October 29, 2022
Among the hottest new Seiko releases from last year were the Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports watches, which combined the Japanese watch manufacturer’s highly popular entry-level collection with the distinct aesthetic of the cult-favorite clothing brand. Designed in collaboration with vintage watch expert Eric Wind, the original batch of Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports watches quickly sold out, and many were picked up by collectors and enthusiasts who frequently purchase timepieces that are exponentially more expensive than the budget-friendly Seiko 5 series. Consequently, it’s hardly a surprise to see Seiko and Rowing Blazers team up again, and unlike the previous collaboration that used the “SKX” diver style model from the Seiko 5 lineup as its foundation, the new series of Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports watches features a case with a smooth bezel and takes its design inspiration from Rowing Blazers founder Jack Carlson’s personal 1970 Seiko ref. 6106-7107 Sport Diver.
Just like last time, Eric Wind worked with Rowing Blazers on the project, and he states that they specifically chose the smooth bezel version of the Seiko 5 Sports case as the foundation for these new models, as it would allow the dial and hands to truly be the centerpiece of the watch. Additionally, given that Jack’s vintage 1970 Seiko ref. 6106-7107 that serves as the inspiration for this latest collaboration doesn’t have any type of rotating timing bezel fitted to the top of its cushion-shaped case, the streamlined smooth bezel layout is truer to the spirit of the original model, while still representing an updated twist on the 1970s version that inspired these new collaboration pieces.
The overall materials and proportions of the watch are identical to the standard-production Seiko 5 Sports watches that feature this same case, meaning that it measures 40mm in diameter by 12mm-thick, with 20mm drilled lugs and Hardlex crystals fitted to both the dial side of the watch and its display caseback. However, the new Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports features signed crowns that are engraved with the Rowing Blazers logo, along with casebacks that feature the brand’s skeleton “Tempus Fugit” (“Time Flies”) emblem printed on their inner surfaces. With that in mind, just like the rest of the Seiko 5 Sports range, the new Rowing Blazers models offer users 100 meters of water resistance, and given Seiko’s legendary reputation for properly sealing a watch against moisture, these new models should have no problem accompanying you into the water for a swim.
The new Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports lineup consists of four different watches. Each one is fitted with a different color dial and comes with a different striped nylon NATO strap; however, all of them also include a three-link stainless steel bracelet. The SRPJ57 is fitted with an orange dial and is paired with a green and white strap; the SRPJ59 offers a lime green dial with a purple and black strap; the SRPJ61 features a sky blue dial and a crimson and yellow strap; and the SRPJ63 receives a black dial with hour markers in the colors of the brand’s signature “croquet stripe” with a matching multicolored strap. Additionally, due to the fact that the lugs feature drilled holes, swapping between the included bracelet and strap will be a quick and easy process.
The design of the dial is where the connection to Jack’s personal 1970 Seiko ref. 6106-7107 70M Sport Diver becomes most apparent. While the new dials feature the Rowing Blazers logo printed, the contrasting minute track and boxy retro-looking hour markers are directly carried over from the dial of the vintage original, along with the rectangular day and date window at the 3 o’clock location. Additionally, just like Jack’s vintage model, the day disc features both English and Japanese names for the days of the week, rather than the English/Spanish discs that are frequently fitted to the watches destined for international markets. With that in mind, while the vintage model that serves as the design inspiration features traditional baton-shaped hands with a red-colored seconds hand, the new Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports watches feature the angular arrow-shaped style of hands that can be found on the modern Seiko 5 sports lineup, and the seconds hand has been given the same red and white “candy cane” style finish that can be found on the previous Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports models.
Just like the standard-production Seiko 5 Sports models that feature this same case design, the new Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports watches are powered by the Caliber 4R36 automatic movement. Running at a frequency of 21,600vph with approximately a 41-hour power reserve, the Cal. 4R36 offers users the convenience of hacking, hand-winding, and quickset functionality for both the day and date displays. Seiko’s 4Rxx platform represents the brand’s current entry-level mechanical movement offering, and while it is largely unadorned and offers fairly standard performance metrics, it is universally known for its reliability and ease of service. The Seiko 4R36 is the movement of choice for countless different watches, both from Seiko and from many other brands due to the fact that Seiko makes this highly popular movement available to third parties under the NH36 name. While the Seiko 4R36 won’t give you any bragging rights among fellow collectors, it also won’t be giving you any unexpected surprises or headaches, which is exactly what you want from a model that is priced firmly on the affordable end of the spectrum.
Seiko produces a lot of different limited editions and collaborations, and many of them can sometimes be a bit hit or miss for me. That said, when the brand teams up with an inherently cool fashion company like Rowing Blazers and a serious watch enthusiast like Eric Wind, the results are almost certainly guaranteed to be of interest to collectors, and these new Rowing Blazers x Seiko 5 Sports models are already generating a significant amount of hype among the watch enthusiast community. With an official retail price of $495 USD and production limited to just 888 examples of each different model, it’s highly likely that these watches will sell out rather quickly, and a couple of the colors are already looking like popular favorites based on the various chatter circulating on social media. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.