Ever since I began writing this column, I’ve wanted to cover the Seiko 5. Like many watch enthusiasts, it was an automatic Seiko 5 that first brought me into the world of watches, and I can recall many conversations I’ve had through the years with collectors and non-collectors alike on the many esteemed qualities of the watch.
The Seiko 5 released in 1963 is one of the most recognizable watches in the world, and the Seiko 5 Sports — released five years later in 1968 — has been its sportier, younger brother, frequently attracting just as much fame for its born-tough attributes (vintage model pictured above). Both of these collections have been out of regular production by the brand for some time, but this year Seiko decided to revamp the beloved collection in the new Seiko 5 Sports, complete with as much sportiness and versatility as the market has come to expect from the models in this collection.
The release of the refreshed Seiko 5 Sports collection includes 27 new models, broken up between five sub-series: Sports, Suits, Specialist, Street, and Sense. Each of the watches maintains the same basic dimensions and technical features, but differ primarily in colorways, accents, case coating, and dial textures. The design is produced in a very similar style to previous entry-level Seiko Divers like the ever-popular SKX007 (pictured below), and upholds the five attributes alluded to in the name Seiko 5: “an automatic movement, a day-date display at the three o’clock position, water resistance, a recessed crown at the four o’clock position, and a case and bracelet built for durability.”
The revamped watch features a 42.5-mm steel case (some colored or coated depending on the reference), a prominent crown at the 4 o’clock position, and an outer rotating unidirectional bezel. The dial has a traditional Seiko diving design, with a simple outer minute track, a triangular marker at 12 o’clock, oval markers at the 6 and 9 position, and circle indexes at all remaining positions besides the day-date window on the right side at 3 o’clock. Sweeping over the dial is a broad-arrow minute hand and a syringe-tipped hour indicator, while a slim accented hand deciphers the seconds. The dial also features a script “Automatic” towards the bottom, along with the Seiko corporate logo and a refreshed Seiko 5 logo meant to both translate the revamped collection as part of the Seiko 5 series’ legacy, while also identifying it as the newly refreshed Sports series.
Inside the watch is the Seiko caliber 4R36, a 24-jewel automatic movement with an approximately 41-hour power reserve. The brand plans to market the watches between $310 and $380 depending on sub-series, colorway, and bracelet material, with all models available through dealers worldwide sometime this fall.
As Seiko insisted upon the Seiko 5 Sports’ re-release, the pieces in the revamped collection maintain all five of the essential qualities needed to classify it as a Seiko 5, e.g. the 4 o’clock crown, day-date window, etc. And besides these qualities, the collection maintains its extra “sportiness” with the thick, diving-style case with its unidirectional bezel, and further in its matching diving-style dial configuration. Yet, for all these traits — and as is appropriate to the evolving and durable spirit of the Seiko 5 — the refreshed collection is by no means a neo-vintage collection, and in fact is likely the most modernized iteration of the line seen so far. In comparison to the original Seiko 5 Sports of 1968 — an interesting but ultimately confused design bringing together diving, racing, and unique elements — the latest edition is succinct and focused, offering variability no further than through its aesthetics in order to maintain the functional and sport-minded intention of the overall collection.
As Seiko is anticipating, the new, entry-level Seiko 5 Sports will likely be a commercial success, and like its forebears, will ultimately replace the role of the original Seiko 5 as the first watch of many neophyte enthusiasts. I would not be surprised if the brand opted to revamp the original time-only, non-bezel Seiko 5 collection in the next year or so to further expand the collection. However, until then, the Seiko 5 Sports comes as a welcome addition to the brand’s lineup, and is yet another demonstration of its continuing effort to play up its heritage in modern watch creations.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we take a look at the Mercer Lexington Chronograph and compare it to its historical inspirations, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.