“You sure this is a new Seiko 5 Sports and not the SKX?”
Hang on, let me check. Yeah, I’m 99.9% sure that what we have here is one of the 27 variants that make up the new Seiko 5 Sports collection. Yes, you read that right. The new 5 Sports line-up consists of five aesthetic “themes”. The range kicks off with the Sports Style, a range, I suspect, will become the most popular, before moving on to the Suits, Specialist, Street and Sense Style.
Zeroing in, I’ll be getting to know one within the Sports Style line for this review. Ladies and gents, I present to you the imaginatively-named SRPD51K1. However, before we dive in, let’s have a quick recap on the ‘5’ as a whole. Also, let’s see what the arrival of this new range represents.
Introduced in 1968, the Seiko 5 Sports range was the brand’s idea of creating a sub-model of its popular ‘5’ range, which was launched in 1963 with the birth of the Sportsmatic. I know, it’s a tad confusing. In any case, the 5 Sports line was designed for more rigorous activities compared to the 5s. As a result, today’s 5 Sports are also targeted at buyers who intend to use them as stylish, affordable, mechanical beaters that can take a hit.
Or are they?
If we wound the clock back, I’m sure we would have considered the fabled SKX007 if we were looking for a mechanical beater from Seiko. After all, it did have a 200 m water resistance, a screw-down crown, lumed pip and a price tag that’s palatable. I checked online and they currently retail at around the RM1,000 mark. By the way, it’s also ISO 6425-certified.
“Why even bother with the new Seiko 5 Sports, then?”
Well, as you might’ve noticed, I mentioned “wound the clock back” earlier on. If you haven’t heard, the SKX007 and its siblings, the 009 and 013, have been discontinued after years of production. And if you think the new models look way too close to the SKX, you’re not wrong. Nearly the entire watch is a carbon copy of the legendary SKX models.
So, what does this mean? Should we consider the new 5 Sports as successors to the SKX range? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. There are several differences that could appear like an upgrade or a downgrade, depending on where you stand. You’ll spot them on the way down, I promise.
And on that note, let’s begin with the (inhale) Seiko 5 Sports SRPD51K1…
“The case looks… decently-sized. And very familiar…”
That’s because it IS sized right as the case is 99% identical to the one found on the SKX. At 42.3 mm, it’s already on the smaller side for most diver-styled watches. The compact lugs and lug-to-lug distance of 45.7 mm further combine to make it feel like a 39 mm watch on the wrist instead. Oh, and since we’re on the subject of lugs, great news! They’re drilled on the new 5s. That’s another plus point in my books. As for the lug width, they’re the same as the SKX at 22 mm.
Taking a closer look, I’m quite fond of the brushed finish on the surface of the lugs as they provide a nice pop to the otherwise polished finish found everywhere else on the case. The non-screw down, unsigned crown at 4 o’clock does take away from its sporting prowess a little bit but honestly, I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. Another good note gets directed at the crown guards. They’re not styled with any sharp edges and I reckon the overall design that makes the watch look soft is also responsible for making it look even smaller than it is.
Turning the case around reveals one of the biggest visual differences between the 5 Sports and the SKX. Yeah, gone is the screw-down unit, replaced by an exhibition caseback instead. I’ll be the first to say that this change (omission?) doesn’t bother me one bit. I don’t dive and I doubt I’ll ever bring this watch to an environment where the exhibition caseback would prove to be a liability. Instead, I would rather have the option to remove my watch and take a peek at the movement within. Okay, it’s not the most decorated movement but it’s still something.
“And speaking of the movement…”
The inclusion of the 4R36 and junking of the well-loved 7S26 movement represents one of the biggest step-up in the SKX’s metamorphosis into the new 5 Sports. As hardy as the 7S was, it lacked two of the most important (and now quite basic) functions that I look for. One, the ability to hand-wind the watch and two, hacking. With two of these attributes on the 4R36 movement, the 5 Sports is now even more user-friendly.
Reading the spec sheet, the 4R36 looks to be quite a decent calibre. The 24-jeweled movement beats at a rate of 3 Hz (21,600 vph) and has a claimed accuracy rating of +45/-35 seconds per day. I, for one, can tell you that the latter figure is extremely conservative. My personal SRPD51K1 which I wore for an entire week was putting out an average of +9.5 seconds per day! As for its power reserve, Seiko states the 4R has “approximately 41 hours” worth of juice, fully-wound.
However, when it comes to water resistance, the new 5 Sports falls short of the SKX. The latter had a solid 200 m threshold whereas the SRPD51K1 and its siblings will have to make do with just 100 m of resistance. I guess something’s gotta’ give in its shift from a diver’s tool to an everyday sports watch. With that said, this is just another small blemish that I can definitely live with. It’s especially true when the aforementioned hacking and hand-winding capabilities are the trade-off.
“So, the Seiko 5 Sports is basically the SKX007 with a new heart?”
I’d say the same thing at first, to be honest. The overall aesthetics do knock closely to the SKX but upon closer inspection, you’d notice a couple of relatively subtle differences. On the dial itself, the hour markers are now applied on the new 5 Sports. We also get an applied logo while the ‘Diver’s 200 m’ text has been replaced by a simple cursive ‘Automatic’ line.
As for the hands, there are no changes here. The Seiko 5 Sports models appear to have retained the same broad, sword-shaped hours and stylized arrow minutes hands. As for the seconds hand, it’s the same story as well with its long counterbalance and lumed lollipop end. Of course, plenty of LumiBrite is to be found on the hour markers and hands but no lumed pip on the bezel, unfortunately.
I’ve also noticed that the dial has a flat, matte-like finish that doesn’t quite pop under light like a sunburst texture. Not a bad thing and I reckon it’s closer to the tool watch theme that Seiko is gunning for here. Another similarity with the SKX is the presence of an unframed day/date window. This being the international variant, the day display is bilingual with English/Spanish options. Saturday (or sáb) and Sunday (dom) is displayed in blue and red, respectively.
Last but not least, let’s address the elephant on the dial. That new ‘5’ insignia. I’ll admit that when it first made its debut, I wasn’t a fan. I found it a tad… try-hard. However, there’s a reason for that. With the new logo, we can now further differentiate the 5 Sports models to the regular 5s. The new 5 logo has been angled and compressed to fit within the shield motif. To most people, however, it just looks like the Superman logo.
“All good so far, eh? How does it wear?”
I must say, it is a very comfortable timepiece to put on day in, day out. On the SRPD51K1, the Oyster-esque bracelet feels like a very polished unit and while it doesn’t exactly scream ‘premium’, it’s definitely above average in terms of its build quality. The actions of the three-fold clasp and push-button release mechanism are not the last word in tactility but they’re more than satisfactory. Especially so when you consider the price point. The links themselves are held together by split pins and the end links are hollow. At 13.4 mm thick, it’s comparable to its closest rivals and while it’s not thin, I had no issues sliding it under the cuff of my work shirts.
The action of the non-screw down crown is slightly industrial, however. While it requires a firm bit of force to unlock it, winding said crown would reveal a slightly gritty sensation. The unidirectional, 120-click bezel turns relatively smooth with no perceptible back play but…
It is still a tiny bit misaligned.
I’ve tried a few times but I can never seem to get it to line up with the chapter ring. Looks like Seiko had ideas to troll us and decided to preserve one of the SKX’s more… notable traits.
“Since y’all love the SKX so much…”
“Now, for the million-dollar question – How much is it?”
The range kicks off at RM1,120 (which is the price of the SRPD51K1 featured here) and tops out at RM1,390. Also, I should mention that not all 27 variants available worldwide are on sale in Malaysia. The local distributor, Thong Sia, has decided to introduce only 16 variants – the full list of models on sale in Malaysia can be seen here. So, with all that’s said and done, is the new 5 worth it? A tricky question that even I struggle to answer from time to time, if I’m honest.
On one hand, the aesthetic changes and improved movement would indicate a strong ‘yes’. On the other, the lack of ISO-certified bragging rights, lumed pip and 200 m water resistance of the SKX continue to taunt the new 5. I guess it all comes down to how hard you want to torture your watch. Me? I’m going to plonk for the new ‘5KX’ instead. You can call me a poser till the cows come home but I’d rather have a watch with an exhibition caseback, a more modern movement and drilled lugs over the plus points of the SKX.