Sixteen million votes, five components, one affordable Seiko watch.
The Seiko 5 Sports watch before you is the latest variation to join the impressively broad and constantly growing collection. It fits right in aesthetically among the multitudinous options but has a story to set it apart: this is the watch that was designed by a fan and received the most "likes" in an online campaign.
From late 2020 into early 2021, Seiko ran the Custom Watch Beatmaker campaign in which fans could mix and match options online to create their own design. Rather than a watch customizer in which you could then buy your creation, however, it works by allowing people to view all the other configurations fans had made and vote on your favorite. Just to make it more fun, each design was also paired to one of 32 original songs created by up-and-coming artists.
Based upon the collection's excellent flagship model — which features a 42mm case and 4R36 automatic movement — the elements available for fans to work with were limited. Combining options of 6 bezel inserts, 11 dials, 7 hand colors, 4 case finishes and 8 bands leads to a lot of possibilities, however, and more than 48,000 configurations were submitted. From more than 16,000,000 votes cast, the winning watch with its steel case, red and blue bezel and gold-toned dial got over half the votes, with more than 8,500,000. The gold dial recalls older Seiko 5 models and perhaps shows some nostalgia for those salad days of ultra-cheap Seikos.
Watch companies offering customizing options through the likes of an online configurator has been a hot topic within the industry, but is still relatively rare and slow to evolve — though some companies are leading the way. Could Seiko be floating the concept of made-to-order Seiko 5 Sports watches similar to personally configured sneakers? Seiko likely has the resources to do it, but just because something like that is possible and would be popular doesn't mean it's good branding. For now, the brand probably garners a lot more excitement and attention with these campaigns and limited editions.
The SRPH19 is limited in production and only 2,021 of the more than 8 million voters will be able to buy one. It'll be available from Seiko's site online starting in September 2021 for the same price as non limited models at $295.