Seiko are the masters of the affordable dive watch. Is the Seiko Solar PADI Air Diver another modern icon like the SKZ series or the Monster?
Seiko Solar PADI Air Diver – Long Term Review
This watch is a facelifted version of the Pepsi-dialled Seiko Solar dive chronograph we reviewed back in 2017. It is functionally identical to the earlier version but is now branded PADI and is part of the Prospex (Professional Specifications) range – signified by the X on the dial.
Case and Movement
The Seiko Solar PADI Air Diver is big. It is bigger than it looks. In fact, I’d say it wears bigger than the notoriously big Orange Monster. The long lugs make it feel a bit top-heavy on my 7.5-inch wrist. For a quartz watch, it is really thick, with big chunky pushers and a substantial bezel. The case back is solid metal, allowing for its 200m water resistance. The Solar movement is great, never needing to be wound or have the battery changed.
The negative for me – other than the watch’s heft – is the bezel, which has a lot of back play. I find it hard to line up at 12 O’clock, which means I often spend an inordinate amount of time adjusting it to look right! The pushers screw down to prevent water ingress and, when unscrewed, have a really positive action.
Dial and Hands
The Seiko Solar PADI Air Diver dial is really nice. The bottom layer is the solar panel that charges the watch. This contains three sub-dials that are easy to read. The lume – as you would expect from Seiko – glows astonishingly bright after a mere hint of sunlight. The hands are borrowed from the SKX007 and very easy to read. There is a lot going on here, but the Seiko Solar PADI Air Diver manages to remain legible – Seiko really knows how to make a dive watch.
The only downside in daily use is that the date is quite sunken in the dial, and therefore it is hard to make out unless you look at the watch dead-on straight.
Bracelet and Clasp
The bracelet on the Seiko Solar PADI Air Diver is very substantial but, for me, it is the weakest point. It feels solid, but the mirror-polished links attract scratches no matter how much you try to baby the watch – as you can see in my photographs.
The bracelet also lacks flexibility: the centre links sit slightly above the outer section of the bracelet, so the bracelet does not flex in the opposite direction to the curvature of your wrist. I know I have no business bending the bracelet the wrong way, but you notice it when you pick the watch up, and it bothers me.
What I Like
- Despite the busy dial, everything is easy to read
- If you like to know you are wearing a watch, you will enjoy the heft of this chunk of metal!
- The solar movement saves on batteries – as long as you do not keep the watch in an opaque box!
What I Don’t Like
- The bracelet started to look tatty very quickly, thanks to those polished centre links.
- The lugs are very long and make the watch unbalanced on my 7.5-inch wrist
- The bezel has a lot of back play and never quite feels lined up right
Seiko Solar PADI Air Diver – the WRUK Verdict
Overall, I can see why people love the Seiko Solar PADI Air Diver, but, sadly, I just cannot get on with the watch. It is too big and too heavy for a daily wearer, and its unwieldy nature means I a forever banging it against things and adding to the scratches it has picked up over its lifetime.
Buy a Seiko Air Diver
Keep your eyes open on eBay for regular bargains on Seiko solar watches.