Your mom probably gave you a cute nickname when you were young. Even if it sounds cheesy at times, we give nicknames to people we love. This must mean that the Seiko SNZF is beloved by a lot of enthusiasts because it gets several nicknames in the community.
Whether people call it the Sea Urchin or the Baby Sumo, you're almost certain to hear something positive when someone brings up the Seiko SNZF. Unfortunately, as Seiko push out their new models, the older pieces like the SNZF get rarer and rarer.
With such high demand and limited supply, the Seiko Sea Urchin is getting more expensive by the day. Of course it's a good watch, but here's the real question: is the Seiko SNZF still worth it after the price increase? Let's find out!
Sitting at 41.5mm, the case of the Seiko SNZF is one of the largest in the Seiko 5 collection. Even though the lugs are a bit curved, you still get an imposing 49mm lug-to-lug length. In light of this information, I can't recommend the SNZF for anyone with wrists smaller than 6.25''.
I would say that 6.25'' is the strict minimum to get a comfortable fit out of this watch, and even then it will depend on your wrist shape (curved vs flat). Also, the 22mm lug width and 13mm thickness both contribute to the bulky figure of the Seiko SNZF.
100m / 10 bar
Since the SNZH was released about a decade ago, it's normal to see one of Seiko's older movements in it. This doesn't take anything away from the 7S36 caliber, it's a reliable workhorse that keeps time pretty accurately.
You might be more familiar with the 7S26 movement, which is used on a wider range of Seiko 5s. The only difference between the two is the addition of two extra non-working jewels (total of 23) for aesthetical purposes. These jewels don't add anything positive to the 7s36, it's just a great way for Seiko to upsell the SNZF.
Everything else is the same as the 7s26: 21,600bph frequency, 41 hours power reserve, Diashock system, etc.. It's also wound automatically through a bi-directional rotor, but it can't be hacked or hand-wound.
Since it is part of the Seiko 5 Sports line, the SNZF has no choice but to be water-resistant. Fortunately, it doesn't fail to deliver as it comes with 100m of water resistance, allowing for swimming and snorkeling.
Still, some potential buyers might be disappointed since the SNZF's large hands and 60-minute bezel might make you think it's a diving watch, which it's not. The main reason why the SNZF can't withstand 20 atm of pressure is that it uses a push & pull crown.
The SNZF is in that awkward price range where it is double the price of an SNK807 but nowhere near as expensive as a SARB017. For this reason, Seiko has no choice but to equip the SNZF with a flat Hardlex crystal like the rest of its entry-level pieces.
This doesn't mean that Hardlex is bad; it is unequivocally better than a standard mineral crystal, but it isn't in the same playing field as sapphire when it comes to scratch resistance.
Even though the Seiko SNZF isn't a dive watch by any standards, it still has a great dive bezel. This 60-minute bezel is operated by a 120-click unidirectional mechanism that is pretty crisp for the cheap price of the watch.
While the bezel itself is made of stainless steel, the insert is made of aluminum, which can be quite easy to scratch. The bezel's notched pattern gives it a cool style while also making it easy to grip.
What would be a Seiko Sports watch without proper lume? On the SNZF, you get a thick layer of Seiko's proprietary Lumibrite application on the hands and indices. This application is very bright/durable, and it can compete with most Seiko dive watches.
Circles & Rectangles
The dial of the Seiko SNZF is pretty basic, but it gets the job done. No matter which model you choose, you will get a lacquered finish that is shiny and reflective.
With the huge hands & indices, fonts and day-date display, the SNZF's dial is pretty crowded, so it's not marketed towards minimalist watch fans. One cool thing about the day-date display is that the background matches the dial's color for the SNZF15 and SNZF17.
The SNZF's dial shows the great dichotomy of Seiko's awesome attention to detail and lack of precision at the same time. For instance, the indices and logos are applied to the dial, which is rare for affordable timepieces. On the other hand, the chapter ring is almost consistently misaligned with the hour marks.
The hands of the Seiko SNZF are very cool and distinctive when compared to other sports watches. They are almost the same one found on the famous Seiko SUMO (SPB101), but there is one key difference.
Indeed, the SNZF uses a round-tip needle seconds hand, whereas the SUMO sports a plongeur-inspired seconds hand.
The Indices of the SNZF are a cross between the Rolex Submariner and the Seiko SUMO. The circles and rectangles are very reminiscent of the timeless look that Rolex created with the Sub.
Conversely, the trapezoid 12 o'clock mark is very similar to the one on the Seiko SUMO, except for the line which fully splits the index in half.
Case & Bracelet
The case of the Seiko SNZF is made of conventional 316l stainless steel and it has a pretty common shape. The lugs are not too pointy and they're curved around your wrist, which makes for a comfortable experience.
The top of the lugs is brushed whereas the sides of the case have a mirror-like polished finish. The bracelet shares a similar pattern, with brushed links and polished sides. The bracelet's quality is passable, but I think getting a third-party bracelet is a good idea.
The OEM bracelet of the SNZF has folded links, hollow end-links and just feels pretty light and rattly. To make your SNZF feel like a million bucks, just get a solid-links bracelet as it will make a world of difference.
The Seiko SNZF11 has a peculiar black & white pattern that makes great use of the contrast between the two shades. Even though it strictly uses sober colors, the SNZF11 has a way of being attention-grabbing and elegant at the same time.
This model is perfect for people looking for a subtle watch that will get compliments from time to time.
The Seiko SNZF13 is the complete opposite of the SNZF11, in the sense that the former is super colorful and the later is sober. Even though the SNZF13 has a fully blue color palette, there is a slightly different hue between the bezel and the dial.
Also, the blue color of the dial makes the white hands & indices pop-out in a gorgeous way. I also love the grey trims around the hands and day-date display, which bring a sense of unity with the case & bracelet.
Ah, the famous Pepsi bezel, would a Seiko collection really be complete without it? Once again, this bezel pattern is often seen on dive watches, which the SNZF15 tries so hard to be.
This model is aimed at old-school dive watch lovers that don't care too much about water resistance. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with that, as 90% of us never use our dive watches to their full capacity.
The Seiko SNZF17 is the most popular watch of the lineup since it has a simple black-on-black layout that goes well with any type of clothing. This colorway allows for lots of different options when it comes to third-party straps.
The other reason why people love the SNZF17 so much is that it is a low-key watch that won't get noticed too much, except by other watch enthusiasts.
The bright orange dial is almost as iconic as the Pepsi bezel for dive watches, which explains why the SNZF19 sold out so quickly. This one is a favorite amongst collectors for obvious reasons, so you will need to shell out hundreds of dollars if you want a pre-owned example.
The black bezel/orange dial combination gives a Halloween vibe to the SNZF19. This watch is obviously not as easy to pair with clothing as the SNZF17, but it is a great conversation piece.
A leather band is a great way to make the Seiko SNZF look a bit classier. Of course, it won't bring it to dress watch level, but I think it has its place in a business-casual outfit. As you can see in the pictures above, the brown leather strap seems to be a favorite on most SNZF models.
Being a sports watch, the Seiko SNZF goes hand in hand with a nylon strap. This change will make your SNZF much more comfortable during physical activities and it will increase the sportiness of the watch.
In the left picture above, the SNZF11 owner uses a wolf grey nylon strap which is a great-middle ground between the black and white layout of the watch. In the right picture, the SNZF19 owner went for a basic black nylon strap to tone-down a bit the bright color of the dial.
Even though the Seiko SNZF is equipped with a stainless steel bracelet from the factory, there're two good reasons to swap it for a different bracelet. First, a third-party bracelet will most certainly be higher in quality even if you get an affordable one.
Secondly, you can get a custom stainless steel bracelet just to change the style up a bit. For instance, the SNZF17 owner in the left picture preferred the Jubilee styling, whereas the SNZF15 owner in the right picture chose a mesh bracelet.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, it's a bit disappointing to spend almost $200 on a watch and get a mineral crystal. This explains why the most popular mod for the SNZF is a sapphire crystal swap.
This mod will add some much-needed scratch resistance to your crystal and it can also change the watch's styling. For example, the crystal above has a double-domed configuration, giving off a vintage vibe.
Changing the bezel insert comes very close second when it comes to popular Seiko SNZF mods. The reason is quite simple: it's an easy mod and it makes your SNZF stand out from the lot.
There are also a few benefits you get from swapping the bezel insert. For instance, most third-party inserts are made of ceramic, which is way more scratch-resistant than the OEM bezel insert.
Also, most custom bezels will have a fully-lumed out layout (numerals and a lume pip at the top). This is much better than the OEM insert which is completely lume-free.
Swapping the hands of the Seiko SZNF is quite common, but not such a good idea in my opinion. First, the stock hands of the SNZF are already iconic and awesome, so there's no reason to swap them except if you absolutely want to stand out from the crowd.
Secondly, a hands swap is always risky considering you have to take the old ones off the movement and then put the new one on, risking to break something. This is not a mod I recommend unless you are familiar with watch repairs & services.
In conclusion, I think the Seiko SNZF is an excellent watch that will certainly go up in price as the supply gets shorter. If you would like to add this timepiece to your collection, I suggest you act quickly.