The Seiko 5 collection is filled with some of the best bang-for-the-buck mechanical watches in the industry. However, some of them might be a bit boring if you're looking for a lively piece.
Fortunately, there is a Seiko 5 model that will please the inner child in you, and offer the same build quality as other Seiko watches - The Seiko Speed Racer.
SNKK / SNK3XX
38.5mm / 37mm
45mm / 42.5mm
10.5mm / 11mm
20mm / 20mm
Before even getting into the size of the watch, I must first explain why there are so many variations of the Seiko Speedracer.
There is the Seiko SNKK25/27/29/31, and there is the Seiko SNK369/371/373/375. The only difference between those two is the case & bracelet, and the number corresponds to a certain color scheme.
Indeed, the Seiko SNKK has a 38,5mm case, and it can be distinguished by its rectangle lugs that stick out from the case. On the other hand, the Seiko SNK3xx has rounded lugs that seamlessly mix in with the case itself.
Also, the Seiko SNKK is equipped with an Oyster bracelet, whereas the SNK3xx uses a Jubilee bracelet.
As you can see in the table above, the SNKK is the biggest of the two by a slight margin. The size difference is a bit more prominent in person than on paper, especially when taking into account the protruding lugs of the SNKK.
Both models feature a similarly thin case, which makes for a very comfortable wearing experience. Also, they both have 20mm of lug width, making it a breeze to find third-party straps (which you will certainly need).
SNKK / SNK3XX
Hands & Indices
316l Stainless Steel
I won't linger too long on the subject of specs since pretty much all Seiko 5 models share the same components.
For instance, the Seiko Speed Racer gets the usual Hardlex crystal, which is a hardened mineral composite that's slightly more scratch-resistant than the average mineral glass.
The Speed Racer is rated at 30m of water resistance, which means it can only withstand light splashes such as rain and dishwater. However, some adventurous people claim that they swim with their SNKK/SNK3xx without a problem (not recommended though).
If you're a Seiko fanboy, you will be no stranger to the 7s26 caliber lodged inside the Speed Racer. This is your run-of-the-mill, workhorse automatic movement, with a standard 41 hours power reserve, 21.600 bph frequency, and 21 jewels.
While the 7s26 movement is beloved for its legendary Japanese reliability, the estimated accuracy of -25 to +35 seconds per day isn't anything impressive. However, your mileage may vary - some owners report excellent accuracy (within 10 spd), while others seem to lose or gain over 20 spd.
Next, I want to talk about the lume. As is expected from Seiko watches, you get a very bright and durable application of the proprietary Lumibrite formula. This lume is painted on the hands & indices, which glow in a vivid green color.
Seiko SNKK27 lume vs Seiko Monster, source
The last component I want to acknowledge is the bracelet. As I mentioned earlier, the SNKK variants have an Oyster bracelet, and the SNK3xx is equipped with a Jubilee bracelet.
However, I think this information is pretty much irrelevant since the bracelet is poor for both models. For instance, these bracelets are very thin, they have folded links & hollow-end links, a stamped clasp, etc.
As a whole, the bracelet of the Speed Racer feels extremely cheap, rattly, and generally disappointing. Nonetheless, this isn't that big of a deal. In fact, most people end up using third-party straps on their Seiko 5, so the OEM bracelet is unimportant.
SNKK / SNK3XX
316l Stainless Steel
As the name implies, the Seiko Speed racer has a sport/racer looks. For instance, you get a colorful pattern from 12 to 4 o'clock, with no real purpose outside of looking cool.
The dial itself is pretty simple; it has a glossy finish with no particular texture (not sunburst, grainy, etc..). You get the usual Seiko 5 package with a framed day-date display, applied "5" logo, and "automatic 21 jewels" script.
The indices are quite plain, but they're one of my favorite parts of the Speed Racer. For every hour mark, you get a straightforward baton index, which is applied to the dial. Also, there are small arabic numerals for every 5 minutes just below the indices.
The hour arrow hand contributes to the fun/playful look of the Speed Racer, and the colorful second hand adds a touch of life to the dial.
Although the case shape is quite different between the SNKK and SNK3xx, the two cases still share a few similarities. For instance, they both have the same polished bezel and case sides, and they both have brushed lugs. Also, the two cases are equipped with a Hardlex window case back to let you see the 7s26 movement at work.
The Seiko SNKK25/SNK369 is the tamest of the Speed Racer collection in my opinion. This isn't a rebuke at all, in fact, I think it's the most versatile of the bunch.
The white dial tames down the sportiness of the Speed Racer a bit, making it more appropriate for casual wear. However, the red & gray quadrant is there to remind you that this is a playful watch.
The Seiko SNKK27/SNK371 is definitely one of the most playful watches of the Speed Racer collection. Indeed, the blue and yellow layout makes for a very colorful dial that's begging to be paired with bright-colored straps.
However, this is probably the Speed Racer that will take the most time to grow on you. This jolly color scheme is fun, but it can be a bit hard to pair with your everyday outfit. Also, the yellow color isn't one that's usually popular for watches, so it might take a few weeks before really falling in love with your SNKK27/SNK371.
If the SNKK27/371 was too funky for you, you shouldn't even look at the Seiko SNKK29/SNK373. In fact, it's pretty much the same color pattern as the former, but with an inversion of blue and yellow. This means that your watch's bright yellow dial will undoubtedly get noticed every single time you put it on.
While this model is a bit too out-of-the-box for me, I really like the blue second hand which matches the 12-4 o'clock pattern.
The Seiko SNKK31/SNK375 is my favorite piece of the Speed Racer collection. Indeed, its black dial paired with the red & green pattern makes for a very versatile watch. Also, the 12 - 4 o'clock graphic shares the same color as the iconic James Bond strap.
Paired with the right leather strap, I think the SNKK31/SNK375 is the only Speed Racer watch that can be worn in a business casual outfit.
Usually, a leather band is a great way to give a dressier look to a watch. However, I think the Seiko Speed Racer still looks very lively even with a leather strap.
As you can see above, a nice brown leather will complement almost any Speed Racer model. This is a great way to make your SNKK/SNK3xx more comfortable and add a touch of class at the same time.
Being so sporty at its core, the Seiko Speed Racer goes along hand-in-hand with almost any nylon strap you can find. Most collectors will usually try to use colors that match either the dial or the 12-4 o'clock pattern. However, you can try to get completely different colors, and it will also look quite beautiful (as pictured above).
Adding a nylon strap to your Speed Racer is a great way to delve into the sporty nature of the watch while adding comfort and a lighter feel. This is also a good strap to cool your wrist down on hot summer days.
Yes, the Seiko Speed racer comes from the factory with a steel bracelet, but the OEM bracelet is definitely subpar. However, this shouldn't deter you from using a steel bracelet on your SNKK/SNK3xx.
For instance, getting an Engineer bracelet like the one pictured above is a great way to increase the quality and change the styling at the same time.
In conclusion, I think the Seiko Speed Racer is a great watch that can be bought for an incredibly cheap price. Since it's a lesser-known model, the Speed Racer is a great way to differentiate yourself from all the SNK809s out there.
If you're still unsure about getting this piece, I invite you over to the pros & cons list below.