New Seiko 5 Sports: Has Seiko Lost Its Mind?

“The new Seiko 5 Sports draws its inspiration from the five decades of Seiko 5 Sports’ success,” proclaims, “its design is based on one of Seiko’s most loved sports watches.” And there it is, above. And here it is now . . .

Wait, you say. It’s a dive watch (launched in 27 flavors no less). Not unlike every other Seiko dive watch. And you’re right. Attaching a metal bracelet does nothing to change that impression, and a lot to make Seiko 5 fans go WTF. Here’s another shot of one of the new 5’s:

Does that remind you of anything, other than just about everything? Why it’s the Seiko SRPA21 Prospex!

In terms of diving, the Prospex is rated to 200 meters. The Seiko 5 is good to 100 meters. The Prospex has a screw-down crown. The 5 does not.

Never mind that. Why in the world would Seiko turn to the Seiko SKX007/Prospex line for its design inspiration? Because the Prospex costs $550 and Seiko figured consumers would flock to a roughly $200 cheaper, sightly less capable version of the same thing?

Maybe so, but the new Seiko 5 Sports obliterates the design language that made the 5 its own thing. Here’s another “old” 5 that show you the style language, indeed the genius of the previous gen Seiko designers:

In announcing the new 5, Seiko ignores the model’s established aesthetics to trumpet the new 5. Like this:

The first ever Seiko 5 watch, Seiko Sportmatic 5, was born in 1963. It was Seiko’s and Japan’s first ever automatic day-date watch. ‘’5’’ represented the promise that every Seiko 5 watch would have five key attributes; an automatic movement, a day-date display at the three o’clock position, water resistance, a recessed crown at the four o’clock position and a case and bracelet built for durability.

Hello? The Prospex ticks all the same boxes. As does the new Seiko 5. What the 5 doesn’t do — and did do until the new line — is be a Seiko 5. Here’s the last gen Seiko 5 I bought just before they disappeared from the market:

That friends, is not a dive watch. It’s a way cool, hugely legible, entirely practical, well-built watch in its own right. (Another example without a recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position BTW). It looks — looked — like nothing else Seiko made. Makes.

Again, money. The new Seiko Sports 5 will generate big bucks for the brand, even though it’s bound to cannibalize sales from the Prospex line. Again: brand annihilation. This is not what a Seiko 5 was, nor an aesthetically imaginative or appropriate evolution. Long term, that’s a mistake. Unless you collect old 5’s.

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