Having received a facelift in 2019, the Seiko 5 Sports collection draws on the ubiquitous and much loved “SKX” dive watch for its styling, but is lighter on features and easier on the wallet.
Now Seiko has unveiled the Seiko 5 Sports Style GMT, which looks even more like an SKX thanks to its five-link bracelet. But its key feature is actually a major function upgrade: the two-tone bezel and 24-hour hand make it a dual-time zone travel watch.
Though similar to the base-model Seiko 5 Sports, the GMT distinguishes itself by virtue of design. It possesses the same overall look but boasts more refined stylistic details like the five-link bracelet and bezel with smart typography, which gives it a more upscale look than the standard model.
At the same time, the GMT has a bit more flair than an actual SKX diver (which is a nevertheless is a more accomplished dive watch) as a result of its dual time zone function. I like the added colour contrast between the 24-hour hand and dial, as well as the subtly two-tone bezel. And even though it has more elements due to the extra function, the design and details are restrained.
And it’s worth mentioning that while the bracelet has the same Jubilee-esque aesthetics as that of the SKX diver, it has been upgraded with solid end links, which means it should feel less dinky that the SKX bracelet.
The only downside of the watch is that it’s not a true GMT watch. In other words, the 24-hour hand is independently adjustable, rather than the local time hour hand as in watches like the Rolex GMT-Master II or Grand Seiko GMT. This means setting the time when crossing time zones is slightly more tedious, but certainly an acceptable compromise for the price.
And the price is modest to say the least. The handsome design can be had for the competitive price of about US$500, making the GMT a strong value proposition that is almost unmatched in its price segment. With Seiko’s watches known to be robust, the GMT is the perfect watch for worry-free travel.
Affordable and functional (to a point)
While twin time zone watches are common, few of them are as affordable as the Seiko 5 Sports GMT, and even fewer are as functional. The GMT is straightforward in its legibility and utility. For example, both the bezel as well as flange around the dial are have prominent 24-hour scales, allowing the watch to indicate up to three time zones simultaneously.
Also notable is the fact that the bezel lights up at night, since its markings are filled with Lumibrite, Seiko’s proprietary luminous compound. A fully “lumed” bezel is increasingly common for dive watches, but remain unusual for a dual time zone watch.
And the luminous bezel insert is further covered with a Hardlex ring, which protects the markings below and gives it a shiny surface that evokes a sapphire bezel insert.
Inside the watch is the cal. 4R34, a new movement that is derived from cal. 4R36 found in the standard Seiko 5 Sports. But the new movement replaces the day display of the 4R36 with a 24-hour hand. The substitution, as opposed to addition, of the second time zone complication is likely the reason why the GMT is only 0.1 mm thicker than the standard model.
But the fact that the base movement was not conceived as a second time zone calibre shows up in its functionality. The local-time hour hand cannot be set independently as is the case in true-blue GMT watches.
Pulling the crown out to its outermost position allows the hour and minute hands to be set conventionally, with the 24-hour hand moving in sync. The 24-hour hand can only be adjusted independent with the crown at its second position – turning it one way advances the 24-hour hand and turning it other way advances the date.
That setup means it takes a few more steps to adjust the two time zones displayed on the watch. A full-fledged GMT watch only requires pulling the crown to the second position and setting the local time hand. In contrast, the Seiko 5 GMT requires the local time hands to be set, followed by the 24-hour hand. And then the date has to be set if the particular time zone calls for it.
Key Facts and Prices
Seiko 5 SKX Sports Style GMT
Ref. SSK001 or SBSC001 (black)
Ref. SSK003 or SBSC003 (blue)
Ref. SSK005 or SSK005KC (orange)
Diameter: 42.5 mm
Height: 13.6 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and second time zone hand
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 41 hours
Strap: Steel bracelet
Availability: At Seiko stores starting July 2022
Price: €470, or 52,800 Japanese yen
For more, visit seikowatches.com.
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