Folks have all types of causes for embarking on the journey of watch amassing. Some are on the lookout for vogue watches to pair with their most closely fits. Others wish to spend money on items that can recognize in each worth and status. And a few, frankly, simply wish to flex on the ’gram. No matter the place a budding collector is likely to be headed, the primary query all of them have is similar: The place do I begin?
My reply is the Seiko 5 Sports activities line. These watches verify all of the packing containers: They’re reasonably priced, distinctive, and, regardless of costing a fraction of what most mechanical sports activities watches do, are constructed to final. The famed Japanese watchmaker launched the 5 Sports activities line in 1968, and revamped it in 2019 when it launched watches throughout 5 functionally pushed “types”—from Fits and Avenue to Sports activities—at costs that appear to be lacking a zero, dipping beneath $300 for some fashions. For the aspiring collector who has by no means owned a watch, the enticing worth level of a 5 Sports activities could also be all of the convincing one wants. And for the burgeoning horologist who already owns a timepiece or two, these watches include the historical past, the standard, the subtle design, and the performance that make them each bit as important as any Swiss model to a well-rounded assortment.
Historical past is all the time some of the vital components when contemplating a collection-worthy watch, and the Seiko 5 Sports activities assortment has tales to inform. The Sportsmatic was allegedly utilized by special-ops groups within the Vietnam Warfare, and the Speedtimer, now a part of a unique Seiko assortment, was one of many first automated chronographs to hit the market—a landmark innovation that put it in competitors with the Swiss watch trade within the Sixties. Collectors have since bestowed nicknames (the UFO, the Sushi Roll) on a few of the funky designs from the early years watches that right now are as distinctive and recognizable as something on the public sale block.
However what feels most fun in regards to the Seiko 5 Sports activities line nowadays is that it’s not content material to easily lean on its previous. The lineup of latest collaborations speaks to the best way these watches are pushing into the long run and fascinating with new and rising cadres of watch lovers. These companions embrace prep purveyor Rowing Blazers, the streetwear model Huf, and even Queen guitarist Brian Could. In 2021, Seiko launched a gold-faced mannequin designed by followers, chosen from greater than 48,000 submissions—useful proof of the sizable group of devotees.
That membership of Seiko 5 Sports activities homeowners is loaded with athletes and entertainers too, a lot of whom are famous aficionados of excessive horology—guys like comic Ronny Chieng, former NBA participant J.J. Redick, and actor Daniel Dae Kim. “You don’t should be a millionaire to take pleasure in watch amassing,” says Dae Kim. “My dad had a Seiko Speedtimer 5 Sports activities, and since then they’ve all the time had a particular place in my coronary heart.”
Ronny Chieng factors out that that is the watch worn by each Bruce Lee and James Bond—a incontrovertible fact that underscores how Seiko 5s have parallels with the story of Asians in America up to now. “[They’re] elegantly made with superlative efficiency, sturdiness, and an underappreciated heritage,” Chieng says. “That is what I consider after I put on my Seiko 5s.” The Seiko 5 Sports activities line is likely to be greatest referred to as an reasonably priced choice, however collectors aren’t sacrificing high quality, sturdiness, historical past, and even celeb cosigns in shopping for one. Sure, these are nice watches to begin with, however the Seiko 5 line is so deep with attention-grabbing watches you would—and plenty of do—spend a lifetime amassing them.
Cam Wolf is a senior fashion author at GQ.
A model of this story initially appeared within the February 2023 problem of GQ with the title “The Solely First Watch You’ll Ever Want”