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Brian May, the lead guitarist of rock group Queen, bought a quartz Seiko 7548 diver when he went to Japan for the first time in 1975. He bought a quartz watch because quartz was all the rage back then and a Seiko diver because it was the king of quartz with a reputation for robust, precise dive watches. Brian May has worn his 7548 ever since, sometimes on stage and as a daily beater. As somebody who could afford practically any watch under the sun, the Seiko is the only watch we’ve ever spotted on his wrist.
With a PhD in Astrophysics, he might have gone in for some more cosmic complications, but no, he’s stuck to his Seiko quartz. It’s clear that what Brian May wanted was a reliable, hard-wearing watch. And during all these years, Seiko has bypassed an opportunity to have the perfect ambassador…Until today, that is.
Brian May’s guitar “Red Special”
The design of the Seiko 5 Sports Brian May Limited Edition is inspired by the rocker’s legendary guitar, known as the Red Special (and often alluded to as The Fireplace or The Old Lady). At the age of 16, Brian May decided to build his own guitar from scratch and used wood taken from an old fireplace for the neck, buttons to mark the frets and a sixpenny coin as a pick. The sound produced is unique and perfectly recognisable in all Queen’s recordings, from the first in 1973 until today.
The base of the watch is the new Seiko 5 Sports which in turn was inspired by the discontinued SKX007. It has a 42mm diameter and a thickness of 13mm. The crown is at 4 o’clock and is flanked by two crown guards but not screwed-down. Even so, the water-resistance is guaranteed to 100 metres. The bezel is made from anodised aluminium and the markers are numerals are picked out in an ‘old gold’ colour. The flat glass is Seiko’s Hardlex glass and is placed just below the bezel for additional protection.
The colours and shape of Brian May’s Red Special guitar have inspired the red and black dial; you can see the curve or ‘waist’ of the guitar on the left and the grainy texture in the red area that imitates the wood of his guitar. Pretty elaborate details for a simple Seiko 5 but a testament to the care that has gone into the design – to which Brian May also contributed.
The hands and markers are the same as other Seiko 5 Sports models and framed with metal and filled with Seiko’s proprietary LumiBrite ensuring excellent visibility in the dark.
The glass on the reverse side of the watch features Brian May’s signature in the same old gold paint used on the bezel. The watch is powered by Seiko’s in-house automatic calibre 4R36 with its 3Hz balance, stop seconds, magnetic resistance to 4,800 A/m and a somewhat limited power reserve of 40 hours.
A black NATO strap is delivered with the watch, similar in colour and texture to the strap Brian May uses on his guitar. The watch is delivered in a special box designed to look like a black guitar case with metal rivets. Another detail is a commemorative sixpenny coin decorated with Brian May’s profile (and wild curly hair) on one side and his guitar on the reverse.
Price and availability
The Seiko 5 Sports Brian May is a limited edition of 9,000 pieces, a number that might seem to fly in the face of what a limited edition concept implies. However, if you think about the millions of Queens fans out there, you’ll understand why 9,000 pieces are very few pieces indeed. The price is EUR 560, more than twice that of a regular Seiko 5, but that doesn’t seem to have been a deterrent to fans.
More information at seikowatches.com.