@VintageDiver’s 5 for $2000

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When I first saw the “5 for $2000” column, I thought it was a great idea. What a cool way to give some advice on starting out a collection on a budget! Now, $2000 may seem like a lot of dough for some (I include myself in this category), and yet it may seem like a drop in the bucket to others. That said, for most watch collectors it’s a budget that is attainable, and this series has shown what a fantastic variety of quality watches are out there that can be had for a reasonable amount. After reading the previous columns, I noted that those before me had selected a nice mix of brands and styles.

Well, I’ve decided to take a different tack, and I chose to go with one brand for all five, just for fun. Anyone that knows me knows I’m partial to Seiko (more than 1/3 of my collection is Seiko), and I thought it would be cool to show you five different Seikos that would make a well rounded start (or addition!) to any collection. Seikos in general are reasonably common, and these can all be found with some patience and due diligence. Another reason I chose Seiko is that for their vintage watches, parts are readily available for most models, and even crystals are a breeze to source compared to other vintage brands. Gaskets are also available and easy to change out, making it a breeze to keep your Seiko safe from the elements. The prices shown are more or less what I would expect to pay for a decent used and/or vintage example on the various forum sales corners or eBay.

1979 Seiko 6309-7049 diver $400

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You simply cannot go wrong with this classic and iconic vintage Seiko diver. Large cushion case, screw down crown, bidirectional ratcheting bezel, 22mm lugs and replaceable gaskets and Hardlex crystal are just a few of the details that make the 6309 a timeless classic. This is a rugged tool watch with vintage cache, and can readily be made waterproof so it can be worn and enjoyed every day without worry. They are relatively common, although it is getting harder and harder to find an unmolested example as they gain in popularity. Still, they continue to be undervalued and a nice one can be found for a very reasonable price. I did a full write up on this diving icon here if you’d like to read more.

Seiko SBDC001 aka “Sumo” diver $350

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Here’s a modern diver that simply cannot be beat in the “bang for your buck” category. The Sumo as it’s known, is a large diver that is classically styled in the Seiko fashion, and has everything you’d want in a modern dive watch. Nice chunky bezel that’s easy to grip, oversized and signed crown at four o’clock, and a matte black dial with lume to die for all add up to a modern day classic.

The case is a work of art, with nice crisp lines and a mix of brushed and polished finishes that rival most higher-end Swiss brands. The movement is both auto and hand winding, hacks (second hand stops when the crown is pulled out), and it even has a true quickset date. The Sumo comes on a very nicely made solid link bracelet, but also looks great on a variety of straps from leather ammo to nylon to Isofrane rubber. It is a large watch to be sure, but really wears quite comfortably. These retail for around $500 or less new, and can easily be found used for $350, which still boggles my mind. You really cannot get more watch for the money.

Now, my example shown here does have a couple of mods, which will of course run a few extra bucks. I changed out the original hands for a set from the SBDX001 Marine Master 300, because I like them better. I also swapped out the Hardlex crystal for a flat sapphire, and put a Yobokies beads of rice bracelet on it. All nice additional touches, but original is still superb as-is.

1976 Seiko Quartz LC 0662-5009 digital LCD $100

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Now here’s a fun and unique watch that would definitely add that killer vintage flair to any collection. Seiko’s early digital LCD watches featured a unique look with two buttons on the face of the watch below the LCD display. The button on the right is used in conjunction with the crown at three o’clock to set the time, and the left hand button activates a backlight so the display can be read in the dark. It has a super cool retro space age look with its hexagonal case, dual buttons and fitted steel bracelet. Makes a great dressy kinda watch to wear to the company party and certainly makes for an interesting conversation starter. Batteries are easily found at any local drug store, so no worries there. These are however difficult to have repaired as there really just aren’t many folks out there willing to work on them. So, be sure to find one that’s working in the first place!

1971 King Seiko 5625-7000 dress $500

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This 56K, as it is known, is everything one could want in a dress watch. Simple, slim and sleek with a gorgeous silver dial with a sunburst brushed finish. The flat surfaces and razor sharp edges with contrasting brushed and polished finishes are the hallmarks of the Seiko “Grammar of Design”, their styling philosophy adopted starting in the 1960’s for the Grand Seiko line. It features a beautiful gold “KS” insignia medallion on the back, which is a really nice touch. The 5625 movement is automatic and hand winding, hacks and is finished beautifully as well. Definitely an understated and elegant dress watch that’s as comfortable at the office as it is at a black tie dinner.

1975 Seiko Speed-Timer 6138-0030 chronograph $650

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Every solid watch collection needs a chronograph, and this big beauty checks all the boxes. The chunky steel case exudes 70’s manly style, but it’s not so big as to be unwieldy. The “panda” dial in brilliant blue with silvery white subdials is truly a sight to behold. The dual register 30 minute chronograph is powered by the amazing automatic 6138 movement that hand winds as well, the only vintage Seiko chronograph to do so. Coupled with Seiko’s very convenient true quickset day and date, this watch is as easy to set and use as it is to wear. It originally came on an excellent and complimentary bracelet with an expanding deployant buckle signed with the Speed-Timer logo. This is one watch that I strongly feel does not look nearly as good on any strap as it does on the original bracelet. Stay tuned for a future full length write up on this incredible vintage chronograph. It’s too good not to get its own article…

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Christoph (Instagram’s @vintagediver) is a long time collector and lover of all things vintage, starting with comic books when he was a kid (he still collects them). His passion for watches began in 1997 when he was gifted a family heirloom vintage Omega Genève by his step-father. That started him on the watch collecting path—buying and selling vintage watches of all sorts, with a special appreciation for vintage dive watches and Seiko.
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