A couple of years ago, I was looking for a watch to buy my father for Christmas.
Naturally, after doing some research, I discovered what a mechanical watch was, and wanted to get him one.
I ended up deciding on an Invicta Pro Diver (I know, I know… Invicta. Puke emoji).
But I ended up wearing it more than him.
Turns out, I was the one more fascinated by his mechanical watch Christmas present than he was.
So I wanted a mechanical watch of my own.
That’s when I did some more digging, to find an automatic watch that was affordable, looked great and had solid build quality.
The model we’re going to be looking at today is that exact watch, the first mechanical watch I ever bought for myself, the Seiko 5 SNXS79 (Amazon).
Seiko SNXS79 Review
Now, I’m definitely not going to make a direct comparison of a sub $100 Seiko to a Rolex watch that cost thousands, but…
The SNXS79 has a very luxurious vibe, slightly reminiscent of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual.
I’d not quite go as far to say it’s an Oyster Perpetual homage. Just that it takes some really well-designed aspects from the watch.
And that’s definitely not a bad thing.
The rich, dark dial juxtaposed against the pronounced bezel of the bright, polished case really packs a punch.
The watch looks slightly different at any angle, adding to the dynamic charm of the piece.
The sunburst grey of the dial lightens up when viewed head-on, but darkens and has an almost visually ‘glossy black’ appeal at an angle.
The SNXS79’s Awesome Seiko Lume
On the gray dial are rectangular hour markers with applied lume, framed in polished steel.
Seiko is known for generally having very strong lume on their watches, but some of the Seiko 5 models fall short in this area.
The SNXS79’s lume, however, shines bright like a torch. It helps that the hour markers are so large and bold.
It doesn’t take much sunlight to charge it, either. Just a few minutes standing in direct sunlight and the lume will be fully charged and ready to go. Seriously, looks amazing.
It doesn’t last for an extremely long time, but fades out gradually and helps the watch be more legible in the dark and at night.
Folded Link Bracelet
Like most Seiko 5 models, the included bracelet is pretty terrible.
It has folded links, feels light, cheap and jangly and adds no additional heft or feeling of security when wearing it on your wrist.
It doesn’t have any screws, or even pushpins, like most bracelets, so sizing it can be extremely difficult.
It’s completely brushed, which contrasts completely with the all-polished case.
I think the brushing on the bracelet kind of looks out of place – like it doesn’t belong on this watch. Especially since there are absolutely no brushed surfaces on the case to tie the look together.
It also has a cheap flip lock clasp instead of a higher quality pushbutton clasp like on the Seiko 5 SNK355.
While the bracelet feels rather light and cheap, I must admit, it’s rather comfortable on the wrist.
It helps that it’s so light and weightless, making it good to wear in warmer summer months. It also surprisingly doesn’t tug on my arm hairs like some other cheap bracelets tend to.
SNXS79 Strap Choices and Suggestions
I prefer to wear my SNXS79 on a leather strap. It’s a very thick, distressed grey, vintage style leather strap with stitching on either side near the lugs. The off-white stitching really compliments the off-white lumed embassies and are a perfect match.
The worn distressed leather really accentuates the smooth, rich sunburst dial and makes it pop.
The thickness of the strap combined with the raw, unstitched edges makes the leather strap wear very thick and was instantly recognizable, for me, as a perfect fit.
Though I’ll must admit, I sometimes still wear the flimsy original bracelet on warmer days. It’s not the best quality, but light and comfortable enough for when it gets really hot out. There are some other options, though.
Finding alternative straps that are precisely 19mm to fit this watch can be tricky.
Usually, straps are made with an even lug width measurement, like 18, 20 or 22mm.
With that said, you’re not out of options completely.
This is especially helpful if you already own watches and watch straps with an 18mm width, so you can swap between them.
Heck, James Bond wore a NATO strap much smaller than the lug width of his Rolex Submariner in some of his movies. And he’s James Bond!
But if the SNXS79 is your only watch, you might as well get the exact size strap to fit it, which is 19mm.
You could also wear a 20mm NATO, Perlon, or Leather strap, as long as you still use 19mm spring bars. It’ll be a bit of a snug fit, but it’ll encompass the entire length of the spring bar, and nobody will ever notice that 1mm difference.
SNXS79 Dimensions and Comfort
The Seiko SNXS79 has rather unusual dimensions that, on paper, don’t really reflect how the watch wears. Let me explain.
- Diameter: 37mm
- Lug to lug: 42mm
- Lug width: 19mm
- Thickness: 13mm
It has a 37mm diameter like many Seiko 5 models and a very condensed 42mm lug to lug dimension. This means it’ll fit comfortably on most people’s wrists without hanging over the edge, even on those with smaller wrists.
The crown at the 4:00 position certainly helps to add to the comfort, but I’ll admit, it’s such a tiny crown, it can be difficult to pull out and use.
The thickness, though, is what really throws me off about the size of this watch. It measures 13mm thick but doesn’t quite wear as such
Part of this is because it’s mostly the movement jotting out at the bottom of the case, adding to the thickness.
The good news is, this raises the entire watch off your wrist a bit and gives you a bit of extra wiggle room when moving your wrist around, adding to the overall comfort.
The bit of extra height does help to add a touch of extra wrist presence, though not by much.
The Seiko 7S26 is a tried and true movement that’s probably been spoken about thousands of times.
It keeps decent time, it can take a beating for years and years without needing a service and is extremely affordable.
The description of this movement basically sums up the entire experience of owning a Seiko 5.
It doesn’t have any ultra modern features seen in newer models of watches, like hacking or hand-winding, though you’ll have to jump up to a tier in price to get access to those.
It does exactly what you need it to do – keeps decent time. It also has a day and a date wheel, and a display caseback so you can see the movement through the underside of the watch.
Seiko 5 Models Similar to the SNXS79 Worth Considering
As I said earlier, there are so many different Seiko 5 variants to choose from.
Between this model alone, there’s the SNXS79K1 and SNXS79J1. A Malaysian and Japanese version, respectively. The Malaysian version (K1) has a Spanish day wheel, and the J1 has a Kanji date wheel. The differences end there (aside from the price).
There are also some similar Seiko 5 variants you may want to consider if you’re already looking at the SNXS79.
The SNK355 (Amazon), the watch to the left shown above, has a similarly classy and dressy appeal, with an equally rich, although lighter, silver dial. I did a full review of the Seiko 5 SNK355 if you’d like to learn more about it.
The SNXS77 (Amazon) is exactly the same as the SNXS79, but with a sunburst blue dial instead. The SNXS73 (Amazon) has a silver even lighter than that of the 79. In my opinion, the 79 is the most ‘rich’ and ‘luxurious’ looking, though the blue version looks good also.
The SNKL45 is a kind of, but not really, similar model. It has a darker, glossier black dial and a red second hand that gives it a bit of a ‘sportier’ appearance. It also has an all-black date wheel, which is a unique touch.
The good news is, there is clearly no shortage of Seiko 5s to choose from, and even if the SNXS79 doesn’t do it for you, there are plenty of other expensive-looking Seiko 5s to choose from.
Why I Bought the SNXS79 Thrice (Yes, Three Times)
My story of owning this SNXS79 is a funny one. Like I said earlier, it was my own personal first mechanical watch I’ve owned for myself.
The first time I owned it, I liked it. But I didn’t love it. At the time, I didn’t have many other watches to compare it to.
The Invicta Pro Diver 8928OB (Amazon), the first mechanical watch I ever wore, is a cool watch but is a chunkier dive watch.
It doesn’t really compare to the Seiko 5, even though they cost about the same. It’s just a different style.
At the time, after wearing a dive watch for a couple of months, I thought the Seiko 5 looked too small and effeminate on me. It is a ‘smaller’ case size (37mm in diameter) and is maybe even smaller than average by modern day standards.
But that’s part of what makes it so beautiful.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that a smaller watch is actually classier and more versatile, as it’s more subtle and discreet.
I also wasn’t a fan of the all polished case of the SNXS79, and how easily the mineral crystal smudged up and looked ‘dirty’ from fingerprint smudges all the time (little did I know, sapphire crystals can be WORSE about this sometimes).
As my appreciation for watches (and my watch collection) grew, I began to appreciate the little aspects and nuances of a watch, more.
That’s how I’m able to appreciate the value proposition of the SNXS79 so much more, this time around.
I’ve also previously bought a vintage version of this watch off eBay. I’m not even completely sure it was an official Seiko model, or someone just modified a previous existing Seiko with the SNXS79 dial, but I love it all the same.
It has a domed crystal and a case that’s scratched up, and has so much character, in my opinion.
What is a Seiko 5?
Seiko 5 is Seiko’s entry-level mechanical line of watches. They look great, have a robust in-house mechanical movement and are some of the most affordable automatic watches one can buy.
There are dozens and dozens of them, each with a slightly different flair and aesthetic. Almost all of them can be had relatively affordable, under $200, but most are even less than half that.
Most all of them feature a relatively prominent ‘5’ badge under the Seiko logo at the top. I used to think the badge was kind of… Over the top. And took up too much dial real estate.
But over time, like most other things about this watch, not only did they grow on me, but I began to appreciate them more and more. That’s why I’ve bought this same exact watch THREE times.
The Final Verdict
The Seiko 5 SNXS79 is one of the best looking Seiko 5 models, in my opinion.
The brilliant and rich sunburst grey dial looks really dynamic and with the all polished stainless steel case, the look really comes together to create the appearance almost of that of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual homage, but with enough unique design elements to stand on its own in terms of originality.
The included bracelet isn’t the best, but with a watch so affordable, it’s easy to overlook, and this watch looks good on a variety of different straps if you can work around the odd 19mm lug width.
All in all, the Seiko 5 SNXS79 is truly one of the best ‘bang-for-your-buck’ watches considering how affordably you can find them online.
Hope you enjoyed this SNXS79 review! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below. I respond to every comment!– Anthony
Last update on 2023-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API