The Art of the Daily Timepiece: Seiko Edition
By J. Heffner | @pinaplwtchs
Considering the merits of a daily timepiece, and why vintage Seikos are a phenomenal choice
I believe there’s a pseudo counterculture to collecting vintage Seiko based on the harrowing tale of Japanese watch dominance.
In my eyes, there’s a strong case for vintage Seiko that’s far from mainstream. Their vintage offerings are predicated on utility and function; their craftsmanship, a mere side effect of the culture who produced these pieces.
The keystone of my collection
This contrasts the ‘luxurious’ ethos of the average Swiss watch/brand. Because of this, there’s a stark difference between those who gravitate to vintage Seiko, and the rest of the watch community.
The lack of pretentiousness in Seiko, especially their vintage examples, is a beautiful thing. Most of their pieces, spanning decades of production, serve a definitive purpose, and therein lies a true attribute to the collector.
Today, we imagine the perfect daily watch, and pose an argument based on pure Seiko enthusiasm.
There’s a battle in the watch community around the conceptualization of a perfect ‘daily’ watch. Seemingly vanilla designs predicated on the notion of appropriate use in all aspects of life; perhaps the Rolex Explorer or Omega Seamaster come to mind. Yet not every collector feels the need to don a multi-thousand dollar timepiece all the time.
Contrary to popular belief in this community, there’s an inherent uneasiness that comes with wearing a watch fit for Sotheby’s everywhere, everyday. Your Datejust that got dozens of likes on Instagram will get even more eyes as it dazzles under the incandescent lamps of the subway.
The truth is, not every stranger needs to be amazed by your most flashy piece. Just this past weekend I struck up a conversation with a gentleman wearing a brand new Submariner at the bar. While it’s cool seeing pieces like these in the wild, I spent about 2 seconds thinking it was nice, and went about my evening.
I believe one of the true merits of a daily watch is affordability in this sense. Take this obvious vintage Seiko ‘homage’ of a Rolex two tone Datejust as an example (currently being given away by Huntington Watch Co.) -
A piece that’s nothing short of fun
It’s Seikos like these that encapsulate the design and durability of a much more expensive timepiece, yet feature a user-friendly price tag.
This piece is perfect for the collector who owns a two tone Datejust, but feels it’s a piece best savored during life’s special moments. For 1/10th the price, they can wear this Seiko everyday, not worry about daily kicks and scratches, and still enjoy the design and capability of their favorite watch.
In short, sometimes it’s great to have a piece that looks similar to one of your expensive watches for everyday wear - don’t confuse this with an argument for homages.
Examining the Higher End
The same goes for my Seikos. While they’re a bit pricier, they still fly under the radar. Truthfully, not many people know that Seikos exceed the 1k mark, let alone that Grand Seiko exists. Because of this, I can still geek out on the details of these antique rarities, and not draw unwanted attention.
To this day, most vintage Seikos retain their capabilities that were selling points 40 years ago.
Would I go swimming with an excellent condition Zodiac from 1970? No. How about my 6105? Absolutely. Its construction is reassuring, serviceable, and manufactured ahead of its time. Because of this, they remain great buys for the enthusiast who worries that the average vintage watch can’t handle daily stress.
I could never imagine this without a rubber strap
Alongside these benefits, owning a vintage Seiko makes you a part of a ‘club’ of like minded collectors. It’s a brand with a cult-like following; a true IYKYK culture. This is a point I’ve been a proponent of for years, and a hill I’ll continue to die on.
Through all of these points in Seiko’s favor, I’ll let my argument rest with one last idea - can you name another brand with such a vast catalog, where a watch exists for nearly every level of collector to enjoy, regardless of taste?
My case for the daily watch is simple in this sense - affordable, reliable, and enjoyable, all of which have been hallmarks of the Seiko brand for decades.