Seiko grows the SKX-style 5 Sports lineup by shrinking the case Seiko grows the SKX-style 5 Sports lineup by shrinking the case

Seiko grows the SKX-style 5 Sports lineup by shrinking the case

D.C. Hannay
  • Seiko’s popular 5 Sports line grows with 4 versions in a new 38mm case size
  • Four dial colours are available from launch, including a still-trendy teal variant
  • The drop from 42.5mm to 38mm makes the SKX-style case friendlier to a wider range of wrists

There was an audible gasp from watch nerds everywhere when Seiko discontinued their beloved SKX diver a few years back, and grumbling from the same when the visually similar SKX Sports Style lineup was introduced. Yes, the SKX-look case was back, with a non-screwdown crown and an improved movement, so reaction was mixed. But let’s get real: if you’re jonesing for a Seiko diver, there’s no shortage of choice, with Turtles, Samurais, Monsters, and scads of others available in the Prospex line. The reinvented Seiko 5 is aimed at a different demographic, one that likely has no real need for a 200 metre diver, but might be looking for their first mechanical watch. It’s still plenty capable, with 100 metres of water resistance, more than enough for most forms of waterborne shenanigans, and there are plenty of dial choices to please almost anyone. And you can’t argue with success: the new Seiko 5 Sports Style series is one of the brand’s most popular. In fact, they’ve just launched it in a downsized 38mm case, bringing the same style to a wider audience, and that’s what we’re looking at today.

The case

The new 38mm stainless-steel case keeps the same design language and similar proportions to the 42.5mm original (which was nearly identical to the SKX’s), but now those with smaller wrists have more options. And if your wrist is a bit larger, 38mm is a great size if you’re looking for something with a vintage vibe. It’s 12.1mm tall with a lug-to-lug of just 44.2mm, so those compact dimensions make it an easy wear. Finishing is brushed, apart from a slim polished chamfer on the case edge, and the overall tactile impression is comfortable and devoid of super-sharp edges. Seiko’s familiar 4 o’clock crown is still there, positioned to avoid unwanted contact with your wrist when things get active. The unidirectional bezel also keeps the look and feel of the SKX’s, with plenty of grip and good action. Besides the 100 metre rating and push crown, another difference from the SKX is the addition of a display caseback. A view of the workhorse 4R36 movement might not be a selling point for the seasoned aficionado, but again, it’s pretty neat for someone just getting into mechanical watches.

The dial

Inside that case, you’re presented with a choice of four different dials: black, sunray champagne, sunray orange, and a trendy teal blue. The shape of the dial markers echoes the original SKX, and of course, are filled with Seiko’s eyeball-frying Lumibrite, along with the handset that also recalls its predecessor. As is customary with the Seiko 5, both day and date are included at 3. Interestingly, the hands on the teal and orange versions don’t match the outline of the indices, but are rendered in goldtone. The black dial gets a silver handset, and the champagne’s is a sort of gunmetal grey, matching the bezel insert and markers. Stylistic choices aside, all versions are incredibly easy to read, offering great contrast. The black and champagne will be more versatile, but the summery colours of the teal and orange are hard to resist, especially given this model’s propensity for outdoor activities.

The movement

The movement is the same as on the larger-cased Seiko 5 Sports models, the in-house 4R36. An improvement on the ‘90s-era 7S26 found in the original SKX, the 4R36 both hacks and hand winds, and features 24 jewels, a rate of 21,600 VpH, and a power reserve of 41 hours. Found in a multitude of Seiko models and a host of microbrands, it’s a trusted caliber that will likely provide years of hassle-free service.

The bracelet

The stainless three-link bracelet has the right look for the case, with a brushed finish that will better hide any scratches due to an active lifestyle. It secures with a triple fold clasp via a dual pushbutton release and a foldover security lock. Like similar Seikos, you’ll have fun swapping straps when the mood hits, and this one will look great on anything from a rubber tropic to any number of colourful NATO straps, and it’s all the easier given the drilled lugs (yay!) and 20mm lug width.

The verdict

Seiko’s got another winner in the 5 lineup, especially for those that find the 42.5mm case of the original SKX-style version a touch too big for them. The specs are solid, and it’s more capable than most of us will ever need. It looks great in almost any casual setting, and the initial dial offerings are attractive, so you’re likely to find one to suit you. And I wouldn’t be surprised if more options aren’t too far down the road.

Seiko 5 Sports SRPK29, SRPK31, SRPK33, & SRPK35 pricing and availability:

The Seiko 5 Sports series in 38mm is available now, in black (SRPK29), champagne (SRPK31), teal (SRPK33) and orange (SRPK35). Price: A$495

Brand Seiko 5
Model SKX Sports Style 38mm
Case Dimensions 38mm (D) x 12.1mm (T) x 44.2mm (L2L)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100m
Dial Black, sunray champagne, teal, sunray orange
Crystal(s) Hardlex mineral
Bracelet Stainless steel 3-link
Lug Width 20mm
Movement 4R36
Power Reserve 41 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date
Availability Now
Price A$495