Seiko’s lovable scooter watch
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Joy is engineered into the Honda Super Cub, which celebrates its 65th birthday next year. It was part of the original product spec. When Soichiro Honda launched the scooter in 1958, its stated aim was “to provide the joy of playing a useful part in people’s lives”.
It’s why Seiko is paying homage to the lovable Cub with a special version of one of its own most emblematic products, the Seiko 5 Sports. The timepiece began life as the Seiko Sportsmatic 5 in 1963 and is about to celebrate its own 60th anniversary.
The “5” refers to a quintet of qualities that change slightly depending which Seikoholic you talk to, but the Seiko Museum cites them as: self-winding; water-resistant mechanism; day-and-date-integrated window in the 3 o’clock position; a crown (which does not require manual winding) in the 4 o’clock position; and masculine design.
Which basically translates as hard-wearing and value for money… not unlike the Honda Super Cub, which is celebrated in watch form with a two-tone dial design recalling the front view of the Super Cub with a “headlight” at 12 o’clock and “indicator lights” at 11 and 1. Plus it comes with a toning NATO strap tipped with the Honda wing and emblazoned with that all-important Super Cub logo.
Whereas the usual internal combustion engine-meets-lever escapement mash-up tends to play to alpha-male touch points such as danger and speed, in a crowded world of collaborations the Seiko Super Cub stands out for offering an altogether gentler bond between watchmaking and motorbikes.
It is approachability that characterises both the watch and the scooter. A regular Seiko 5 Sports will set you back £230 (the Honda Special Edition ranges from £340 to £380); not bad for a self-winding watch with a proprietary movement and a six-decade backstory. And while I have no way of verifying Honda’s suggestion that the Super Cub could be the planet’s most popular form of motorised transport – apparently more than 100 million of them have been made – I can say I have seen them all over the world. Once while touring the tobacco plantations of the Dominican Republic, I spotted a family of four aboard one Cub chugging happily along a rutted track. The combination of relatively large wheels and the step-through frame exude a pleasing, unthreatening… well… niceness, a quality that, to its credit, Honda was unafraid to exploit in its 1960s advertising that featured images of wholesome young Americans in preppy clothing along with the strap line “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”.