Few watch brands are as associated with the so-called watch modding community than Seiko. With many affordable watches and equally affordable replacement parts, modding enthusiasts — basically collectors who engage in hands-on tinkering (“modifiying”) of their watches to produce customized pieces — have long championed the Japanese brand as their most popular canvas for a whole world of creativity. This sentiment seems to have only increased in recent years with Seiko’s launch of its Seiko 5 Sports collection and the subsequent sans-bezel follow-up — excellent sub-$400 watches, both attractive in their own right and easy to work with.
This past year, looking to strengthen ties with this growing subset of the watch community, Seiko unveiled the Custom Watch Beatmaker campaign, a unique digital event which ran from October 2020 to January 2021. The event encouraged enthusiasts to submit customized designs of the Seiko 5 Sports, which were then voted on by other enthusiasts. In total, more than 48,000 designs were submitted, garnering over 8.5 million total votes, and resulting in the new watch that Seiko has unveiled this summer, the aptly named Seiko 5 Sports Custom Watch Beatmaker Limited Edition
At its core, the watch is a new colorway of the classic Seiko 5 Sports, but beyond that it bears remarkable similarities to the iconic Seiko “Pogue” Chronograph (above). That vintage model was a particular colorway of the historical Seiko 6139-6005 chronograph, best known for as the watch worn by Colonel William R. Pogue during the 1973 NASA Skylab mission. Since being spotted on the Colonel’s wrist, that model has gone on to gain a cult following, which likely explains why so many enthusiasts were drawn to a similar design in Seiko’s contest.
Like previous additions to the Seiko 5 Sports collection, this watch features a robust 42.5-mm steel case, with signature traits like the 4 o’clock crown position, shortened lugs, a unidirectional bezel, and a straightforward triple-link steel bracelet to secure it to the wrist. Similarly, the dial is also quite similar to previous versions, featuring an outer curved minute ring, applied numerals, a day/date indicator, and large, lume-filled hands.
Although the colorway of the limited edition recalls in obvious ways that of the vintage “Pogue,” Seiko has not explicitly cited that particular design in its marketing, apparently choosing to let that historical intrigue remain only implicitly communicated. The stark color scheme, however, is plainly obvious to an enthusiast, with a red-and-blue “Pepsi” bezel surrounding the bright gold-colored sunray dial. It’s a peculiar style, highly visual, and undoubtedly captivating.
Like all modern Seiko 5 Sports models, the limited edition contains the Seiko Caliber 4R36, an automatic mechanical movement that hosts 24 jewels, beats at a frequency of 21,600 vph, and maintains a 41-hour power reserve. While unadorned and utilitarian, it is nonetheless showcased behind a sapphire caseback, which also bears the watch’s limited edition number, out of 2,021 pieces produced.
The Seiko 5 Sports Custom Watch Beatmaker Limited Edition will be available as of August 2021, with pricing marked at €290, or about $341.
To learn more about the Custom Watch Beatmaker campaign and the new limited edition, click here.