Fratello’s Top 5 Seiko Collaborations Ever Created
Another Friday, another Top 5! We usually take one classic watch in this series and choose our five favorite references ever produced. For this week’s list, we decided to change things up a bit. This time, we’ll take a look at the best Seiko collaborative efforts. Seiko collaborations are something to look forward to every time. The brand works with various partners and creates a varied mix of timepieces with a wild array of designs. It makes it impossible to pick just five, but we’re going to give it a go anyway. What are the best collaborative efforts in the history of Seiko?
Where to start with this list? Seiko collabs are released frequently with various partners, ranging from sports stars and manga franchises to car-racing teams and fashion brands. The list is endless. So this is not a definitive list as it is simply too extensive a search to capture all the fun and brilliant releases. But we have tried to come up with the collaborations that have stood out over time for us. As many of you will know, Seiko currently uses mainly its Seiko 5 range for different collaborations. It’s a smart choice because of the affordable prices and great canvas that Seiko 5 models offer for a wide variety of designs. But let’s not spend too much time talking and just get to the list!
Seiko × Rowing Blazers
Seiko and American clothing brand Rowing Blazers teamed up 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. Glancing at the three watches, it seems like they are completely different. But if you look again, you will see that only the bezel designs differ.
The main canvas is the same 42.5mm Seiko 5, which is 13.4mm thick and 100m water resistant. It has a day and date window at 3 o’clock with the crown at 4 o’clock, a black dial with the characteristic Lumibrite markers, the Seiko 5 logo on the upper half, and the Rowing Blazers logo on the lower half. In a nice design twist, the seconds hand takes after the red and white striped pole that resembles the finish-line post at a regatta. All three watches came with a stainless steel bracelet and a colorful NATO strap. While I usually would always go for the bracelet, for these three watches, the strap is a crucial part of the look.
The brilliance is in the concept
The combination of the remarkable bezels and the NATO straps is what makes these three watches stand out immediately. The first reference is the SRPG49, which came with a checkerboard bezel and a mint-green NATO strap. The design was inspired by the 1960s Seiko 6106-8227/9 Rally Divers. Both the classic version and the Rowing Blazers version celebrate the combination of racing and diving to make it into something special. The second reference is the SRPG51, featuring a black bezel insert with a red Royal Artillery-style zigzag line. It was paired with a super colorful NATO strap with a stripe pattern characteristic of Royal Blazers. The third and last was the ref. SRPG53 with its four-color bezel insert and black NATO strap. Fans also know this model as the “Color Block.”
Inside the case, Seiko used its automatic caliber 4R36, which has a 42-hour power reserve. The SRPG49 and SRPG51 came in a limited run of 500 pieces, while the SRPG53 became part of the permanent Seiko collection. But two years later, you will find out that you will have to pay a premium on top of the $495 list price that the three models sold for. And frankly, that does not surprise me as this was a unique and stylish collaboration.
As a follow-up, both brands worked on another collaboration last year. While that was nowhere near as surprising as the first collaboration, it resulted in another great series of four colorful limited-edition timepieces. The Seiko × Rowing Blazers collaboration is a great first pick for this list.
Seiko × Nano Universe
For the second spot on this list, we turn to Seiko’s collaborative series with the Japanese clothing brand Nano Universe. And I specifically say “series” because it’s not just one release that is worth checking out. Seiko and Nano Universe have collaborated on a string of great releases. Fratello’s own Gerard wrote about his Seiko Spirit Smart × Nano Universe back in 2017, which was part of a series of six limited-edition pieces that debuted in 2015.
The series consisted mostly of monochromatic designs in black, blue, and shades of gray. The unique feature of the pieces is their unique 45mm conical case with a dark glass display case back and short lugs. Besides being super stylish, it makes these watches easy to wear. A quirky feature, as Gerard explained, is the 12-hour bezel with its hash marks for the first three hours. Inside the case, Seiko used its caliber 4R35, and at a little under €300, these were great stylish timepieces.
The revival of the Steve Jobs Seiko
Another Seiko × Nano Universe collaboration worth mentioning is the revival of the Seiko Chariot that Steve Jobs famously wore in a picture taken in 1984 by Norman Seeff. In the picture, Jobs can be seen holding the first Apple MacIintosh computer in his Woodside, California home. The original watch’s very simple and straightforward design takes after the similar Braun watches from the 1980s. Seiko revived the watch back in 2017 in two sizes.
The first was a true-to-the-original 33mm version, and the second and more popular one was a 37.5mm version that came with either a black or a white dial. At only 6.6mm thick and 43.4mm from lug to lug, this was the one to have. The design was slightly altered to suit modern times, and Seiko equipped the watches with its quartz caliber 7N01 with an accuracy of ±15 seconds per month. The 37.5mm version with a white dial (ref. SCXP04) was produced in a limited run of 1,984 pieces, and the black-dial SCXP061 was a Nano Universe exclusive available in a small run of 300 pieces. Back in 2017, they were available in Japan for roughly $180.
The collaborations do not stop there…
But that’s not where it ends. In 2020, Seiko and Nano Universe worked on a pair of meca-quartz chronographs. The heavily Daytona-esque pieces have the Valjoux 7750 layout, but other than that look like a pair of Rolex’s iconic chronographs. The watches feature a 39.8mm stainless steel case that is 11.7mm thick, 47mm from lug to lug, and 100m water resistant. Seiko and Nano Universe created two versions that both came on an Oyster-style bracelet.
The first is the SZSJ005, which features a black dial with white registers and red text. It sure looks like a Paul Newman Daytona with an added date window. The second model (ref. SZSJ006) arrived later with a cream-colored dial and black registers. Both watches are powered by a Seiko 8T67 meca-quartz movement and were for sale for roughly $250. A year later, the brands also released the SZSJ007, which had a slightly different aesthetic.
The last collaborative effort is the recently released Seiko SZQV020. This quirky quartz watch takes inspiration from the Rolex Explorer in its case and bracelet and Omega divers from the past with the orange hand. It’s a weird mash-up that definitely has its charm and was produced in a limited run of 300 pieces. It has a 35mm case that is 100m water resistant and powered by the brand’s quartz caliber 7N42. At a little over $300, it’s another charming collab between Seiko and Nano Universe.
Seiko × Giugiaro Design
The next one is probably no surprise. In 1983, Seiko and Giugiaro partnered up for a series of spectacular watches that have become iconic among watch fans. Of these, the Speed Master “Ripley” and the Speed Master “Bishop” have arguably become the biggest hits. In 2015, Seiko decided to re-release the Speed Master “Ripley” in two different colorways in a limited run of 3,000 pieces each.
The first was the titanium-colored SCED035 “Ripley,” which was a reissue of Sigourney Weaver’s watch in the movie Aliens. The second was the stealthier black SCED035. Both watches feature a 42mm stainless steel case that is characterized by its contrasting combination of round and rectangular shapes. Another standout feature is the instantly recognizable bracelet. Inside the cases, Seiko equipped the watches with its quartz caliber 7T12. Expect to see heavy premiums for these as they go for roughly €1K–2K today. Considering the original price in 2015 was just shy of $350, that is quite remarkable.
More Giugiaro collaborations
The two companies also released the Riders Chronograph in the ’80s. It’s a quartz chronograph with a dial tilted 15 degrees, but the case also slopes downwards toward the wearer. As a result, the 3 o’clock side of the case and bracelet is slightly fatter than the 9 o’clock side. The watch was created for motorcyclists so they could check their watch while riding. In 2016, Seiko released a tribute series of the Riders Chronographs as JDM models.
This special version (ref. SCED065) created with the streetwear brand White Mountaineering was released in a limited run of 700 pieces a year later. As you can see, the combination of an all-black watch with white details creates the ultimate contrast, making it extra practical to use and giving it a cool look. But most of all, the incredible designs that Seiko and Giugiaro created still stand out.
Seiko × Kosuke Kawamura
Next up is the first recent collaboration that came to mind for this list. 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 are a great representation of Seiko’s willingness to work with artists and come up with surprising releases. These two watches, in particular, 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 see-through dials are executed in two color combinations. The first is the SRPJ41 with a transparent tangerine and teal dial. The second is the SRPJ43 with its transparent black and teal dial. Because of the transparent dials, you can see both the day and date wheels.
The best collaboration of watches and art
The bezels of these 42.5mm models take inspiration from vintage Seiko 5 and Seiko Rally Divers, which I discussed earlier. Visible through the exhibition case back with the artist’s signature is the automatic Seiko caliber 4R36 with approximately 41 hours of power reserve. The watches came 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 really 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 × Beams
For the last collaboration, we’ll turn to the Prospex collection. I would have loved to include the special TiCTAC collaboration, but I already wrote an article about the SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition last weekend. That’s why I picked a collab from the Prospex line. This is not a collection in which we see Seiko work with a lot of other brands. But there is one collaboration that immediately stands out.
You probably remember the modern remakes of the Seiko 62MAS, the first Seiko diver from 1965. We all know the SLA017 that came out in 2017 and the SLA037 that I had a chance to wear and review in 2020. But the third 62MAS reissue was released in a limited run of 300 pieces in collaboration with Japanese clothing store Beams in 2020. That special limited edition was the same watch’s basic black edition.
A familiar design with a set of familiar specs
The 200m-water-resistant dive watch had a 39.9mm Ever-Brilliant Steel case measuring 14.1mm thick and 44mm from lug to lug. It featured a black dial and both black and beige rubber straps. At the same time, the watch does not look like a limited edition because it is so basic. The case back revealed the collaboration with Beams. It featured a dolphin wearing a hat and carrying a briefcase to commemorate Tora-san, the main character of the Japanese television series It’s Tough Being A Man. He wore the original 62MAS in the series.
Inside the case, Seiko used its caliber 8L35, which is based on the Grand Seiko 9S55 movement. The movement operates at 28,800vph, has 26 jewels, and provides a 50-hour power reserve. While this might not be the most visually spectacular Seiko collaboration, it is surprising that Seiko “saved” this most basic of 62MAS tributes for a limited-edition collaboration with Beams. If you want one of the 300 pieces that were produced, expect to pay between €6K and €7.5K for one, which is far above its original list price. Considering the model’s scarcity and popularity, that will probably remain stable. That’s pretty remarkable for a “simple” version of the 62MAS reissue.
Final thoughts on Seiko collaborations
There you have it — five great Seiko collaborations from the Japanese brand’s seemingly endless portfolio. We realize that you might not agree with all the picks for this list. There are simply so many to choose from. That’s why we would love this to be the start of a bigger discussion. Let us know your picks for the best Seiko collaborations. We will see you next week for another Top 5 list!