The Seiko 5 is maybe the best watch ever made. I mean it. THE BEST.
In fact, there are countless varieties of the Seiko 5. Mine is the SNZG13 sports watch, and it is the best out of all of them. I’ve had it for several years, as you can see from the beating it has taken in the photo. I own a few other watches, and although I might not be wearing it to the wedding, this is the one I otherwise wear every day.
EDIT: Added a new video review below!
There isn’t a better timepiece out there. If you can only get one watch, you shouldn’t have to look anywhere else. Here’s why.
Long ago, when I decided that I needed a decent watch (i.e., not a kid’s watch), I listed out a few criteria:
- It had to be made of metal. I had too many plastic and canvas watches/straps break after a year or two.
- It had to be automatic (and therefore analog instead of digital). I disliked having to replace watch batteries, and automatic watches are just so much more intricate, elegant, and… artful.
- It had to have easy-to-read numerals. I’m all for fancy dials with no number markings, but I’m in it to tell time, dammit! If I was going to wear this watch every day I wanted to be able to read the darn thing easily.
- It needed to have both a day and date feature. Because sometimes I just want to know what day it is.
Oh yeah and 5) It had to not look lame.
After waiting patiently for several months, the right deal finally popped up. The SNZG13 fit all my criteria!
Any Seiko 5 is, by definition, automatic, with day and date functions side by side (back in the day this kind of complication was difficult to pull off in a such a small package like a wristwatch). It’s also water resistant, with a recessed crown, and is really hard to break. In fact, these five functions are what the “5” stands for!
Most Seiko 5 models are rather small for my tastes. The SNZG13, however, is the perfect size: at 42mm, the case is larger than the usual 38mm, but not huge enough to be considered monstrous or gaudy. It has legible, unassuming, friendly numerals too!
Being a military field watch, the SNZG13 also features the 24-hour clock, in smaller numbering. They are inconspicuous enough so as not to detract from the simplicity of the dial, which has a nice recessed “step-down” effect between the numerals and hash marks.
The hands and hour markers have a luminescent coating applied to them so they glow in the dark, in case you are the type who enjoys telling time in pitch darkness. They’ve really covered all their bases!
Pop the crown out one stop to adjust the day/date, and one more stop to adjust the time. Easy.
The thing is built like a tank. I’ve knocked against counters, dropped it on the floor, and subjected it to other tortures. Nothing fazes it. The double-clasp on the bracelet keeps the watch securely on your wrist.
The caseback is Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex crystal – the same as the on the front – a see-through caseback is standard for all good automatic watches these days. This lets you view the inner workings of the watch chugging away. Believe me, at least once a day I’ll pop the watch off my wrist just to look at the perpetually whirring cogs – it’s that fascinating (to me).
Although Seiko is a Japanese company, some versions of this watch are made in Malaysia (like mine) and others are made in Japan. In my experience I have observed no difference in quality. Seiko’s parts, manufacturing, and everything else are made entirely in house, which means they produce every component themselves, without sourcing anything from third parties – extremely rare among any watch company. This includes everything right down to the in-house oil they lube their gears with, as well as their quartz crystals, which they actually grow themselves.
The best thing about this watch is that it’s cheap. I mean, where else can you get an automatic watch for about a hundred dollars? Not only that, Seiko is an incredibly high-quality product. The watches are practically bulletproof, are accurate, and will last forever. While perhaps not in terms of finish and refinement, Seiko is just as durable and precise as competitive Swiss brands costing a hundreds of times as much.
Right now you can snag this exact model on Amazon for around a hundred bucks – a crazy good price for less than you’d pay for many other inferior brands. You might be able to find one secondhand on Ebay too.
By the way: tomorrow, PRAKTICALA officially joins 6 MONO MEDIA for an exciting new venture! Stay tuned!
6 thoughts on “Beater Review: Seiko 5 Sports SNZG13 Automatic Field Watch”
The Seiko 5 looks good on almost any type of watch band. With rugged design and high quality, it’s worth every penny you pay for it. Interesting review!
I bought one a few months ago as a field watch to travel into rougher 3rd world places overseas. I’m a watch freak and was excited to go with the automatic. THIS. THING. IS. AWESOME! You cannot stop this $100 machine. I love to sit and watch the sweeping second hand. What can you say? It’s one of those things that just straight up works like it’s supposed to and doesn’t quit. Hamilton who?
Totally agree, Clark! It’s hands down my favorite watch – I wear it ten times as often as any other watch I own!
Great review… I got this watch after reading your excellent article .. thanks
Great choice. Thanks for the comment, Rob!