I wasn't planning this one, it just happened, like magic. Anxious, sweaty, hesitant magic. It was a day like any other, except it wasn't. It was a day for a divine intervention, I can't actually recall the moment that I thought to go looking for this one, it was like an out of body experience. I just looked at my phone and this watch was on the screen.
I never get there on time. I'm always late to the party when it comes to 'drops' of new/limited edition items. But this time, somehow. It's a blur, here's what could have happened. Being sure it would be sold out, I did what any Seikophile might and hit up eBay. There were a handful on there, ranging from £599-£950, outrageous indeed -when the retail is £380- but expected. I thought it prudent to have quick Google, as you do. And as I did, I saw that retail price pop up at a UK retailer, I immediately clicked through to a page that stated in stock, I was in shock. My first thought was that it was an error and would stall/inform at checkout. While I was excited, I was also very sure that I shouldn't be buying another watch (since, my return to the blog a month ago, I may have bought four watches, or five, maybe, who's counting...spend ££££s tbc). My third thought was, how is the one on eBay at £525 with 20 bids, crazy. A quick look at Chrono24, none for sale in the UK, a bunch in the US and Japan, price range £600 - £900. I guess I should pull the trigger or forever hold my peace.
While this a review, it's kinda half way between first impression and review as I wanted to be on the ball for once, review a watch the week it comes out, wow, a novel idea for me.
Purchase / Post / Packaging
A day later, I receive a package. It's a well packaged package. I open it up, layer by layer, crispy paper, card board box, crispy, cardboard, foam. SRPJ41K1. It's upside down. It's hard to figure why, there's cut out for the crown for goodness sake. Once it's the right way around, it's the stunner that's been promised, but maybe not one I deserve.
I ordered it from a well known UK jeweller and watch shop with free next day delivery, which is always welcome. I justified the purchase with a 'buy to sell' rationale, I would have a look at it, wear it, try not to love it, then sell it and more than likely get my money back regardless of when that resale took place. I was happy that I snagged it, but not happy that I bagged it, if you get what I'm saying - be more responsible damn it. Maybe this was the right thing to do though in this instance, for this watch.
Case, Dial & Hands
It's a familiar form for us Seiko fans, the SKX form simplified into its current Seiko 5 iteration. It's got a lot presence, it's chunky but compact, and sits well on a skinny wrist, with the splendidly universal 46mm lug-to-lug. The bezel has the awesome alternating silver black block pattern, and moves with a reassuringly zippy clicking motion, it's crispy. The dial of course is a striking transparent orange and blue, showing the day date print underneath it in English and Japanese. No lume on the dial, only on the syringe shaped hands, which is a fine and functional compromise considering the set up, the seconds hand is a lovely bright orange. Black blocks surround the day day at 3 o'clock and travel horizontally to the 9 o'clock mark which show the sole word 'automatic'. They frame the date, keeping it clear of what's going on behind the scenes. There is a lot going on to be fair, minute track in the chapter ring, seconds markings, orange and black edging in the orange portion of the dial. It's a lot, but it all seems to work very well together, the hour markers being streamlined lightens the load of all that's going on.
Movement / Complications / Finish
The automatic movement is the common workhorse, 4R36 with 41 hour power reserve. The ever-present standard Seiko 5 day-date function is brought to life by the transparent dial and complementary colour scheme. The finish of the steel case is uniform in a kind of brushed stainless steel that almost seems to have a matte effect on the case, it's distinct and suits the edgy look of the watch. As mentioned above it is busy, but it's all going in the same direction and blends very well. There are more dots and dashes than the morse code, five stacks/layers of markers at times, which is fine, think about a Navitimer, it's totally fine.
Strap / Wearability
These dimensions are perfect for me, I love a chunky watch with presence and a robust bracelet complementing the case. This sits well on the wrist and the 46mm lug-to-lug is, like I said, perfect though full disclosure, I haven't adjusted the bracelet.
The only competition for this watch are its relatives. Its uncle Seiko, the SKX009, the Pepsi bezel is a classic and while a better watch imo, they are both flashy divers. The Flight Timer, SNA411P1 has a similar edge but lacks the prestige and desirability. I guess aftermarket mods on Seiko 5 sports models, and SKXs are another way to get a unique and cool look, however we are in the realms of uber-cool here with the SRPJ41. And of course, it's less prevalent sister, the SRPJ43 - with a LE run of 500 - is its launch-mate and even more desirable model maybe both increases and decreases its appeal. But really, the whole point of a limited edition collab - a well executed one - is that it shouldn't really have any competition. It's not gonna be easy or cheap to get hold of.
Everyone love a collaboration, I guess this is a JDM focused watch but cool collabs with established designers are global events, and this one is no different. I'm pretty sure the watch is sold out in the UK, and possibly globally as well. You might think 3000 units is a fair amount but I'm pretty sure if this was a Japan only release it would have sold out 3000 there. Designer Kosuke Kawamura is a great choice for Seiko to reinvigorate this Seiko 5 sports model. He is on the ball in terms of ability, zeitgeist and collabs, per Hypebeast;
"Holding many titles such as collage artist, graphic designer, and art director, Kawamura has provided art and graphics for a wide range of brands in the past including BEAMS, G-Shock, NEIGHBORHOOD, Cyberpunk 2077, © SAINT M ××××××, and UT for a Dragon Ball collection in 2019. Kawamura now brings his rich expertise and knowledge in pop culture to UT*, delivering new LifeWear, built to express the individuality of each wearer and the opportunity to encounter new types of culture.**
It is an awesome watch, Seiko and Kosuke Kawamura have breathed life back into the Seiko 5 sports shell. So, get one now if you can, and if you can't - then get one later.
*He is Creative Director of UT (Uniqlo T-Shirts) the fashion conglomerate’s graphic T line.
P.S. This is the sixth week in a row I have posted and, being an idiot, I have already rewarded myself with a new watch. You will have to wait and see what it is, it is a grail - though not one of those on my list, that isn't a bad thing. It was reckless and stupid and awesome, I don't regret it yet, but I might one day soon, until then, I will enjoy it to it's fullest just like the SRPJ41.
P.P.S. The one on eBay finally went for £560 (auction) and another sold for £599 (straight sale).
R.S.V.P. Check out part two of the review which includes some creative writing and photography - CLICK HERE .
CASE DIAMETER / THICKNESS / MATERIAL
42.5mm / 13mm / 316L Stainless Steel
LUG WIDTH / LUG TO LUG
22mm / 46 mm
Seiko 4R36 Automatic.
to 100m - but the crown doesn't screw down...