Seiko 5 SportsBy Ken Kessler
Confession: This writer collects Seikos, so you may wish to take the superlatives with a grain of salt. Conversely, you might agree with their usage, because few can argue that there are any rivals to the Seiko 5 variants, especially the Sports, when it comes to value for money. Unless, that is, you can name another watch with genuine manufacture status, including an in-house movement, and real – as opposed to imagined – history, with a price of £250?
I thought not. Seiko 5 has been around since 1963, the Sports since 1968, and for that entire half-century-plus, the range has delivered impossible-to-believe quality and style for the money. Among my cherished Seikos are three Seiko 5 Sports from the 1960s and 1970s, and the decades haven’t diminished their timekeeping prowess one bit, while the passage of time has rendered them ineffably cool and collectable.
Seiko is well aware that we are in the middle of a renaissance that has seen the ascent of Grand Seiko to haute horlogerie credibility and to acceptance outside of Japan, an explosion in the popularity of the brand’s diving watches, from entry level up through to the big ticket professional Prospex models, and an exponential increase in the value of vintage Seiko models, especially the “Pogue” and “Bullhead” chronographs. As for the colourful “Monster” diving watches, they’ve always had massive amounts of street cred.
Thus the re-imagining of the Seiko 5 Sports range is imbued with the provenance granted only by authenticity and a past of certifiable achievement, and every one of the new models revels in inherited virtues. That said, Seiko is not using this illustrious past to elevate prices: the new 5s are such ridiculous bargains that numerous watch journalists have already placed orders, something which doesn’t need much pondering when the entry level is accessible.
“5” is also the number of collections offered within the new family. The initial use of the number was to note that every watch in the family possessed five attributes or functions, including an automatic movement, a day-date display, water resistance, recessed crown at ‘4’ and a durable case and bracelet.
All models in the new cluster feature this quintet of qualities, as well as the company’s exclusive Hardlex crystal, see-through case backs, arrow-shaped minute hands, rotating bezels and Caliber 4R36 movements with 41-hour power reserves. The 42.5mm cases provide water resistance to 10 bar and Seiko quotes magnetic resistance to 4,800 A/M.
Why would you buy one on impulse? Because they are knock-outs for looks, functionality and value. The 18-model selection includes Sports (stainless steel case and link bracelet), Suits (Milanese bracelet), Specialist (rose gold coating), Street (black hard-coating) and Sense (green dial), with myriad strap choices. My name will be put down for at least two.
Seiko Caliber 4R36, automatic winding
42.5mm steel, black PVD or gold PVD
Choice of fabric straps, link bracelet, Milanese mesh bracelet