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Seiko 5 Automatic Watches Review: Automatic, Military, Sports

Updated on January 5, 2015

Prestige and Success

Seiko 5 watches make up a classic automatic collection that has enjoyed popularity and considerable prestige for over 30 years.

A diverse line, Seiko 5 consists of regular automatic, military and sports designs, made for men and women. Most are no longer in production – but there's a big market for used Seiko fives -- on eBay, as well as other specialized stores.

The success of the collection can be explained by the basic but highly useful features: shock and water resistance, day and date apertures, and, of course, the automatic movement. These are the five major characteristics – a number that appears the collection's title.

The purpose of this review is to take a closer look at some of the collection's salient aesthetic traits, and how they interact with the mechanical properties. We will try to understand why the watch endures, and how it has become -- and stayed -- so successful.

Seiko 5 Automatic Self-Winding

Seiko 5 automatic is probably the most popular line of watches ever created by any watchmaking company. It's simple in movement, yet sophisticated enough to include two complications; its automatic mechanism stores forty hours of power reserve, and the clear, uncomplicated design displays confidence and elegance.

These qualities combined with affordability – most watches cost less than $100 today – make the Seiko 5 automatic a perfect choice for many discerning watch buyers. To top it all, after more than three decades, it also proved to be a reliable and durable timepiece.

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Seiko 5 Military

Seiko 5 Military collection introduced several changes and upgrades to the automatic. While the basic features – automatic self-winding, date and day – remain, the dial design has been radically changed. First, the dials put on some color. Color improves visibility and legibility, quintessential traits for watches intended for military personnel.

Second, the elegant indices and Roman numerals give place to prominent Arabic ciphers. This feature telegraphs simplicity and universality -- a telling design quality in a soldier's watch.

Third, a center seconds hand, often colored in red, provides a "chronograph" feature without the watch actually being a chronograph. Everyone who experienced even the smallest contact with the military knows that seconds matter, especially in fighting units.

Finally, Seiko 5 Military watches often arrive equipped with fabric straps, made of nylon or cloth which can be easily washed and replaced.

Seiko 5 Sports/Diver

Seiko 5 Sport and Diver watches put on some more muscle: they are bulkier, brighter, and outfitted with a massive rotating bezel and fat luminous indices and hands.

The dials abandon the numerals of the military design and go for indices once again; variously shaped hands provide stylistic variety and interest.

Seiko 5 sports are made of stainless steel and have increased water resistance, which makes them decent diving watches -- though not at a true professional level (Seiko offer other watches in the professional category). Protected crown, scratch resistance crystal also add to the aquatic durability factor.


Stainless Steel
Automatic Self-Winding
Stainless Steel/Fabric/Rubber
Day/Date, Single Window
Water Resistance
100 meters/330 feet


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