When I first started collecting I purchased nothing but Seiko: from modern and vintage, Grand and King, I left no stone unturned when it came to the brand. My reasoning was simple, “Seiko has everything(!)” and although I’ve diversified my collection since, I still believe this holds true. From classically styled dress pieces like my past Seiko 44KS (44-9990), to refined sports watches like my Grand Seiko SBGR017 – and yes, I’d consider a 20 bar water resistant, 9S55 automatic, non-lumed GS a “sports” watch and do use it while sporting – the brand has something for everyone. I’m just as obsessed with Seiko as I was when I dove into the hobby ten years ago and am tickled pink to be sharing my Seikoholics 3:45 picks with you… and I’ll try and keep ‘em modern, cause 6105-8xxx’s aren’t getting any cheaper.
Seiko SBBN045 “Tuna” – $1,280.00
Now while I didn’t necessarily feel as though my older SBBN015 was lacking, many love the inclusion of sapphire crystal on the latest (every) model. Hardlex has always been a friend of mine, but I am aware that it’s prone to scratches when lifing or sporting, which as you remember I do; and have scratched past crystals. All to say, maybe I’ll appreciate the switch now that I currently own a SBBN045. The cost illustrated here is the price sans bracelet, but like any good collector I’d advise nabbing one of those as well. Although I can’t say I’m as fond of the modern, dressier styling, you still get the same chonky titanium clasp that likes to smack against anything in its orbit… Let’s stick with the rubber and save a few hundred on this exercise.
“You’d pay over $1K for a quartz watch?” I can hear the keys clacking, and yes! I already have. Twice now. The caliber 7C46 inside, a relic from the 1980’s, was and still is one of Seiko’s greatest quartz movements. I’d honestly pay more for the reliability and accuracy of this movement (don’t tell Seiko). The robust case is an acquired taste, and I understand if you prefer poke over tuna from a can, but the watch has a unique silhouette that I’ve grown to love over the typical diver offerings from Seiko and other brands. To summarize, you’re getting a massive quartz, bracelet-less watch that doubles as a paperweight when not strapped into it. Sign me up.
King Seiko SPB281 – $1,700.00
I said I’d keep this modern and I honestly feel like I’m cheating here, but earlier this year Seiko re-reintroduced the King Seiko 44KS! There was a more accurate LE reissue of the 44-9990 with 6L35 movement and those signature, blade-like dauphine hands, but the SPB2xx models of the King Seiko are a good compromise that’s non-limited. It’s not without a few perks either! Namely, the bracelet these come standard with is a knockout combination with this dress watch. Also, if you weren’t a fan of the original silver sunburst finish of the 44KS, you have options! Five to be precise: sunburst silver, charcoal gray, brown, red, and my personal favorite the vertically brushed silver dial.
At the heart of the SPB281 is a caliber 6R31 movement, a practical low-beat option with a 70 hour power reserve. Being at the top of the 7S/4R pyramid in features is fine enough, but I can understand how a 21,600 vph movement may feel unluxurious for a dress piece. A time-only one at that. The second hand sweep of this 37mm diameter watch with its even smaller dial footprint will undoubtedly still be satisfying though, for me at least, and when compared to the Tuna… Well, it’ll look like something from Credor. For those that only need the time and still want the reliability of a workhorse movement, this latest King Seiko is the perfect choice and option #2 for me.
Seiko DUOTIME – $1.6-2K
Honestly, I’m satisfied with just these two options and I have $2K kicking around still? Instead of suggesting another Tuna with the SBBN047 – to show you can pay more for a 7C46 – let’s round off the collection with the Seiko DUOTIME, from 1972 to ‘74… So I lied. I didn’t keep things modern, but that’s only because Seikos from the late 60’s to early 70’s deserve their own mention! Now when I say “vintage Seiko GMT” you likely think of the Navigator Timer or perhaps the World Time, with the cal. 6117 alongside its slaved 24 hour hand. What if I told you there was another option, without the need of a pesky rotating bezel, that had a second hour hand which operated independently of the main hour hand? Well, in 2022 that’s not so impressive, but back in the 1970’s that was quite the feat!
In comes the Seiko DUOTIME with it’s cal. 5619, that features an independent quick setting hour hand! While not as popular as its 6117 kinwatch, the 5619 is a true treat for Seikoholics like myself. Now you’ll need to be into ~36mm diameter cases, but if you are then there’s no better vintage offering in the unique GMT market than this. Specifically, the model I’d hunt for would be the 5619-7010 that features a white center dial, black minute track and orange second hour hand. Mind you that vintage acquisitions always come with “quirks” and the very real chance that repairs will be difficult. However, like any great pursuit, the challenge is half the fun.
I’ll repeat, I’m obsessed with Seiko and I don’t think that’ll ever change. You could make a 3:45 with any number of Seikos and the lists would be equally as compelling as they would be diverse. Enjoy the hobby and thank you for the time.