Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Seiko 5 Sports Loses Its Divers’ Bezel


This Sunday we are back and now taking a look at one of the most popular brands we cover in this series, Japanese fan-favorite Seiko. Recently, Seiko unveiled the new dive-bezel-less Seiko 5 Sports, the latest update to the modern Seiko 5 Sports line since its initial release in 2019.

To recap, the Seiko 5 Sports was first released by the brand in 1968 (vintage model pictured above), following the release of the original Seiko 5 in 1963. The Sports model was meant to be a bit hardier than the already extremely reliable Seiko 5 models, complete with a bezel and a slightly sportier dial (a dial we might plainly consider retro today, truthfully). Both the Sports and non-Sports designs of the Seiko 5 held five qualities across the board: “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.” These five traits lent the “5” to the Seiko 5 name. All combined, Seiko reasoned, these attributes were everything a wearer could want in a casual sports watch.

Examining the new model, we find a watch very similar to the dive-bezel design released last year. The brushed steel case is wide at 40 mm, using angled lugs and a curvy crown guard to protect the large 4 o’clock crown. The bezel surrounding the dial is smooth, providing the look of the new model with a cleaner appearance than the previous edition, and likely making the watch a bit more versatile in daily wear. The lack of a bezel also likely contributes to a decrease in overall thickness of the piece, though the brand hasn’t provided this particular measurement.

On the dial, we find an identical configuration to that seen on the dive-bezel editions, with a curved outer minute ring, applied round hour markers with ovals at the 6 and 9 o’clock positions, as well as a rounded triangle at the top of the face. Additionally, there is a 3 o’clock day/date window, a script “Automatic” at the bottom of the dial, and modern “Seiko” and “Seiko 5” logos toward the top. Sweeping over the face are slim arrow and sword/syringe hands for the hour and minutes, while a circular-ended pointer is used to count the seconds.

The new Seiko 5 Sports is available in an array of color options, including gray, green, blue, black, and gilt, as well as an all matte black edition, a couple of two-tone models, and the choice of either a NATO-style strap or metal Oyster-style bracelet.

Inside the new Seiko 5 Sports is the automatic Seiko Caliber 4R36, which as one would expect is also the same mechanism used in the previous models with bidirectional divers’ bezels. The movement hosts 24 jewels and a 41-hour power reserve, and is protected via a sapphire caseback.

Like the original Seiko 5 Sports watches of last year (above), the latest Seiko 5 Sports is less of a neo-vintage design and more of a modernized iteration of the historical design. Still, there are some historical recalls within the design that speak to the lasting history of the 1968 series. We see these foremost in the continued use of the five elements that make a Seiko 5 — an automatic caliber, day-date display at the three o’clock position, water resistance, a 4 o’clock recessed crown, and a solid case and bracelet. We also see a subtle recall of the original 1963 Seiko 5 (non-sports) in its “bezel-less” style, which was and still is widely regarded as one of the best “beater” watches on the market today. We even see a callback of some of the most popularly used colorways in the series, with the brand unveiling two matte black dial editions: one with white accents and one with gilt, though both speaking to the history of the collection.  Lastly — and possibly most importantly — the original intention of the Seiko 5 Sports line is still evident in its newest incarnation: to be a hardy, entry-level steel sports watch ready for anything the wearer can throw at it.

As for more modern elements on the new design, we can see them throughout. Foremost, we see a modern 40-mm sizing which is significantly larger than the smaller, sans-bezel models seen in the history of the Seiko 5 line. The case appears to take more influence from modern Seiko dive watches (such as the SKX007), than from any historical time-and-date models by the brand. Together, updates to both sizing and design allows the watch to maintain a cleaner, flatter character that caters to the modern consumer, and in combination with the smooth bezel (rather than the unidirectional diving version) provides it with a solid, contemporary Seiko field-watch aesthetic. This updated case design comes alongside a host of interesting modern colors — many of which we saw in some variations in the dive-bezel models — which altogether help provide the new watch with a suave modern look.  

The launch of this new Sport 5 edition also hints at Seiko’s long-term plan for the series, which appears likely to take an even greater role as the brand’s entry-level collection. The original model was already a commercial success, widely praised by both fashion and watch communities, so it stands to reason the latest model will follow this trend and slightly expand the potential audience for the style with this more refined, field-watch variation. However, with the release of the sans-dive-bezel model, hopes of a dedicated Seiko 5 (non-sports) relaunch also begin to fade, with the brand likely to fold the two branches of the cousin collections into the same entry-level series.

The new Seiko 5 Sports models are expected to officially drop for retail sometime this month, with prices ranging from $275 to $325, which is slightly less than the $310-to-$380 range for the hardier, dive-bezel models.

To learn more, you can visit Seiko’s website, here.

For last week’s “Vintage Eye,” in which we take a look at the modern Baume & Mercier Hampton collection and compare it to the vintage Art Deco models that inspired it, click here.

7 Responses to “Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Seiko 5 Sports Loses Its Divers’ Bezel”

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  1. Ian McLaren

    Hi
    I have a solar powered Seiko which is just fabulous to live with.Do you make solar powered on this new Seiko 5 Sports model ? If so I will get one.

    Reply
  2. John Webb

    Find me a watch review from an actual watch collector that praises the new SKX series? They have been almost universally given a “Meh” rating by the fans.

    Reply
  3. samjustwokeup

    Interested to see these in person, looks a bit flat on images

    Reply
  4. Karel Filipek

    Seiko Are Great!!
    The Black Watch and Creen Watch are the Best ….

    Reply
  5. Robin

    There’s only so much one can do with a watch design and in the end it has to tell the time accurately. These are all nice watches and the offset winding crown is different. The prices are excellent. My limited experience with Seiko automatic wasn’t all that good. I’d like to see Seiko produce a solar powered battery driven watch like this as a general purpose all-rounder.

    Reply
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