Twenty-twenty-three marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Hong Kong-American martial artist, actor, and cultural icon who tragically died at the age of 32. In honour of Bruce Lee’s legacy, Seiko has launched the Seiko 5 Sports Bruce Lee Limited Edition SPRK39, an affordable sports watch typical of Seiko but with an unusual all-black livery featuring subtle gold accents.
Based on its entry-level sports watch, the edition’s launch also coincides with the 55th anniversary of the original Seiko 5 Sports. Retaining the same case and design as the regular production model, this limited edition incorporates Asian themes in its design as a homage to the iconic actor, including a dragon on the dial in a reference to Bruce Lee’s name.
It is perhaps long overdue that Seiko creates a timepiece to commemorate Bruce Lee, who was photographed on several occasions wearing a Seiko 5. The use of traditional Chinese elements are not groundbreaking, and might have even been kitschy, but fortunately an all-black look prevents this from resembling a gaudy souvenir.
While this watch does evoke a certain nostalgia, it doesn’t quite have the vintage styling of the Seiko 5 model that Lee himself wore. I would have preferred an edition based the design on that or even other vintage models from the period. That would, however, probably result in a pricier watch that is a vintage remake.
Priced at US$495, the Bruce Lee edition is US$135 more expensive than the standard Seiko 5 Sports Street Style but still easily affordable. The relatively modest price increase makes this an easy choice over the regular production model. The only drawback for collectors is the editions size of 15,000 pieces, which means the watch won’t be particularly rare, but forgivable considering the price.
A tribute to Bruce Lee
The Seiko 5 features a dragon motif on the dial that’s highlighted by gold-outlined hands and markers. According to Seiko, the design was inspired by a drawing by Lee himself.
The black bezel insert bears Chinese characters that translate as “Using no way as way; having no limitation as limitation”, a phrase taken from Bruce Lee’s martial arts philosophy, Jeet Kune Do. Simultaneously, the case back has a red and yellow yin-yang emblem representing his martial arts style.
Those elements aside, the watch retains the key details of the standard Seiko 5 Sports Street Style. The dial features the prominent “Seiko 5” logo at 12, a steel case with rotating bezel and black hard coating, along with a recessed crown at four. The case dimensions remain unchanged, measuring 42.5 mm in diameter and 13.4 mm high.
It is equipped with the cal. 4R36, an automatic movement with a short power reserve of 41 hours and a relatively slow 3 Hz frequency.
The Bruce Lee edition is delivered in a special-edition box and accompanied with two straps: a black leather strap with silver stitching and a nylon strap reminiscent of Lee’s tracksuit in the 1978 film, Game of Death.
Key facts and price
Seiko 5 Sports Bruce Lee Limited Edition
Diameter: 42.5 mm
Height: 13.4 mm
Material: Steel with black hard coating
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: Cal. 4R36
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 41 hours
Strap: Leather strap with an additional nylon strap
Limited edition: 15,000 pieces
Availability: At Seiko boutiques and select retailers starting from October 2023
For more information, visit Seikowatches.com.
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