Seiko's Tuna dive watches are known by the nicknames of "Baby Tuna," "Golden Tuna" and "Grandfather Tuna," but they could also be known as "big," "bigger," and "biggest."
But rather than being big simply for the sake of it, the size of the Tunas has functionality at its heart.
Seiko had released its first dive watch in 1965, the Reference 6217 (or 62-MAS). The 62-MAS was water-resistant to 150 meters and had a rotating bezel, luminous hour markers, and a 17-jewel movement (Calibre 6127) with a beat rate of 18,000. It was an excellent effort, competitively-priced compared to Swiss divers, but for Seiko, it was only the beginning.
In 1968, a letter from a disgruntled professional diver in Hiroshima led to a seven year odyssey that resulted in the creation of the Tuna series of dive watches, the first ever designed specifically for saturation diving.
A team of engineers led by Ikuo Tokunaga devised a circular, titanium one-piece or monocoque case with a special "L type" gasket, surrounded by a titanium shroud coated with ceramic. The crystal was held in place with a locking ring. This eliminated the need for a Helium Escape Valve, resulting in a watch that--released in 1975-looked entirely different from any dive watch that had been released.
By 1978, Seiko had incorporated its game-changing quartz movements into the Tuna line. Though today's collectors might consider it a downgrade, back then it represented the pinnacle of horological achievement at the time, guaranteeing unprecedented accuracy. Also, contrary to today's standards, back then it wasn't necessarily cheap.
The first quartz Tuna, Reference 7549-7000 (released in 1978), is often referred to as the "Golden Tuna" by collectors due to the golden hue of the nitride coating on the titanium case. At 49mm the Golden Tuna may be smaller than its 51mm predecessor, but 49mm is large even by today's standards. Still, the round case with its nonexistent lugs makes it comfortable to wear even on slimmer wrists.
On its original rubber strap with titanium hardware, this Golden Tuna speaks of the sun and spray it's seen, and deserves to see the sunlight once more.
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