Watch

The Seiko 5 Sports Line: Explained

What is and always has been a demure, classic design faced a fresh new interpretation with added streaks of bold variations.

When thinking about the Seiko SKX, adjectives that come to mind probably include ‘versatile’ and perhaps ‘simple’. As a product with a large production mass, SKX owners soon begun finding ways to make those watch theirs. In our Introduction to Seiko Modification articles, we discussed the birth of a sub-niche – Seiko modification. Now, this niche tells Seiko that their audience craves creativity and individuality. So, the next course of action to take would be to introduce a product-line offering just that. As such, the birth of the Seiko 5 Sports line really begun with the community in mind.

The Seiko Divers Heritage

The phrase “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” applies especially to the SKX. As a rather modern classic, the discontinued model is what the Submariner is to Rolex, an icon. While there wasn’t a need to update the case design, the functional aspect conforms to a more ‘modern consumer’. That meant bringing down the water resistance, and upgrading the movement, which now features hand-winding and hacking.

Association of old Seiko models, Seiko SKX and the new Seiko 5 Sports in the form of a chart

Colours and Variance

While nothing much changed design-wise, the whole concept of this dive watch is now completely different. Actually, It really isn’t a ‘dive watch’ anymore. The new Seiko 5 Sports isn’t an ISO-rated diver like its predecessor, they are more accurate towards being called dive-inspired watches.

Aesthetically, the visual design follows the change in concept. Categorising what used to be a single – timeless and flexible design into 5 various themes: Sports, Suits, Specialists, Street and Sense.

The New Seiko 5 Sports Watches Collection: Suits, Street, Sports, Sense and Specialist
From left: Suits, Street, Sports, Sense and Specialist, Image: Hodinkee

While todays article covers the Sports line, they mostly apply to the remaining themes, because the difference, really, exists only with the styling options.

The Style of Sports

While the entire lineup has a small “5 Sports” tagged onto them, the categories restrict me over-generalising the collection. In a nutshell, I find that models within the ‘Sports’ collection to have the least deviance from the old-SKX.

In this particular collection, you have the choice of a bracelet or a NATO, and a more relatable design choices. Green dial and inserts as well as two-tone bracelets are a step different, sure, but they aren’t a new look if you’ve been looking at watches for some time.

A look at the SRPD51K1

On hand, I have the SRPD51K1, the blue sunburst dial and matching insert variant. As a past SKX007 owner, I’ll say that this one is ‘somewhat’ different.

Seiko SRPD51K1  blue dial blue insert 1

For starters, it’s great-looking, definitely. The sunburst effect is as mesmerising as it can get at this price-point, and the aluminium bezel shimmers light evenly too. Seiko made a great move contrasting the shade of the colours and texture, so that there is a certain depth when looking down.

Seiko SRPD51K1  blue dial blue insert close-up shot

The same old LumiBrite fills the hands and now-applied silver indexes. The difference in legibility isn’t really notice-able. but I do like that with this bolder colouring, silver accents were the choice instead.

New Seiko 5 Sports: Good, Bad and Ugly

As mentioned, the difference between the Seiko 5 Sports line only exists with the design. But there is quite a few change from the preceding SKX line though. Let’s go over the Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good:

Sometimes, when modding the previous SKX, you’d see the term ‘upgrade’, which could be including ceramic inserts or sapphire crystal, but mostly, it’s about the movement.

Seiko SRPD51K1  4R36A Movement Caseback shot

I don’t usually crap on movements, but the Seiko 7S26 movement in the SKX line is bad, objectively-speaking. First-released in 1996, most people, when talking about this movement, speak of the lack of features instead. The two features are hacking(second-hand stops at the time-change position) and hand-winding. Until 2019, the SKX still contained that outdated movement, which most people aren’t too happy about.

So when the consumers find that the Seiko 4R36 movement, which includes both features, are now in the new Seiko 5, there is evidently relief in the air. What used to require an external job is now finally a feature by itself, which is definitely a ‘good’. Not only that, the movement can now be viewed through the see-through case-back, which I actually prefer over the tsunami solid case-back.

The Bad

One of the reason the SKX line was a good choice because of it’s physically capable, and rated so. The Seiko SKX was certified to ISO 6425, a gold-standard for dive watches, the 5KX(New Seiko 5 Sports) isn’t. At the new 100m water resistance, there isn’t a way Seiko could rate it.

Diver wearing a Seiko SKX009 over a wetsuit
Image: Watch Clicker

“But Percy, you don’t need 200 meters, you’re not a diver!” Well, I agree, with my most water-intense activities being swimming and kayaking, I don’t need it, but there’s just something assuring about having my watch being far more capable that I need it to be.

But really, I’m not asking for much, but I would say that a screw-down crown would be enough of a factor for me to be convinced using them for those tasks. Until then, a careful shower would be the limit.

The Ugly

The new releases exists as a right move by Seiko, although not necessarily recognised as such. Most watch-enthusiasts aren’t thrilled over the new designs, but I feel it’s a move to be made sooner or later.

The new Seiko 5 isn’t what the SKX used to be, instead it’s a more fashionable and personality-showing collection instead of a all-rounding, tool-ish one, and that’s okay. the new Seiko 5 Sports collection is here to stay, replacing where the SKX and Seiko 5 line used to be instead of existing as a new collection.

I’m ready to embrace the new collection as a new direction for the brand in this price-range. If Seiko isn’t able to creatively push-out a new tool diver, that’s okay, because there are already plenty to choose from. Accepting that this new collection is a hopeful spark of drifting the trend of ‘fashion watches’ to this reputable brand is a plausible way of seeing this new release.

Final Thoughts

Seiko 5 Sports Collection Naruto and Boruto Limited Edition
Image: Seiko

While I’m all for seeing where things are going, my only gripe is the deluging “Limited Edition” releases. The new Seiko 5 Sports line has many of those, from Brian May to Street Fighter and even Naruto, these releases are fun and all but they definitely aren’t worth the limited edition price tag.

By targeting an already-existing market of people looking for more interesting SKX-style watches, Seiko hit a home-run with the new collection, for the general public, I would think that this is a great segway into the world of watches if not for the already cool designs.

What do you think of the Seiko 5 Sports Collection? Check out our Youtube Video of the unboxing and review of the SRPD51K1 , as well as our Instagram Page to stay updated on our latest article and video releases.

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