The Seiko 5 GOD: 5126-8110

I would like to spend some time today preaching. Preaching about the Seiko GOD to be specific.

The Seiko GOD, for those in the know, is the design philosophy employed by Seiko back in the 60s and 70s, otherwise know as the Grammar of Design (“GOD”).

In 1959, Seiko hired a design graduate by the name of Taro Tanaka. One day in 1962 while at Wako, Taro observed that the Swiss watches caught and reflected the lights in the store much better than Seikos. Upon further examination, he realized that the Swiss watch cases consists of perfectly flat and conical surfaces perfectly smooth and free from distortions. He then created a “design formula ” which became known as Seiko’s “Grammar of Design”.

Grammar of Design

From A Journey in Time, Page 74

This design philosophy was employed by Seiko in various guises with minor variations among their mid-high end ranges such as the Lord Matics, King Seikos and Grand Seikos.

LordMatic

LordMatic Special 5216 – Pix from Antiquewatchbar

IMG_0010

King Seiko 5625 – Taken from my own collection

To me, it made sense that this design was restricted to the higher echelons models offered by Seiko as it allowed consumers to easily differentiate a high end Seiko from a pedestrian Seiko. Also it was likely that the cost of producing a GOD case was substantial enough to deter its implementation in all but the highest profit margin generating models.

Therefore it was a very pleasant surprise for me to find that that a run of the mill Seiko 5 had a GOD case! In fact, it was produced at the same time as its higher end cousins, which I mentioned above such as the King Seikos and the Lord Matics in 1969.

It was not a popular Seiko 5 model, which are usually dominated by the Speedtimers in today’s watch collectors’ mind, which probably explained why it flew under the radar most of the time.

I would like to introduce to you the GOD of Seiko 5s, my 5126-8110 (dial code 8150).

20180908_142340

There was another version that came with a blue dial and green chapter ring, but I do think that my version looks much cleaner in its simple black and white palette.

the other 5126

The Case

 

As I’ve noted earlier, this was very similar to the the GOD cases found in the more expensive ranges with some small exceptions, hence they are not the EXACT cases found in the KS for example. The first obvious difference is that the crown is recessed and found at 4 o’clock, while it’s typically found at the 3 o’clock position. The reason for this is because the movement is not hand winding capable, however this does mean that the case has a very sleek look with no crown to break the flowing lines of the sides. The other obvious difference was that the lugs were not straight. Rather, the expand out a little to the point that the 19mm strap connects to it. This is unlike my KS where the lugs are straight. A third difference, which was more subtle, is that the flanks of the KS/GS cases are more flat, compared to the Seiko 5 GOD case which is slightly more voluminous for lack of a better word.  However, beyond that I cannot see much of a difference between the polishing work on the Seiko 5 GOD vs my KS. However, I do need to note that this is a subjective point given that I’m not comparing 2 factory fresh examples. There should be a substantial difference in the polishing work at inception given that these 2 watches are targeted at 2 vastly different markets.

Sharp-eyed readers would also have spotted some inscriptions on the case back of my example. It was indeed a 10th anniversary gift given out on 1 May 1969. However, given the close to flawless condition of this watch, I highly suspected that this gift was kept or only use sparingly after it was presented to the recipient.

The double domed acrylic crystal sits high on the dial, and seems to be original to this watch when compared to other pictures of the same models I’ve pulled out while googling. It was luckily that there are no scratches or dings on the crystal given how much it protrudes above the bezel.

The Dial

20180908_081531 23 jewels

The “Seiko”, “5”, “23 Jewels” and “Daini lightning bolt” are all printed on the sunburst silver dial. There was absolutely no bleeding of any sort even upon close examination.

The hands are all completely silver with no markers or lume of any sort. The hour and minute hands end in an abrupt stop rather than tapering to a sharp point. I also like it that the minute hand just touches the five minute markers while the seconds hands extends just beyond the minute ring.

The minute ring of this watch is a printed strip of black, with holes punched through it. Every fifth hole lines up nicely with the hour marker which itself is a rectangle with a hole at the end, which lines up nicely with that fifth hole of the minute ring.

This is a very interesting design choice and brings the focus to the minute ring of the dial. It also adds a dash of sporty vibes to an otherwise solemn dress watch. I’ll take it as a causal King Seiko pretender on a budget!

20180908_081536 Seiko 5 logo and min markers

Moving on to the day/date which is framed within its own metal window, Seiko made the excellent choice of having the Day on a white wheel, while the Date on a black wheel because this continues the theme of a black and white palette. In fact, the dial occasionally brings to mind the checkered flag that is often used in motor racing!

The Movement

The movement is the basic variant of the 51 family, that only has auto winding and quick set date. There’s no quick set day. The other interesting thing is that this is one of the rare Seiko movements that does not use the magic lever technology to wind the main spring. Rather it uses the somewhat Swiss method of reverser wheels, similar to the 52/4S movements and the modern 9S Grand Seko movements.

Conclusion

This was not an expensive watch, nor did it have any rare complication that I wanted to brag about. Rather it was a case of a stupendous find that illustrates that you never really stop learning in this hobby of mine. I find it comparable to discovering black swans at a time when everyone thought that all swans are white!

It is a very lovely watch, and certainly deserves more love and attention. I wonder if it would have been a more popular and sought after vintage piece if it did not have the “5” badge on it?

 

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