The Seiko 5 range has been at the top of the A list of entry level automatic watches since... Well since there has been a list, it's always been top pick. Why is that? it could be the reputation the brand has for reliability, or the quality materials used to make the watches, or it could have something to do with the wide variety of styles they are available in.
I believe all of these factors play a part in the brand's popularity, but for me a Seiko 5 is all of those things and more.
Seiko launched the now famous 'Seiko 5' brand in 1963 bringing quality watch making to the masses with the 'Seiko sportsmatic 5' a new entry level priced automatic watch with mid/high priced features.
So what does "5" stand for in a "Seiko 5? According to Seiko's Website.
1. Automatic winding
2. Day/date displayed in a single window
3. Water resistance
4. Recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position*
5. Durable case and bracelet
*It would appear that this does not apply to all Seiko 5 watches.
Today we look at one of Seiko 5's diver style watches. While it lacks a Screw down crown, and with a water resistance of only 328ft (100m), excluding it from being a "true dive watch", the 'Seiko 5 SNZF15' or as it has come to be known on the watch forums the "Sea Urchin" or "Mini Tuna" is still a very sturdy and respectable "diver style watch".
_The Sea Urchin is equipped with Seiko's in house manufactured 7s36 movement, a 23 jewel bi-directional automatic winding movement with a power reserve of about 36 hours. The 7s36 is a non-hacking non-hand winding movement with Seiko's proprietary drive system that has a reputation for going 15-20 years without need for servicing. The movement is known for being very robust, able to take the abuse you would expect a dive watch to be able to take. It is a very similar movement to the 7s26, known by many as one of Seiko's best automatic movements, and can be found in the famed SKX007 dive watch.
My personal experience with this movement has found it to keep very good time, has never missed a beat, and self winds very well.
Case and crystal.
The case is made from stainless steel not chrome plated brass like a lot of watches in this price range. It has a very solid weighty feel about it, but not so heavy that it feels bulky, it has very precise machining and a fine polished finish to it with a brushed area at the top of the case for some contrast. The crystal is made from Seiko's proprietary 'Hardlex', reported to be more scratch resistant than traditional mineral crystals found in most entry level watches. The Sea Urchin has a very well made stainless steel screw down case back with an exhibition window set into it so that you can enjoy the movement without removing the case back.
Case dimensions are, 41.5mm Diameter (excluding crown), 13.2mm thick with a 22mm lug width. Weight is 76 grams without the bracelet and 165 grams including the stainless steel bracelet.
Bezel, Dial and Lume.
In almost every photograph i've seen of this watch (including the ones i took) the dial looks black, it's not black, it blue, really really dark blue.. The indices on the dial are very precise and beautiful. The day,date is framed perfectly in a beautifully made steel frame, and the hands match the style of the watch just right, they are large and easy to read.
The lume looks to be well applied and glows very brightly, unfortunately it doesn't seem to hold it's glow for long.
The bezel insert is also dark blue with a stunningly bright red 1-20 on the insert, this 'Pepsi" inspired colouring really pops, and it gives the watch allot of character. the machining on the bezel is spot on accurate, with nice knurling on the edge making it easy to grip and turn. this unidirectional 120 click bezel feels so solid and well engineered and the markings line up perfectly with the markings on the chapter ring.
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Bracelet and on the wrist.
The Sea Urchin comes on a 'oyster' style stainless steel bracelet with solid links and a double locking fold over clasp also stainless steel. It is a comfortable bracelet, very well made for a watch in this price bracket. The clasp is extremely sturdy and i can't imagine it ever coming accidentally undone. My only complaint is the hollow end links, the bracelet is so good i think it's a shame not to use solid end links, that said, the end links do fit nicely into the case and there is no unsightly gaps or crooked fitment here.
On the wrist the Seiko SNZF15 feels great. I have small wrists and this is about as big of a watch i can reasonably fit, however it doesn't feel at all bulky or heavy on the wrist. Dressed down with a nice nato strap this is a comfortable, good looking EDC watch for me.
Overall i'm very happy with the Seiko 5 Sea Urchin. I love the Submariner-esque look of the watch, and i love the way it carries a style all of its own too. while it is a reasonably popular watch, i don't see too many of these around, which is nice, as i like to be just a little bit individual with my choices.
My biggest complaint would have to be the lume, part of what attracted me to a dive watch for my everyday carry watch was the ample lume, and while i love how nice and bright it is, it just doesn't last long enough for me.
A screw down crown, and solid end links would also be lovely, but then again if this watch had all of those features, it'd probably cost another $100.
Given the choice to make the same purchase again, or to buy something else for the same money instead, i feel confident i'd buy another Sea urchin.
And if the 'Pepsi' look isn't for you they do an all black bezel and dial version too, the Seiko 5 SNZF17.