without stopping or affecting the position of the minute or seconds hand. So when I landed in Hawaii, I was able to unscrew the crown and jump back two hours without affecting the accuracy of the timekeeping, which I had been set with an eye on atomic time. With a “twin time” GMT movement, you can easily track another timezone but changing the main display means you generally have to reset the minutes and seconds hands.
Both the crown and the power reserve button screw down and the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN023 offers a dive-ready 200 meters (660 feet) worth of water resistance. The anti-reflective sapphire crystal (not Hardlex) sits below the edge of the bezel and the bezel has been designed to work with dive gloves or bare hands. While diving, I found the bezel to be useable with or without gloves, but the shroud of the bezel guard tends to offer a narrow pinch point that might be a pain for those trying to grip the bezel with their left hand.
As we neared our dive site the waves grew larger and the current stronger. This was my second day of diving and the boat crew felt the conditions were too strong to moor on a wreck. Instead, we would be drift diving. The boat would attempt to hold a position up-current from a series of wrecks and, using the current for transport, we would try and visit as many sites possible before our air supplies forced our ascent.