Poodle-haired rock god Brian May is world famous as the lead guitarist in Queen who shaped their sound with his nimble-fingered picking and razor-sharp melodies. What’s less well known is that he’s also a die-hard Seiko fan.
For years, May has worn one of the brand’s iconic dive watches on his wrist. He’s regularly spotted wearing the Seiko 7548-7010, a diver he picked up while first on tour in Japan back in the 1970s.
Now he’s gone one better. May has collaborated with Seiko to create a watch that echoes the design of his homemade guitar that he built with his dad back in 1963.
“It took two years and was all done with hand tools using any materials we could lay our hands on,” May told The Guardian in a 2014 interview. “The neck was part of an old fireplace. We hand-carved the inlay on the fret out of old mother-of-pearl buttons and the tremolo arm was made from a bicycle saddlebag holder, topped off with the tip of one of my mum’s knitting needles!
“It was a special time and we never really argued. Although Dad did turn the air blue after the chisel slipped and he gouged a big piece out of the wood. He never forgave himself, he was such a perfectionist. We had no idea how big a part the Red [named after the colour of wood it was made of] would play in my life – I thought I’d just have fun with it at home.”
The guitar – known as the “Red Special” – is the one that you hear on every Queen album. How precious is it to May? Put it this way: on tour the guitar has its own dedicated bodyguard.
But now its influence has gone even further with the Red Special inspiring a new Seiko 5 Sports watch. The dial has the same red and black colour scheme and features a delicate wood-like pattern like the body of the instrument.
The watch is offered as a limited edition of 9000 pieces with Brian’s signature on the case back. The presentation box also contains a commemorative coin that is based on the sixpenny piece that May has used throughout his career as a plectrum.
“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,” May said. “I love my Seiko and it has served me well for many years. I will wear this new one with pride.”
The watch will be available to buy from May (the month that is, not Brian personally).