In the watch world, buying a classy automatic timepiece doesn't mean you have to break the bank. Japanese companies, particularly Seiko, have been offering gorgeous affordable watches for several decades.
The epitome of affordable Japanese watches is the classic Seiko 5 line. Even if you can be assured to get a quality timepiece no matter which Seiko 5 you choose, it can still be hard to navigate between the hundreds of different Seiko 5s without getting lost.
This article will focus on four near-identical models: the Seiko SNK789, SNK791, SNK793, and SNK795. Here, you will find all the information needed to determine if one of those should be your next wrist ornament.
Like most Seiko 5 models, it's hard to find a definitive answer when looking for the case diameter of the SNK7 line. Beveled edges make the measurement subjective depending on where you place your vernier. Most sources state the case diameter stands between 36-38mm, in my experience, it measures right around 37mm.
The 43mm lug-to-lug length means it fits great on men with small to medium wrists (anywhere between 6" to 7"). Also, the mechanical movement and exhibition case back gives it an 11mm thickness. As for the lug width, it measures 18mm.
If this isn't your first Seiko watch, you will certainly be familiar with the 7S26 movement found inside the SNK7. This automatic caliber is used in almost every entry-level Seikos and the reason is quite simple: it is a workhorse.
On paper, the 7S26 isn't that refined. It beats at a low frequency of 21,600 bph, it doesn't have hacking or hand-winding features and the precision is estimated at -15 to 25 seconds/day.
Even if it isn't that precise, the reason the 7s26 gets so much love is for its legendary Japanese reliability. You can count on this sturdy 21 jewels movement to last you several years without needing a single service.
Also, the 40 hours power reserve will be plenty if you use the SNK7 as a daily watch. If you're a precision freak, there are ways to make the 7s26 more precise.
The bracelet that comes attached to the Seiko SNK7 is very polarizing. The reason for that is quite simple: it is super comfortable but it comes with lots of downsides.
The most common complaint is how light and flimsy the bracelet feels. While most people want a sturdier bracelet, being this light is what makes the SNK7 so comfortable around your wrist.
Other complaints include rattly sound, sharp ends, hollow end links and lots of play around the wrist. Also, the bracelet uses folded metal plates, which means adding or removing links can be a pain in the neck compared to traditional links.
As far as styling goes, the bracelet is an obvious Oyster homage. The links all feature brushed stainless steel, except for the sides of middle links, which are polished.
Like most Seiko 5s, the SNK7 is equipped with a small push-pull crown situated around the 4 o'clock mark. With a push-pull crown usually comes modest water resistance. This is the case for the SNK7, as it only comes with 30m water resistance (enough for showers but no swimming).
On top of the dial, you can find the usual flat Hardlex (mineral) crystal encrusted in a fixed polished bezel. Under this crystal, you will find lume-coated hands and hour marks.
SNK795 vs SKX009
As you can see above, the luminous phosphorescent is functional, but nowhere near the SKX in terms of brightness or durability.
The Seiko SNK7 line is beloved by enthusiasts for its simple but classy styling that can either be dressed up or down.
From afar, the SNK7's dial might look pretty basic. All the beauty and attention to details come to life when you look closely at every bit of the dial. For example, you can see the two gradient circles of different color and finish.
From the center to the edge of the indices, you get a shiny sunburst dial which reflects the light. On the other hand, the outer ring of the dial is colored in a matte finish, which helps with legibility.
Other unusual elements include the day-date frame, which is polished and beveled, giving a "je ne sais quoi" to the SNK7. Seiko also beveled the edges of the applied stainless steel indices, giving more depth to the dial.
Apart from what is stated above, the dial is completed with an applied Seiko 5 logo and an "Automatic 21 jewels" script.
The hands used on the SNK7 are simple but elegant. For the minutes and hours hands, you get moderately thick sword hands with a spot for lume application. For the seconds hand, you get a very thin needle, which is brightly colored on most models (more about that in the "variations" section).
The SNK7's case is nothing to write home about: it's a simple yet sturdy stainless steel case. Both the sides and the lugs are brushed, which contrasts with the polish of the bezel. Also, you get a mineral exhibition case back, which shows the 7s26 movement at work.
The case back will also help you tell if your model was made in Malaysia or Japan. Both of these have the same build quality, but purists often prefer Japanese examples as they tend to keep a bit more value (strictly for collecting purposes). Malaysian model numbers will end with a K1, while Japanese models end with a J1.
The Seiko SNK789 is the white dial version of the lineup. On this model, the day-date display's background is fully white to match the dial. Another small tweak concerns the applied Seiko 5 logo, which also features a white background. On the SNK789, the seconds hand is painted in a bright red color that is quite polarizing amongst collectors.
I hesitated a lot about including the SNK791 in my review since it is so rare and almost impossible to find to this day. This very limited edition has a unique light-blue dial which shows perfectly the two gradient rings. The SNK791 gets a white day-date display, but a full silver Seiko 5 logo. The bright blue color of the seconds hand is only available on this iteration.
The following two are the most common and popular models of the bunch. The SNK793's midnight blue dial is perfect for people who love colorful dress watches. In tradeoff for the lively dial, the SNK793 gets a plain white seconds hand. On this variation, both the day-date display and the Seiko 5 logo's background are also white.
A black dial with a stainless steel bracelet is always a winning combination for a dress watch. This explains why the SNK795 is so popular amongst collectors all over the world. The inner circle of SNK795 looks more like a dark grey, while the outer circle is definitely black. Once again, the bright red seconds hand will either make you love or hate this timepiece.
A lot of watch enthusiasts instantly swap the bracelet for a leather band on their dress watches without giving it a second thought. I must say I am personally guilty of this as I usually only keep the bracelet on dive watches.
Above are three excellent examples of SNK7 Seikos equipped with different leather straps. The SNK789 on the left sports a classic black leather band with white stitching. The black color contrasts greatly with the white dial and the white stitching brings a sense of unity between both parts.
The SNK793 in the middle also features a timeless styling: the famous brown leather / blue dial combination. This owner bought a crocodile textured strap with thick white stitching and I think the result is amazing.
Finally, the right picture shows a Seiko SNK795 equipped with a hickory brown leather strap. I'm not usually a fan of brown leather with black dials, but I think the SNK795 is one of the few watches that can pull it off.
If you like the look of the SNK7 but you plan on wearing it every day as a casual watch, the nylon strap is your best bet. As you can see above, you can get really creative with your strap choice. On the left, the SNK789 owner chose a Nato strap with two shades of blue and a red stripe in the middle. The blue adds a bit of color to an otherwise conservative-looking timepiece, and the red line matches the seconds hand.
The SNK793 and SNK795 pictured in the middle and right pictures have a monochrome design instead. They undoubtedly look very good, but I think you should always get a second strap if you go this route as you'll almost certainly get sick of seeing the same color.
If you need an inexpensive dress watch, I think the Seiko SNK7 series is a no-brainer. The beauty of this timepiece is its versatility - you can dress it up with a leather band for formal occasions or dress it down with a nylon strap for casual wear.
If you're interested, you should definitely pick one up as soon as possible since Seiko could stop production of these at any moment. Take the opportunity to get it below a hundred bucks while there's still plenty since the price will undoubtedly go up as supply shrinks.