If what you’re after is no-nonsense vintage Seiko that that simply tells the time with a minimal level of pretense, you don’t have to pick up that 18K 5646-7005 Grand Seiko. You don’t even need a 6159-7001 Diver. If one wanted to get aggressive in Japanese functionality, it would be difficult to find a more minimal and functional instrument of time than the 7005-8050. Seiko made many lightweight divers in the 1960s, in the skin diver philosophy, and offered them alongside their professional models. They went under the title of Seiko Sport Divers, and understanding their lineage is a study in the essence of tool watches.
What most might term as cheerful thrifty alternative, Seiko marketed as ‘sport’. If you were saturation diving or working an oil rig, Seiko had a 300m professional line for you (whose crystals kept popping off). If, on the other hand, you were fishing off Okinawa, Seiko thought this may be more appropriate. Engineering a monobloc case for the professional line was expensive, and Seiko helped offset that cost with more attainable lightweight waterproof offerings for the everyman. What Seiko accidentally created was the minimalists’ tool watch, a 38mm steel case with rotating bezel and a screw down crown/back.
The dial and hands bear strong resemblance to the famed 62MAS, no bad thing. Moreover, its dial bears a sideways lightning bolt, a mark of the Daini-factory production and an interesting historical nod all itself. The crown was hugely recessed, more than almost any diver I’ve seen. The stark design proved so legible, robust, and cost-effective that the Iranian military bulk ordered their own production for Royal Army officers. This is not a collector’s item (they made metric tons, mostly not surviving), but it is a great entry point to vintage Japanese watchmaking; one which is easy to service, correctly proportioned, quite handsome, and an inarguable a massive value.
This example has a sharp case with signs of age and wear, but not abuse. Its dial is clear of unwanted deterioration, the lume is original (these always had a slightly greenish shift to their tritium), and the bezel is not cracked. It comes as a naked watch from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this 7005-8050 here from Watch Garage for 850 EUR.