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This Italian Car Designer Is Responsible for Some of the Funkiest Seiko Watches Ever Made

Besides designing many iconic automobiles, Giugiaro's worked with Seiko to create sporty watches that are both totally offbeat and entirely captivating.

giugiaro seiko watches
Seiko

If the same guy that designed the DeLorean from of Back to the Future fame made a watch, what would it look like? Kind of hard to imagine, right? You might expect it to be sporty, a bit funky, and possibly with a retro-futuristic flair — and you'd be right. That guy is the tongue-twistingly named Italian automotive designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, and the watches he created in collaboration with Seiko just might blow your mind.

The Seiko x Giugiaro relationship is one of the most notable and distinctive collaborations in the watch world. Since 1983, Guigiaro and his firm Italdesign have been involved in a series of watches that can generally be described as radically rule-breaking. It's testament to Giugiaro's talent that despite some outrageous-seeming design decisions, these watches remain captivating, popular and sought-after decades after their creation.

giugiaro seiko watches
Giorgetto Giugiaro
Wikipedia

Better known for creating cars — from the BMW M1 to the Volkswagen Golf to the 1968 Bizzarrini Manta and many more — Giugiaro has also dipped into designing everything from cameras to firearms, and even pasta. Aside from Seiko, he's also worked with high-end watchmaker Roger Dubuis. Giugiaro watch designs often display automotive influences and the use of the Italian flag's colors, but they're most striking due to their bold coloring, asymmetric cases and tilted dials. All quartz-powered, Seiko x Giugiaro watches are typically limited-edition and mostly inexpensive. Love 'em or hate 'em, see below for just what makes this collaboration so unique.

Speed Master "Ripley"

giugiaro seiko watches
Seiko

It all began with the Ripley. Well, to be precise, the Seiko x Giugiaro relationship began in 1983 with four "Speed Master" watches, one of which was worn by the character named Ellen Ripley in the 1986 film Aliens, and was later nicknamed for her. It was one of two analog watches and two digital watches all released simultaneously, the former featuring the world's first analog quartz chronograph movement, the 7A28, which had been introduced shortly prior.

With its blocky protrusion housing the chronograph's pushers, the reference 7A28-7000 "Ripley" has become downright iconic and easily the most recognized model of any Giugiaro collaboration watch. Seiko brought it back within its Spirit collection as a reissue in 2015, available in several variations. Best of all they, were accessibly priced at around $350, and can still be found online here and there.

Speed Master "Bishop"

giugiaro seiko watches
Seiko

Another Aliens character wore a different Seiko Speed Master which would later be named the "Bishop" for him. This is apparently what watches would look like in the late 22nd century, from a 1980s perspective (other characters in the film wore Seiko watches too, though not Giugiaro-designed models). Properly known as the reference 7A28-6000, this model helped establish a characteristic that would come to represent Seiko x Giugiaro watches: the lopsided case (reminiscent of the later Frogman to G-Shock fans).

Speed Master LCD Driving Watch

giugiaro seiko watches
Seiko

Aside from the off-center case, the other trait that's come to be associated with Guigiaro's watch design is the tilted dial. Appropriate within an automotive framework, it hearkens back to historical "driver's watches" with angled dials meant to face the wearer while his or her hands remain on the steering wheel. Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna is known among watch enthusiasts for his association with TAG Heuer, but before that relationship took off, he's known to have worn this Seiko. The brand later brought it back in 2018 with a range of variations.

Speed Master LCD

giugiaro seiko watches
Seiko

With a strange, boxy case, round dial opening and rectangular LCD display, this is perhaps the oddball among a collection of already-quirky watches. Seiko has yet to bring this reference back (and don't hold your breath), as it's been mostly forgotten. It's easy to imagine, however, that at least the creators of Urwerk's EMC Time Hunter were fans.

Macchina Sportiva

giugiaro seiko watches
Ital Design

Seiko recently revived its Giugiaro-designed Macchina Sportiva watches, which means "sports car" in Italian. If these modern reinterpretations are funky, the vintage models they're based on are even more so, some of which feature a combination of analog hands and digital displays as well as odd grooves in the bezels and other unusual touches. The new models were made especially for Macy's and can still be had for some pretty reasonable prices (they're currently available for half-off, at just $225).

Prospex Diver Scuba SBEE001 and SBEE002

giugiaro seiko watches
Seiko

Rereleased in 2017 as a part of the Prospex collection in a range of color options, these dive watches, with their off-center cases, seem typically Giugiaro, but they're perhaps the only example that doesn't specifically reference motorsports. Like many other watches in the collaboration, with plastic elements and quartz movements, they're meant to be affordable and fun. Though a series of limited editions, you can still find the blue dial version on Amazon for $629.

Riders Chrongraph

giugiaro seiko watches
Seiko

Like the Speed Master worn by Senna, the Riders Chronograph has a tilted dial made to be easy to read while driving. The Riders Chronograph, however, is meant specifically for motorcyclists, as the name suggests, and its dial is not only tilted 15 degrees, but also sloped downwards toward the wearers body. These watches are asymmetric, but only subtly, with a fatter 3 o'clock side of the case that amounts to a unique but handsome look. Limited and intended for the Japanese domestic market only ("JDM"), they can still be found with some old-fashioned internet digging.

Astron Solar GPS

giugiaro seiko watches
Ital Design

An outlier among Giugiaro designs, this Astron Solar GPS is sleek, handsome and sporty, but without any of the particular idiosyncrasies you might have come to expect if you've read this far down this list. The watch isn't radically different from other timepieces in the Seiko Astron collection, but with Italian tricolor highlights and a sporty black finish, it's also different from previous collaboration models at its price point.

Whereas most Seiko x Giugiaro watches had typically been playful and accessible, Seiko's Astron line is distinctly upmarket, to the tune of around $3,400 for this model upon its release in 2015. With higher level finishing and better materials, they also feature truly user-friendly but innovative technology combining quartz timekeeping with solar charging, GPS and radio-syncing to keep you atomic-clock accurate, even while traveling.

Astron Solar GPS SSE121

giugiaro seiko watches
Shopping In Japan

Released in 2017, this is just a wildly cool and fascinating watch in several respects. It seems to combine the sporty but handsome looks of the Astron above with an asymmetric case inspired by the 1983 Speed Master, but it looks like nothing else you've likely ever seen or even imagined. It does all this while remaining somehow easily palatable — though its lopsided case might make for a better wearing experience on the right hand. It's got similar tech to the Astron above and was produced as a limited edition of 3,000 examples, meant only for the Japanese market, with a price around $3,000 each at launch.

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