Value Proposition The 2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection Reviewed (With Tons of Photos)

The relaunched Seiko 5 collection; still affordable, still durable, still featuring the 5 traits of the "Seiko 5" concept.

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Santiago Tejedor | ic_query_builder_black_24px 7 minute read |
2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

When Seiko presented the Prospex LX Line at Baselworld 2019, there were long and vehement discussions on the pertinence of such a collection, and how the brand was way out of line for trying to compete with the sacred cows of Swiss watchmaking (understand here Rolex and Omega) in their own arena: sport watches with a price between EUR 5,000-8,000, depending on the model – and not even members of the Grand Seiko family. This was just the beginning…

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

However, that was nothing compared to what happened a few months after Baselworld when Seiko unveiled the new Seiko 5 Sports collection: reactions hit stratospheric levels. But not because of what was arriving per se, but because of what was departing. Let’s take a look at what generated this hot topic of debate, the relaunched Seiko 5 Sports Watches 2019 Collection.

THE SKX007 AND THE SEIKO 5 SPORTS

In case you need background on the SKX007, you can read this reference in-depth article here (a must-read for all watch enthusiasts).

The Seiko SKX007 is simply beloved by the horological community. And rightfully so! It is a great, inexpensive daily beater that can withstand just about everything, including depths of 200 metres, for which it is certified. It keeps very good time (if you are lucky like I was, chronometer-like accuracy), it looks good no matter what and it is probably the only iconic watch that most mere mortals can actually afford. Not only that: thanks to the lousy commercial strategy of Seiko in the past, the grey market was (and still is but to a much smaller extension) flooded with SKX007s, its Pepsi twin, the 009 and even its smaller sibling, the 013. A watch that had an official retail price of EUR 380 could be found for even less than EUR 100. Sheer bliss. 

But everything comes to an end, and Seiko stopped the production of the SKX007 last July. What the people from Seiko told me back at Baselworld 2019 is that they wanted to stop producing the 7S calibres. According to brand, it doesn’t make sense to keep them circulating since Seiko now produces the 4R series, which includes manual-winding and hacking seconds. 

Not only that, Seiko now has all its affordable, certified divers under the Prospex umbrella (which are at least EUR 200 more expensive), so the 007 was an oddity in its portfolio. Even in the midst of renewed interest for the old hero, an integral member of Seiko’s history, the brand decided it was high time for it to be discontinued. Or was it?

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

A WELL-KNOWN FIGURE

Never before has such an inexpensive watch caused such heated debate. Proof positive of how important Seiko has become for watch aficionados.

It was also time to give the Seiko 5 collection a more focused strategy. Up until now, Seiko 5 was a just a well-made, affordable watch with hundreds of different models. Not much else to say about it, although its origins were interesting. In 1963, Seiko launched the Sportimatic 5 to give customers the possibility of owning a watch with the best technology at an affordable price. That “5” in the name came from the 5 specs all watches should have: an automatic movement; a day-date complication in a single window, a significant water-resistance (started at 30 metres and now at 100m in the 42mm models); a receded crown at 4 o’clock (now only in the 38mm models); and a robust steel case and bracelet (or strap). In 1968, the Seiko 5 Sports were born, inheriting all these advantages. 

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

It was a big thing, but in the era of internet sales, the concept was slightly lost. Now Seiko wants to target the watches to a younger audience, people who don’t have the means to buy more expensive watches and, most importantly, to sell the watches only through boutiques and official dealers. What Seiko has done is to take the case, bezel and dial of the 007 and played with these three elements to present a collection of 27 watches in five families.

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

All of them have a diver’s aesthetic that young people (and not so young) appreciate. All of the watches have the same size: 42.5mm diameter case and 13.4mm in height. They are made of stainless steel, but there are versions with hardened steel (with dark grey coating) and one with pink gold PVD coating.

The 2019 Seiko 5 Sports Watches are all water-resistant to 100 metres. Since it is has inherited the case of the 007, the crown is well-protected, but isn’t screwed down. It’s not easy to pull out though, so getting in the water with the watch is not as risky as it was with the previous Seiko 5s. It has a unidirectional bezel and Hardlex glass, which is far harder than Hesalite (but isn’t sapphire either). It is flat, which helps legibility, and lays lower than the bezel so it’s fairly protected.

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

Hands and raised indexes are filled with LumiBrite, which can be either green or blue depending on the models, and that shines well through the night. There are also different types of bracelets and straps: a traditional oyster steel bracelet; a mesh steel bracelet that appears only in the Suits Style family; a mixture of leather and rubber (in the Specialist Style); a plaited rubber one (in the Suits Style); and a black, green or brown NATO strap. The jubilee bracelet departed along with its master watch, the 007.

All the watches share the same calibre 4R36, an automatic, in-house movement that has long proved its reliability and sturdiness.  It ticks at 3 Hertz and has a 41-hour power reserve. As always with the Seiko 5, the calibre can be seen through a transparent caseback. Its magnetic resistance is a class 2, which means it can withstand magnetic fields created by everyday gadgets and home appliances within a proximity of 5 centimetres.

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

The new 2019 Seiko 5 Sports collection is composed of 27 watches, however, to bring more clarity, these are organised in 5 sub-collections.

Seiko 5 SPORTS “Sport STYLE”

It is the basic line and therefore the biggest, with 11 different models. All the dials, inner flanges and bezels are monochrome (except for the indexes and numerals, of course). The prices range from EUR 269 for the NATO and oyster steel bracelet to the EUR 329 for the full metal, hardened steel model. 

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

Seiko 5 Sports “STREET STYLE”

No doubt these watches are intended for more urban, active people. The cases are hardened, they are attached to the wrist with a black strap, and the dial is black with black or fluorescent red or blue hands and indexes. The price of this collection is EUR 299.

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

Seiko 5 Sports “SPECIALIST Style”

Three models with the three case options (steel, hardened steel and rose gold PVD coating) each. All of them come with the leather-rubber strap. The price for the golden version is EUR 340.

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

Seiko 5 Sports “SUITS STYLE”

This is Seiko’s bet for a dressy diver-style watch. They are either available with mesh bracelets or plaited rubber straps, and dials can be monochrome or bicolour. I own the red dial model and I can say that the mesh bracelet is very comfortable to wear. All models have the same price; EUR 329.

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

Seiko 5 SPORTS “SENSE STYLE”

We have here the last two models, which comes with textured dials in blue or green, with hardened steel cases in dark grey. Seiko loves to add patterns on its watches, and if these have nothing to do with a Grand Seiko Snowflake, the result is still pretty cool. Price is EUR 299. 

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

The 2019 Seiko 5 Sports ON THE WRIST

If you own a Seiko SKX007, you know how comfortable it wears. It does not feel like 42mm at all, and the crown at 4 o’clock is a blessing. Even if the watch is pressed hard against the wrist, it never bothers you at all. 

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

These Sports 5, therefore, feel the same on the wrist. The different dials and bracelets, the movement, and the affordable price, make getting one of these – at least – a no brainer. The arguments for and against this watch compared to the 007 might be an ongoing topic inside the watch world, but of zero consequence in the real world. Those who are going to buy the watch will do so because of what it has to offer, and don’t care about any of the skeletons in the closet. 

2019 Seiko 5 Sports Collection

Overall, considering the price of these watches, mostly under EUR 300, the new Seiko 5 Sports Watches Collection is simply impressive. The overall quality is great, the collection is large enough for everyone to find the desired model, the design is cool (SKX007 DNA obliges). So all in all, you’re in front of a true Seiko 5; meaning a no-brainer, inexpensive daily-beater with the right dosage of cool.

More information at Seiko5sports.com.

12 responses

  1. When I read that the SKX007 had been discontinued I had to stop in shock. I cannot believe the stupidity and mean-ness of this decision. And now these….insults?
    Seiko is done!
    I will never buy another Seiko product ever again!

  2. I have a big problem with these. I am Seiko’s biggest fan, as a brand. But first, I always thought the SKX was007 is way overrated. And then, when they launched a new 5 they went the easiest way of all and simply copied the old bestseller, no imagination, crreativity.

  3. The new management is a tragedy for the watch industry. I hope they haemorrhage money.

  4. A lot of us remember when a Seiko was less than £100 my last one was £66 for a nice watch, so you could afford a lot of them with plenty of styles to choose from. Now with the price increases you are up against stiffer competition and fewer people making impulse purchases. When Hamilton changed the movement in the Khaki I got an new old stock one with the ETA 2834-2 for £350, a much better performing watch than any of my Seikos. With this new price structure there is not a big jump in price to lots of good competition even at full price. The new Seiko movements are better in that you can start it with a quick wind instead of waving it about for a while, and you can now set the time correctly but it still takes about 5 hours to change day/date which wouldn’t be so bad if they put the hands on so that it started the process at midnight and when you wake up its done .

  5. The new “strategy” (for want of a better word) is perfectly clear. They are trying to take themselves up-market. This is sheer lunacy. Put simply, those in charge understand neither Seiko nor its customers. Seiko is a compelling offer AT ALL PRICE POINTS.
    What these morons have done is to cut off their base, alienate their most loyal customers and force new customers to buy Certina, Hamilton, Citizen and Tissot.
    A Seiko 5 was never intended to be competition with a Khaki Field. It cannot win. The 4R36 is nothing more than a hacking 7S26. They are the same movement!
    I’m so chuffing angry!

  6. I am firmly in the disappointed camp with Seiko’s decision here.

    First, I understand the need to expand your market, and it looks like these are set to compete against the numerous fashion brands targeting the younger markets. However, at least in the US, Seiko’s branding is no where close to it’s competition in that market segment. So that leaves them with those actually looking for a watch, not the impulse buyer and this is compounded by their sales tactic of boutique and a few seller. As another commentator has said, if you are actually looking for a watch, for the price point there are better options in the range.

    The the problem is they took away a high quality, functional, and versatile watch in the skx’s and down graded it (except for the movement, which is just a 7s with hacking and hand winding, and arguably the the dial). However, they are charging more for it than someone can still get an skx today. Honestly, you can get a skx and a 4r movement to simply mod for the same or less than several of these new watches. Also for about $50 more you can enter the Prospect range with 200m water resistants.

    Finally, and perhaps this is nostalgia, but I along with many of my watch enthusiast friends, started our collections with the cheap Seiko 5s, “under $100 for an automatic? Why not!” With that purchase Seiko brought us into their ecosystem and built brand loyalty. If their lower tier automatics are now $250<, they are cutting out that gateway drug for a (I can only assume) decent size group.
    I remain hopeful that Seiko is just gearing up for a new lower end diver or at least will slash their profit percentage on the new 5s to bring them down to more a competitive price.

  7. Most of the commenters here fail to realise that the prices quoted for these 5’s are MSRP prices.

    No one buys at MSRP.

    We all get discounts from resellers- that’s why the SKX costs 200 USD or do in the first place.

    Also, if we’re talking prices, compare MSRP to MSRP – the Hammy Khaki’s MSRP is 525 USD, which is way more than these 5’s.

    And lastly, the Hammy Khaki sells for alot less (e.g. 350 USD) and I expect that the new 5’s will sell for alot cheaper as well.

    Funny that people in the watch community still dont understand the basic concept of MSRP.

  8. What a boring bunch of Sub Marina clones .. what’s all the fuss about? They’re horrible, I wouldn’t want one as a gift.

  9. Well exactly.
    Seiko 5 is no longer a philosophy or a huge, diverse range of watches for everyone. It is now one single model. I don’t think I have ever seen such a managerial farce in my lifetime.

  10. @JustAnotherGuyOnTheWeb That is not entirely true. All the Seiko 5 on the market with the 4R movement still exist and will exist. However they will be controlled by Seiko so they do not flood the grey market. Each national Seiko will have an amount of them each year, and that will be all. The idea is to dry the grey market and regain control of their products. Which I find a good idea if you aim to be taken seriously and not damage your other product families.

    Also I may be wrong, but I just visited Certina and Tissot’s webpages and I don’t see any products with the same price or lower than the Seiko 5. They are at least €100 dearer. But with a Powermatic 80, which arguably a better movement.

    If you want a €395 price in Tissot you have to go for the Swissmatic calibre, which is the Swatch Sistem51 movement. And clearly a far cheaper finishing than the Seiko 5.

  11. I’m sure your information is correct Santiago, but over the last few days, I have been actively trying to locate a good Seiko 5 for purely nostalgic reasons. My first mechanical watch was a Seiko 5. The official Seiko sources I can find show only the single model above, or no Seiko 5 models at all. Only places like Amazon, T-Mall etc, have more variety.
    My anger has subsided. I am now at the “moving on” stage of the process. Any future watch purchase will be at a considerably higher price-point than Seiko 5, but this decision has killed-off at least one sale further up Seiko’s value chain. I realistically will have no need to buy another watch for as long as I live, but if I do, it will certainly not be a Seiko.

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