Show me a watch collector who didn’t tumble down the rabbit hole wearing a Seiko 5 and I’ll show you an entitled brat. Jokes aside, the Seiko 5 Sports has long served as the gateway drug for watch enthusiasts. For decades, it represented the ultimate value proposition — a bonafide mechanical watch from a reputed watchmaker priced under $200. What’s not to love here?
The first Seiko 5 model, the Sportmatic 5 was launched in 1963. It was Japan’s first automatic wristwatch with day-date display. The "5" in the moniker represented five key attributes; an automatic movement, a day-date display at the 3 o’clock position, water resistance, a recessed crown at 4 four o’clock, and a case and bracelet built for durability.
Seiko 5 Sports was introduced in 1968 with enhanced water resistance, a tougher crystal and luminous hands and hour markers. Even as demand for mechanical watches waxed and waned in the decades that followed, the popularity of Seiko 5 Sports endured. And more than 50 years later, Seiko has now given the line a thorough makeover.
There are 27 different executions — each in one of five styles: Sports, Suits, Specialist, Street and Sense — but all of them share some common characteristics like the case size and hardlex crystal atop, movement, and of course, the new Seiko 5 logo. We got our hands on a clutch of these new references to see what the fuss was all about and as word spread, there were plenty who dropped by our photo studio to have a look (I told you they were popular).
All of them share the same case dimensions, the stainless steel case is 42.5-mm-wide and 13.4-mm thick. With the recessed crown at 4 o’ clock, this is instantly recognizable as a Seiko and is clearly reminiscent of the popular SKX divers range. However, unlike the SKX range that is depth-rated to 200 meters, the new Seiko 5 Sports range is only water-resistant to 100 meters.
Consequently, the case isn’t fitted with a screw-down crown or a closed caseback, which is a bit bizarre considering how popular the SKX007 was with leisure diving enthusiasts. All models are fitted with a unidirectional rotating bezel with an aluminum bezel insert but there is no lume pip at 12 o’ clock. The case has drilled lugs, so removing and changing straps is going to be a breeze.
Since there were too many references to go through, I’m going to mention only the ones that really stood out. Like the Ref. SPRD54K1 with its sunburst blue dial, red and blue bezel, and the three-link Oyster-like bracelet. This is probably the most polished-looking of the 27 references and belies the price tag (AED1,080). The bracelet sits well on the wrist and the deployant buckle is easy to use, there is a real sense of quality here.
A mesh bracelet is introduced on a few references including the SRPD75K1 (AED1,350). This particular watch has a gorgeous olive green gradient dial that looks grey at certain angles. The vintage-style beige lume plots contrast well on this dial, the case has a matching bezel insert and a contrasting chapter ring in white, the latter seems like a nod to the vibrant Seiko “modding” community who often change the chapter rings and bezels to completely transform the look of their stock watch.
One of the stand-out models in the new range is the all black Ref. SRPD79K1 (AED1,235). The case has a black PVD finish and the dial has blacked out indices and hands. This is paired with a black nylon NATO strap and has a real stealth quality to it. Another reference (SRPD77K1) has a textured green dial that has already earned it the nickname “Avocado” and is sold at the same price.
While the fact that the watch isn’t diver’s spec may disappoint Seiko fans, they will be happy with the upgraded movement used in the new line, visible thanks to an exhibition caseback. It uses Caliber 4R36, an automatic movement that powers Prospex models like the Turtle and the Tuna. This is a 3 Hz (21, 600 vph) movement with hacking seconds and a relatively short power reserve of 41 hours, has a manual-winding option and has hacking seconds function. The 4R3X series was introduced in 2011 and includes 4R35, 4R37, 4R38, and 4R39 calibers.
The watches are all manufactured in China, just like some of the SKX models were in the past. I know Seiko fans place a certain premium on a “Japan-made” versions, but in terms of build quality, there’s nothing to quibble here. In conclusion, the new Seiko 5 Sports line is an odd one. For those expecting an SKX replacement, this isn’t the diver you want. However, having said that, there’s still plenty in it for this new line to stand on its own. With a whopping 27 references, there’s one for everyone if an inexpensive and stylish mechanical sports watch is what you are after.
The watches are now available at Al Futtaim Watches & Jewellery stores in the UAE and are priced between AED1,080 and AED1,350.