Another Friday, another Top 5! In this series, we take one watch or watch series and choose our five favorite references ever produced. This week, it’s time for the second of three articles on the Seiko 5 line. Last week, I focused on the regular-production Seiko 5 Sports models that are currently available. The result was a solid list of Seiko 5 Sports references that show the great diversity of the line. But this week, we’ll turn it up to 11 when it comes to diversity. The modern Seiko 5 Sports line is the perfect canvas for a wild variety of different creative designs. It’s why we want to focus on our favorite limited editions, which are often also collaborative efforts.

As I explained last week, when we discussed this list in our weekly editorial meeting, some people were not necessarily gung-ho about the topic. Seiko has released an incredible amount of Seiko 5 Sports models since the introduction of the series in 2019. There are a tremendous amount of regular ones and an even more impressive number of limited editions, so there are easily enough choices to populate about five of these lists. We decided to separate the regular models from the limited editions. I wrote about our favorite regular Seiko 5 Sports references in last week’s article. In this article, we’ll specifically highlight what we feel are the best Seiko 5 Sports limited editions.

The principles of the Seiko 5 watches

As a short reminder, Seiko 5 watches have been around since 1963. The series was based on five attributes that defined the watches and also gave the series its “Seiko 5” name. The attributes are automatic winding, a day and date display, water resistance, a recessed crown at 4 o’clock, and durable case construction. As we will see, the principle of the recessed crown at 4 o’clock is not strictly adhered to in the current collection. For the majority of the models, however, the other principles still apply.

The current Seiko 5 Sports line comes in a variety of different sizes. Most of the models have a 100m water resistance rating, a crown at 4 o’clock, and the Seiko automatic caliber 4R36 with a day and date display. For many, these attributes help make the Seiko 5 collection the perfect entry into the world of Seiko and mechanical watches as a whole. But that doesn’t exclude the seasoned watch fans looking for an affordable daily wearer or a fun summer watch. While part of the Seiko 5 line has adopted the brand’s famous SKX aesthetic, it is by no means a replacement for the discontinued and much-praised SKX models, something that many fans still hold dear. With that in the back of our minds, let’s jump in.

Seiko 5 Sports × Rowing Blazers SRPJ63

I recently wrote about our favorite Seiko collaborations ever, and it might not be surprising to see the return of the series of limited editions that Seiko did with Rowing Blazers. Seiko teamed up with this American clothing brand for their first collaboration two years ago. Together with Seiko, Rowing Blazers founder and creative director Jack Carlson and vintage-watch expert Eric Wind of Wind Vintage designed three unique versions of the Seiko 5 Sports watch that was introduced in 2019. As Carlson is a three-time US National Rowing Team member, the designs’ influences are easy to spot. Obviously, the style is also in line with the Prep style of the clothing that Carlson creates for his brand.

After the first very successful series, the second series debuted in October 2022, and the third drop happened only a few weeks ago. While the first series was based on the dive-inspired Seiko 5 Sports, the two later series were playful versions of the Explorer-esque watch that we featured last week. I picked the SRPE53 from the regular lineup, but the looks are quite different from the Rowing Blazers models. The biggest and most important change is the use of retro-styled hour markers.The second big change is the use of colorful dials for six of the eight models and a black rehaut with the 60-minute scale. The “simpler” black version from 2022 and white version from 2023 get an injection of color thanks to the vibrant hour markers inspired by that typical Rowing Blazers style.

The black SRPJ63 juggles “serious” and “joyful” effortlessly

They look quite spectacular on the stainless steel bracelet or the colorful NATO straps. But the one standout and probably the most popular out of the eight is the black-dial SRPJ63 that sold out in seconds. The contrast between the dark dial and the super colorful indices makes it a watch that walks a fine line between serious style and pure, unadulterated fun. The white version that came out just a few weeks ago was a nice repeat of that, but the black version set the colorful tone.

Just as a reminder, the watches come with a 40mm case that is 11mm thick and 44.6mm from lug to lug. Some cool details are the “RB”-signed crown and the laser-engraved Latin motto “TEMPVS FVGIT” on the case back. The black SRPJ63 comes with a stainless steel bracelet and a black NATO strap with colorful lines in the center that refer to the colorful pattern that Rowing Blazers is known for. If you want one of these, prepare to pay roughly double what they sold for originally. At the moment, prices are roughly around €900–1,000. Sure, they are hyped. But sometimes hype is worth it when a piece is as good as this one.

Seiko 5 Sports × Kosuke Kawamura SRPJ43 and SRPJ41

Seiko 5 Sports × Kosuke Kawamura SRPJ43

The second spot is another collaboration that I covered back in April, but it is simply too good to skip. As I explained before, I was sold when I saw Thomas’s article about these two limited editions. These two collaborative timepieces made with Kosuke Kawamura look quirky and super cool. They represent Seiko’s willingness to work with artists to come up with surprising releases. In addition to that, these two models take inspiration from watches from Seiko’s past.

Kawamura, who is a self-taught graphic designer, used the Seiko 5 Sports as his canvas. He took inspiration from the 1970s Seiko Time Sonar models for the dial and hands. The transparent dials are executed in two color combinations. The first is the SRPJ41, featuring a tangerine and teal dial, and the second is the SRPJ43 with its black and teal dial. Because of the transparent dials, you can see both the day and date wheels.

Seiko 5 Sports SRPJ43

The best collaboration of watches and art

The bezels of these 42.5mm models take inspiration from vintage Seiko 5 and Seiko Rally Divers. Seiko’s automatic caliber 4R36 with approximately 41 hours of power reserve is visible through the exhibition case back with the artist’s signature. Both watches come with a stainless steel bracelet and an extra black NATO strap. The SRPJ41 was limited to 3,000 pieces for €450, while the boutique-only SRPJ43 was limited to 500 pieces for €500.

What I love about these two watches is that it’s not just an artist’s work transferred onto a Seiko 5. Instead, Kawamura integrated his vision and style into a watch that draws inspiration from Seiko’s past. If you ask me, that is the best you could want from a collaboration between a watch brand and an artist. Many seemed to appreciate these two watches as they sold out quickly and go for a large premium. Expect to pay at least double the list price for one of these two beauties.

Seiko 5 Sports Masked Rider SRPJ91

Seiko 5 Sports Masked Rider SRPJ91

Another fan-favorite limited edition is the Seiko 5 Sports Masked Rider SRPJ91. This brilliantly cool piece was inspired by a vintage Seiko sports diver, the Kamen Rider 5126-8090 from 1968. As Mike explained in the introduction article, the classic watch could be seen in the TV series Kamen Rider, which gives the vintage piece its nickname. The series is also known as The Masked Rider, hence the name for the new piece. Seiko released the watch to celebrate 55 years of the Seiko 5 Sports series, and what better way than to go back to the late 1960s for that really popular Seiko model that vintage collectors love?

Seiko 5 Sports Masked Rider SRPJ91

This model is different from the original in certain details. Nevertheless, the serious and stylish look remains with its 42mm Seiko 5 Sports case that is 13.4mm thick, featuring a bold metallic bezel with oversized markings. The dial also stands out with its deep green color and refined texture inspired by the character’s helmet. The inside of the watch’s black leather strap is bright red, taking after the Masked Rider’s scarf. It’s those kinds of details and references that make this such a fun piece.

As Mike explained, the watch feels classy and serious despite being an homage and a limited edition. Seiko opted to limit the Masked Rider markings to the case back and the packaging, keeping this release on the subtler side. Seiko produced 4,000 of these pieces that are for sale for €450. And the best thing is that you can still get your hands on one for the retail price.

Seiko 5 Sports × Peanuts "Surfboard" SRPK25

Seiko 5 Sports × Peanuts “Surfboard” SRPK25

How can we deny Snoopy a place on this list? As Robert-Jan explained in the article about his favorite watches under €1,000, the collaboration between Seiko and Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts seems like a simple licensing deal. But there is a bit more story to this watch and its SRPK27 military counterpart. The design for the watches was developed with original Peanuts illustrations on the dial and case back. The drawings are from 1968, the year that the Seiko 5 Sports line was launched. 

Seiko 5 Sports × Peanuts "Surfboard" SRPK25

The fun thing about the SRPK25 is that it uses the smaller 38mm case that Seiko introduced not too long ago. Despite its smaller size, the simplicity of the design is very effective. Snoopy can be seen holding his surfboard, which displays the Seiko 5 Sports name. Another fun detail is the use of the “Schulz” font, a style used by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz. It is used for the numerals on the bezel and gives the watch even more character. The seconds hand is executed in orange and perfectly matches the white, black, and gray color scheme as the one hint of color.

Snoopy is as cool as ever

On the case back, you will find Snoopy riding a wave in cool style. It is a snippet of the whole comic that can be found on the cardboard box. Read it, and it will make you smile, just like this watch. It is a limited edition of 8,900 pieces that are for sale now for €410. We love seeing Snoopy ride a wave to impress a lady on the beach. COWABUNGA!

Seiko 5 Sports SRPG43

Seiko 5 Sports SBSA125

The last pick for this list is the Seiko Sports 5 SBSA125 that came out in 2021. It is part of a series of two watches that were designed by Japanese artist AUTO MOAI. According to the press release from back then, “AUTO MOAI is an artist working in Japan with the theme ‘anonymity.’ AUTO MOAI depicts the relationships between people who are tacitly connected to each other on the streets, which are hard to visualize, with faceless people.” This artsy take on the Seiko 5 Sports concept reminded me of Swatch’s early days when the brand did a brilliant series of artist collaborations.

Seiko 5 Sports SBSA125 SRPG43

That’s probably why I love this collaboration so much. The style of the artist combined with the watch as the canvas for the art is visually exciting. Sure, it leaves the traditional aesthetic of a timepiece far behind, but that’s not what the collaborative series is for. Rather, it exists to show the incredible Japanese art that is out there. But even more importantly, it shows that watches are much more than timekeeping instruments, and these two limited editions are the perfect manifestation of that.

These two were very popular

I love how the art is integrated into these watches, but the functionality is still there while perfectly merging with it. Even on the black-dial model, you can still read the time easily thanks to the indices and the stealthy hands. Additionally, the red tip of the black seconds hand is a nice hint of color that is also quite practical. Seiko produced a mainly white version that is easier to read, but I prefer the stealthy black version because it is surprisingly wearable despite the integrated art.

The predominantly white SRPG43 was available in a limited run of 1,500 pieces through Seiko retailers, while the predominantly black SBSA125 was available in a very limited run of 300 pieces strictly available through Seiko boutiques. It probably comes as no surprise that the 300 pieces were gone in an instant. That doesn’t mean you cannot get on one, though. Expect to find some in Japan for fairly reasonable prices, between roughly €400 and €500. That is close to the original retail price, so if you like these pieces, jump on them!

Final thoughts

There you have it — the five best limited-edition Seiko 5 Sports references according to us. But we realize you might not agree with all the picks for this list. You may prefer the remarkable collaboration piece made with Brian May or the Street Fighter series. And there are even more great options out there as well. That’s why we would love this to be the start of a bigger discussion. Let us know your picks for the best models in the Seiko 5 Sports series. We will see you next week for another Top 5 list!

For more information on the current Seiko 5 Sports collection, visit the official Seiko website.