Hands-On Seiko Shogun Titanium Dive Watch SPB191 SBCD131

The Skinny

  • 43.5mm x13.3mm
  • 200m Water Resistance
  • 6R35 Autowinding Movement with Date
  • Precision: +8sec/day, 0.0ms beat error (learn to read Timegraphs)
  • Released in 2020
  • $1399 MSRP (often around $1200 at point of sale)

Extending Seiko’s Heritage (Not Regurgitating It)

I’m done with Seiko’s reissued dive watches. They’re never just like the original, the large Prospex logo announces that fact, and I’ve just grown bored with the whole enterprise. Seiko was always a forward-looking brand, and I think advanced design and technology celebrates Seiko’s heritage more than any backward-looking reissue ever can.

Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 dial closeup

Last year I bought Seiko’s retro 62MAS tribute, the SPB143, flipped it like a pancake, and now I own this killer titanium Shogun masterpiece, affectionately known as the SPB191 in North America and SBCD131 in Japan. With the Shogun, I finally have a real Seiko diver again, one with its nerdy eye on excellent performance underwater – as it should be.

Like nearly all celebrated Seiko divers, the Shogun is an amalgam of various pre-existing divers. The following image makes my point, and one can do the same analysis of most Seiko divers, old and new. As such, The Shogun literally possess aspects of Seiko’s dive watch heritage.

DNA diagram of the Titanium Seiko Shogun

Having owned Seiko dive watches for over 30 years, I have finally clarified what’s so exciting about them, and it requires no historical reference points whatsoever: Seiko makes some of the nerdiest dive watches ever created, and it’s their nerdiness that makes them so compelling.

The Nerdier The Better

It’s kind of incredible to see how consistently nerdy Seiko divers have been since the 1960s. The only other brand to achieve this level of nerdiness was Doxa, which, like Seiko, designed dive watches not from within the confines of a Euro-Swiss watchmaking tradition (e.g. Blancpain, Rolex, Zodiac in the 1950s), but instead with a near disregard for aesthetics in service of the technical demands of SCUBA diving as it evolved during the 1960s and 70s.

Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 on the wrist

I’m not fool enough to miss that nerdy divers like The Seiko Shogun or most Doxas are also very fashionable here in 2022 as dive watches elevate themselves to priceless collectibles and Saudi-desert status symbols. But if you know anything about SCUBA diving, you, like me, may see the The Shogun more as a nerdy diving tool than as a fashion accessory. To see the Shogun this way is to see it as a genuine continuation of Seiko’s dive watch heritage.

What Makes The Shogun A Great Dive Watch


Case brushing on the Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131
Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 lug detail

Having recently gone diving with the Tudor Pelagos FXD for a week, I became convinced that titanium is the best metal for a dive watch. Bronze, which corrodes, is just stupid. Steel is fine, but heavy and prone to material distortion upon impact. Titanium, however, is light and far more capable of withstanding an impact without distortion. That flexibility is important because even a slight distortion can lead to a leaky watch. If you’re going to bend a watch, it’ll be while hauling tanks and climbing in and out of boats in rolling seas. The lightness is just a delightful bonus.

Amazing Lume

Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 lume shot

LumiBrite is Seiko’s proprietary luminescent paint, and it’s excellent. It’s as good as Rolex’s Chromalite, and it outperforms the Super-LumiNova found on divers in this $1k price range. Lume is key because below 50′, one is mostly depending on the lume for legibility. Get into shadows while exploring a wreck or a coral bridge, and you need good lume. If I wear The Shogun for a few hours in sunlight, it’ll glow brightly for about 5 hours. LumiBrite is probably the best lume being made today.

Bezel Grip & Action

Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 side profile

You’re not going to catch The Shogun’s bezel on anything because it doesn’t overhang the case, and because it slopes conically upward. Again, hauling tanks and getting back onto boats beats up your dive watch, and popping off a bezel is the most common damage. Unlike so many Seiko dive bezels (especially the nearly useless Prospex reissue bezels) which sport polished and rounded knurling (so dumb), the Shogun’s knurling is sharp and sand blasted. That means exceptional grip, and is a must for a bezel that doesn’t overhang the case.

The bezel is a little loose between clicks, but only a desk-diver would bitch about that. Trust me: if you’re diving, you really don’t give a shit about a little play between clicks. It just needs to work. Maybe if this was a $10k watch I’d care, because at that point what exactly are you paying for anyways other than things to fuss over? But on The Shogun, big whoop.

Date Cyclops

Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 dial closeup and cyclops

Rolex introduced the cyclops date magnifying lens in 1953. Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf was born in 1881, making him 72-years old when the cyclops came out. I’m 52, and I can tell you kids something: you’re going to appreciate a date cyclops when you’re older. So the next time you talk about keeping your watch forever, think about that. If I hear one more 30-year-old bitch about the cyclops on a watch, I’m going to tell them to get woke to their unchecked agism.

But here’s the thing: I don’t have prescription sunglasses or a prescription diving mask (yet). And while I can read the time just fine, I need that damn date magnifier when I’m out and about SCUBA diving. And you’re always writing the date down when diving; you write it on tank rental forms, dive logs, travel documents, and in your journal. Mr. Wilsdorf knew what he was doing, and so does whomever designed The Shogun.

Great Rubber Strap

Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 strap, buckle and keeper

I’m over bracelets for all kinds of reasons, but the main one is that expansion clasps aren’t that useful for getting over a wet suit. Also, I like to loan my watches to people, even on dives, and a big rubber strap fits everyone. The Shogun comes with what I’d call Seiko’s “better rubber,” because at the low end their straps can suck. But this one is super flexy and comfy and it looks cool, too.

I’ve not handled the titanium bracelet that comes on the black dial version of The Shogun (SPB189), but every review I’ve checked out says it’s not that nice, and in my experience a bracelet has to be really nicely made to be even a little bit nice. I prefer rubber.

6R35 Movement

Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 caseback with wave logo

This autowinder isn’t going to win any chronometer competitions, but it’s a very good movement with 70-hours of power reserve, auto-winding (a must for dive watches, of course) and easy enough to service when the time comes. Among Seiko’s auto-winding movements found in watches in this price range, this is the good one. It’s the same base movement in the $4000 King Seiko’s of 2020, which David Flett can tell you more about.

The One Downside for Diving

White-dialled Titanium Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 on the wrist

Most dive watches make this mistake: the bezel isn’t as easy to read as it could be. Here on The Shogun we’ve got a problem with contrast, but also with the lack of numerals, of which we only get 30- and 40-minute markers. It’s funny, however, how bezels lacking contrast become legible under water, so we’ll see once I go diving with The Shogun.

A Beautiful Tool, For Now

Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 case brushing and crown
Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 brushed lugs and bezel
Seiko Shogun SPB191 SBCD131 side profile with brushing

I can’t wait to beat this case into submission. Which is likely, because I plan to dive in this watch and titanium is notoriously prone to dings and scratches. But that’s how we lucky owners of the Seiko Shogun will make it our own. But for the desk-divers and desert-drivers out there, yeah, this watch’s good looks will blow your silk socks straight off your land-bound feet.

The case finishing is insane. It’s as nice as any Grand Seiko case I’ve ever seen. Elegant brushing, amazingly clear polished accents, perfect edges, and a puckered crown guard I want to kiss under the bleachers at high school. Some smart person at Seiko thought this titanium case would look even more like titanium if they put a cold, bright white dial in the watch. This is one of the reasons the black SPB189 Shogun isn’t as good, because the black does nothing to show of the titanium’s interesting warmth.

I’m not going to tell you that you should love the Seiko Shogun, but if you don’t, then you and I are most certainly wired very differently.