Field watches? They’re cool. Inspired by models of the past issued for military forces, they are legible, robust, made for outdoor activities and have a true no-nonsense feeling that makes them appealing. Seiko 5 Sports watches? They’re cool too. Robust, loyal, honest mechanical watches that won’t let you down. Nothing fancy, just accessible models that do the job perfectly. Seiko 5 Sports Field watches? Well, obviously they’re cool too, and if you want to see why, check out this article… But there’s something with field watches that is sort of mandatory to me… they need to be compact. And the Japanese watchmaker has done just that, with the new 36mm Seiko 5 Sports Mid-Field Collection, with three new references (SRPJ81, SRPJ83 and SRPJ85) that seem to be spot on.
The Seiko 5 Sports collection was revamped in 2019 with a complete new range of watches, which at first, felt like reviving the praised style of the SKX007 series. Looking like dive watches (without being actual dive watches), equipped with a rotating bezel, available in dozens of colours, powered by the most mundane automatic movement of the brand – which doesn’t make it a bad movement at all – and fairly accessible. Yes, there has been some criticism, but overall, quite a successful revamp of the Seiko 5 name.
It didn’t take long for Seiko to bring back another much-loved style of the old Seiko 5 series, the simple and bezel-less field watch – which many have known under the reference SNK809. The recipe was simple: take the case of the other Seiko 5 Sports watches, remove the rotating bezel and place a smooth bezel instead, design a dial with a matte background, large Arabic numerals, a 24-hour military-like scale and apply lots of lume on the hands and markers… and voila, you have a field watch with robust specs and an accessible price. In a 39.4mm case. And while there’s nothing wrong with this size, I personally tend to prefer field watches to be even more compact. Think about the Hamilton W10 or the Timor Heritage, both around 36mm in diameter, as my benchmark models for a cool field watch.
Seiko is giving us just that… With the new Seiko 5 Sports Mid-Field models. Three watches, three different interpretations of the same concept, and a case that has been reduced by 3mm to now 36.4mm in diameter. Sounds spot on, right? The rest of the dimensions are in the same vein: 12.5mm in height (not the thinnest, objectively) and 44.4mm lug-to-lug, which sounds like the promise of great comfort and a cool vintage look on the wrist. The rest of the specs of these new SRPJ81, SRPJ83 and SRPJ85 don’t change much compared to the larger version, with a classic, unprotected crown at 3 o’clock, a screwed caseback with see-through crystal, a Hardlex (mineral) crystal on top and a reassuring 100m water-resistance.
The dials… Nothing really new here either, with just a day-date window that sits closer to the edge of the dial. Otherwise, it’s all identical to the larger SRPG27 model. Available in black with white lume (SRPJ81), black with beige lume (SRPJ85) and sand with black accents (SRPJ83), all dials have a matte, slightly grained texture, large Arabic numerals, a military-like 24-hour scale and hands and hour markers that are coated with LumiBrite. Simple, legible, straightforward… All you need in a field watch – even though I would get rid of the day-date function.
Inside the case, no surprises. As with all watches from the collection, the new 36mm Seiko 5 Sports Mid-Field watches are powered by the all-time classic calibre 4R36, an automatic entry-level movement that has proven its reliability. Not the most precise on paper, it beats at 3Hz, stores 41 hours of power reserve and features a hacking second. As for the strap, two of the models are worn on nylon NATO-like straps in beige (SRPJ83) or green (SRPJ85) – military style obliges – or a 3-link steel bracelet with a folding clasp (SRPJ81) – just like the bigger brother, but with an 18mm lug width.