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Brian May’s ‘Red Special’ Guitar Inspires New Seiko 5 Sports Watch

The guitar legend bought his Seiko watch while first on tour in Japan in the 1970s – since when his guitar and his watch have travelled the globe together.

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Brian May Red Special Guitar Inspires Seiko Watch
Photo: Bojan Hohnjec @ Miracle Productions LLP

Throughout his long and continuing career, rock legend Brian May has relied upon his ‘Red Special’ Guitar to create the sound that helped make Queen one of the world’s most admired and celebrated rock bands. He has also relied on Seiko. For more than 40 years, May has worn a Seiko diver’s watch whose enduringly popular design is the inspiration for the latest Seiko 5 Sports collection.

May bought his Seiko watch while first on tour in Japan in the 1970’s since when his guitar and his watch have travelled the globe together, making great music and keeping great time.

The Red Special has now inspired a new Seiko 5 Sports watch whose dial echoes the design of the guitar which May and his father built in the early 1960’s. The guitar was made by hand, with only hand tools. The neck was carved from the wood of an old fireplace, 100 years old at the time. The body was made from blockboard with an ancient oak insert, and covered with a mahogany veneer that the young guitarist stained and polished himself.

The innovative tremolo system designed by May featured a hand-carved mild steel rocker plate pivoting on a knife edge, with the pull of the strings balanced by motorcycle valve springs. To complete the job, the tremolo arm was improvised from part of a bicycle saddlebag holder, capped with a piece of a sturdy knitting needle. The Red Special is a labor of love that has uniquely served Brian May on stage and in the studio for over half a century.

The new Seiko 5 Sports watch is constructed in a very different way but is also built to last. With the long-trusted caliber 4R36 at its heart, 10 bar water resistance, a Hardlex crystal and its robust steel case, it has all the qualities that have made Seiko 5 Sports so many fans down the decades. The dial has the same red and black color scheme as the ‘Red Special’ and features a delicate wood-like pattern like the body of the guitar.

The watch is offered as a limited edition with Brian May’s signature on the case back and comes with a special presentation box designed on the lines of the Red Special’s custom flight case. The presentation box also contains a commemorative coin that is based on the six penny piece that he has used throughout his career as a plectrum. The watch is presented on a black nylon strap, designed to mirror the strap that May now uses on his guitar.

Seiko is grateful to Brian May for the opportunity to celebrate his creativity and his music with this Seiko 5 Sports watch. The guitar legend commented, ‘’I am delighted to see this watch come alive, and proud that the creation of me and my dad all those years ago has inspired this collaboration. I love my Seiko and it has served me well for many years. I will wear this new one with pride.”

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