Going Commando: Hands-On With The Seiko Prospex SNJ029 And SNJ031
The classic Arnie Tuna dive watch gets a street-smart update.
In 2020, Seiko has taken a unique approach to releasing reimagined versions of classic models from its archives. These watches are not re-issues or even revamps. Rather, the company is reinterpreting fan favorites through a pop culture lens.
It’s a move that is bound to please collectors and new buyers because it gives enthusiasts a chance to own a piece of history they may have otherwise missed out on when these timepieces were first introduced. And two of the updates that we are most excited about, the Seiko Prospex SNJ029 and SNJ031 (aka the “Arnie” Tunas), are also excellent value propositions.
A Tale Of Two Tunas
Originally launched in 1975, it began life as a professional dive watch, and its now-emblematic case reflects its function over form rationale. Technically called the S23631, enthusiasts who had trouble remembering the reference number gave it the nickname “Tuna Can” or “Tuna” for short because the big case sat high on the wrist like a tin of fish meat.
Over time, the Tuna evolved. While it originally housed a mechanical movement, the Tuna eventually switched to a utilitarian quartz caliber, bringing us to the Arnie connection.
I'll Be Back
Eventually, this distinctive diver added a digital display to its analog dial. It was this generation of Tuna that was popularized by action movie icon Arnold Schwarzenegger in films like Commando (1985), Predator (1987), and The Running Man (1987). This model is often referred to as the Seiko Arnie Diver H558-5000.
The “Arnie” has been reimagined several times since the 1980s, most recently in 2019 with the Seiko SNJ025 Padi Solar Power watch.
Fast forward to the present, Seiko has again upgraded and updated the Tuna with two new versions, the SNJ029 and SNJ031 — both as part of the Prospex sports collection.
These next wave Arnies are cool-looking and comfortable, with just enough vintage vibes to recall of the original Seiko Tuna watches.
While the case shape evokes its ‘80s heyday, as part of the Prospex Street Series, the SNJ029 and SNJ031 have a very 2020 vibe due to its khaki colorway. In fact, the internet has already taken to calling these watches the “Safarnie.”
The differences between the Seiko Prospex SNJ029 and the SNJ031 are subtle. The SNJ029 has a tan chapter ring and a tan silicone accordion dive strap. The SNJ031 has a black chapter ring and an olive drab strap.
Given their similarity, it’s probably more important to note the contrast between these two new models and earlier editions of the Arnie.
The Prospex SNJ029 and the SNJ031 both retain the classic digital display at 12 o’clock dial, but the traditional arrow hands have been replaced with brushed batons. The old school circular and rectangular indices are now all-rectangular, except for a triangle at 12 o’clock.
To match the jungle-esque theme of the two watches, even the lume is presented in a warm khaki fauxtina.
The 47.8mm case has also been reimagined with a blacked-out case and bezel (as opposed to the original stainless finish) and more substantial, coin-edged pushers at 8 and 10 o’clock.
And unlike the monochrome palette of the original Arnies, both the SNJ029 and the SNJ031 feature pops of red around the pushers.
While the throwback attitude of these Tunas has considerable appeal to fans of street style, at the end of the day, they are still professional dive watches.
The Prospex SNJ029 and SNJ031 are both powered by Seiko’s in-house H851 solar quartz analog-digital movement. This practical combination allows for a whole lot of complications without cluttering up the dial. These functions include timekeeping, calendar, power-reserve indicator, alarms, and a chronograph complication. And its long-life battery is solar-powered.
Priced at $550, the Seiko Prospex SNJ029 and Seiko Prospex SNJ031 will be available from authorized dealers this fall. For more information, visit Seikoluxe.com
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)