Seiko 5 Sports: Review, Thoughts, & Our Top Picks
Watch & Bullion3 May 2020 | 6 min read
Usually, the name of a watch evokes an image in your mind. For example, if I say Submariner or Navitimer, you tend to think straight away of the two designs that these two watches represent: boring and convoluted. There is one collection, however in the watch world that everybody knows, but in each individual mind looks slightly different: the Seiko 5.
To be fair, this is in part due to the fact that Seiko 5 doesn’t necessarily just describe a single watch or collection, but rather a manufacturing standard developed in the 1960s that would help elevate the brand to the consumer staple it is today. The only thing that unites all these watches are the five attributes that lend their name to this legend:
- Automatic movement
- Day-date display at three o’clock
- Water Resistance
- Recessed crown at 4 o’clock
- Case and bracelet built for durability
Everything else is fair game.
Over half a century later I think it is fair to say that few watches have done more to lure people into the depths that is the mechanical watch world. That is due to the biggest feature that we have not even talked about: the price. The Seiko 5 is just so damn affordable, it is hard not to love it.
Seiko 5 Price Range
With a price tag in the range of $100 – $200 you can understand the allure of these watches and why they are found in so many watch collections. Beyond that the Seiko 5 represents a very important watch in the lives of many collectors, myself included, as it is often the first mechanical watch they ever owned. It has also given life to the modding scene. With parts being easy to come by (in stark contrast to nearly all Swiss luxury brands) the Seiko 5 offers one of the most versatile platforms for those willing to tinker with their watches and switch out the individual parts to create their personal dream watch.
In 2019 the newest Seiko 5 range was released, also referred to as the SRPD range. In true Seiko fan service fashion, however, they decided to kick things up a notch, both in price and build. Ranging from $300 to $350, it still is far from expensive for what it brings to the table, but it also isn’t nearly as attainable as some of the older models. That is due to the fact that this watch has rather little in common with the older models, but much more with the fan favourite and now discontinued SKX dive watches.
Now usually I would oppose such a dilution of collection spirit. After all how much Seiko 5 is even left in these pieces when the prices from a percentage perspective have massively risen and they all look like an older dive watch. There are two factors, however, that justify this change. First of all, Seiko is a brand known for being exceptionally fair in their pricing, so that if they raise prices I would trust them to have equally rising costs. And secondly, if we recall what was said earlier, the Seiko 5 name is not that of a collection but rather a manufacturing standard, and accordingly has more freedom design wise.
Our Favorites: Seiki 5 Sports
With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at our ten favourite models from the new Seiko 5 Sports lineup:
This model is arguably one of the most agreeable among all the new releases. With a rich and deep navy blue for the bezel and dial sitting on a matching nato bracelet I could see this watch become an entry level mechanical watch for generations of watch lovers to come.
This watch offers a design that will appeal to all those Pepsi lovers out there. Coming on a metal bracelet with a blue dial and blue and red bezel it offers a rather sporty appeal and works great as a summer watch. I do think that the last twenty minutes of a diver bezel should be red rather than the first twenty, but then again this is no proper dive watch anyway.
This model is very similar to the 51K2, except rather than blue, it is black. As such, I personally find it slightly less exciting than the blue version, but where I see this model shine is in relation to the modding scene. The black design is simple enough to offer a broad platform on which to lay your vision of a watch and the nato is a little cheaper than a metal bracelet, making it more accessible.
This model is in my opinion one of the visually most refined. At first glance it looks unassuming, arguably boring or uncreative. When taking a close look though you can see the small details that differentiate it. First of all, the case is coated in a gunmetal gray, and secondly the nato is a dark olive green. As such I feel like this watch offers a complete package for those who want to stand out without modding.
Part of the Suits style (although please don’t wear this with a suit) it is here where things get a little shaken up. Available on a silicone strap, this watch makes a great companion for sporting related activities. What stands out is the dial which has a white inner ring granting a vintage look reminiscent of whitewall wheels and is complemented well by the aged look of the lume. As such, it delivers a great balance between both old and new design languages.
Seiko is a brand that is usually known for being more reserved in style. Not so, however, with this model which is arguably the most extravagant among all of the new releases. It features a bold, almost blood-like, red wine colour which in different shades covers the dial and bezel. The colour plays great together with the gold lettering, hands, and hour markers and matching aged lume. To leave no doubt that this is an attention seeking piece it was fitted on a Milanese strap, which is bound to attract some looks once it catches the sunlight.
There are many watches where you can debate whether they count as a luxury piece or not, but few watches are further removed from that idea than a Seiko 5. So while I was surprised about seeing a gold version with a leather strap, I cannot claim to find it unfitting. In my eyes this is Seiko moving with the times, and I think this offers more for modder by granting them an OEM golden case coming in-house. Certainly one of the more divisive pieces.
Now I am no fan of completely blacked out watches. In fact I personally think they are rather silly, but then again what in watchmaking isn’t silly on some level. If this is your cup of tea, then with this model Seiko just brewed you a fresh one. What has me more interested in the watch is its potential when you again bring the modding scene into the picture. This watch offers every single part in black, so for me that makes it a beautiful watch to rip apart and use its parts to mix and match.
This model is my personal favourite among the whole collection. Maybe because I recently feel head over heels in love with a Rolex Hulk, but mostly because it is in my eyes the most tasteful piece. The case is coated in a dark gray and the hands, dial, bezel, and strap are coloured in a matching dark green. As part of the sense style, it sets itself apart with the little attentions to detail. A bright yellow seconds hand adds a lot of pop to the dial which offers a heightened sense of depth through an interesting texture with a somewhat gritty look.
This model is the poster child of the collection, and as such there was no way it would not find a place on this list. It is the only model that is a limited edition of 9000 pieces and was made in collaboration with Brian May, the legendary guitarist and part of the rock band Queen. It comes in a special box similar to that of a guitar case and the dial is directly inspired by May’s guitar, the Red Special.
It features a wave like pattern with black colouring on one side, and red on the other. The dial itself has a somewhat grainy texture similar to that of wood and slowly turns darker the lower it goes. To further signify that this is no normal Seiko 5, it comes with a Red Special inscription above 6 o‘clock and a case back with the Nr. of the Limited Edition. There is a catch though. With a retail price of €560, it is a long way removed from the famed affordability of the Seiko 5, and also more expensive than the arguably mechanically more capable SKX. Nevertheless, for those that find pleasure in Seiko’s watches and Brian May’s music there is nothing out there that offers a more complete package.