Reviewing Seiko x Giugiaro SCED035 “Ripley”
Having a watch associated with a famous film character is a sure way to concrete its place in history. Obviously the most famous example being James Bond and his Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamasters and a plethora of others that rode the character’s coat tails to higher sales. Well, in the history of cult classics there is perhaps no watch that is more interesting, or associated with a cooler character than the Seiko x Giugiaro watch worn by Ripley in James Cameron’s amazing horror/action film from 1986, Aliens.
Now, I could probably write a few thousand words on that film as well as the other in the Aliens series, as I am a huge fan and have seen them all several times to dozens of time. Yes, I even am a fan of Alien: Resurrection, which was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (and written by Joss Whedon), who is better known for films like Amelie. I also love H.R. Giger, and have had books of his work on my shelf since I was in high school. His Xenomorph designs and bio-architecture concepts have never been equalled in the horror genre. And as for Aliens, perhaps the most fun of the Alien films, I’ve seen it too many times to count. Game over man.
But I will admit, in my years of watch collecting, I never sought out the Seiko x Giugiaro 7a28-7000 watch worn by Ripley in the film. They are rare, often in poor condition, and simply quite odd. Not something that I felt I had to have. But, when Seiko luxury watch announced they would be reissuing a limited edition of the watch, my interests changed. Now, it would be easy to have one, and for a fairly reasonable price too. This was a watch I needed to at least try on.
But to backtrack, it’s not just the Ripley association that interests me at this point; it’s also the designer. Giorgetto Giugiaro is an Italian automotive designer who created many extremely iconic cars, such as various Alfa Romeos, the 1977 BMW M1 (which was a legit race car let out on the street) and, perhaps most famously for us film fans, the DeLorean. In 1983, Seiko released a handful of motoring watches, labeled the Speedmaster line (hmmm), designed by Giugiaro. Their aesthetics were unlike anything before or after, and perfectly exemplified a sort of harsh-futuristic design aesthetic from the era. There were a few powered by Seiko’s venerable 7a28 movement, and a few with digital designs.
It was then a happy accident that the watch ended up on Sigourney Weaver’s wrist, as these weren’t designed for the film. That said, I don’t think anything more perfect could have been created for the film. It suits a bleak future where giant space mining companies and grunt workers and soldiers have to risk their lives on missions into unknown space. The blocky design is at once futuristic and utilitarian. Made by a society with advanced technology, but a brutal, almost fascist aesthetic. Ripley was not a weak character; she was tough, brave and aggressive. It’s the watch she would have worn.
Fastforward to 2016, and now the watch is available again. No longer under the Speedmaster name, but rather under their Spirit Smart line, as the SCED035. There are several other colorways as well, but it’s the 035 that earns the title of the Ripley. These are a Japanese domestic market release, and a limited edition of 3,000 pieces, but obviously they can be obtained here. The going rate is in the $350 range, though the actual price is a bit less. With that said, it’s not a lot for an awesome and unique watch, especially if you’re a fan of the films.