Seiko 5 Sports
In 2019 Seiko did something none of us were prepared for-they discontinued the Seiko SKX. In 2020, Seiko released its apparent replacement, the Seiko 5 Sports series. These new models come in a copious amount of variations, so those who used to love to mod their SKX will be happy to see so many different models available, though they all include the same handset and overall dial layout. The real question though, is this a replacement? The Sports series lacks the 200m of water resistance and screw-down crown and is no longer ISO rated. Are these deal breakers? Do those things matter considering that the aesthetic is still the same and is available in more colors and combinations than ever before? The simple answer? There is no simple answer. To some, these are absolute deal-breakers and to others, this is a perfectly suitable dive style watch that is even better than its predecessor. What do I think? Well, keep reading as I go over the pros and cons of this polarizing Seiko.
Seiko 5 Sports SRPD93 Specifications:
42.5mm Stainless Steel Case
46mm Lug to Lug
22mm Lug Width
Aluminum Bezel Insert
Seiko 4R36 Automatic Movement
100m Water Resistant
Price $295 (As shown)
Why was the Seiko SKX so popular to begin with? I would be a liar if I said the price was not one of the major reasons. For a long time, this watch was just around $200, and with that money, you received a very classic-looking and attractive watch that was ISO certified, a day and date complication, easy to grip bezel, and fantastic lume. The Seiko 5 Sports retains the same look, dial layout, and dial markers, though they have been upgraded from printed to applied. The movement has been upgraded as well, from the 7s26 to the hacking and hand-winding 4R36. This movement can be seen from the exhibition case back. If you are not familiar with this movement, it is the same as the NH36 that is available commercially and used in countless watches, especially microbrands. Unfortunately, at least in my example, this movement is rough looking, especially the rotor. I would have preferred a solid diver case back like that of the SKX.
Back to the dial. For the most part, this dial has been unchanged, something I feel was a smart move by Seiko. The SKX dial really did not need an improvement as the style and size of markers just worked. The same is true here. Seiko chose to enhance this with applied markers and on my example, there is vintage colored lume, which does pair nicely with the gradient blue dial. If you prefer standard colored markers though, there is a Seiko 5 Sports for you as well, and it comes with a blue bezel and dial as seen here but with a standard rubber strap or oyster style bracelet. Keeping it similar, the dial is not overloaded with text and the day and date are still there as well. From a glance, you would be hard-pressed to notice a difference between this and an SKX. Getting a little closer you will notice the new Seiko 5 logo, which many seem to dislike. I do not love it and feel it would look better with either a different logo or the old-style badge they used to use.
When looking at the sides of the case of the Seiko 5 Sports, it is pretty much unchanged from the SKX. The same high polished case sides, drilled lugs, and the offset crown with large crown guards are still here. The biggest change is that the crown does not screw down. At first, I considered this a big issue, as I always prefer a screw-down crown, especially with a dive watch. While this watch is more in the dive-style camp, I still like the security that a screw-down crown provides. That said, because of the large crown guards, you are less likely to accidentally pull out the crown, but I would still be hesitant to jump into a pool or lake, etc with this watch. It is more fashion than function. Should it hold up to light rain, washing the dishes, etc? Sure. But it is NOT a dive watch.
My example, model number SPRD93 comes on a black silicone strap with a mesh link style pattern. If you prefer an actual bracelet, it is available with a steel mesh for an extra $50. This model is part of the Suits line of the Seiko 5 Sports and also available with a black dial, silver dial, as well as gold and creme colored dials, all with different color bezels and even an all-black case and strap. As I stated at the beginning of the review, there are so many options to choose from. If you prefer something more classic looking, that would be the Sports line, available with an oyster bracelet or nato style strap and also available sans bezel for a field watch look. Other model lines are the Specialist, Sense, and Street, which all offer a different take on this case design. Looking through them all, I would have to say the Sports lineup is probably my favorite, with the SRPD57 being my favorite with the gold bezel marks and gilt style dial.
As with almost any Seiko, the lume is going to be fantastic. It is the one thing you can almost always count on, especially with any of the dive or dive style watches. The vintage colored lume glows a nice bluish-green in the dark and as you can see in the photos below, whether it is in dim light or almost no light, this watch is going to glow very bright and in my testing lasts quite a few hours without issue.
Something you may notice though is the lack of a lumed pip on the bezel. That is another downgrade from the SKX as well. The bezel insert is still aluminum as most would expect, and the crystal still hardlex. These days if you want sapphire and ceramic, Seiko offers those in other “budget” models, but expect to pay about $2-300 more than this one goes for. The missing lume pip is another reason this watch is not considered a dive watch, but of course, you could still use the bezel to time something, just not in the dark or underwater. The lume is great, but it does look a little off without that pip.
What is my final verdict on the Seiko 5 Sports? I am torn as I love the case and bezel design and the look and fit are as expected. I would be remiss If I said it is a replacement for the SKX though. While it looks the same for the most part, the lack of a screw-down crown, higher water resistance, and the lume pip do hold this watch back in my opinion. But, add those things back and you just have the SKX. They could have refreshed the SKX, added more dial and bezel colors, case colors, straps, etc. Seiko could have upgraded the movement and even added a sapphire crystal (an upgrade most watch modders do) and it would have been a huge hit. Instead, they revamped it and gave us less. Maybe you disagree with me. Maybe a screw-down crown or lume pip just doesn’t matter to you. But for me, this is a watch that could be so much more. Maybe Seiko will revamp this lineup at some point to give it these upgrades but until then, we can only hope.