The Seiko SNK is often the first watch recommended to anyone that starts to dabble into watch collecting. There's a simple reason for that; it's very affordable and gives you a true taste of what well-built mechanical watches are capable of.
However, prices keep increasing as Seiko ceases production and retail inventories get depleted. For instance, I bought my SNK807 a few years back for ≅$60. The same watch will now run you $80-90.
With a near-50% price increase within the last year, is the Seiko SNK805/807/809 still a great bargain? Let's find out!
The small size of the Seiko SNK805/807/809 makes it perfect for people (men & women) with small to medium wrists.
However, the tiny case and short lug base might look underwhelming for you guys with large (7.5''+) wrists. The solution to this problem is to instead look into the Seiko SNZG, its 42mm sibling.
With its 10,5mm thickness, the Seiko SNK has a very slender shape for a mechanical watch. This, paired with the heavily curved lugs, makes for a snug and enjoyable feel on the wrist.
Take note of the 18mm lug width, as you will most certainly want to get a third-party strap. For instance, I chose a Brown Strapsco Suede Leather band for my SNK807 (as pictured throughout the article).
30m / 3 Bar
Lumibrite Hands & Indices
The Seiko SNK805/807/809 is pretty basic, but it's still a great entry into the mechanical watch world.
For instance, the Seiko 7s26 is now a 25+ years old mechanical caliber that was designed in-house by the company. As you can imagine, it's nothing special and definitely won't compete with modern movements.
However, it is a tested & proven workhorse that's been known to last for well over a decade without the need for a single service.
21 jewels, 21,600 bph frequency, +-40 hours power reserve, the 7s26's really nothing to write home about, but it's still plenty to give you the itch for that next mechanical piece.
As you can see above, you can peek at your 7s26 movement through the exhibition case back, which uses a Hardlex crystal, like the one on top of the Seiko SNK805/807/809's dial.
This is a run-of-the-mill hardened mineral crystal that will be pretty easy to scratch if you're not careful. However, it does have the advantage of being basically non-reflective, making the dial much more legible outside of the house.
The 30m water resistance rating means you shouldn't take your SNK for a swim, but it should be ok if you drop it in a puddle for a second or two. The watch uses a push-pull crown, which is never recommended for nautical activities.
As you can see above, this crown is small and recessed. Situated at the 4 o'clock position, it blends in seamlessly with the rest of the case.
The OEM strap of the Seiko SNK805/807/809 gets the job done, but you will get tired of it pretty quick. This rigid canvas strap's color matches your SNK's dial, which might look good at first, but gets pretty bland after a while.
The final feature of the Seiko SNK I want to talk about is the lume. On this watch, you get lumed hands plus small pips at the extremity of each hour mark. The formula is Seiko's proprietary Lumibrite, which is known to last for quite a while and shine brightly.
316l Stainless Steel
The Seiko 5 is undoubtedly a military-inspired watch. For example, it uses very simple & legible Arabic numerals, both for the minutes and hours. This is reminiscent of other more expensive field watches like the Hamilton Khaki.
The minute and hour hands both use the same lozenge shape. This looks good, but it is a bit counter-productive to have almost undistinguishable hands.
Although the numerals are all painted-on, the Seiko 5 logo is applied to the dial. As you can see below, the level of finish is good which makes the SNK feel like a high-end piece.
You can also see the grainy texture of the Seiko SNK's dial. It's a matte finish that doesn't reflect a lot of light, which means the color can be a bit dull.
For instance, I expected a bright blue dial when I saw the SNK807 on Amazon. However, the dial is very dark (almost black) under normal lighting.
As a whole, the Seiko SNK lineup is pretty simple, but it looks good enough to bring you a few compliments if you choose the right strap.
With its matte dial, simple numerals, and beads-blasted case, the Seiko SNK will fly under the radar. However, most watch enthusiasts will certainly appreciate this piece and probably spark up a conversation with you.
The Seiko SNK803 has a gorgeous creme dial that provides great contrast with the black numerals and hands. Unfortunately, I'm not the only that loves the SNK803, so it will be the hardest to find of the bunch.
If you do manage to find an example, you will love how versatile it is.
The Seiko SNK805 is the green version of the SNK. I think the olive green dial is perfectly suited for the military look of this watch, and so is the canvas strap. However, I must admit that this model will be a bit harder to pair with the right outfit, and almost impossible to dress up.
The Seiko SNK807 is the one pictured throughout the whole article, so it should be no surprise that it's my favorite of the bunch.
As I said above, you should be aware that the dial looks a bit darker in person, but once you get over this hump, you'll realize that you have a true strap monster between your hands.
The Seiko SNK809 is the most popular of the lineup and it's easy to see why. The black dial makes it easy to pair with pretty much any outfit you can think of.
It also has a negative day-date display which blends in with the dial to makes it less noticeable. Like the SNK807, the SNK809 will be perfect for people that love to try new straps every few months.
In conclusion, I think the Seiko SNK809 is still a great watch for the price, even after the latest price hike. While it used to stand alone in its category, it now has more competitors in the $90+ price range.