Brian May Red Special

This Guitar-Inspired Seiko Watch Will Rock You


January 26, 2020 Watches By

Editor’s Note: Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) and Baselworld 2020 are canceled but that hasn’t stopped watch brands large and small from debuting their new wares. To stay on top of this year’s best new watch releases, visit our tag page.

Seiko only recently reintroduced its new and improved Seiko 5 Sport line of dive-style watches, and you may have already lost track of the many available models. The latest, however, stands out for its unusual red-and-black, yin-yangy dial design that’s meant to reference the silhouette of a guitar. Not just any guitar, either, but that of rock band Queen’s guitarist Brian May, which he and his father built by hand in the early 1960s using only basic tools.

Even for those who aren’t necessarily Queen enthusiasts, it’s worth reading the remarkable story of May’s “Red Special” guitar — which has been essentially the single guitar the musician has used in recording and touring throughout his career. Similarly, May has also continuously worn the same humble Seiko dive watch that he bought in Japan in the 1970s. A worthy inspiration, and May’s connection to Seiko makes the new Seiko 5 Sport SRPE83K1 seem like an appropriate collaboration, indeed.

While May’s guitar is hand-built and one-of-a-kind, the 42.5mm-wide watch shares the specs of the new mass-produced Seiko 5 Sport line, with 100m of water-resistance, Hardlex crystal, and the in-house 4R36 automatic movement visible through the case back. In addition to the overt guitar shape of the dial design, the “Red Special” wordage on the dial, and Brian May’s signature on the back, there are more references in the design that fans will appreciate. A fun touch is the presentation box that resembles a guitar case.

Regardless of its collaborative nature, Seiko fans will surely be excited about this quirky watch on its own merits. However, all the little details and packaging that Seiko has put into the watch, along with its limited production of 9,000 units, mean that its priced significantly above the standard Seiko 5 Sport collection: Climbing well into the brand’s Prospex range, the Seiko 5 Sports Brian May SRPE83K1 watch will be available in the US in (appropriately) May 2020 for an approximate price of $550.

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Zen Love

Zen Love is Gear Patrol’s watch writer. He avoids the snooty side of the watch world, and seeks out food in NYC that resembles what he loved while living in Asia for over a decade.

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