HANDS-ON: The Seiko 5 Sports retro colour collection HANDS-ON: The Seiko 5 Sports retro colour collection

HANDS-ON: The Seiko 5 Sports retro colour collection

Fergus Nash

With its incredibly expansive catalogue of references and huge production numbers, the original Seiko 5 collection still feels like a pillar of the watchmaking landscape. Despite a complete refresh of the series, discontinuing all existing models in 2019 and starting from scratch, the remaining stock usually still offers fantastic value and cool designs. For that reason it seems a bit absurd to consider a Seiko 5 retro reissue, but the original reference from 1968 is more than deserving. Aside from the SRPK17 that recreates it, the modern incarnation of the Seiko 5 Sports catalogue has been given three new references inspired by colours of the 1969 watches.

The “5” name originally comes from a set of rules that have outlined the Seiko 5 collection, which consists of automatic winding, a day/date display, a 4 o’clock guarded crown, a durable case, and water resistance. Over the years, these rules have been muddied and broken a few times, but the core of the series is reliability and value for money. When Seiko relaunched the Seiko 5 Sports collection using elements of its much-loved SKX case design, those design principles and goals remained.

The case

Although the Seiko SKX diver was never part of the Seiko 5 line, it was undoubtedly their best-selling model for a long time and still commands inflated prices five years after its discontinuation. That made it the perfect inspiration platform for the updated Seiko 5 Sports, as lovers of the design would easily find something comfortable and recognisable in the new catalogues, and aftermarket modifications would still be compatible. Its width of 42.5mm gives off quite a large and sporty presence, but its cushion-esque case has a lug-to-lug length of just 46mm that makes it an accessible fit on most wrists. The most controversial part of using the SKX case was reducing the water resistance from 200m to 100m, however it’s still more than capable of being taken swimming or snorkelling.

The dial

Looking at the dials of these Seiko 5 Sports almost tricks you into not recognising the modern Seiko 5 silhouette, as so many elements from the 1960’s references have crossed over. Essentially the only part which give this away as a modern watch is the updated Seiko 5 logo, as even the ‘Automatic’ script is ‘60s inspired to begin with. The applied markers and baton hands harness a lot of that late ‘60s casual dressiness, and also remove any hints of diving design such as the scuba indices and arrow hands. A bright orange seconds hand seals in the sportiness across all models, and the vintage bezel around the day/date display is possibly my favourite touch.

The dial variations are each inspired by popular colours from 1969 references of the Seiko 5, but they’ve been remixed and freshened up along with unique bezel inserts for each model. The SRPK09 has a blueish silver dial with a brilliant sunburst finish, and a chequered insert that adds a degree of motorsport influence. The SRPK11 bares a loud pumpkin orange on a matte dial, interrupted by a black horizontal stripe. The alternating black and orange chunks extend to the sloped chapter ring, almost giving the optical illusion of a reflective surface. The SRPK13 is an absolute stunner with a plain black base, saving its multicoloured flair for blue and green minute markers on the chapter ring and white and red blocks on the bezel.

The movement

Powering the Seiko 5 Sports retro colour collection is the calibre 4R36, which is essentially an updated version of the 7S26 that has powered the Seiko 5 collection since 1996. It has become a favourite workhorse movement not just for Seiko, but also for microbrands who rely on affordable movements that are trustworthy. Not only is the 4R36 reliable, but their consistent performance is bested only by the fact that you can regulate them at home with some basic tools to achieve even better accuracies. It has a beat rate of 3Hz, a power reserve of 41 hours, as well as a quick-set day/date and hacking seconds.

The bracelet

The quality of Seiko bracelets has come a long way in previous years, and the supplied stainless-steel bracelet with locking clasp and security pushers suits the style and the wearability of these watches well. The all-brushed finish matches the case nicely, and the micro-adjustment holes should make it easy to get a good fit. If you want to experiment with aftermarket straps, the 22mm lug width gives you pretty much infinite options for NATOs or leather straps, as well as aftermarket bracelets.

The Seiko 5 Sports retro colour collection pricing and availability:

The Seiko 5 Sports SRPK09, SRPK11, and SRPK13 will be available from Seiko retailers in September 2023. Price: AU$495

Brand Seiko
Model 5 Sports SRPK09, SRPK11, SRPK13
Case Dimensions 42.5mm (D) x 46mm (L2L) x 13.4mm (H)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100m
Crystal(s) Hardlex
Dial Silver, orange, black
Lug Width 22mm
Strap Steel bracelet
Movement 4R36
Power Reserve 41 hours
Availability Available from all Seiko retailers in September 2023
Price AU$495