Most every watch collector has heard of the Seiko 5.
They were made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Seiko, but would eventually go on to become an amazing line of watches in their own right.
They’re extremely reliable, good looking and EXTREMELY affordable – some of the cheapest automatic watches anyone can buy. And they’re made by Seiko, a brand highly recognized for their exceptional quality and value.
What really makes them so amazing is how much value you get, for the price. And best of all? Many of them look way more expensive than they really are.
Hodinkee famously mentioned one of the models, in particular, the Seiko 5 SNKL23, as a A Seventy-Five Dollar Watch That Looks Like A Million Bucks.
Since then, the price of that particular Seiko 5 model has been jacked up a bit, but it’s still extremely affordable in the grand scheme of watches.
And that’s not the only one that looks great.
Today I’ve prepared for you a list of 6 of the most expensive-looking Seiko 5 models. Let’s get into it!
One of the first mechanical watches I ever bought for myself, the SNXS79 has an extremely luxurious and rich looking sunburst charcoal bezel. It looks slightly different depending on lighting angle and intensity, which adds to the dynamic charm and depth to this watch.
It has a beautiful, all-polished case with a size that’s classic in dimensions, but slightly taller than other watches of this size, which adds just the right amount of wrist presence for almost any size wrist, man or woman.
It looks great on a variety of straps and works just fine as either an everyday watch, or a dress watch saved for special occasions.
Ahh, the seventy-five dollar watch that looks like a million bucks’ according to Hodinkee.
Well, they’re not wrong.
The case has a combination of both brushed and polished finished that is done impeccably well. Almost a little too good for this price range.
The SNKL23 features a gorgeous, almost glossy black dial and a minimalist design that screams of elegance.
The pinstripe design on the dial adds a slight touch of visual interest and breaks the monotony of an otherwise extremely simple looking watch.
The black dial is complemented by an all-black day-date wheel, which blends in perfectly with the rest of the dial.
The dauphine hands add a touch of high luxury, with a touch of lume inside which helps the watch read slightly more visibly in the dark – helping to establish this watch as the perfect affordable one watch collection.
I challenge you to find a strap that this watch doesn’t look good on. And with the right strap, it can work for any dress situation, formal or casual.
The SNKL15 is a lesser-known silver dial variation of the previously mentioned SNKL23.
It retains exactly all of the same dimensions and stylistic queues that make the SNKL23 so great, just with a silvery-white dial instead of black.
Because it’s slightly overshadowed by the 23, the SNKL15 isn’t quite as expensive and can be found slightly more affordably.
The SNX111 is an EXTREMELY simple and clean design. It’s a very basic watch, but that’s what makes it all the more appealing, and arguably more expensive.
It’s one of the few Seiko 5 models that feature a crown at the traditional 3:00 position. It has a milky silvery-white dial that has a slight sunburst effect but isn’t too pronounced that it becomes distracting.
The hour markers are darker than silver, almost black, which makes them more visible and readable when contrasted against the beautiful silver dial.
Throw this watch on a shiny black gator strap and you have a perfect dress watch, or on a colorful NATO and you’ve got yourself a great weekend beater. Either way, it looks amazing.
The SNKL45 is becoming harder and harder to find at a good price as it starts to creep up in popularity.
And it’s no surprise, as it’s just as gorgeous as any of the previously mentioned models.
It features a slightly ‘boxier’ case design, in that the lugs protrude out a bit more, in an almost Rolex fashion.
The dial appears black at first but exposes itself as a rich dark dark sunburst brown when exposed to direct light.
It has dauphine hands and a surprising red second hand that adds a pop of color and sportiness.
Some may like that red second hand, some may hate it. It does make the watch ever so slightly more casual, but I assure you, if worn with a suit, nobody is going to call you out, or even notice the red second hand, most likely.
Finally, we have a slightly dressier version of the previously mentioned SNKL41.
With an all-white dial and silver hands throughout (no red second hand here), this watch will look absolutely perfect on any strap.
Any strap. ANY strap. Seriously.
The Final Verdict
It’s hard to go wrong with a watch with such classic dimensions that looks great on any wrist, looks great on just about any strap and happens to be one of the most affordable automatic watches you can buy.
They’re mostly unique designs made by Seiko, a very well regarded company in the watch world, and while these watches aren’t top of the line (for the price, you can’t expect them to be) they’ve become a bit of an icon in their own right.
The kings and queens of value in the mechanical watch world, if you will.
Although my personal favorite Seiko 5 is the SNXS79, the price and stock of the watch does fluctuate quite a bit.
Fortunately. there are hundreds of other Seiko 5 models to choose from. I urge you to check them out on Amazon and find one you like if none of these tickle your fancy.
If you’ve ever owned one, or are looking to buy one, please let me know in the comments below!