How can you talk about the refreshed Seiko 5 Sport without talking about the legendary SKX or 7002? You can’t. I tried to throw out all of my preconceived Seiko thoughts. It’s impossible.
So many of us view the SKX as an iconic legend. I’ve personally recommended it to more people than I can count. It works for a watch with “street cred”, a milestone birthday present, or a solid timepiece to knock around in the field.
Can the Seiko 5 Sport live up to the SKX? I wasn’t sure. I knew that it was going to be a tough task. That’s why I asked for it. More importantly, I took my time with the review. Being first isn’t always as important as being correct.
I was immediately comfortable with the case. It was like my favorite pair of jeans. It was so similar to the SKX that I didn’t even bother taking out my calipers to make the exact measurement. Millimeters and curves aren’t exactly the same, but in-hand they might as well be.
Good for Seiko for keeping the crown at four o’clock. It’s in their DNA. It remains unsigned. This time Seiko finally smartened up and milled a few rings on it. The polished, unsigned crown bugs me on everything from the SKX to the Marine Master 200.
Flip the case over and you’ll see something unfamiliar, the movement on display. The Seiko wave is gone. The other new trick is the drilled holes in the lugs. It was one of my favorite changes to the new 5 Sports case making strap changes easier.
The 46mm lug to lug of the case should be something that you expect. It’s a double-edged sword. The 13.5mm case height makes the 5KX sit deceptively tall. If you’re down with the SKX aesthetic, you’ll hit the ground running with the 5KX.
A few concessions had to be made to keep the price down and to incorporate the display case back. Gone are the days of ISO 6425 “dive watch” certification.
“..it seems the 5KX is geared more to be a desk diver with 100m capabilities, not that anyone dives with these things anymore anyway.” – @brodinkee
Friend of the show Brodinkee is totally right. 100m=328ft. I’ve swum deeper than 20ft only a handful of times. Deeper than that and I’d probably be dead. This Seiko 5 Sport held up in the hot tub and the swimming pool on vacation. That was good enough for me. I did keep checking the push-down crown like a nervous nellie.
If you can’t find a dial that you like in the new 5 Sports line, you aren’t looking hard enough. Different colors, textures, and collaborations are all available. It’s the Seiko for everyone. Seiko is trying to drive that home with marketing the 5KX in five categories: “Sports”, “Suits”, “Specialist”, “Street” and “Sense” styles. I’m pretty sure that you can figure out what model fits your lifestyle on your own without being put into a defined box. But thanks for trying, Seiko.
The model that I reviewed was the SRPD51 that came with a sunburst blue dial. It was a real treat to rotate the angle and let the dial morph. In indirect light, the blue Seiko dial was more subdued. The blue aluminum bezel was pleasantly matte. The blue dial / blue bezel combo was something that we never get on the SKX.
If you’re familiar with the SKX you will recognize the handset style. It’s not my favorite style of hands, but it is hard to argue that the hands aren’t distinctly Seiko. Lume was ample and long-lasting as you would expect from the Seiko Lumibrite treatment.
The hour markers are a familiar shape, but they are now applied as opposed to painted. It gives the Seiko 5 Sports a “sporty” modern feel, but you lose that vintage vibe of the SKX and 7002.
Also applied is the Seiko logo on the dial and again it modernizes the watch. Under the Seiko logo, “5” is for 5 Sports. Many people have a problem with the style of the “5”. It never bothered me. I didn’t care for the cursive “Automatic”. I missed the blocky “Diver’s 200m” typeface.
Yes, I realize that this is not a 200m water resistance watch. You can’t have two lines of text on the dial and have two drastic font changes. I’ll still take the refreshing two lines of text and a generous amount of negative space on a dial any day.
To keep the 5 Sports at an accessible price point, Seiko used their in-house 4R36 automatic mechanical movement. You might be more familiar with this caliber movement referred to as the “NH36”, as Seiko sells the same movement to outside companies under a different reference.
I’ve always found it annoying that the 7S26 based movement found in many Seikos does not hack. Hacking on the really unnecessary because it shouldn’t matter that a movement that is specked at +45/ -35 seconds per day needs the precision of hacking (stopping the seconds hand while setting the time).
Seiko did do a nice job dressing up the fugly 4R36 so that it could be displayed through the caseback. You can never overstate the importance of showing the consumer the “guts” when marketing an entry-level mechanical watch. Winding the watch and seeing the parts move makes the 4R35 that much more fun.
Seiko switched it up with the 5KX and 5 Sports. Seiko figured out what a strap monster the SKX has been and decided to go OEM with more options for the 5KX. There are serval straps, bands, and bracelets available across the model line to suit all tastes. Gone are the days of the loveable jangly jubilee and throw-away SKX rubber. The SRPD51 that I reviewed came with a three-link metal bracelet.
Bracelets are my preference so I’m always critical in this part of the review. I can’t sugar coat it. Seiko blew it. The lines on the polished sides highlight the cheaply made folded clasps in an unflattering way. I’m really over hammering out pin and collar links for adjustments as well.
Seiko kept the 22mm lug width as expected on the 5KX. That’s fine. The lack of taper down to 20 mm is not. With 22mm lugs, you need to go down to 18mm at the clasp. Seiko got the ratio dialed-in on the SKX. Tudor figured out the same ratio on the Black Bay.
There’s good news! Strap Code makes a replacement called the “Super-O Boyer”. There are two models; make sure that you pick the one that tapers down to 18mm (Ref# SS221820B019). The same thing goes with their 22/18mm “Super-J Louis” jubilee. Whatever your flavor, spend the $70 and upgrade.
Is it easy to tell the time? Yes.
Could I #watchfast it? Yes.
We grabbed this reference SRPD51 from Macy’s online store. It was about $200 USD after taxes with all of the sales codes. The watch came from the distribution center in New Jersey to me in upstate New York in one business day. Impressive. However, the distribution center wasn’t Macy’s, it was Seiko USA’s. Macy’s literally “cut out the middleman”. No wonder they can deeply discount these.
They cut out an entire layer of their supply chain. Macy’s is saving a ton by shipping from the manufacturer direct. They also don’t incur the cost/risk of holding the inventory. An old-school department store outmaneuvered Amazon’s logistics. Slick. However, if you prefer Amazon it’s also there for around $200).
We needed this watch. Many of the new Seikos are getting too expensive. The 5KX provides a diverse platform that doesn’t discriminate. It’s a great watch for both the aspiring enthusiast and someone who would like a “nice” daily watch but doesn’t want to go deep down the rabbit hole. Both camps will be happy with the new Seiko 5 Sports series.
The 5KX is also a perfect watch to pair with sweatpants in the evening to shed the stress of the workday. If you’re a veteran owner of the SKX don’t feel pressure to re-buy. If you think that it looks cool, find the 5KX model that feels right to you and grab it.
• Stainless steel case
• Seiko 4R36 Movement
• 22mm 3-link steel bracelet
• Price $295 USD (Amazon*)
Greg is a long-time watch lover based in upstate New York. Greg is a supply chain professional by day and private watch consultant by night. Greg brings his own style to the TBWS website as a contributor by blending bits of humor into technical assessments. You can follow his cycling and snowboarding adventures on Instagram as he pursues the perfect 3-watch collection.