Today, Seiko 5 Sports is introducing six new watches that take inspiration from Street Fighter V, the latest version of the classic, genre-defining fighting game first released in 1987. Street Fighter is now the leading fighting game in the esports field, being played and viewed by millions of gamers across the world. For gaming fans of a certain age, these watches are sure to bring back a ton of memories, while new enthusiasts and gamers create new ones with Street Fighter V.
Scary but true: we’re as far away from the 90s as we were from the 60s thirty short years ago. It’s no wonder that iconography from the time period is having something of a moment now, in 2020, as the kids who grew up with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, Quentin Tarantino’s first films, and Friends begin to reach middle age. It’s the same reason our parents were snatching up tickets to Fleetwood Mac reunion tours at around the same time - everything old is new again, and we all share a basic desire to relive what we love from the past on some basic, essential level. And so it is with video games, which provide a nostalgic link to the previous generation, while simultaneously looking forward as the characters we all love are introduced and reinvented for a modern audience.
That’s why these new watches are such a thrill. Based on iconic characters from Capcom’s Street Fighter series, each of these 6 limited edition Seiko 5 Sports timepieces is filled with the small details that place us directly back in the 1990s, right after school, in front of the TV, controller in hand.
As childhood fans of the game, and current fans of the Seiko 5 Sports series, we’re very excited to have the exclusive opportunity to share these watches with the Worn & Wound community.
If you’ve forgotten the broad strokes of what Street Fighter is all about, or are simply too young to remember the glory days of 16-bit console gaming, we’re happy to provide a primer. The concept is simple: Street Fighter is a one on one fighting game, where you control a character in the midst of a worldwide street fighting championship series. The game has always been character driven, with each possessing their own unique fighting style and backstory. As you progress through the game, and through each entry in the Street Fighter series, you learn more about the characters you control.
When it comes to the classic console version of the game the game’s controls are typical of the era - button mashing is perhaps too heavily rewarded, but each character has a suite of special moves that inflict maximum damage, and with skill and practice those techniques can be strung together into combinations that would invariably lead to levelling beginners, and controllers being hurled across the room in frustration. The modern version of Street Fighter takes the same principle, but updated it with more modern gameplay. Signature moves are still important, but time has enabled the gaming experience to become considerably more refined.
As quaint as the original version of the game might seem now, nearly 30 years later, it would be hard to underestimate the massive success of the Street Fighter franchise. Street Fighter V was released in 2016, and the series has spawned many spin-offs and crossovers, including an animated television series and a live action film. By some counts, more than 44 million copies of the various Street Fighter games have been sold worldwide across a multitude of platforms since 1990, easily making it one of the most durable video game franchises the industry has ever seen.
Street Fighter, as much fun as it still is to play for fans of retro gaming and those of us looking to take a walk down memory lane, is all about the characters, and that’s what makes the watches so appealing. Each is based on an iconic fighter from the game, and the details, Easter eggs, and homages to the original game go deep. Really deep. This isn’t a case of a brand watering a product down to appeal to the greatest common denominator - these watches are going to be prized by true fans. And a cursory review of the video-game-internet reveals that there are, to this day, plenty of true fans.
So let’s break it down, character by character, watch by watch. Who are you choosing to take you to the championship, to become the World Warrior?
Chun-Li - Blue Jade
Chun-Li has entered the tournament to avenge the death of her father, and track the mysterious Shadoloo criminal organization. She’s fast and deceptively strong, with a trademark lightning kick that’s capable of stunning opponents many times her size.
Her watch, unsurprisingly, is the most feminine of the group. The combination of blue and gold brings to life Chun-Li’s China dress. The 12:00 marker is taken from the collar of her dress, and her spike bracelet inspires the indexes at six and nine o’clock. The alligator embossed strap is backed with the pattern from her waist belt, and her special move, the “Spinning Bird Kick,” is printed on the case back.
Zangief - Iron Cyclone
Zangief hails from the Soviet Union, and his backstory indicates that he wrestles bears for fun and has an antipathy for Americans in particular. He’s all about brute strength, and has entered the tournament to honor his homeland, and because he’s a natural born fighter and simply knows no other way.
Zangief’s watch is appropriately opulent. With a gold case and colors that conjure the Soviet flag, this is the definition of “wrist presence,” and it’s easy to imagine on the wrist of a 250 pound, chest tattooed, sambo fighter. The dial design reflects the power of Zangief’s muscular body - the circular pressed pattern is reminiscent of his special move “Cyclone Lariat.” The nylon strap is a perfect expression of Zangief’s wrist band, and the large, bold Arabic figures and indexes, as well as the calendar display with a magnifying lens adds impact to the watch.
Guile - Indestructible Fortress
If Zangief represents the type of antagonist to American interests left over from a decades long cold war, Guile is just the opposite: all American, clean cut, with training as part of a special forces unit that he’ll leverage for the Street Fighter tournament. His iconic move, the “Sonic Boom,” (the command for which is printed on the case back) is a burst of energy created by whipping his hands and arms through the air at great speed, temporarily stunning any opponent that gets in its way.
Guile’s uniform as Major of the US Air Force inspires the military camouflage-patterned dial and patch at the 6 o’clock position. At 9:00 is the “dog tag” of Charlie Nash, Guile’s best friend, that he keeps with him to cheer him up and keep him sharp for fights. The countdown timer on the bezel (labeled as such in a high contrast red) lends credibility to this watch as a tactical tool.
Ryu - Unshakable Fist
Ryu, from Japan, is the winner of the previous Street Fighter tournament, and has entered it once again as a type of personal challenge to himself. As a fighter, he’s a perfectionist, and his existence consists of wandering the globe, honing his skills. Fans of the game no doubt have the sound effect from his iconic “Fireball” attack permanently stuck in their heads: “HA-DO-KEN” might be the most often heard sound coming from many an adolescent’s basement in the mid-90s.
The Ryu watch is loaded with details, both large and small. The watch’s design is inspired by his classic “do-gi” Judo uniform, and the scratch-like marks across the bezel reflect the tough training required of Ryu to become a “true fighter”. At 9:00 is a simplified version of the iconic “Furinkazan” kanji characters found on his gloves, which signify “as swift as the wind, as gentle as forest, as fierce as fire and as unshakable as the mountain.” The dial has a canvas-like texture to match the strap and evoke Ryu’s uniform, and we also like to think that it connects the dots between two important Japanese traditions: the handcraft often seen in traditional watchmaking, and the ancient martial arts practices that a character like Ryu would have been involved in.
Ken - Rush 'n' Blaze
Ken can best be described as Ryu’s American counterpart and chief rival. In terms of gameplay, the two are nearly identical, sharing fighting styles and special moves. But if Ryu is disciplined and exacting, Ken is, well, Ken’s the American. He’s brash and ego driven, and has let his technique deteriorate due to a lack of practice as the Street Fighter tournament nears. Ryu has challenged him, however, and Ken is now seeking to impress the world fighting community with his considerable skill.
Ken’s costume and blond hair are captured in the watch’s red and yellow color scheme, and his costume design is also reflected in the dial. The intricate dial pattern is complex, revealing itself in changing light, but winds up being eminently readable. At the reverse side of the strap end is the logo of his company, the Masters Foundation, showing another side to his identity. The command for one of the most known moves of the game, “Shoryuken” is printed on the case back.
Blanka - Call of the Wild
Blanka, in many ways, transcends Street Fighter. He’s simply one of the greatest video game creations of the era - a half man, half beast fighter from Brazil. Completely green save for a shock of orange hair, Blanka is a mysterious creature who has entered the Street Fighter tournament with the hope of learning more about this past. While other fighters in Street Fighter II, though fanciful, are (mostly) based in reality, Blanka is pure fantasy, and is thus set apart in a unique way from the other characters.
His watch has a gun metal plated case, with a bright green dial featuring a pressed spinning design based on Blanka’s iconic rolling attacks. The triangular indexes are in the image of Blanka’s sharp and powerful teeth, and orange accents recall his neon hair. The bezel’s electric discharge pattern captures one of Blanka’s special moves, “Electric Thunder”.
As much fun as these watches are for collectors, we are remiss not to point out their attributes as watches that you can actually wear. These are Seikos, after all, and function simultaneously as an everyday timepiece with proven reliability, and a little pop of culture that is sure to be meaningful to both gaming and watch enthusiasts.
Built on the same platform as the Seiko 5 Sports line that launched to much acclaim in 2019, these watches are powered by Seiko’s 4R36 movement, feature 100 meters of water resistance, and have a case sized at 42.5mm in diameter.
These watches, dubbed the “5KX” by Seiko fans, are something of a spiritual successor to the much loved SKX007 (and its many derivatives), and while they don’t have the ISO rated dive capability of that classic watch, Seiko has leaned in hard to styling these in the great modding tradition that is so key to enthusiast watch fandom. The Street Fighter series as seen here could have been the result of a high end mod a generation ago, but here Seiko has done it themselves, which seems to be a loving nod to the vibrant community that has given watches in this bracket such life over the years.
The caseback of each watch in the series features the Street Fighter V logo, as well as the character the watch represents. And just in case your muscle memory has lapsed from the last time you played the game, the controls for that character’s signature move can also be found on the exhibition glass, right over the movement.
The Street Fighter watches are sure to generate real excitement. It’s a perfectly executed realization of a concept, and represents fan-service in the best way possible. Each watch is limited to 9,999 units worldwide.
Seiko is an important brand for Worn & Wound. Not only are they one of our favorites to cover editorially, but the entire team enjoys owning and wearing Seiko watches - they’re truly foundational for all of us in a very meaningful way. So we’re incredibly excited to partner exclusively with Seiko for the launch of the Street Fighter limited editions, which will be available in the US only in the Windup Watch Shop for a limited time.