Let’s face it: Collecting watches is expensive. Timepieces from Swiss makers such as IWC, Patek Philippe, and Hublot start at about $4,000—well beyond Swatch territory. Sure, you get hand-assembled, mechanical movements and the cachet of a Swiss canton. But it hardly screams “accessible.”
But talk to any collector and you’ll find out that many of them have a guilty pleasure that costs less than $160: the Seiko 5.
The Seiko 5 isn’t one watch but a series of watches launched in 1963 with the Seiko Sportsmatic 5. The series has retained the classic 60s, military-inspired styling ever since.
Watch bible Hodinkee calls the Seiko 5 “the worst-kept secret in watchdom” and “the most unbeatable bargain in watchmaking by a huge margin.”Gear Patrol calls it a “flawlessly performing timepiece.” And Worn & Wound called the Seiko 5 series “the perfect starter mechanical for a young collector.”
It is, of course, made in Japan and not Geneva, but don’t let that put you off. Seiko has been making timepieces since the 1800s and the current CEO is a descendant of the company founder.
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