When we reviewed the Seiko 5 SNK809 in 2018, we described it as one of the biggest bangs for the buck. Military-inspired field watch with an in-house automatic from a storied brand, all for around USD 100 – crazy. The Japanese company followed up with the Seiko 5 Sports collection in 2019 that added a sportier, dive watch aesthetic but kept things affordable with the five Seiko 5 “traits” intact. Seiko has now partnered with legendary Queen guitarist, singer and songwriter Brian May to launch a special edition watch based on his famous Red Special guitar, used by Brian for over five decades. Meet the Seiko 5 Sports Brian May Special Edition SRPE83K1.
This isn’t a random collaboration as Brian has been a Seiko fan for more than 40 years. He bought a Seiko dive watch in the 1970s while on tour in Japan and it’s been strapped to his wrist ever since – and seen on multiple occasions.
The new Seiko 5 Sports models have stainless steel cases at 42.5mm in diameter and 13.4mm in height, a large but contemporary size for a sport/dive watch (up from the Seiko 5 SNK809’s 37mm x 11mm). The case itself doesn’t change for this LE watch.
What makes the Seiko 5 Sports Brian May Special Edition SRPE83K1 unique is its dial. It has been faithfully modelled after his Red Special guitar, which was built entirely with hand tools by Brian and his dad in the early 1960’s (when Brian was just a teenager). The blockboard body includes a mahogany veneer that was stained and polished by Brian himself. That red and black colour scheme is echoed on the dial with a guitar silhouette on the left and wood grain pattern throughout the red. Interesting note – the guitar’s neck was made of wood from a 100-year-old fireplace. The angled, internal minute track is also red and “Red Special” has been added in script on the dial. A Hardlex crystal covers the front, surrounded by a unidirectional bezel with a detailed 60-minute scale. The case is water-resistant to 100 metres.
Flip the SRPE83K1 over and the mineral crystal exhibition caseback displays the in-house Calibre 4R36 automatic. It has 24 jewels, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 41-hour power reserve. It’s a reliable workhorse without much decoration, but Brian’s signature is included on the glass in yellow with a limited edition serial number engraved in the steel. That’s a special decoration in and of itself. The strap is a NATO-style black nylon with a stainless steel pin buckle, styled similarly to the strap Brian now uses on his guitar.
In Brian’s words: “I am delighted to see this watch come alive and proud that the creation of me and my dad all those years ago has inspired this collaboration. I love my Seiko and it has served me well for many years. I will wear this new one with pride.”
The Seiko 5 Sports Brian May Special Edition SRPE83K1 comes in a presentation box resembling a classic black and silver guitar case with a commemorative coin inside based on the sixpence British coin he uses in lieu of a guitar pick. The special edition is limited to 9,000 watches with a retail price of EUR 560, with availability starting in May 2020. For more information, visit Seiko’s website.