Seiko is the premier Japanese watchmaker and has been in business since 1881. Their Seiko 5 series provides excellent value as they can usually be had for less than $150, and very often less than $100. For that price, you get a watch with an automatic movement, with day/date function.
The Seiko 5 series of watches come in many styles and provide a basic automatic movement in a stylish case. Introduced in the 1960s, the Seiko 5 series is the black horse of the mechanical watch market. The ‘5’ represents the five functions: hour, minute, second, day, date.
The series uses the venerable Seiko 7S26C or 7S36 movements, running at 21,600BPH and having a 40 hour power reserve. Hacking and hand winding is not supported – though in my experience with the SNK 809, I could give a slight back pressure to the crown in the time set position, and cause the second hand to stop or even run backwards. So it CAN be done, if you want to set the time accurately.
From the factory, however, these watches tend to run -/+ 8 seconds per day, however, so it’s not so critical. With some regulation, this can be brought down to about -/+ 2 seconds per day.
The SNK 809 that I had was very comfortable, and the 37mm case was not overly large on my wrist. I would not care to go any smaller, but I feel the 37-42 mm size is probably a good range for me. On beefier fellows, this watch may appear rather tiny. I’m very fond of the military style watches, and so went for the SNK series over some of the dressier Seiko 5’s out there.
I found the watch to be quite rugged, especially as I tend to work outside quite a bit. The lume was bright and clear, and I overall felt the watch – and no doubt the entire Seiko 5 series – has a good overall fit and finish. The wrist band is a cloth style that is a bit irritating, but of course this can be easily replaced. This line of watches could definitely play a good role in introducing folks to mechanical watches, and would be a good start for any fledgling collector.
Sadly, after a couple of mishaps in the dryer (left it in my pocket!) the rotor simply wouldn’t wind it anymore, so this Seiko has gone away. I would definitely have another at some point, though. Lesson well learned.