Top positive review
43 people found this helpful
My 3rd Seiko 5!
on June 1, 2014
READ THIS BEFORE BUYING ANY AUTOMATIC WATCH! There are three reasons NOT to buy any automatic mechanical watch such as this Seiko 5, a $15,000 Rolex or any automatic in between. Reason one is you need a watch to keep perfect time and you find inaccuracy stressful. Reason two is you want a watch that you can lay down and expect it to have the correct time when you pick it up three days later. Reason three is you don't move around much as these require motion to wind them. If any of these three things are true then you should buy ANY quartz watch instead because you'll never be happy with any automatic at any price. Automatics are a different animal and are 1940's old school technology.
Seiko 5's have been made since 1963. 51 years of Seiko 5's and counting so far. This SNKL45 is the current Seiko 5 I liked the looks of best for under $100. It looks even better in person. Mine gained about 7 seconds the first day, then after a week was only about 2 seconds fast. This is not my first Seiko 5, but it does keep the best time right out of the box of any Seiko 5 I've had. I've used entry level Seiko 5's as a daily "beater" watch to wear to work on and off for 30 years.
Seiko 5's are not the best automatic watches in the world and nobody in Switzerland is losing sleep over Seiko 5's. However if nothing else Seiko 5's are very durable and since the technology isn't exactly groundbreaking they are super affordable. Translation, Seiko 5's are a decent watch that last a very long time even under rough use, yet relative to anything else that is as durable they are really cheap. In short a bargain if you get one that keeps time out of the box to within 1 minute or so per week.
There are some downsides I know about with a Seiko 5. Out of the box Seiko 5 accuracy varies wildly because they are not regulated at the factory. This explains the range of happy and unhappy Amazon reviewers. You can't wind them by hand, only by motion. They can't be hacked in the traditional sense, so you can't synchronize watches for your secret mission. There is a back door way to hack them though by putting just enough counter-clockwise pressure on the crown in the set time position to stop the second hand movement yet not move the minute hand until the second hand is correct then set the minute hand. The bracelets on the entry level ones like this are bent stainless links, not solid stainless.
One really, REALLY important note about the bracelet on this particular model! This bracelet is a TAD smaller in circumference than my earlier Seiko 5's. This watch is snugger and doesn't slip at all on my wrist where the retired ones would slip and slide a bit, which was more comfortable but probably part of the reason they got beat up. This new one leaves a light indent on my wrist. It isn't really uncomfortable but it could have been a few MM's larger in stock configuration and I actually expected it to be the same diameter as my previous Seiko 5's. You can remove links, but you can't ADD links if you don't have them. So, if you are a large guy with a wrist diameter larger than my 7 and 7/8ths of an inch you should PASS on this particular Seiko 5. Maybe go to a Seiko 5 Sports or Diver models as those generally have larger bands. You can get this same movement with a solid link bracelet in a higher end Seiko like the Orange Monster, but it costs about four times more.
Now and then I've gone off the reservation with other brands including Hamilton, Eterna (a great Swiss watch I like better than Rolex) and most recently Orient automatics but I don't wear those to work. My Orient Ray seems to keep nearly perfect time out of the box but it cost three times as much as this Seiko 5 and the Orient mineral crystals are said to not be as durable as the Seiko Hardlex crystals and I'd hate to prove that point with my Orient Ray so the Seiko 5 goes to work. I'd put a really tough crystal, affordability and good traditional looks in the plus column for Seiko 5's. (The Seiko Hardlex crystal is the next best thing to sapphire, and really holds up.)
This Seiko 5 shipped super fast. I had it in 2 days shipped by Amazon for seller A2Z Watches. Hard to beat Prime shipping! However I later found out that if I had clicked on a different seller (namely Amazon) I would have gotten a 3 year Seiko warranty for a few cents more than the 2 year A2Z warranty. Lesson learned.
Seiko 5's make durable daily "beaters" for me. To me a beater is a good everyday work watch saving wear on your more fragile or expensive ones. I feel like I got my money's worth with every Seiko 5. Maybe if I had to pay the $185 list I'd give this watch one fewer star and gripe more about the bent link band, but for a third of retail there really isn't much else here to complain about. This new one looks good enough for dressy wear too. A Seiko 5 automatic watch is meant to be worn 24x7x365. You do not have to "baby" them. Take them off to shower though. They are reasonably cheap and as long as you do not submerge or immerse them they can pretty much take what you dish out for a decade or two or even more.
People who have owned a quartz watch and expect the same accuracy and power reserve in an automatic are just not being realistic. Many of these people flame Seiko 5's in Amazon reviews. I read one Seiko 5 review on Amazon where someone sent a Seiko 5 back that gained a minute a week. That was a REALLY good Seiko 5 actually! I have a Seiko quartz and when I need unquestioned accuracy to a second a month I use the quartz, but I prefer a Seiko 5 as my routine daily work watch.
My first Seiko 5 was worn 24x7x365 for 9 to 10 years except for special outings where I'd break out the Hamilton. I paid $155 for my first Seiko 5 at a local Seiko dealer jewelry store in 1999. I never babied it. I just never submerged it and always took it off to shower. It was losing about 30 seconds per day when new, but after I had it regulated by the dealer it gained about 15 to 20 seconds per week and ran that way for about a decade when I decided it was beaten up enough. After that one regulation it never needed service again and it will still run if I shake it. (I just checked.) Next, I wore a Seiko quartz for a while and when I saw it was getting beat up as a daily work watch I got the second Seiko 5, it was a $68 gray market one bought online and it lost a minute to 75 seconds per day from day one until I retired it three years later. I lived with the inherent inaccuracy because mechanical watches appeal to me. I just would set it ahead a few minutes every few days. Automatics are more than a bit old-timey but the Seiko 5 autos have proven to be super rugged. The crystal never even scratched once on either of the first two Seiko 5's which was the remarkable thing about them. The bands were beat all to heck and the cases around the crystals were even scratched up but the crystals were like new. Finally the bracelet buckle got so beat up you couldn't even read "Seiko 5" on it anymore.
All Seiko 5's no matter the price are a crap shoot as far as out of the box accuracy goes. You and I could buy copies of the exact same model and yours can run fast while mine runs slow or the other way around. No matter the model or how much you paid for it, a Seiko 5 may keep time within a very few seconds per day if you get very lucky or you can get an inaccurate one like my second one....or one that is much worse. All of these 21 jewel Seiko automatic mechanical watches are mass produced and they all have the exact same Seiko 7s26 movement inside. Seiko's robot machinery makes the movement, they press on hands, sling it into a case, they screw on the back, attach the bracelet or band and call it DONE... "If it is ticking, it is shipping!" Seiko does NOT regulate any Seiko 5 at the factory leaving that up to the seller or buyer to do later after the movement wears in. This is a very robust movement, very shock resistant and durable.
Know up front that in essence when you buy ANY Seiko 5, you are buying an UNREGULATED Seiko automatic watch. Seiko does NOT take each Seiko 5 individually and check how they are running and regulate them. Seiko 5's are shipped to the seller just as the robot finished it. That is part of the reason they are dirt cheap online. Online sellers know they'll never have to regulate them. That's why a $185 Seiko 5 is selling on Amazon for under $70. Real world Seiko dealers charge more because they have to figure in the cost of having to regulate it for buyers a few months after the sale at no charge as part of the sale. The dealers know that the watches aren't regulated at the factory.
Any Seiko certified watch shop can regulate them, the problem is the fee for this varies wildly from FREE and taking 5 minutes in some shops to $200 and taking a week or more at others. Some watchmakers won't even regulate them at all. When it comes to buying one online "you pays your money and you takes your chances." Almost any Seiko 5 can be regulated to get down to 2 or 3 seconds plus or minus per day. Seiko 5's were actually INTENDED to be sold by Seiko dealers who would then regulate them for the individual buyer after a few months of "wear in" so the movement would settle in. Any mechanical watch may run a tad faster or slower after the movement "wears in" so there isn't much point in regulating one before then as it will just be to do over again later. In 3 to 6 months after purchase you will probably notice a Seiko 5 running even slower or faster than it did new, but usually it will run slower by about 5 to 15 seconds per day. It is then "worn in" and ready for regulation. My first one lost a minute per day at first, but after it "wore in" it lost 70 to 75 seconds per day and continued like that until retirement after 3 years. But since I bought it gray market online at a huge discount I would have had to drive 20 miles to get to a shop and pay a tech more to have the beat up $70 watch regulated, so I just lived with it till replacing it with this one. I really think I got my money's worth. Few other watches would have taken the abuse the first two Seiko 5 watches took. I just never took them off except to shower, swim or work around water.
Some watchmakers flat out refuse to even touch Seiko 5's. There's a very good reason for this and that reason is that only watchmakers experienced at working on Seiko 5's should even crack one open. The regulation adjustment (temptingly visible through the exhibition back) is labeled + and - and seems pretty straightforward. You push the lever toward the "plus" and it speeds up, push it toward "minus" and it slows down. The problem is that directly beneath the regulation adjustment arm, a scant MM or two away, is the hairspring. Just so much as touching the hairspring AT ALL can kill the watch DEAD permanently. So only people familiar with regulating Seiko 5's should even attempt it. Matchsticks and toothpicks are definitely NOT the right tools for this yet there are YouTube videos on how to regulate Seiko 5's at home in your spare time using matchsticks or toothpicks. Seiko probably uploaded these videos to sell more watches! My advice is DO NOT try to regulate one of these yourself unless you are a Seiko certified tech or unless you are ready to buy a new watch. Leave regulating a Seiko 5 to a professional. It might cost you $20 or it might even be free to get a qualified watch tech to regulate it. If they quote anything higher than $20, walk away and try another shop or just live with it as is. Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to regulate it yourself because you will quite possibly ruin it. Like hang gliding it looks simple to do, but it isn't.
Automatics are vintage cool to me and are also GREEN, meaning environmentally responsible. Automatics each have a personality. Quartz watches don't have personalities being more of a robot.
On this particular model bracelet shortening adjustments are made by removing a slide-in insert held in place by a raised bump. If you need to remove links you just push on the visible bump using a pointy thing or a jeweler screwdriver in the direction of the arrows on the inside of the bracelet and then use pliers to extract the insert after the insert just pokes over the edge a bit. Do that twice to remove a link, then slide the insert back in. Do this once on each side of the buckle. Pretty simple to make the band smaller actually. Sizing these down is no big deal.
You'll get your money's worth on even an entry level Seiko 5 like this one more often than not. However know up front, like I said, "ANY SEIKO 5 IS A CRAP SHOOT" in precision accuracy out of the box. They were intended to get some post sale attention eventually for a fine tuning. Accuracy to within one minute a week out of the box on a Seiko 5 is great based on my experience. Accuracy freaks will be better off staying away from any mechanical watch at any price. Mechanical watches are like people, they are all different with their little quirks, good points and bad points. Here you have a decent automatic watch that can last you a decade or two depending on how beat up it gets. I like Seiko 5's as a work watch and like this particular one more than the other Seiko 5's I have worn because this one looks old school and keeps the best time.
There is a perfectly safe do it yourself regulation method that works for automatic watches called position regulating. For position regulating you put a fully charged automatic watch in a certain position and leave it stationary for hours, such as overnight. With the face up an automatic watch will gain a few seconds more than the normal rate during wear. With the watch on its side it will run a bit slower than the normal rate during wear so it loses time. With the crown (winding stem) pointing UP it will lose a few seconds more time than it will lose with the crown pointing down. Using position regulating like this helps, but if your watch loses or gains more than 10 seconds a day it won't help enough to keep it perfectly on time, but will help some.
If you want an accurate automatic out of the box and crystal hardness isn't as important then you should also look at an Orient Ray or Orient Mako. These Orient automatics are factory regulated, which is partly why they cost much more than a Seiko 5. I love my Orient Ray and I like this Seiko 5 but use them for different things. If you are going to own more than one auto like I do or are not going to wear your automatic watch at lease some of the time daily then you'll probably want to look into electric automatic winders.