September 25, 2022

There’s a mishmash of watches before me on little pillows that wait to be chosen as part of my morning routine. I’ll usually pause for a second to reflect on my mood as well as the requirements of the day ahead. Recently, however, decidedly more upmarket options have been passed over in favor of a totally unassuming and inexpensive little Seiko watch that just seems to click. It feels like the start of a good day.

Seiko’s army of fans will find nothing unusual about my experience. The particular watch in question is from the rebooted Seiko 5 Sports collection, and it represents exactly the kind of value and character those Seiko fans won’t shut up about. We’re talking around $300 at retail for something that offers so much more than that price would suggest.

At a Glance: The Seiko 5 Sports

Case Diameter: 42.5mm
Case Depth:
Water Resistance:
Seiko 4R36 automatic

What’s Good About the Seiko 5 Sports?

It’s inexpensive, but doesn’t feel like a compromise

You’d expect a watch at this price to be pretty no-frills, so the level of details and features you find feel like a surprise: The case is brushed on top and polished on the sides (on this particular SRPD91 version); the dial is super legible, with tons of lume and applied indices; the fit and finish make it comfortable and attractive to wear, and its automatic movement is visible through the case back. It all makes the Seiko 5 Sports feel — dare I say — refined.

You can tell your friends it’s got an in-house movement

If your friends know or care what an in-house movement is, they’ll likely already know that all Seiko watches have them. It means that the name of the maker on the dial is the same that made the movement inside — and it’s considered a badge of prestige among many high-end watches. You can see the movement through the caseback, and this is fun to show your friends, too. It might not be the prettiest in the world, but it’s still cool to see — and it’s impressively solid despite its affordable price.

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There are a ton of stylistic options in the collection

The Seiko 5 Sports watch shown here represents the core collection well, but there are more colors and flavors to choose from than Baskin Robbins’ ice cream. We’re talking everything from those that make handsome everyday watches to some pretty far-out executions and collabs with streetwear brands or anime series. And, in addition to the dive-style watches shown here, here are those with more conservative styles, smaller cases and field-watch designs — all while remaining consistent with the Seiko 5 Sports look, features and price. For a little bit of a premium, you can even get a still shockingly affordable automatic GMT.

What’s Not As Ideal About the Seiko 5 Sports?

It looks like a dive watch, but isn’t

Visually, this is a classic Seiko dive watch with DNA from the brand’s iconic SKX line. Does it bother me that the Seiko 5 Sports, like some other popular watches, is styled like a dive watch but is only rated for 100m of water resistance? If it had 30m of water-resistance, like a dress watch, it would bother me. This watch, however, is ready for just about anything you can throw at it — including water. It’d be even better as an actual dive watch, of course, but there’s the Seiko Prospex collection for that.

Seiko 5 Sports: The Verdict

This is the kind of watch that’s easy to recommend to someone looking for a casual automatic watch, even if they’re willing to spend more money. It’s just that good, something the newbie or even the experienced collector will love. I’ll probably go back to my other humble but beloved wrist companions eventually, but the Seiko 5 Sports probably has even the fanciest watches in the world beat in one important metric — and that’s fun.