If you ask any watch aficionado to recommend a budget automatic watch, I’d bet 90% of the time the answer would be a Seiko 5. This series of watches has everything you’d want from a “serious” watch: a brand with history, a reliable automatic movement and definite value for money.
The Seiko 5 line of watches are instantly recognisable, with the “5” logo in the shape of a shield prominently applied onto the dial. The Sports sub-line recently underwent a renewal, with the 5 now placed horizontally in a edgier, modern font. The “5” actually represents 5 specific requirements the watch must meet, though opinions differ on what the requirements actually are. Most people say that the 5 are:
- Diaflex Mainspring
- Diashock system
- Automatic Winding
- Day/date Indication
- Water Resistance
If that didn’t mean anything to you, it’s alright; most people aren’t going to get it anyway. Just take it as the brand’s promise that this line of products have met a certain baseline in terms of quality.
The SNK805 is a field watch, adopting a distinctly military aesthetic. The dial comes in a dark olive green, with white Arabic numerals located on both an inner ring, and along the outer edges of the dial. The inner circle bears the hour markings; the outer that of the minutes, making reading the time simple and fast. A day/date indication is also located at the 3 o’ clock position. The wheel comes in two languages, and mine came with English and Roman numerals. You can choose which you prefer.
The diamond shaped hands are filled with Seiko’s Lumi Brite, together with pips above each minute marker and the second hand, offering some functionality in dark situations. The lume while bright doesn’t last for long, though at this price point you really can’t be complaining. It’ll definitely be enough for most; there’s street lamps everywhere in Singapore anyway.
Seiko opted for a lollipop hand for the seconds hand, aptly nicknamed as such for its circular tip. The hand also comes with a red tip, further adding on to it legibility.
The watch measures 37mm across, with a lug-to-lug of 43mm. The watch sits at 11mm thick, with a lug width of 18mm. The watch sounds small, but will fit on most Singaporean wrists just well. It isn’t the thinnest of watches, nor is it very bulky. On my 16.5cm wrist, the watch looks proportionate and snug. It isn’t a heavy piece, and most of the times I forget I’m even wearing it at all.
The case is made of stainless steel in a matte finish, with a recessed crown at the 4 o’ clock position. The recessed crown was designed such that the crown would not dig into your wrist, as with most other traditional crowns located at the 3 o’ clock position.
Setting the time is simple; the first click allows you to set the day and date, while the second click allows you to set the time. Personally, I found that the crown could be a bit bigger to make for easier adjustments – and my hands are relatively smaller compared to others. Nevertheless, it is solidly built and does not feel fiddly, which is a plus.
The true fun comes when you flip the watch around, especially for first time automatic watch owners. Amazingly, the SNK805 comes with a screw-down, see through case back, allowing you to peer into the inner workings of the watch. There’s hardly any decoration and it isn’t a fancy movement, but it’ll be good fun for most. Give it a shake, and admire as the rotor whirs around.
The crystal on the dial and the see through caseback feature Seiko’s own Hardlex crystal. While not as good as sapphire, it’ll offer better protection than acrylic, and doesn’t shatter as compared to sapphire. As long as you don’t go smashing into walls, you’ll be fine.
The watch comes with 30m of water resistance, which is good enough for daily use – splashes of water and the like. Having gone with a military design, I felt it strange that Seiko didn’t give it better water resistance.
As mentioned earlier, the watch uses the 7S26 movement, commonly found in the Seiko 5 line of watches. The movement is often described as a workhorse, and aptly so: it’s un-decorated and focuses on just doing its job reliably. The movement beats at 21,600bph, featuring bi-directional winding and a power reserve of roughly 40 hours. Accuracy ranges from -40/+20 seconds a day. Note that the movement does not have hacking or hand-winding.
Translated from jargon, the watch will do its job well and reliably. Occasionally, you’ll have to make small adjustments to get your time dead accurate, but really, it’s fine.
The stock strap provided is a matching green, 2-piece canvas strap. The buckle is signed, and the adjustment straps are reinforced to give it some added durability. The straps aren’t the most comfortable, but they do their job.
Unfortunately, the chosen shade of green just reminds me of my army field pack and NS days. To be fair, it is a military styled watch so I give them their due credit, but it’s a no encik for me.
Here’s where the SNK series really shines: brand new these cost around $90; that’s cheaper than many fashion watches out there, and you’re definitely getting way more in this package. Get them on a sale or pick them up second-hand and you’ve got yourself a winner. Do look out for fakes online though, you can often spot them from weirdly coloured dials or deals that sound too good to be true.
The SNK805 is a very versatile watch that will be able to see you through most everyday situations, aside from formal events. If the stock strap isn’t for you, or you want to change up the looks, you can also consider a nato/zulu.
My preferred look for this watch though, is with a contrasting leather strap, which helps to bring out the dial and also give it a slightly dressier look.
The SNK805 is a no-nonsense watch that does what it sets out to do in an absolute value-for-money proposition. For many, the Seiko 5 line has been their first automatic watch, and a staple in every watch lover’s collection at one point or another. It costs less than many fashion watches, and is sure to earn you a nod from those who know their stuff. Its field watch aesthetic is classic and timeless, fit in a well-proportioned case. Its versatility will serve you well as an everyday watch, and is a watch that is unlikely to go wrong.
For those with bigger wrists and looking for a similar offering, consider the SNZ series. The watch also comes in other colours, all starting with the SNK8– denomination.