Seiko 5126-8090 "The Kamen Rider"
It is strange and interesting how an ordinary object can become imbued with significance through the most casual, inadvertent association.
One such example is the 1968 Seiko 5 Sports 5126-8090 which, because it was worn by the star of an early 70s Japanese television program, has recently become known on the web in Japan as “the Kamen Rider watch”.
Before there was Power Rangers and Trasformers, there was Kamen Rider.
Kamen Rider (仮面ライダ) was a tokusatsu superhero television series that debuted on Japanese television on April 3, 1971, and ran until February 10, 1973.
If you look closely at this video, you can see the 5126-8090 on the protagonist's wrist.
Kamen Rider is set in a world plagued by Shocker, a mysterious world-wide terrorist organization formed by remaining members of the Nazis. To further its plans for world domination, Shocker recruits its agents through kidnapping, turning their victims into mutant cyborgs and, ultimately, brainwashing them. However, one victim named Takeshi Hongo escapes just before the final brainwashing.
With his sanity and moral conscience intact, Hongo renames himself Kamen Rider, and he and his band of motorcycle-riding superheros battle Shocker's minions.
Kamen Rider is widely viewed as one of the milestones in Japanese pop culture, greatly revolutionizing the Japanese superhero and action genres, effectively becoming the figurehead of classical superheroes and the idea of "poetic justice" in Japan. The cultural impact of the series in Japan even resulted in the naming two minor planets in honor of the series: 12408 Fujioka, after actor Hiroshi Fujioka (who played Kamen Rider), and 12796 Kamenrider, after the series itself.
The watch worn by Takeshi Hongo (played by actor Hiroshi Fujioka) was the Seiko 5 Sports 5126-8090. Apparently the watch was not intended as part of Hiroshi Fujioka’s costume or as product placement, but was simply the actor's personal watch which was inadvertently captured in many of the shots.
The most unique feature of the 5126-8090 is the silver, unnumbered dive bezel. Its blunt lines gives this watch a very modern, Bauhaus-like look, setting it apart from all other Seiko 70m sports diver series, as well as any other watch of the era that I have seen. Seiko had some much funkier designs for the Japanese market than they did for the rest of the world, and the Kamen Rider is a good illustration of this.
The Kamen Riders are rare, rare, rare. When one does come up they are either in the $600+ price range or beat to hell.
But maybe my ship has finally come in. I recently won one at a price I could afford, but it's a gamble. Right now I am waiting for this rough looking 5126-8090 to be delivered. Here is the seller's photo alongside the watch I aspire to make it into.
What secrets lay underneath that scratched crystal? Time will tell.