Seiko's Best Affordable Watch SEIKO 5 Sports SRPE51K1

In the autumn of 2019, Seiko shocked many of its supporters by retiring the SK X line of dive watchers. Although it was expected, as there had been long-running rumors of its potential demise, the SK X was getting a bit long in the tooth and showing its age.

Introduction to Seiko 5 Lineup

This is the 21st century, and they didn’t even have hand winding and hacking. Seiko fans held their breath to see what, if anything, might replace a loved hard-as-nails diver. They didn’t have to wear it long as Seiko quite quickly unveiled the SRPD Seiko 5 Sports Collection, introducing more than two dozen variants heavily inspired by the defunct SK X.

The new Seiko 5 options received much criticism for being a style of a substance, and they were classed as diver-light due to their lack of screw-down crowns and only a hundred meters of water resistance. The Seiko 5 collection continues to expand with many color variations and strap options across different lines that Seiko has labeled as sports suits Specialist Street and sense styles.

There are now more than 60 options of relatively affordable, entry-level automatic watches that are sure to appeal to every market segment and, more crucially, to a younger generation. You can’t knock Seiko for that. I have shied away from the new Seiko 5 lineup, although I was almost tempted by the SRPD73K1, which I thought resembled the 2020 James Bond Omega C Master.

Seiko has succeeded in getting my attention or, more to the point, my cash. They released ten new variants with the SRPE Sport designation. A bunch of fixed bezel watchers has been fondly termed the dress KX. My only question is, why did it take them so long? Seiko first introduced its Seiko 5 models in 1963.

Seiko added the more robust sports models later in 1968. The design concept of the five range was to make affordable, practical watches for the masses. Each watch had the same five core features. An automatic movement day in day displayed the three o’clock position, water resistance, and recessed crown at the four o’clock position in a durable cason bracelet or strap.

Seiko SRPE51K1 Watch Features

The sports models later added an unbreakable diaflex spring and the diashock shock resistance. They proved to be a massive hit. We are too many to mention in this review, so let’s concentrate on the one I have in hand. The SRPE51K1 has a diameter of 40 millimeters, a lug width of 20 millimeters, a lug-to-lug of 44.5 millimeters, and a case thickness of only 11.7 millimeters.

Its weight on this bracelet minus four lengths for my seven-inch wrist comes in just under 126.6 grams. The first thing you will notice about the SRPE51K1 is its lack of rotating divers bezel and its inaugurate loss as it’s no significant loss as it transforms the watch into an entirely different animal.

I would love to know if this was by accident or if I have a picture in my head of a tired production line worker halfway through his shift who didn’t get his coffee fixed, inadvertently applying the wrong bezel to a watch, then covering his ass by saying it was a deliberate act. I hope he got a promotion.

Seiko SRPE51K1 Profile

In any case, I would gladly shake his hand if and when I’m allowed to do so. The SRPE51K1 has a rather particular all-stainless steel asymmetric case. Its face has a well-defined circular brushing that does little to grab your attention, but its profile is where this watch shines. The highly polished curvy sides are exceptionally well-finished for a watch at this price point.

The level of detail around the guarded crown will make you second guess how much you paid for this watch. You need to remind yourself that the crown does not screw down. Hence, its 100 meters of water resistance. I found myself on several occasions trying to unthread this crown before winding down or setting the time, and second.

The watch comes with drill lugs, as I suspect the guy in the production line knew this watch had the potential to be a strap monster, something I will shortly put to the test. The highly polished bezel of the 51 draws you into focus all your attention on the gorgeous anthracite dial, which resides beneath slightly raised, flat, hard lex crystal.

Seiko SRPE51K1 Layout

The Starburst gray is not dissimilar to the dial of the considerably more expensive SPB143J1. This feature makes the SRPE51K1 look like an absolute steal compared to its pricier brother. The entire layout of the Seiko 5 dial has been taken from the SKX line, albeit with a few fresh updates. The all-new markers are applied with polished silver frames gone as the printed Seiko Automatic from the 12 o’clock position in its place as an applied Seiko and a printed new Seiko 5 logo which I find to be very reminiscent of the Suzuki car logo.

Above the six o’clock pill-shaped marker is the printed automatic script, which replaces the diver’s 200 meters and 21 jewels text on the legendary diver. Below the pill is some printed script specifying the watch’s improved 4R36 movements of the outgoing 7S26.

The date window remains untouched, providing both date and date, which come with a quickset. The color coordinator chapter ring has silver printed minute markers. It is typically Seiko, which is ever so slightly misaligned, something I shall have to live with. The handset has had the finest of subtle tweaks.

Everything, including the seconds hand, is now nicely polished. That includes the counterbalance, which would typically be black. The minute hand is now a straight arrow, and the fat tail has gone. The handset and markers have lashings of Seiko Luma Bright. After all, this is designated as a sports watch, so telling the time in low light will not be an issue.

The refinement and simplicity of the dial framed by the polished bezel give the watch a clean look. Suppose it wasn’t for the dirt window. I swear blind that I was looking at the Tudor BlackBear 41. The rear of the case reveals a diver-style screw-down case back with a display window, which allows us to see the rather utilitarian 4R36 movement.

Seiko SRPE51K1 Automatic

4R36 movement is the 24-joule caliber, which hacks and hand winds. It has a beat rate of 21,600 ticks per hour or six ticks per second. It has a stated power reserve of 41 hours and an accuracy range between plus 45 and minus 35 seconds per day, which is not bad. But this diamond in the roof is running at cost standard at less than two seconds per day.

The 4R36 is nothing to look at, but Seiko has done its best to add some detail to a reasonably basic movement. The branding on the rotor is rudimentary but appreciated. The bracelet is acceptable and not exceptional. It’s a brushed stainless steel three-link affair with polished outer edges.

Seiko SRPE51K1 Clasp & Buckle

It fits nicely between the 20-millimeter lugs and tapes to 18 millimeters at the clasp. The Seiko branded clasp and buckle jump back out to more than 21 millimeters of width. It’s brushed with a polished bevel and edged the fold of safety with dual push-button release reveals a basic press metal deployment.

The buckle has a minor allowance for micro-adjustment. The bracelet links are rolled rather than solid steel, adjusted with push pins, and the end links are hollow. The bracelet is a reminder that this is an entry-level watch on a budget. It does its job but could do with some refinement.

Seiko SRPE51K1 Look

The SRPE51K1 is a beautiful watch. Its slim profile with a 40-millimeter diameter case finish and elegant dial make it very easy to wear. I ordered the SRPE51K1 because it came on a bracelet, and I’m a sucker for a bracelet. But another version of this style is the SRPE61, which comes with a brushed bezel and a granite style.

The watch has a more truly field watch look and doesn’t lose any of its charms, like the production line worker. It got me thinking that the SRPE51K1 might be a bit of a strap monster, so I’ve pulled out a few straps I just happened to have lying around. Taking my inspiration from the Neto Clad SRPE61, I decided to kick off the catwalk or strap run with a ballistic nylon single Pass Zulu dive strap from Vario.

The strap is 22 millimeters wide, not the required 20. It's a snug fit but stays comfortable. The golden divider is a definite pass. Next up is a very affordable rubber dive strap that I picked up from AliExpress.

I chose this waffle to partner up with my Captain Willard, the steel dive homage, which is still on its bracelet. It partners well with Seiko. A good choice for those of you who like to get wet regularly. Next is the leather Zulu diver from WatchGecko. My wife bought a bunch of straps for me a couple of Christmases back, and this has been sitting in a drawer, waiting for the right watch to come along.

I’ve said this before; I’m a great believer in fate. If something is meant to happen, then it usually does. This is true with watch collecting. The watch you want will always come around at the right time and for the right price, unless it’s a Rolex. The same week I bought the SRPE51K1, I saw a post on Instagram from Uncle Secco advertising their new president-style bracelets. Not only that, but they were being sold on Uncle Secco’s new UK website.

When this turned up, I had a few reservations about those petite jangly links and the hollow end links, but fitted to the watch, it sits elegantly on my wrist. It’s like they were meant to be together, a perfect pairing. The president elevates the SRPE51K1 to a more respectful position, and it’s a refreshing change and a very different look to the multitude of oyster-style bracelets. The president is a keeper and my firm favorite, although the AliExpress Waffle comes across second. Do you think the watch is a worthy strap monster title holder? Let me know in the discussion below. You may have already guessed.

My Verdict on Seiko SRPE51K1

I’m a big fan of this watch. It could be better, but Seiko knocked at the park with the entire SRPE lineup. Why would you spend money on an overpriced Quartz fashion watch when you can pick up a quality automatic from a big brand name for the same price?

There’s no question that the SRPE51K1 could be improved upon. The addition of a sapphire crystal and assigned crown would be much welcome. A perfectly aligned chapter ring would seal the deal. The SRPE51K1 has a recommended retail price in the UK of 230 Pounds.

You can easily pick one up at a discount. I paid less than 180 pounds for the anthracite beauty, which came with a two-year guarantee. Seiko has cleverly turned the SRPDs range’s negatives into positives with the SRPEs.

The result is a beautiful, versatile sports watch worthy of the dress KX title. The fact that this watch has the DNA of the SKX has made me question whether I should pick up the original before they disappear. In a world where Seiko have been pushing their prices with a relentless stream of limited editions, the SRPE lineup makes for a refreshing change.

SRPE51K1 might be Seiko’s best affordable watch. Let me know which is your favorite from the new Seiko 5 lineup.