Watch Alert: Seiko 5 Sports GMT Series

Seiko has just released a flurry of new watches, but none stand out as much as the new Seiko 5 series, for all the right reasons. Back in 2019, the brand discontinued its long running beloved SKX line and introduced a new 5 series collection modelled after the SKX. The new collection lacked the ISO certification that the SKX series had but brought in a series of fun coloured bezels and dials essentially embracing the mod culture that had become so popular with the SKX line. The new GMTs released not only expand on the design options on offer, but also add new useful functionality that the brand has never offered before. Let’s get into it.

Design & Watch Specifications

Steel, 42.5mm x 13.6mm case, Black & grey bezel with black dial (SSK001), Black & blue bezel with navy blue dial (SSK003), Black & grey bezel with orange dial (SSK005), 100 water resistance, jubilee bracelet

One look at the new Seiko 5 GMTs and you will immediately recognise the DNA that traces back to the SKX line. The rounded case with the 4 o’clock crown and an inward sloping bezel is arguably as iconic a design aesthetic as even the Rolex Submariner. The case may be 0.5mm larger, and 0.1mm thicker, but when mounted on the jubilee style bracelet, you will see a SKX with a twist, the GMT aspect of it.

The inclusion of the 24-hour bezel, and the extra independent GMT hand, does make the watch feel fresh, like it is more than just another variant added to the extremely large Seiko 5 collection. You have three variants to choose from; two black and grey bezels with either white or orange indices, paired with a black or orange dial respectively, and a black and blue bezel paired with a deep navy dial. The orange dial variant naturally attracts more attention because of the vibrance of its colour and use of gold-coloured hands as well as a green independent hour hand. The other two have silver-coloured hands paired with a red GMT hand.

Scottish Watches and Fears Watch Company

Overall, the designs look good, especially the orange dial option. It also offers a more fun take in comparison to its two companions and is carries a design that is relatively unique to Seiko divers. While the size of the watch may have been increased, Seiko is generally brilliant and designing cases which wear far better than their dimension suggest. The one area that I would be interested in would be the bracelet, since the ones on the SKX were generally of rather low quality. And improved bracelet on these would make them near perfect affordable options, apart from my inherent dislike for 4 o’clock crowns.

Movement

In-house Calibre 4R34, Time, date & independent 24-hour hand, 41 hours power reserve, 3 Hz

The introduction of this trio of GMTs in the Seiko 5 line up is also interesting given that this is the first time the brand has included a GMT movement in its entry level collection. The movement is new, though it is based off the brand’s tried and tested 4R35 movement, with an added module for the independent GMT hand. When I first saw the release of these GMT watches, I got rather excited because I thought that they were “traveller’s GMT” movements, which would have been absolutely revolutionary, since the movements would likely also have made their way to many watches offered by microbrands. That said, despite these being “caller GMT” movements, they still represent a very different option for fans of this collection, and would probably also be one of the best value for money GMT watches you could get, since the alternatives are ETA/Sellitta GMT powered watches which are significantly more expensive.

Price & Availability

EUR 470, Regular Production, Available from July 2022

Speaking of the price, while they are not as affordable as you would have expected from a Seiko 5 line, you would be hard pressed to find alternative GMT watches at this price range. This strategically still keeps these watches in line with the more accessible philosophy behind the Seiko 5 line, though whether that holds true when other microbrands get access to this movement remains to be seen.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, these watches are nice watches, and great options for anyone who is a fan of the iconic SKX divers, but want something a little different from all the diver styled options in the “5KX” series today. The orange variant in particular, is one that might even make me look past my distaste for  4 o’clock crowns, especially at the more affordable price that it is offered at. However, it is the introduction of this movement is probably the bigger news. After all, they pave the way for both Seiko and many other microbrands to release extremely affordable GMT based watches, even if it’s a “caller GMT”. Here’s to hoping those options start to appear sooner rather than later.