Seiko 5 watch review: Stainless steel with gold accents.
The Seiko 5 watch for men is one of the Japanese brand’s most well-known and recognizable items, bridging the gap between affordability and premium quality. The SNKK94 model in stainless steel with gold accents – one of the more eye-catching versions of this particular Seiko 5 version – is the subject of our Seiko 5 study. But, before we get into the study, let’s take a look at what the Seiko 5 watches are all about and what makes them so special.
When it comes to accurate automatic watches, the Swiss are usually the first to come to mind. The Japanese, on the other hand, have repeatedly shown that their timepieces are just as dependable, if not more so, and that they can provide the same degree of quality for a fraction of the cost. Although it can’t compete with the likes of Omega, Vacheron, and Patek, the Seiko 5 provides the best value for money in its class without sacrificing looks or accuracy.
But first, a bit of history.
In the 1960s, the Seiko 5 was born in an effort to meet the growing demands of that generation. As a result, each of these watches provided five distinct and useful features. Every timepiece had self-winding capabilities, water resistance, a day-date feature in a single window, a recessed crown at 4 o’clock, and a sturdy steel case and bracelet when it left the factory doors. With time, the Japanese watchmakers began to deviate from the original design, especially when it came to the location of the crown. Our SNKK94 model does have a standard crown at 3 o’clock, but it still has all of the other benefits of the classic Seiko 5.
In the 1960s, few businesses were able to bundle these distinct features into a single product without charging a premium. The Seiko 5, on the other hand, became extremely successful due to its extremely low asking price. This is also one of the most cost-effective automatic watches on the market today. It’s also one of the most dependable and reliable watches in its price range, making it a must-have for anyone looking for an automatic watch without going broke.
Case and design.
The SNKK94 is one of the smallest Seiko 5 models available, with a case diameter of 38mm. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, particularly if your wrists and hands are tiny. Apart from the colorway, which is all-silver/steel on the SNKK87, the style is almost similar to that of the SNKK87. The SNKK94’s gold highlights make it stand out and give it a flashier, more costly appearance. The steel case has a plain gray appearance, as you can see, but the golden bezel takes center stage when viewed from the front.
The golden hour markers and hands contrast well with the white dial, complementing the bezel. The crown is the same golden color as the dial, and the Seiko 5 branding at 12 o’clock is the same.
The Hardlex crystal, which protects the dial from the elements, is surrounded by the bezel. If you’re unfamiliar with Hardlex, it’s an in-house crystal that’s more scratch resistant than regular mineral glass. However, it pales in comparison to sapphire.
The crown is located at the 3 o’clock position and does not allow for manual winding. Even so, you can manually wind the watch by shaking your wrist. As long as you wear the timepiece regularly, the self-winding mechanism ensures that you will never run out of control. Many of you who prefer to wind your watches by hand might consider this a weakness.
The back of the case is also made of Hardlex, and it gives a glimpse of the watch’s in-house Japanese 7S26 automatic movement. This is a pretty plain-looking movement, since it doesn’t have a lot of ornamentation. It does, however, contain 21 gems, which is no small feat. The case is water resistant to a depth of 99 feet (30 meters).
Manufacturers don’t recommend submerging your Seiko 5 in water because it may be permanently harmed. Showering with this watch is also not recommended, but if it gets a few splashes or is worn in the rain, you shouldn’t be too concerned. In reality, some Seiko 5 owners have confirmed no damage to their watches after swimming with them. It’s ultimately up to you if you want to take the chance, but just to be sure, I never tried swimming with this watch.
Hands and dial.
Since the hour and minute hands have been treated with Seiko’s renowned LumiBrite luminous paint treatment, legibility on the Seiko 5 SNKK94 is excellent. The hour markers themselves are not luminescent, but each one has a tiny luminescent dot at the end that helps with readability in low light. For this model, Seiko chose to forego both Arabic and Roman numerals, which means we’re stuck with plain rectangular-shaped markers.
The Seiko 5 logos are at the top of the dial, just below the 12 o’clock point, while the AUTOMATIC 21 Jewels print is above 6 o’clock on the opposite side.
As previously mentioned, the Seiko 5 SNKK94 is operated by a 21-jewel Seiko 7S26 automatic calibre built in-house. The movement has a power reserve of 40 hours and runs at a frequency of 21,600vph or 3Hz. The central hours, minutes, and seconds, as well as a day/date complication, are among its key functions.
Its flaws are the non-hacking seconds and the lack of manual winding. To wind up the timepiece, you just need to shake it for about 30 seconds, and if you don’t want to do that, you can easily wear it on a daily basis without worrying about running out of battery.
This watch has a precision value of -20/+40 seconds per day. This isn’t quite as precise as a chronometer, but we have to consider the price tag. This is one of the most accurate and durable watches you can purchase right now in its price range (under $200). You can always change the watch once a week or every few days to ensure that it always runs true.
The watch does not run slower than 18 seconds per day in general. Personally, I can live with that, but if you’re used to changing your watch once a month, doing it every week could seem like a hassle.
Seiko seems to have put the bulk of its resources into producing a successful automatic watch, but they had to cut costs elsewhere. While the bracelet is not the most expensive in the world, it is very comfortable. It does tug on my arm hairs a little after a full day of use, but it never completely pulls them out, which is a major plus in my opinion.
The clasp has a push-down button that allows for easy release, and the bracelet has folded ties. Many Seiko 5 owners eventually opt for a more stylish leather band to replace the regular bracelet, which should also increase wearing comfort. The bracelet, on the other hand, is perfectly fine to keep because it was built to allow the wrist to breathe. This is helpful if you intend to wear the watch for several days at a time. I usually only wear it for 6 to 8 hours a day, and I’ve had no problems with it in terms of comfort.
The cost of replacing the bracelet with a leather band is also a concern. If you bought a Seiko 5 for its affordability alone, high-quality leather straps can end up costing more than the watch itself, defeating the intent. However, in my opinion, if you end up paying less than $300 for the watch and the strap, that’s still a great deal.
The Seiko 5 SNKK94 is not necessarily a luxury watch in a true sense of the word, but it does feel like one at times. Its main selling point is probably the 7S26 movement, which offers decent accuracy and all of the benefits of a reliable automatic watch. Seiko did cut some corners when it comes to the bracelet and general presentation, as the box is definitely one of the simplest I’ve ever seen. You’re not buying this watch for the box, however, you’re buying it because it provides you with a chance to enter the automatic watch market at a steal.
Seiko 5 technical specifications.
- Case: 38mm diameter – 316L grade stainless steel – Hardlex crystal at the front, Hardlex case back – 99 feet of water-resistance.
- Movement: Seiko 7S26 calibre – automatic – 21,600vph/3Hz frequency – 21 jewels – 40h power reserve – average rate -20/+40 seconds per day – hours, minutes, seconds (non-hacking) and day/date complication.
- Strap: Stainless steel with folded links, clasp with a push-down mechanism for easy release.
- Reference: SNKK94 Silver/Gold (white dial) / SNKK87 Brushed Silver (white dial).