Almost every watch collector has heard of or owned the Seiko 5.
They were made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Seiko and became the go-to suggestion for new watch collectors.
They’re some of the cheapest automatic watches anyone can buy, meaning they don’t need a battery to run. But, despite their affordable price tag, they have durable, solid movements that will last you for years. And they’re made by Seiko, a brand highly recognized for its exceptional quality and value.
What truly distinguishes the Seiko 5 is its excellent value for money. Don’t confuse affordable with cheap. While they might not cost a lot, often around $100, they’re built well and have hundreds of unique designs from dress, field, sport, and dive watches.
And best of all? Many of them look way more expensive than they really are.
I’ve worn, tested, and reviewed dozens of Seiko 5 watches, many of which are still in my collection today.
That’s why I’ve prepared a list of some of the best Seiko 5 watches currently on the market.
Check out the table of contents below to see the entire list, and jump to each watch!
One of the first mechanical watches I ever bought for myself, the SNXS79, has an extremely luxurious and rich-looking sunburst anthracite dial.
The exact color shifts slightly depending on the lighting angle and strength. This is one of the elements that can make a watch look cheap or much more expensive, depending on how well it’s actually executed, and in this case, it’s done to perfection.
Along with its all-polished case, this watch is often compared as a budget alternative to the much more expensive Rolex Oyster Perpetual, which typically costs around 5 figures.
It has a beautiful, all-polished case with dimensions that include a 37mm diameter, which is on the smaller side by modern standards, but at 13mm thick, it has just the right amount of wrist presence for almost any size wrist.
Like many on this list, it’s one of the most affordable automatic watches on the market. It uses a 7S26 automatic movement, which doesn’t need a battery to run. Simply wear the watch on your wrist to power it up.
Seiko 5 Sports GMT SSK003
The Seiko 5 Sports GMTs from Seiko change the game. They’re the most affordable automatic GMT watches you can find from a well-known brand.
The GMT lets you track another time zone simultaneously while tracking your own.
Out of the three in the lineup, the SSK003 is a personal favorite of my current collection, thanks to its rich blue sunburst dial, and a matching blue/black two-tone bezel that helps you keep track of A.M. or P.M. in the alternate time zone you’re tracking.
The watch doesn’t have a sapphire crystal, which helps prevent scratches, nor a screw-down crown, making it a deal-breaker for some. Though, I’ve taken mine on vacation and beat it up. The included hardlex crystal doesn’t have a scratch on it, and despite only having 100 meters of water resistance, I was still able to take this watch swimming in pools and the ocean, without any issues whatsoever.
Despite having all of these features, the SSK003 manages to stay relatively thin and affordable compared to other GMT watches. And it looks great while doing so!
The SNK809 is a no-nonsense field watch. The hour markers on the glossy black dial are large and bold, making them easy to read at a quick glance. The military design is complimented by a satin case finish that hides scratches well, making this the perfect beater watch. A similar finish in other watches is all but impossible to find until you raise your budget closer to $500, a huge price leap.
At 37mm, and with a lug-to-lug of just under 15mm, the watch feels compact on the wrist, and with the included comfortable canvas strap, almost feels like you’re not wearing a watch at all. Of course, this watch would look just as at home on a brown or black leather band, to enhance that rugged, tool-watch look.
Be warned, these watches were once much more affordable than they are. They’re still a great deal when you can find them close to $100, but much less so as they approach $200.
The SNKL23 looks like a million bucks.
Its pinstripe tuxedo dial adds texture and interest to an otherwise simple and classic design. This is the perfect watch for someone who wants something simple, yet elegant and refined.
The case has a combination of both brushed and polished finishes that are done impeccably well—almost a little too well for the price. The flat brushed surfaces are offset by curved polished areas, which allow the watch to catch light in a way that resembles a luxury watch much more than other watches of this caliber.
Pick up the SNKL23 if you want an absolutely stunning dress watch that will surprise anyone who finds out this watch only costs around $100.
If you want a watch that’s a bit more rugged and tough, it’s hard to beat a field watch like the SRPG35. The military aesthetic makes the watch legible and durable. The satin case can take a beating and go a long way in hiding scratches.
The hurdles crystal is slightly domed, adding some visual distortion when looking at the watch from different angles. And the hands and hour markers are filled with luminescent paint which lights up in the dark to make the watch easier to read.
Sure, this isn’t the most refined-looking watch, but it’s not meant to be. If you’re a t-shirt and jeans kind of person like I am, this is the perfect casual watch that doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard, especially when worn on the included NATO strap.
The SRPE61 takes the “DressKX” style of using dive watch elements on the dial but classes it up with a fixed bezel, and a more elegant, slightly dressier appearance. This time, however, the watch is complimented by a brushed bezel instead of polished, and a NATO strap, instead of a bracelet. This makes the watch look a little more like a tool watch than its dressier counterparts, like the SRPE53 mentioned later in this article..
The dial is an anthracite grey, similar to the SNXS79, which is rich and complex and changes colors slightly in different light scenarios.
The watch has 100 meters of water resistance and a big bulky crown that is easy to grab and wind, or change the time. Despite being oversized, the crown is tucked away at 4:00, so it doesn’t dig into your wrists and is one of the coolest, most unique features of any Seiko 5.
If you like the grey dial, but prefer the polished bezel and metal bracelet, the SRPE51 has all of the above.
The SRPD55 is nicknamed the 5KX, as it’s a Seiko 5 largely based on one of the most legendary Seiko dive watches of all time, the SKX.
The SRPD series has been modernized from the SKX of the ’90s, with a slightly more refined appearance, and improved 4R36 caliber movement. This movement adds hacking and hand-winding features that aren’t entirely necessary but are nice-to-haves, becoming more common in entry-level watches. Hacking simply stops the second hand when setting the time to be able to set the time more accurately, and hand-winding allows you to wind the automatic movement by hand, instead of only when it’s on your wrist.
Looks-wise, the SRPD55 is a traditional diver design. Large hour markers, a big, bulky handset, and a dive bezel are the key characteristics. While the watch can, of course, tell the current time, the dive bezel allows you to track the time of anything up to 60 minutes, although traditionally used to track how much time a diver’s oxygen tank can allow them to remain underwater.
While many of us might not need such an apparatus on our watch, one that our phones can likely do better for us non-divers, I like using it to time how much time is left for food in the oven, or how much time I have left in a parking meter.
Anyway, the SRPD55 is a classic dive watch design. It “just” has 100 meters of water resistance, which is supposedly not enough for spoiled Seiko purists, but is more than enough for the average joe like myself who just wants to take a dip in the pool, or swim at the beach, and isn’t going on a serious dive expedition.
If the traditional black dial design is a bit too plain, you can check out the all-black dial AND case SRPD79, the blue dial/bezel SRPD51, the green and rose gold SRPD63, or the orange SRPD59. There are also a couple of versions that have aged-looking hour markers to make the watches look a bit more vintage, like the blue SRPD93 and black SRPD95, a personal favorite in my collection reviewed here.
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 makes a great alternative to the discontinued Seiko SARB033.
It features a slightly “boxier” case design with lugs that protrude geometrically in an almost Rolex-like fashion, making it wear a bit larger and sportier than its 37mm diameter would suggest.
Having a watch case with so many precisely machined edges that vary in their finish, from brushed to polish, is rare in most watches, let alone watches this affordable. The top-brushed lugs are accented by a polished bevel that really adds some visual dimensions when viewing this watch from different angles.
The dial appears black at first but exposes itself as a rich, very dark sunburst brown when exposed to direct light. A matching black date wheel ensures continuity throughout the entirety of the dial, with no harsh visual breaks like some other watches tend t have.
It has dauphine hands and a surprising red second hand that adds a pop of color and sportiness, breaking the watch out of the mold of all o the other plain and simple dress watches on the market.
If you want a watch that is simple and clean enough to be worn as a dress watch, but still sporty enough to be rocked every day, the SNKL41 may be the perfect choice for you.
While some Seiko 5 watches are a bit too small, and others too large, the SRPE series fits right in between at 40mm. This is the sweet spot for most people’s wrists and is one of the most popular watch sizes today.
Taking a look at this particular model, the SRPE53 is part of the “DressKX” lineup, a nickname given as it’s a dressier version of the SKX one of Seiko’s most popular dive watches of all time.
The SRPE53 takes some of the dive watch elements from the SKX, namely the large, rounded hour markers, and beefy hands, both filled with lume to glow in the dark. But this model classes it up a bit with a highly polished finish surrounding them, and a sleeker, fixed bezel.
The watch uses Seiko’s 4R36 movement, an upgrade over the 7S26 used in some of the older, and smaller Seiko 5s, and adds hacking and hand winding.
The radiant blue sunburst dial of the SRPE53 compliments the polished bezel, and brushed bracelet, although this watch would look just as at home on a NATO strap or leather band.
The SNK355 (full review) has the feeling of a Rolex Oyster perpetual, without the hefty price tag.
The brushed case lugs contrast with the high-polished bezel, and all-silver dial, pairing with the beautiful (although quite uncomfortably hair-pulling) mixed-metal bracelet.
Together, the design elements of different metal surfaces come together to create a package that has an extremely luxurious feel, while still retaining all of the design elements that make a Seiko 5.
As a subtle nod to the Seiko 5 heritage, the dial has the Seiko 5 badge logo across it, but it’s only noticeable up close, and in direct lighting and doesn’t distract in any way. In fact, I think the subtle texture adds a spark of interest that a plain silver dial otherwise might lack.
At only 37mm in diameter, and 11mm thick, the SNK355 sits close to the wrist, making it an extremely dressy-looking piece that is just screaming to be worn on an exotic leather strap like a crocodile or lizard.
Overall, if you want a great-looking Seiko 5 that nods to the brand’s heritage, while almost looking like an entry-level Rolex to those who are none the wiser, the SNK355 may be the Seiko 5 for you.
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.
Finally, we have a slightly dressier version of the previously mentioned SNKL41.
Because of its extremely simple and clean white dial, the SNKL41 is a blank slate. This watch will look absolutely perfect on any strap and is the perfect watch to dress up with a dressy exotic leather strap or dress down with a bright and fun-colored NATO.
At 37mm, and with a crown at 3:00, the SNKL41 disappears on the wrist and is more than comfortable enough for everyday wear.
Pick up the SNKL41 if you want a clean, minimalist white dial watch that can pair well with quite literally any outfit or watch strap.
Seiko 5 Datejust
Although no longer in production, the Seiko 5 Datejust is a lineup of some of the most highly coveted Seiko 5 watches to ever exist, and it’s easy to see why.
These watches were given this nickname as they look strikingly similar to the legendary Rolex Datejust models, at a fraction of the cost. The jubilee bracelet and fluted bezel add a luxurious look that is often overdone or gaudy in cheap watches. But, Seiko kept things minimal and classy and added just the right amount of bling without going overboard.
Although you won’t be able to pick up any new versions from retailers, keep your eyes peeled on shops like Jomashop or eBay for your chance at a new old stock or pre-owned model.
Particularly, look for the references: SNXJ89, SNXSJ90, and SNXJ92.
The SNK793 looks like a traditional dress watch out of the ’60s. Simple, straightforward, and somewhat elegant, the design allows the strong sunburst blue dial to do all the talking, and all of the other design elements simply get out of its way.
The watch is framed by a high-polished bezel, with thin lugs, adding to that older, vintage style.
Unlike other Seiko 5s, this model only has a little bit of lume, meaning it won’t light up like a torch when in the dark. Lume is traditionally best for casual watches, but a slightly dressier watch like the SNK793 benefits from having as little lume as possible for that traditional dress watch look.
The Seiko 5 SNK789 has a silver-white dial and a surprising pop of color with a red second hand. While you can wear this watch on the stock metal bracelet, this is the type of versatile watch you can easily put on just about any other strap, and it would look great.
Leather? NATO? RUBBER? No problem. This watch is a strap monster, and the neutral silver-white dial means you can really have fun experimenting with different colors as well.
While maybe not the most interesting or unique-looking watch, this is perfect for someone who just wants a nice-looking watch on the wrist without drawing too much attention. And you can have a one-watch collection, simply by changing up the straps here and there.
The SNXL72 has a gold case, bracelet, and dial. While obviously not solid gold at this price, the watch looks just the right amount flashy, without being over the top. The watch is small, at just 37mm, so it’s not the type of gold watch for someone looking to flaunt their wealth, but rather someone who wants a touch of elegance. This is more of the vintage Rolex that has been passed down in the family for generations look, rather than the large, blingy gold monstrosities you might find on a rapper’s wrist.
Of course, the SNXL72 has Seiko’s solid 7S26 movement, so it’s not all for show. The engine powering the watch is just as good as the design itself.
The SNK366 is another gold Seiko 5, this time, with a slightly more muted gold case. The case is mostly brushed, and only has pops of bling on the polished gold bezel, and sides. And the dial has just a bit of texture, with gold-embedded “Seiko 5” badge logos throughout. But they’re very subtle, and can only be spotted up close, in the right lighting, so you’re the only person who would even notice they’re there.
While it’s not solid gold, Seiko is known to do a great job of plating their gold watches so that it doesn’t come off after wear. I was gifted a gold Seiko 5 from the ’80s passed down from my grandfather, which I wear regularly, and barely shows any signs of wear.
Is the Seiko 5 Worth Buying?
Yes, the Seiko 5 is worth buying.
Seiko 5s include specifications, such as a Japanese in-house workhorse movement, a level of finish, and attention to detail that are nearly impossible to find elsewhere in the ~$100 price range.
Seiko 5s are often compared to watches much more expensive than they are for their subtle, understated designs that give them a luxurious look. Their combinations of various finishes, both brushed and polished, on their cases and bracelets, is something that only Seiko seems to go the extra length to do at such an affordable price point.
With that said, the Seiko 5s are not perfect. They have a hardlex crystal which isn’t as scratch resistant as sapphire, their included bracelets and straps are mediocre and sometimes downright uncomfortable, and the included 7S26 is reliable, albeit basic, and can be inaccurate.
All in all, the Seiko 5s offer incredible value for the money, and there is little competition for automatic watches around the ~$100 price point.
What To Look For When Choosing a Seiko 5
With so many different Seiko 5 models to choose from, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind to ensure you pick the right one.
One of the main things that can affect how a watch looks is the dial. Not only do you have to choose a dial color and layout that suits you, but also one with the right finish. Sunburst watch dials can be a bit flashy, as they vary greatly in different lighting conditions, while glossy or matte dials usually look rather neutral.
You’ll also want to pick one with a dial layout that suits you. Would you prefer one with geometric hour markers (I.E. round or rectangle), or one with numerals? If you don’t yet have a preference, don’t worry, simply buy the one you think looks the best, wear it, and learn from there. The Seiko 5 is the perfect starting point to learn your taste.
The majority of Seiko 5s have their crown at 4:00 instead of 3:00 like most watches. Although a bit unusual, this is a specific design trait of the 5 that makes the watch more comfortable to wear when on your wrist. Though few and far between, there are a few 5s that have a crown at 3:00, such as the SRPE35. But, I implore you to try the 4:00 crown before judging it. You may find you prefer it after all!
Most Seiko 5s come in one of a few different diameters:
- 37mm – 38mm: Regular non-sports Seiko 5s. These are typically the “dressier” and older models. Although less modern, these watches are extremely comfortable to wear, and often look a bit more elegant and refined, due to their classic sizing. Thesework best on those with small – medium wrists, with a circumference of 7.5″ and less, but will still look fine on those with larger wrists as well.
- 40mm: Seiko 5 Sports “DressKX” models come in 40mm. This is the sweet spot, “Goldilocks” size that never looks too big or small on any wrist. If you’re unsure what watch size to get, a 40mm watch is perfect to start with. From there, you can see if you’d prefer a watch larger or smaller, but I can almost guarantee it will never feel too far off.
- 42mm: The 42mm Seiko 5 Sports “5KX” divers are a bit larger, as dive watches typically are. Traditionally, this was so dive watches could have larger hour markers, and be more legible when divers used them underwater. Today, 42mm is no longer a “large” watch by modern standards. This is closer to the watch size you likely see on most people’s wrists.
If you’re somebody who wants to swim with your watch, get a Seiko 5 Sports instead of a regular Seiko 5. The Seiko 5 Sports often have 100 meters of water resistance which is enough to safely swim with, while older models usually have around 30 meters, which is not enough.
Some have the 7S26 movement, which is a fine, albeit basic automatic movement. Like all Seiko movements, it’s durable and reliable, although since the 7S26 is the most entry-level, it also happens to be the most inaccurate, and lacks modern features.
The 4R36, on the other hand, has additional features such as hacking and hand winding. While not necessary to enjoy a watch, hacking stops the second hand when setting the time to set it more accurately, and hand-winding allows you to wind it, well, by hand. These are more quality-of-life features than deal breakers.
This goes without saying, but get one that comfortably fits your budget. Never overextend your budget for a watch, as there are plenty out there for any price range. But, if you are lucky enough to be able to afford a 5, you can rest assured it’s an investment that will last you for years to come.
Oh, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking the more expensive watches are better. In fact, some of the more affordable Seiko 5s are my favorites!
Included Bracelet or Strap
While the watches are great, the included bracelet or strap on the older 5 models leaves a bit to be desired. The metal bands are often hollow feeling, hair-pulling, and difficult to adjust. When buying an older 5, you might want to consider that you might want to spend a bit extra to find a replacement strap down the line.
They have been improved in the newer Sports models, however.
Did Seiko Discontinue the Seiko 5?
No, Seiko hasn’t discontinued the Seiko 5. They are still in production, however, Seiko has no longer released any new 37mm original Seiko ‘5’ badge models. Instead, Seiko is releasing new Seiko 5 Sports watches, such as their SRPD 5KX dive watch, SRPE DressKX, SRPG field watch, and SRPH29 pilot watch models.
These new Seiko 5 Sports are slightly more expensive than the older, smaller Seiko 5 models, coming in closer to $200, however, they have a noticeable step up in build quality, including an upgraded 4R36 movement with hacking and hand-winding.
What Does the 5 in Seiko 5 Mean?
While this has changed over time, the 5 in Seiko 5 represented the original 5 elements that were present in every watch:
- An automatic movement
- Day and date display
- A recessed crown at 4:00
- A diaflex mainspring and diashock movement
Will a Seiko 5 Last a Lifetime?
As long as you take care of it, avoid excessively dropping or bumping it, and avoid water damage, a Seiko 5 can last a lifetime.
Seiko 5 watches are durable, and their 7S26/4R36 movements are reliable workhorses known to withstand some abuse and survive it.
However, while the watch will survive for generations, if properly looked after, you will need to have the movement serviced by an experienced watchmaker. This is the case with every mechanical watch, as its series of tiny mechanical parts need to occasionally be cleaned and lubricated to run properly.
With that said, the movements in Seiko 5 watches are known to last exceptionally long without ever needing service. For example, my grandfather’s gold Seiko 5 from 1989 has been passed down to me, and 33 years later, it still runs perfectly fine, without ever having been serviced.
Not all will be so lucky to make it this long, but you can rest assured that Seiko’s movements are some of the most reliable out there.
What Movement is in the Seiko 5?
Both are very solid entry-level movements, known for their reliability over long periods of time, and diashock technology which helps the movement survive minor drops, bumps, and falls. Although not the most accurate, and not the most decorated, these cut corners help keep costs down in the movement, and in the watch.
Seiko 5 vs Seiko 5 Sports
You may have noticed there are two different types of Seiko 5, the regular with a “5” badge logo, and those with a Seiko 5 Sports logo. How do these two differ?
Seiko 5 Sports is usually reserved for the Seiko 5s with at least 100 meters of water resistance, and the slightly upgraded 4R36 movement. Regular Seiko 5s more often have only 30 or 50 meters of water resistance, and often include the 7S26 movement.
Generally, the older Seiko 5 models are smaller, around 37mm, and less expensive (although prices have been creeping up recently due to exclusivity).
Still, I suggest picking either of the two you prefer, rather than simply buying a Sports model because it has better specs. You want a watch that you enjoy, and will get more use out of, not one that is better on paper.
How Many Jewels Does a Seiko 5 Have?
The amount of jewels in a Seiko 5 varies depending on the movement used. Watches with the 7S26 movement have 21 jewels, and those with the 4R34 and 4R36 have 24 jewels. Some older, vintage Seiko 5s that use discontinued movements have 17 jewels.
What About Vintage Seiko 5s?
This article is primarily intended to cover modern Seiko 5s that are readily available. There are plenty of great vintage models out there, like the Sportmatic and DX series, and I urge you to explore them, with a word of caution. There are plenty of fake ones out there, with refinished or replaced dials or movements. Always buy from a reputable seller, and ask loads of questions, like when the watch was purchased, condition, if all parts are original, and etc. Especially ask for pictures of the movement to ensure the correct movement is used, and that it is, in fact, a genuine watch.
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 do 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.
Is there a Seiko 5 you think should be added to this list? Let me know in the comments below!– Anthony