The Seiko 5 collection is often the first stepping stone on a collector's path to greatness. This affordable lineup gives you the full taste of what a mechanical watch is without breaking the bank.
The cheapest Seiko 5, and coincidentally the most popular, is the SNK809. When on sale, this mighty little timepiece can be had for around $50-$60. This great watch isn't perfect though, as lots of enthusiasts with large wrists find the 37mm case of the SNK a bit too small.
To answer these claims, Seiko released the SNZG series with very similar styling, but a much larger case. Is this the timepiece large-wristed Seiko fans have been longing for? Let's find out!
The first way to tell that the SNZG is part of the Seiko 5 Sports collection is by looking at its imposing size. This 41.50mm case is a pleasant surprise to most large-wristed men which usually steer clear from Seiko 5s because of their small sizes.
Not only is the case larger than usual, but the lugs also protrude a bit more than what we're used to from Seiko watches. This gives the SNZG a substantial 48.50mm lug-to-lug, which wears large and looks best on wrists above the 6.5'' mark.
Although the SNZG wears quite large, the 11.70mm case thickness is relatively thin for an automatic watch, so it will be very comfortable on your wrist and you might even forget that you're wearing a timepiece.
100m / 10 bar
Hands & Indices
316l Stainless Steel
Since it's part of the Seiko 5 collection, you will most certainly be familiar with the in-house 7s36 movement lodged inside the SNZG. However, you might be used to the 7s26 movement, which is much more ubiquitous, and usually found on cheaper Seiko 5s.
The only difference between the 7s26 and 7s36 is the addition of two non-working jewels to bump up the total to 23. This is purely aesthetical, and the reliability, accuracy, and general operation of the movement remains the same.
At its heart, the 7s36 is an automatic caliber that beats at a low frequency of 21,600 bph, has around 40 hours of power reserve, and is rated for about -25 to +35 seconds per day. Unfortunately, this workhorse movement is pretty barebones, so it lacks the ability to hand-wind and hack.
Once again, Seiko enthusiasts will certainly be acquainted with the Hardlex crystal (hardened mineral) that covers the SNZG's dial. This mineral composite is a notch above standard mineral crystals, but it will obviously show more wear & tear than sapphire glass.
One of the greatest selling points of the Seiko 5 Sports collection is the increased water resistance compared to regular Seiko 5 models. This WR rating is bumped from 30m all the way up to 100m, which is plenty for recreational swimming.
Some people are a bit skeptical about this 100m rating because of the push-pull crown, but as long as the seals are in good shape the water resistance will hold up just fine.
Speaking of this crown, it is a pretty big upgrade over the SNK809's crown. Indeed, this one is situated at the 3 o'clock position and it's much beefier. This makes it less of a pain in the neck to set the time and date.
Seiko's Lumibrite has such a big reputation as being one of the best lume for affordable watches that the SNZG's lume is often scrutinized by potential buyers.
Even if your expectations are high, you won't be disappointed by the SNZG's lumed dial. Both the hands & indices are generously coated with a thick layer of Seiko's in-house Lumibrite treatment.
As pictured above, this luminous phosphorescent will glow brightly for a couple of hours once fully charged. However, some collectors will be a bit disappointed to find out that the numerals themselves are not lumed.
The SNZG's case is very well-done, so it looks good and will be durable for decades to come. The whole case (except for the case back) is satin-finished, which contributes to the field watch styling of the SNZG.
As I mentioned a bit earlier, the lugs of this case protrude more than what's usually expected from Seiko watches, giving it a bulkier frame. Additionally, the SNZG is equipped with a see-through case back which lets you look at the 7s36 caliber at work.
The main reason why people buy Seiko 5s is for their timeless field watch look. Just by looking at it, you can already tell that your SNZG will be able to go to hell and back and keep on running just fine.
This is the kind of watch that you can bring on a hike, wear while working on your car, go to the gym, etc.. It has a versatile styling that will depend a lot on the strap that you use. For instance, it can be dressed up nicely with a quality leather band, but you can't expect to pull it off in a formal outfit (suits, ties, etc..)
The dial is the centerpiece of the Seiko SNZG, and it's also the watch's best selling point in my opinion. The first thing that you're going to notice is the raised chapter ring. This large lacquered ring is used to display the baton indices, and it adds a lot of depth to the SNZG's dial.
The inner ring of the dial has a matte finish and an applied "Seiko 5 " logo just below the 12 o'clock mark. At the 3 o'clock position, you get a framed day-date display that's mandatory for any Seiko 5 watch.
The last thing you might want to look at is the tiny script at the bottom of the dial, which will either read "made in Japan" for J1 models, or "made in Malaysia" for K1 models. The origin doesn't change anything to the quality of the watch, but Japanese models are usually more collectible.
Hands & Indices
The hands of the Seiko SNZG are very basic and they're aligned with the field/beater styling of the watch. The sword hands used for the minutes and hours are simple but efficient, as they allow for lots of lume and easy legibility.
The second hand is a slim arrow with an elongated red-tip that almost reaches the chapter ring, which also increases legibility.
Likewise, the numerals were chosen with functionality and legibility in mind. Indeed, you get bold Arabic numerals for the 0-12 o'clock marks and smaller Arabic numerals for the 13-24 o'clock marks.
It's good to note that all the indices and numerals are painted on the dial, which is once again aligned with the beater vibe of the Seiko SNZG.
The great majority of Seiko SNZG models come from the factory with a nylon strap that matches the dial's color. It is very similar to the nylon strap found on the Seiko SNK, but it's a bit larger (22mm), slightly thinner, and noticeably softer to the touch.
There are two models in the Seiko SNZG lineup that are equipped with a stainless steel bracelet. As is the case with any entry-level Seikos, this bracelet will feel light, rattly, and generally cheap.
However, this shouldn't deter you from getting the SNZG as it is a true strap monster, and you will certainly find a third-party strap to go along with it.
The Seiko SNZG07's gorgeous cream dial makes it perfect for people who plan on dressing up their watch. Paired with a nice leather strap, this SNZG07 will look awesome in a business casual outfit.
This is the only watch in the SNZG collection that has black numerals, and I think the result is great. With this layout, the numerals pop out of the dial in a very crisp fashion, giving a neat look to the SNZG07.
Army green is always a fan-favorite when it comes to field watch colors. In my opinion, this is the best option if you want a true beater watch that you'll be hard on and won't care too much about scratches and scuffs.
The downside of this rugged styling is that it loses a bit of versatility. Indeed, the Seiko SNZG09 will be very hard to dress up no matter which strap or bracelet you put on.
If you're looking for something that's extremely versatile, the Seiko SNZG11 is perfect for you. This blue-dialed watch looks amazing when paired with almost any strap (leather, nylon, or stainless steel).
Additionally, the contrast between the matte blue of the dial and the lacquered blue of the raised chapter ring is easily visible compared to other SNZG models.
The Seiko SNZG13 is the first watch in the collection that's equipped with a stainless steel bracelet. I think this bracelet looks great with the black dial, but you will probably want to change it anyway.
A bit later in the article, I discuss different straps & bracelets options and you will see that the SNZG13 is also quite versatile.
If you don't plan on getting a third-party strap, you should pick the Seiko SNZG15. This model is the same exact one as the SNZG13, with the exception of the nylon strap (instead of steel bracelet).
The SNZG15 is a very polyvalent watch right out of the box. The black-on-black layout means you can wear this piece with almost any outfit and it will blend right in.
The Seiko SNZG17 stands in a group of its own as it's the only SNZG that's ion-plated (black PDV coating on the case and bracelet). Not only does this PVD coating add a bit of scratch resistance to the steel, but it also looks pretty neat.
The SNZG17 is also the only watch with a fully red second hand, which makes this timepiece quite unique.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, your best bet to dress up the Seiko SNZG is to use a high-quality leather strap. Above, you can see two examples (SNZG15 on the left, SNZG11 on the right) of brown leather straps.
This addition gives a much more sophisticated look to the SNZG, which makes it look good in a business casual outfit.
Although most Seiko SNZG models are already equipped with a nylon strap, you might get sick of the monochromatic look quickly. If you want to keep the high comfort level of a nylon strap but add some spice to your piece, there are hundreds of options out there.
For instance, the SNZG15 owner in the left picture used an olive green strap to really dive into the military styling of his piece. In the right picture, this SNZG15 owner stayed in a sober palette but chose a bi-chromatic strap.
Finally, I encourage you to head over to this amazing Reddit post to see 9 colorful nylon straps on the SNZG15.
Aren't the SNZG13 and SNZG17 already on a steel bracelet? You might ask. The answer is yes, but the OEM bracelet feels cheap and is a bit boring.
If you want to increase the quality feel of your Seiko SNZG tenfold while also adding a touch of uniqueness, a custom bracelet is mandatory. For instance, the SNZG13 owner above went for a Jubilee bracelet, whereas the one in the right picture chose an engineer bracelet.
Once a Seiko model gets popular, it usually doesn't take too long for the modding community to go bananas on it.
The most popular Seiko SNZG mod is undoubtedly the sapphire crystal swap. This is an easy to perform mod that adds much-needed scratch resistance, while also changing the styling drastically.
As you can see above, most people go for a domed sapphire crystal. In my opinion, this changes the vibe of the watch from field to pilot, and I love it.
Some other people (such as the SNZG15 owner above) go completely nuts with modding their SNZG and will replace everything including the dial, hands, and date display.
It's very hard to find something bad to say about the Seiko SNZG series. It's super affordable, reliable, and has gorgeous styling. This is the reason why this model is so popular amongst collectors, and I think you would be very pleased by adding this piece to your collection.