Seiko 5 SNK809 Review – Still The Best Affordable Automatic Watch?

WARNING… Be very cautious of buying any Seiko 5. Buying just one might lead you to an entire collection of mechanical watches. I know, because it happened to me… 

– Anthony

The Seiko 5 lineup is Seiko’s offering of entry-level mechanical watches. 

They were my own personal entry point into mechanical watches, with my purchase of the Seiko 5 SNXS79, and ever since, I’ve been hooked. 

While the Seiko 5 comes in a variety of different styles, ranging from a dive watch to a more subdued dress watch, one of the most popular in the entire lineup is their field watches. 

Seiko-5-snk809

One field watch, in particular, the Seiko 5 SNK809, is highly regarded in the watch community. Many moons ago, it was priced notoriously low, around the $60 mark, making it one of the most affordable mechanical watches on the market. 

While you’ll likely struggle to find it around that price tag any longer, it’s still incredibly affordable. Check out the current price on Amazon.

Today, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at the Seiko 5 SNK809. 

SNK809 Dial & Design

The field watch design is one of the most tried and true. Made for the field (such as military purposes), it needs to to be bold and easily legible, so the time can be read quickly. 

The Seiko 5 SNK809 emphasizes this legibility by taking queues from classic military-inspired designs with a simple glossy black dial complimented by the bold white hour and minute markers. 

Seiko 5 SNK809 Dial

A triangle at the 12:00 position also helps making orientation of the watch very easy. 

These design elements come together to make the SNK809 extremely easy to read. 

A field watch is also intended to be durable and survive some wear and tear, without showing too much of that wear on the watch. 

The SNK809’s satin case is perfect for this, as it easily hides any scratches or imperfections.

I’ve seen some complaints about the lack of polished surfaces on the Seiko 5 SNK809 case, and that’s understandable if you’re used to dressier watches, or even comparing to modern iterations of the field watch, such as the Hamilton Khaki Field.

SNK809 Stainless Steel Satin Case
The stainless steel case of the SNK809 has a satin finish that hides scratches

But the SNK809 is not made to be dressy. The SNK809, like many of the Seiko 5s in their respective category (dress, dive, field, or sport watch), takes the essence of the style, and implements it in a simple and expected execution. The SNK809 is exactly as you’d expect a field watch to be. 

A diamond handset is complimented by a lollipop second hand with a red painted tip. I love when otherwise monochromatic watches use a hint of an accent color – just enough to add some visual interest.

The glossy black dial is complemented by a matching black day/date wheel. Many watches, including many Seiko 5s, will use a contrasting white day and date wheel, even on a black dial. I’m very pleased that Seiko decided to go with the black on black for this watch. It adds to the simple and clean aesthetic of the watch overall. 

Size, Dimensions, And Comfort

Like many other Seiko 5 watches, the SNK809 has relatively compact dimensions, making it perfect for those with smaller wrists or even those who just prefer a slightly smaller watch. 

Snk809 on 7 inch wrist
The SNK809 comes in at 37mm in diameter and wears perfectly on my 7″ wrist

The SNK809 comes in at 37mm in diameter, and wears perfectly on my 7″ wrists, with plenty of room to bend my wrist in either direction comfortably. At only 11mm thick, the size of the SNK is perfect for anybody with small to medium-sized wrists, though it may appear a bit small if you have larger wrists.

I love the tasteful and classic size of this watch. It’s also lightweight, making it comfortable and effortless to wear on the wrist, making it a great everyday piece.

  • Diameter: 37mm 
  • Lug width: 20mm 
  • Lug to lug: 42mm 
  • Thickness: 11mm 

Seiko 5’s Incredible Price & Value

The Seiko 5 is dollar for dollar, one of the best value in all of mechanical watches. The Seiko 5 SNK809 is no exception here. 

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For a while, it was priced around $60 USD, making it one of the cheapest and most affordable mechanical watches on the market. As such, it was often recommended as a great entry to mechanical watches on watch forums and youtube videos, regardless if someone was into the rugged and tough field watch design. 

With that said, it can still be found readily available, and I still think it’s a great value, even at its current market price.

A lot of watch for not a lot of money (relatively speaking, when compared to watches with similar specifications). What’s not to like? 

7S26 Movement

The movement housed inside of the SNK809 is Seiko’s in-house 7S26. In-house meaning Seiko also makes it, instead of hiring a third-party manufacturer to make it for them. This is often seen in higher-end watch brands, but rarely seen at this price point. 

It’s not the most accurate movement, with a specified accuracy rating ranging between -20 to +49 seconds per day.

It also, unfortunately, doesn’t have hacking or handwinding, features we almost come to expect in modern mechanical watches.

Seiko 5 SNK809 See Through Case back
You can see the Seiko 7S26 movement through the display caseback

While it’s not the most impressive movement on the block, it’s certainly more than adequate, and gets the job done. 

The 7S26 movement is known to be durable, reliable, and even has a bit of shock resistance. Best of all, it’s an extremely affordable movement, with common and readily available parts, should you ever need to have your Seiko 5 serviced. 

You’ll be able to see the moving parts of the 7S26 movement through the SNK809’s see-through case back. While it’s not the most well-decorated movement, it’s cool to be able to see how the watch works regardless, especially on an entry-level piece. 

SNK809 in watch box

Included Canvas Strap and Bracelet

While I don’t any longer own the included black canvas strap, I can assure you it was not anything noteworthy. 

That’s not to say it was unwearable, by any means, and the rugged-casual aesthetic certainly compliments the SNK809 well. It just wasn’t that great quality.

There’s also an SNK809K Variation that comes with a metal bracelet included. While I’ve not had the chance to try it out firsthand, I expect the quality to be on-par with the 4 other Seiko 5 bracelets I’ve tried. Mediocre. 

That’s not to say it’s unwearable, however. Their bracelets certainly look good and will get the job done in the pinch, but they’re often lightweight and flimsy feeling with hollow end-links, and hair-pulling links.

While Seiko 5 watches are great, their included bracelets leave a lot to be desired, from my own personal experience. 

That seems to be the case with Seiko 5 and most straps and bracelets included with them. The watch itself is great, but often paired with a cheap quality bracelet or strap. That’s why I suggest you treat yourself to a quality watch strap to pair with your Seiko 5.

SNK809 Strap Choices and Suggestions

The SNK809 is so classic and simple in design and execution that you can’t go wrong with just about any watch strap on it. 

This makes it a great watch for experimenting with different watch straps and styles, as long as you get a strap that fits the 18mm lug width

With that said, here are a few of my favorite straps on the SNK809.

Nato Strap (Olive, Tan, Black)

snk809-on-tan-nato-strap
A tan NATO Strap emphasizes the SNK809’s rugged military aesthetic

NATO straps are rugged and tough – a perfect pairing for any field watch. Olive and tan straps really compliment the tactical and military look and feel of this watch. That’s what field watches were originally made for, anyway. 

A simple black NATO strap, on the other hand, draws no attention and thus lets your watch fly stealthily under the radar.

Leather Straps (Brown or Black)

SNK809 on Brown Leather Vintage Style Strap
A leather strap can add some texture and dress up the SNK809 a bit

Leather straps help dress the SNK809 up just a bit, making it wear a bit less casual than it typically does on a fabric strap, such as a NATO.

A distressed or vintage style black or brown strap will help add texture and character to contrast with the smooth glossy black dial and smooth satin case.  

Canvas Straps (Olive, Grey)

Canvas straps are a great way to maintain the casual and rugged nature of the watch, similar to a NATO strap, but with a bit more texture.

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They’re also known to be a bit more comfortable, once broken in. 

My go-to colors would be an olive or grey canvas strap, but since the SNK809 is such a monochromatic watch, you can really have your choice of colors. 

Metal Oyster Bracelet

An oyster style bracelet can be found paired with a certain variation of the SNK809 that offers no differences besides the included strap. 

As stated before, the oyster bracelet certainly looks good, but most Seiko 5 bracelets aren’t very high quality, with few exceptions. 

You can always try another metal bracelet, as long as it has an 18mm width. 

Seiko 5 collection
My little Seiko 5 collection. From left to right: SNXS79, SNKL355, SNK809, Vintage SNXS79

Best Seiko 5 SNK809 Alternatives

Seiko 5 Sports SNK803/ SNK805 / SNK807 / SNK809

The Seiko 5 SNK809 is complimented by a series of other SNK field watches in various dial color configurations. 

The SNK803 has a cream dial and black markings, giving it a bit of a dressier and luxurious look.

The SNK805 has a forest green dial that adds to the rugged and tough “earthy” aesthetic of the watch.

The SNK807 has a blue dial, which, next to the black-dial SNK809, is one of the most versatile offerings, as it can easily be dressed up or down depending on which strap you put on it.

There is yet another variation, a red dial SNKM95. It’s much rarer and harder to find than the other previously mentioned alternatives, but a red dial is always a great way to add a bit of fun to your collection.

Alternatively, if the SNK series just doesn’t cut it for you, there’s always plenty of other field watches that get the job done. 

I wrote an entire article on some of the best field watches under $200, and the SNK809 is right up there on that list. Check it out. 

Timex Expedition

If you find yourself wanting an even more affordable field watch, or you’d prefer a quartz field watch for any number of reasons, the Timex Expedition is a great alternative to the SNK809.

Seiko 5 SNK809 (left) and Timex Expedition (right)
Seiko 5 SNK809 (left) and Timex Expedition (right)

While it’s not a mechanical watch like the SNK809 is, that could mean you’ll save money in service and repair costs down the line. 

Quartz watches also tend to be more accurate.

But I’ll be honest, there’s nothing like seeing the smooth-sweeping second hand of a mechanical watch, so the SNK809 has my vote regardless. 

Hamilton Khaki Field

If you’re looking for the next step up from the entry-level SNK809, the Hamilton Khaki Field is the tried and true option, competing with watches well above its price range. 

The Khaki Field is a relatively affordable field watch with a swiss movement, which is quite impressive. Not to mention the long-standing history of Hamilton as a brand. 

The Hamilton Khaki Field is great for those who know they want a field watch. Though if this is your first field watch ever, and you’re just finding out if the style is right for you, stick with the SNK809 and save a few bucks. 

Seiko 5 Sports SNZG13 / SNZG07 / SNZG09 / SNZG11

Coming in at 42mm, the Seiko SNZG13 is a field watch much larger than the SNK809. This makes it a great alternative for those with bigger wrists, or just anybody who prefers a slightly larger watch.

It also comes in a variety of color configurations, such as black, cream, green, and blue dial variants. They are the Seiko 5 SNZG13, SNZG07, SNZG09, and SNZG11 respectively. 

Specifications

  • Case Size: 37mm
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: 7S26 Automatic
  • Crystal:  Hardlex
  • Water Resistance Rating: 30 meters
  • Bracelet: Nylon strap or stainless steel bracelet, depending on the variation purchased.
  • Complications:  Day-Date
  • Weight:  2.12 Ounces

Conclusion

The Seiko 5 SNK809 is an excellent affordable and moderately sized automatic watch that hits all the right notes for a budget everyday watch. 

While it doesn’t have any fancy features or complications, a few subtle nuances like a satin case that doesn’t show scratches easily, and an all-white handset, the watch has enough unique details to set it apart in any watch collection.

Further, this all comes at an extremely competitive price, making it not only one of the best affordable field watches, but simply one of the best affordable watches on the market, period.

Check out the price of the SNK809 on Amazon.

Last update on 2021-02-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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