Introducing: The Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary Models
In 2019, the Seiko 5 Sports line was revived. Since then, we’ve seen loads of releases, and several have looked back upon the brand’s historical catalog. Today, in celebration of the Seiko 5 Sports 55th anniversary, we get four retro releases. We’ll spend most of our time, however, on one of the models because it’s something different and very refreshing.
Yes, it was 2019 when Seiko decided to bring back the Seiko 5 Sports line. I recall this well because I was sitting by the pool in Cyprus when the email hit my inbox. Here was the “replacement” for the much-loved SKX series — sort of. Regardless, I sent a quick WhatsApp to RJ, and moments later, I was cranking out an article on the 20+ variants that were released that day. Since then, the 5 Sports line has seen an almost constant slew of releases. Today, though, in honor of the 55th anniversary of the Seiko 5 Sports line, we get something truly worthwhile.
Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary
When I penned the 2019 article, I dutifully followed the Seiko PR information and included a reference to the first Seiko 5 Sports model that debuted in 1968, the 6106-8120. A black version was released along with my blue version (not on the original bracelet) pictured above. The Sports series would go on to include some of my favorite watches of all time from Seiko and include the 70m-rated vintage Sport Diver series. These watches were relatively robust and affordable, and they came in a mesmerizing number of case shapes, colors, and designs.
While the Seiko 5 Sports models since 2019 have followed in the same vein of approachable pricing and decent durability, the diver-style watches have all kept the same “SKX” case shape. This style is certainly a classic, but when Seiko has applied some of its vintage designs to the framework, I’d say that the results have been mixed. Frankly, if you know what the original watch looks like, seeing a modern interpretation pasted onto an SKX-styled case can be a bit of a letdown. It hasn’t been all bad, though. The recent “Masked Rider” release, in my view, was a well-sorted application of an old design onto the more modern platform.
A new case
In honor of the Seiko 5 Sports 55th anniversary, I’m really excited to share that Seiko has done the right thing. The brand has basically created a 1:1 recreation of its 1968 reference 6106-8120, and yes, that equates to a new case. While casual onlookers won’t care about this, I can assure you that we Seikophiles are stoked. This is the Seiko that I love — the brand that shows that it can go all the way in creating what people want versus leaving them longing for something just a little different. Oh, and did I mention that this watch will be affordable? We’ll get to that.
The new Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary model is known as reference SRPK17, and it comes with a 1968-correct 39.5mm steel C-case. The thickness is also a crowd-pleaser at just 12.5mm. The case back is screw-in and non-display with the requisite “horseshoe” of information. Inside, the watch uses the familiar 4R36 automatic caliber with 41 hours of power reserve. The crystal is Hardlex, and the water resistance has climbed from the original 70 meters to a more modern 100 meters. The watch will only be available in black and will come on a more solid reinterpretation of the original bracelet.
For this Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary watch, the brand has even gone so far as to provide a box that is very similar to the original. Fans will rejoice because the packaging and the watch itself retain the old “5” logo rather than today’s “Superman” shield. When we look at the dial details, everything is correct, including the blue “Sports” font and the red second hand with its round lume pip. In conclusion, Seiko absolutely nailed this one!
Yes, it’s limited, but it’s not that limited
The Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary SRPK17 is a limited edition. However, with 15,555 pieces, there should be enough of these to satisfy collectors. Also, the watch will be available worldwide starting in September. People have complained that Seiko has gone upmarket with its watches as of late and that this strategy has affected pricing. Well, for the SRPK17, I think this is a return to fairness because the watch will sell for €410. Your measure may vary from mine, but I think this is a downright deal and one of the best from the brand in a very long time.
The Seiko faithful will note that this Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary piece isn’t the first time that Seiko has made accurate reproductions of this line. Back in 1997, Seiko released a series of JDM-only Sports pieces known as the “SBSS” models that followed the same formula as today’s watch. Pieces like the “Sushi Roll” that you see above, the squarish Daini “Rally Diver,” and one other piece were brought back and are now highly collectible. I happen to own the Sushi Roll along with an original. If today’s news is anything like the older pieces, the result is a spot-on replica with modern reliability. The bottom line is that if you like the new SRPK17, go forward with confidence.
The other three Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary pieces
Three more pieces using the 42.5mm × 13.4mm SKX-style case were announced today to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Seiko 5 Sports line. These are all normal series-production watches and will come on a bracelet. They also use the 4R36 automatic that we know well. Pricing is consistent across the board at €350. Note that Seiko didn’t share the inspirations for these watches in the PR material. As I mentioned, I have a real love for their vintage counterparts, so I’ve included the vintage reference numbers and pictures for your information.
The SRPK09 Rally Diver
The first regular Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary model is the SRPK09 and this silver-dialed watch refers to one of my all-time favorite sets of vintage Sport Divers. The “Rally Divers” were a cool duo of watches that featured distinctive checkered dive bezels. The new watch takes its styling from the beloved 5126-8130 from the Daini factory. I think it looks OK and shares some styling traits with the Rowing Blazers collab watches. Would it look better with the correct case? You betcha…
The SRPK11 Double Hurricane
The new SRPK11 is probably my favorite of the regular-release trio because of the high-contrast colors. This is an interesting release because it refers to one of the rarer vintage Sport Divers, the 5126-6030 known as the “Double Hurricane.” The original Daini model is a tough and expensive watch to locate. Here again, the original had a rounded C-case that is very appropriate for its era. The new model translates well, but perhaps that’s because we’re so used to seeing SKX cases with orange dials.
The SRPK13 Regatta
Perhaps my runner-up in this trio of Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary pieces is the SRPK13. This relatively colorful watch gets its looks from one of the cooler vintage Sport Divers, the 6119-6050 “Regatta.” These watches originally came with chunky, squared-off cases that would’ve worked well with a set of bell bottoms and a Trans-Am. Once again, I like the new model, but it has me longing for the originality of the vintage piece.
Final thoughts (and hopes) after the Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary model
When I received the email on the Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary watches, I was expecting a series of pieces with (only) SKX cases. Thankfully, I was wrong, and Seiko truly surprised me for the better. Seiko did the original Sports model justice this time, and I think that vintage collectors and admirers will be overjoyed. Of course, when a positive announcement like this occurs, we get greedy. I say that because it already has me wondering about the next rerelease.
For more information on the Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary limited-edition model, visit the official Seiko site.