Square 5126-8120 (8130) Daini Rally Divers
Suwa and Daini
From 1959 until well into the 1980s Seiko’s Suwa Seikosha factory and Daini Seikosha factory were run as separate entities independent of each other. This was done to promote competition between them. Having Suwa and Daini operating as almost separate companies meant that they did not share parts, movements (and more to the point) each had their own independent design department. This forced each of the two divisions to cultivate its own unique style. One of the best examples of the design competition between Suwa and Daini divisions is the Rally rivalry.
While many of the Suwa Tonneau-cased “Rally” divers were readily available in Western markets, these square-cased Daini models were built only for the Japanese domestic market.
In addition to their JDM status, Daini’s 5126 Rallys were only produced in 1969, so there are far fewer of them available on the market today.
There are three models of the Daini Rallys, coming in black, silver and blue styles.
The 5126-8130 model number covers both the black dial with blue indices and the silver dialed versions, both with the black and silver bezels.
The 5126-8120 is the blue dialed version with the blue and black bezel.
The square case clearly echoes the square case of the Yema "Sous Marine" of the same era.
With an effective diameter of 41mm these cases would have been considered massive for the late 60s’.
To many, the thing that defines a Rally watch is the racing flag pattern bezel insert. While the Suwa bezel bears an unambiguous racing flag pattern, these Daini models have a more abstract checkered flag pattern.
Each of these three 5126 Rallys of course has different colored dials, but there are some similarities among them. Each of the dials has bright white luminous plots that meet an overlay cap at the minute track painted either blue, black, or orange. A printed “5” badge and baby blue “Sports” designation dress the dials along with a 70m Proof designation. The hour and minute hands are striped on the 5126-8130s and have painted tips on the 5126-8120 to match the overlay caps. An original orange-red sweep hand fluoresces under a blacklight.
From my perspective as a watch wearer, Daini’s 23 jewel 5126 movement is one of my favorites. It’s not exactly quickset, the date is set by pushing in the crown. To change the day you need to change the time from 9pm to 1am. But it doesn’t take as long as you’d think. From a watchmaker’s perspective, the 5125 movement doesn't have the date alignment issues, nor the fragile plastic day and date fingers that that plague the 6106 and 6119 fifty years on. The 5126 movement was a departure from Seiko’s the “magic” pawl lever in the autowind mechanism, the design is much closer to something Swiss, utilizing reverser wheels to transfer the rotors movements to the mainspring.
The Silver dialed 5126-8130 came mounted on the thick, comfortable and sturdy railroad-track style bracelet. It has three heavy-rounded links near the case, which gracefully taper to flat links closer to the clasp.
Both the Black dialed 5126-8130 and the Blue dialed 5126-8120 came on an unusual slotted bracelet with triangular shaped vent holes.
Both bracelets have “Seiko Sports 5” stamped into the clasps.
Spotting an Aftermarket Bezel
Aftermarket bezels for the 5125 and the 1997 reissue come from only a few suppliers, and are pretty easy to spot if you know what you are looking for. Take this one from Dagaz. The real bezel alternates between black and grey on both the outer ring and the inner ring. The Dagaz insert only alternates in the outer ring. The inner ring is just painted black.
Dagaz could have easily made a 1:1 replica, but didn’t. Doing so would have muddied the waters for collectors searching for an original, 5126 Rally.
Dagaz did the same for the blue bezel. Note how the blue is just a bit lighter on the Dagaz. And more obviously, the lume pip has a chrome frame and petudes on the Dagaz insert, but not on the original.
Of course we can’t count on all suppliers being as conscientious as Dagaz in the future, so buyer beware!
In 1997 the 5126-8130(20) was reissued with a 7s26 movement. The fact that Seiko reissued this watch with the 7S36 movement, with no noticeable change to the design elements from the 1969 original, is proof of the enduring aesthetics original design. Yet many have commented that they consider the 7s26 movement to be inferior to the original 5126, despite the fact that it has a quickset in both day and date.
These were four models in the 1997 reissue: SBSS013, SBSS015, SBSS01, and SBSS021.
The square case measures 41mm without crown (the same as the original) and has a thickness of 12 mm.
Like the original, the crystal is a Hardlex, but takes a size unique to the watch (320P19HN02), and is (as far as I know) nearly impossible to find a replacement.
The bezel on the reissue is almost identical, save for the lume pip, which is just a bit smaller, and the bezel is affixed to the watch with a rubber gasket in place of the spring that was used in 1969.
Unlike the original, the day/date is in Kanji and English.
While the sweep hands from 1969 were red-orange and fluoresces under UV light, the sweephands in 1997 were just plain cherry red.
The water resistance rating is 100m or “10 BAR” as opposed to the 70 meter rating of the original.
Seiko issued a similar railroad-track style bracelet on the silver dialed rally as it did in 1969.
But in place of the slotted bracelet with triangular shaped vent holes, seiko mounted the others on razor style bracelets with “I” shaped vent holes.
Three of the dials (SBSS013, SBSS015, and SBSS01) were reissues of the 1969 originals, but the gold-dialed SBSS021 model was the only member of the quartet that does not have a 1969 counterpart. Moreover, this gold-dialed rally does not appear in the promotional materials, and some collectors have asserted that the SBSS021 was not produced in the same numbers or distributed in normal supply channels as were the other three. At any rate, for many it is regarded as their grail watch.
As for me, the 1969 versions are the true grails. It has taken me three years to hunt down the entire trio and their bracelets, and I treasure them above any others in my collection.