The Seiko Street Series Solar Diver was launched as a Seiko USA online exclusive watch. It’s a sporty timepiece, based on classic tuna can DNA with a modern edge aiming for “dope” status. The SNE541 is true to it’s tool watch roots, while looking hype enough for beasts of the streets. Or, as Seiko put it:
“Inspired by the rugged qualities of the iconic Seiko diver’s watch and designed for the urban adventurer.” –Seiko
You know we nerd out about watch movements, so let’s start there. The movement that powers the Street Series Diver is solar powered caliber VK157. It’s essentially a quartz mechanism, but instead of replaceable batteries, there is a capacitor that stores energy absorbed from light sources that hit a solar sensor located beneath the dial.
9 hours of sunlight will charge the movement for up to 10 months of running time. You can technically use a florescent light to get the juices flowing, but accumulating the same 10 months of power reserve would require 120+ hours. For that reason, we recommend going for the standard sunny day windowsill approach for best results.
Word to the wise: Just make sure the direct sun rays aren’t too hot for the dial to handle. We’ve seen solar watches left in hot sun causing the dials to shrivel up and get distorted enough to push the hands off!
Seiko rates the VK157 accuracy to +/- 15 seconds per month in normal operating temperatures. For more on this and other technical information, you’ll want to check out the caliber listing here.
Typically, watches with the VK157 movement would have the date window at 3:00, but it wouldn’t be a Street Series without some kind of counterculture aesthetic, so they repositioned it to a tilted 4:00 cutout. It works in symmetry with the 4:00 positioned screw-down crown.
The off-black dial has a textured appearance with stick markers that look like aged lume – very similar to Super-LumiNova’s Old Radium lume, but being a Seiko watch, it’s a form of LumiBrite (basically the same thing, different name).
The piece in this review could have had some better quality control off of the assembly line, as you can see some lume material at 7:00 wasn’t perfectly placed on the marker.
When the sun goes down and the switch is flipped on the fluorescent lights, the lumeshot gives the healthy glow that we’ve all come to expect from Seiko divers.
This piece, being dubbed the “Street Series” and all, is apparently aimed at streetwear Hypebeasts. While Seiko could have been a little less obvious with the model name, they didn’t just offer a piece to this crowd without knowing what they were getting into. Streetwear, in many ways, is about subtle details, and Seiko didn’t overlook this.
The textures don’t stop at the dial, a similar visual is carried over to the plastic sheath around the polished and satin steel case.
What looks like a standard issue 22mm Seiko dive strap, also shares a similar texture.
Then there’s the bezel insert. While Seiko doesn’t do a great job of describing the details and materials used in their watches, the bezel on the SNE541 is a brushed metal, we’re assuming stainless steel or possibly aluminum. Seiko simply refers to it as a silver bezel. Either way, it looks excellent with the rest of the watch, adding the perfect amount of contrast between the dial and plastic case protector.
The bezel clicks 120 times uni-directionally, owing to the fact that when you’re not tagging up the streets you could be timing your oxygen tank. The stick markers are a good match to the ones on the dial, and the lume pip at 12:00 is in the same faded lume. The bezel really makes this piece. There is a similar model SNE543 with a green bezel, but for a Street Series, the steel is the way to go.
Of course we’d like to see a watch like this have a sapphire crystal, but for an affordable Seiko Diver, a domed Hardlex is what you get. Some collectors actually prefer this since although it isn’t nearly as scratch-resistant as sapphire, the mineral based Hardlex also won’t shatter into a thousand pieces if you hit it against a mailbox while skateboarding.
This watch is a great reminder that there’s a lot more to the diameter of a watch than the millimeters on paper, design has a role.
At 46.7mm diameter, the SNE541 isn’t small, but thanks to the “tuna can” design of the plastic shroud, it doesn’t feel excessively massive. The lug width is 46.1mm and stands 12mm tall (the same as a Sub).
The caseback features Seiko’s tsunami wave (often referred to incorrectly as depicting The Great Wave Off Kanagawa) indicating that it is a dive watch capable of at least 200m depths. It is a Prospex model (aka Pro Specs) and although marketed for the pavement, it can hold its own in the sea.
As with most Seiko watches, you don’t have to pay attention to the retail prices. Somewhere in their distribution channels, they think it makes sense to launch a piece with a $400 price tag, while ensuring that grey market dealers and digital big box retailers have them for sale below dealer cost. While bad for dealers, it’s good for you. You can easily score on of these so-called Seiko USA exclusives for around $275 USD, which is what we have this review watch listed for in our shop.