Seiko is one of those brands with a ton of history. The Seiko story dates all the way back to 1881 when Kintaro Hattori opened a shop selling and repairing watches and clocks in central Tokyo. Eleven years later, in 1892, he established the “Seikosha” factory. Seiko grew into a successful watch brand in the decades that followed, introducing many iconic timepieces, from the Laurel in 1913 (the first Japanese wristwatch) to the first Seiko-branded model in 1924. And let’s not forget the string of iconic divers in the late 1960s or the first models with the famous 6139 movement – part of the race to produce the world’s first automatic chronograph. And in 1969, Seiko introduced the first quartz watch, the Astron, that went on to do nothing less than spark an industry revolution. The list goes on, with the first Seiko Kinetic watch in 1988 and the first Spring Drive in 1999.
As a result, there are literally hundreds of great Seiko watches that have been forgotten by many but definitely deserve a return to the spotlight. While Seiko itself perfectly understands the power of a great re-issue or a modern version of their classics, there are always other models that Seiko enthusiasts would love to see return. We’ve picked a small number of timepieces that would be a great addition to the Seiko lineup. Some may have been previously re-issued as limited-edition models, and others have yet to see a modern release. Let’s jump in and learn about some of the many Seiko greats from the past.
1. The Seiko ref. 5717 chronograph from 1964
In 1964, on the back of the Tokyo Olympics, where Seiko was the official timekeeper, the brand introduced two new watches that were the first Japanese timepieces to feature a stopwatch. These two single-pusher chronographs have legendary status among Seiko collectors. The Seiko ref. 5719 Crown Chronograph has become an iconic watch, with a very distinct aesthetic that many enthusiasts love. Seiko introduced tributes to this watch in 2019, with the limited-edition SRQ031 celebrating 55 years of Seiko chronographs. It was followed by three automatic models a year later that paid homage to the Crown Chronograph’s design but did not feature its chronograph functionality. On top of that, all of these re-issues were limited editions.
While a return of the 5719 would be great, there has never been a proper re-issue of its brother, the 5717. This model is less defined by the era it was conceived in, so it still looks very crisp to this day. It would be great if Seiko were to release a modern version of it and equip it with their recently-introduced chronograph caliber 8R46. Obviously, the single-pusher chronograph would be replaced by a two-pusher mechanism, which would only be logical in terms of functionality. But the 5717 is the perfect canvas to create a brilliant contemporary Seiko chronograph that has its roots firmly planted in the brand’s rich history without necessarily looking like a vintage re-issue.
2. The Seiko 6138-8020 “Panda”
One of the most iconic silhouettes in Seiko history is the Seiko 6138-8020. As I touched upon earlier, Seiko introduced their 6139 automatic chronograph movement in 1969. Shortly after that, the watchmaker released the Seiko 6138A, the first fully-integrated, two-register automatic chronograph with a column wheel and vertical clutch. The watches with the 6138 movement have an unmistakable vertical layout, with registers at 6 and 12 o’clock – except for the famous Bullhead editions. The two most iconic models from the 6138 range are the 6138-8000 “Baby Panda” and the 6138-8020 “Panda” with their white dials and black registers. The slightly larger 6138-8020 is the more popular model among collectors.
Seiko has twice released watches inspired by the classic “Pandas.” The first time was in 2014 when they launched the titanium Seiko Brightz SDGZ013 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Seiko chronograph. This model was a Japan-exclusive (JDM). Five years later, in 2019, Seiko introduced a stainless-steel version of the SRQ029 to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Seiko chronograph. The SRQ029 was available worldwide, but as with the Japan-only release, both were limited editions and sold out quickly. Seiko would make a lot of people happy by releasing an updated version of that 1970s icon that is not a limited edition. After all, they have already shown with the anniversary SRQ029 model that a modern version of the watch looks stunning.
3. The Seiko 6139-6002 “Pogue”
Strangely enough, Seiko has never re-issued their iconic Seiko 6139 “Pogue” despite it being widely loved by collectors around the world. The iconic watch stands out both technically as well as visually. The Seiko 6139-6002 “Pogue” was among the first Seiko watches equipped with the iconic 6139 automatic chronograph movement that I touched upon above. It features a yellow dial that contrasts nicely with its blue and red bezel, creating something quite extravagant. It’s part of a series of four different dial colors used for the same watch.
There’s the blue dial version, also known as the “Cevert” after the famous French F1 racer François Cevert, who himself wore one. The second is the yellow dial “Pogue,” which gets its nickname because Colonel William Pogue wore it during 1973’s Skylab 4 mission. The third is a silver-dial version that I personally adore, while the last is the teal-dial version known as the “Sunrise” due to the markings around the chronograph register at 6 o’clock. The most popular is the yellow dial version that you can still buy at reasonable prices. Considering their historical relevance, all the 6139 models are great vintage watches to add to your collection without breaking the bank. But wouldn’t it be great if Seiko released a modern version of the iconic “Pogue”? If Seiko managed to create one that honors the original watch, it could serve as a great reminder of what made it such an iconic watch over the past decades.
4. The Seiko J12082 and 697990 SilverWave
When it comes to Seiko divers, the brand has released re-issues and modern interpretations of pretty much all their iconic divers, from the 62MAS to the 6159s that were released as limited editions in 2020 as part of the 55th-anniversary celebration of Seiko’s diving watches. There are also modern re-interpretations of the famous “Captain Willard,” as well. It’s not that strange for Seiko to use their extensive diver history to regularly release new models. Diving watches are the most popular category of timepieces, and the Japanese watch brand has made plenty of great ones. Two famous models that were the predecessors to the 62MAS from 1965 were the Seiko SilverWaves. In the early 1960s, Seiko released two SilverWave models that were the watchmaker’s first attempt at creating water-ready watches with internal rotating bezels.
The first model, the Seiko J12082, debuted in 1961. It was water-resistant to 50 meters and marked several Seiko firsts. It was the first true Seiko diver, their first watch with an internal rotating bezel, and their first automatic model with a screw-down case back featuring the famous tsunami wave. The watch was in production until 1964, which then saw the introduction of the Seiko ref. 697990 SilverWave that was water-resistant to 30 meters. While these numbers by today’s standards are nothing special, Seiko could, in fact, create a re-issue with modern specs that would honor these first true divers. It would be a great release that collectors would definitely appreciate.
5. The Seiko SARB033
The last model I would like to touch upon is the famous Seiko SARB033. This model was officially for sale in Japan from 2008 until 2018, along with its white dial brother, the SARB035. Both watches are famous the world over as two of the best budget-friendly daily wearers that offer incredible value for money. My favorite is the black dial SARB033. Both watches are referred to as “baby” Grand Seikos because of their looks and excellent level of finishing for a list price of roughly $450.
Watch fans worldwide recognize the brilliance of the 38-mm case in combination with the comfortable stainless-steel bracelet. It made the watch a great fit for a variety of wrist sizes. What’s more, Seiko equipped the timepiece with their automatic caliber 6R15, a movement also found in much more expensive models. Add a sapphire crystal and its 100 meters of water resistance, and you have a watch that is hard to beat in terms of specs, charm, and quality. It’s why the SARB033 currently sells for $500–$900 (most are still for sale in Japan). It would be great if Seiko released a new version of this watch and made it available worldwide. I’m pretty sure it would be a great success.
There you have it: five Seiko models that are currently unavailable but would be great to see return to the spotlight. We’ll have to see whether Seiko will surprise us with the release of one of the watches on this list. What we can say is that the Japanese brand has a great history that offers many more fantastic potential re-releases than just these five. It’s why I suggest diving into the storied Seiko history and its timepieces. Happy hunting!