I first became aware of the Seiko 5 series while aimlessly meandering the watch pages of Amazon. At the time, I was happy to have found some humorously cheap Timex’s to buy and fool around with…I guess I was just having one of those “I need to buy something” moments. Regardless, when I came across a set of very nicely styled military automatics, made by Seiko, that cost just under $100 dollars, I knew I stumbled upon something great. Fast-forward a week, I received my Seiko 5, unboxed it and was immediately pleased with what I saw.
Case: Sandblasted Stainless Steel
Movement: Seiko 7S26B 21 Jewel Automatic with Day/date
Dial: Beige w/ Black Markers and Luminous Dots
Case Back: Display Back
Strap: Beige Double Layered Nylon w/ Steel Buckle
Water Res.: 10atm (100m/300f)
Diameter: 37 mm
Lug Width: 18mm
Warranty: Store Specific
In true military watch style, the design of the Seiko 5 is very purposeful. The face is clean and legible. The markings are broken into two rings, the outer indicating minutes, the inner for hours and at the 3’ position you have a slot for the day and date. Everything is sized well, spaced well, printed nicely… It is an easy watch to read at a glance. There even are small dots of Lume at the outer most edge adding to low light visibility. The model I purchased has a beige face, which I chose over the black, green and blue, as I felt it would be a more unique accent within my wardrobe. The body is stainless steel with a sandblasted finish that adds a nice matte sheen to the surface. Once again, as a military watch, the matte finish feels very appropriate. The minute and hour hands are Lume filled classic diamond shapes and the second hand is long and thin with a red tip at the business end, and a Lume dot at the opposite side.
The build quality of this watch, however, is what really stood out to me when I first held it. For a seemingly small watch, 37mm, it has a substantial weight to it…50 grams to be exact. Plus, at 11mm thick, it is stout and sturdy. The crown is small and set at an angle, making accidental dislodging very unlikely. The crystal is Hardlex, Seiko’s proprietary hardened mineral, which psychologically at least, adds some durability. The movement, which is visible through the case back, is an unadorned auto that looks like it is task oriented and not meant to be pretty, like an engine on a winch. The overall effect is that strapped to your wrist is not a fussy piece of jewelry; it is a tool for time keeping.
The strap that comes on the watch is a light beige double-layered nylon with leather/pleather reinforcing around the sizing holes that resembles a 2 buckle Zulu strap. It is simple, seemingly durable strap but it lacks nice finishing. The light khaki/flesh tone coloring is extremely boring, especially against the beige face. I have since paired the watch with both classic olive army green and “Bond” black and grey colored NATO straps, and have been very pleased with the result. With the army green band, you complete the image of the robust military watch; the two earthy tones play off each other for a nice effect that looks great with jeans and patterned shirts. The Bond strap has a more subtle impact on the watch. The cool grey and black emphasize the warmth of the beige in the face while the strong stripes add a graphic contrast to the simplicity of the dial. This is my preferred arrangement for work attire, though it still goes nicely with casual dress.
The Seiko 7S26B movement has been fine so far. No noticeable accuracy issues. The rotor is quite loud and sounds more like a pepper mill than a timepiece, but as I said before, this watch is not dainty. Frankly, the fact that it has a little growl kind of seems appropriate. The day/date function is always great to have, and the Seiko’s happens to be bi-lingual (Eng/Span on mine), which is just cool. Granted the first day it was in Spanish, but that was an easy fix.
After wearing this watch for the last couple of months I can hands down say that if you are looking for a military styled watch you will be very pleased with this purchase. Does it have the authenticity of a Laco Flieger or a Mil-Spec Marathon? No, of course not, but it is an extremely well styled homage to the real thing…and perhaps, a more wearable alternative. Oh… and did I mention it was only $89?