Review: Seiko 5 Sport SNZG13

Popular | Review | Under $1k | 09.26.2012

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It’s been some time since we reviewed a Seiko on worn&wound, which is a shame because Seiko is one of our favorite brands. As long time readers may recall, we’ve reviewed a number of Seiko’s including two from their Seiko 5 line, the SNK military field watch and SNZH diver, both of which have quite a following from the watch nerd community. Seiko 5‘s are known for being sturdy, affordable mechanical watches that come in a variety of flavors, and today we’re going to take a look at the SNZG, a mid-sized military field watch that retails for $100 to $115 depending on strap choice.

Case: Stainless steel
Movement: Seiko 7S26C 23 Jewel Automatic with Day/date
Dial: Black
Lens: Hardlex
Case Back: Display Back
Strap: Stainless steel
Water Res.: 10atm (100m/300f)
Diameter: 42mm
Thickness: 12mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Warranty: Two-year

The Seiko 5 line of watches is vast, including watches from a number of genres (dive, dress, military) with varying dial colors, case finishes and strap choices for each model. That said, you very well may be wondering “What makes a Seiko 5 a Seiko 5?” That’s a great question, and from researching the subject, I have learned that the 5 in the Seiko 5 name signifies five key components of any Seiko 5 watch found across the entire line. These components are as follows;

  1. Automatic mechanical movement
  2. Day/Date display
  3. Water resistance (varies across line)
  4. Diaflex mainspring (commonly referred to as “unbreakable”)
  5. Diashock shock resistant design

It is rather amazing that these are the standards for a line of mechanical watches that are frequently priced well below $200, and are often found available for $100 or less. Add to the equation that Seiko is a brand with roots dating back to the late 1800’s, with a horological tradition as rich as many Swiss brands, and the value of a Seiko 5 is much greater than its price tag may suggest.

Now that you know a bit more about Seiko 5‘s your next thought may be “Great, I’m sold. Now which Seiko 5 is right for me?” Another great question. The Seiko 5 variations are endless, though a good place to start when trying to decide which is right for you may be to look at those models that have, over time, developed a fan base. Included in this group are two watches that we have reviewed on worn&wound, the SNZH diver and SNK military field. As Zach pointed out in his review of the SNZH, its a diver with heritage design elements similar to that of the iconic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, making it a no brainer Seiko 5 for dive enthusiasts. As for the SNZ, it’s classic military styling is spot on, and is commonly priced well less than $100, making it another great Seiko 5 pick. Unfortunately for those who prefer mid-sized to larger watches, the SNK is not an option, measuring just north of 37mm in diameter.

This is where the Seiko 5 SNZG steps into the spotlight. Measuring a more robust 42mm in diameter, the SNZG is a great Seiko 5 pick for someone in the market for an affordable mechanical military field watch. It is available at an astounding price of $115 with metal bracelet, as reviewed here, or as low as $100 on a nylon strap.  So, without further adieu, lets jump into the specifics of the SNZG.

Case

The case of the SNZG is simple and clean with really no frills or surprises to speak of. Measuring 42mm in diameter and 12mm tall, it sits in a comfortable middle ground between the larger watches that are very popular of late and the sub 40mm pieces of yesteryear. The top case of the SNZG is a brushed finish, and along the sides is polished finish. On the rear of the watch you will find a display window revealing the 23 jewel Seiko 7s26c automatic movement, which in and of itself is not much to look at, but on a watch that sells for $100, the addition of a display window is more than you should expect. As per usual with Seiko watches, the SNZG also features Seiko’s proprietary and very scratch resistant hardlex crystal.

While the details of the SNZG’s case may sound a bit unremarkable, that is rather appropriate for the military field watch aesthetic. In fact, I bet in 20 years, a Seiko SNZG with its fair share of dings, scratches and a bit of patina is going to make for one bad ass looking military watch. Also, as mentioned previously, the SNZG’s size fills a void in the Seiko 5 line for a mid-sized field watch. Especially for those Seko SNK fans out there with larger wrists, the SNZG case may very well be a thing of beauty.

Dial

The dial of the SNZG is good example of a utilitarian dial that while displaying considerable information, remains well balanced, clean and legible. Along the very outer rim of the dial is a raised internal bezel with large luminescent hash markers for hours and small non-lume hash markers for minutes/seconds. This raised bezel not only ads depth to the dial, but also draws your eye toward the hour/minute/second markers with a greater ease.

Moving further toward the center of the dial, you will find a large 12-hour numerical scale. A bit further in from there you will find a 24-hour scale. This is common for the military field watch, and provides a touch of authenticity and utilitarian sensibility to the watch. Also on the dial is an applied Seiko 5 logo with the work “Sports” printed benieth it, and the words Automatic, 23 jewels and 100M above the 6 o’clock position.

As you may recall, one of the five key elements of any seiko 5 is the presence of a day/date function. What we really like about the day/date on the SNZG is that the date wheel matches the dial with white text on a black background. Lastly, the hour and minute hands of the SNZG are fence post style and are fully luminescent, while jus the red pointed tip of the second hand is lume filled.

Straps and Wearability

The SNZG we tested came with a stainless steel bracelet which adds approximately $15 to the total price of the watch (as priced on amazon.com). The bracelet is comfortable to wear and provides for a slightly more “dressed up” look. It features a signed deployment clasp, and we found resizing the bracelet to easy. IT is worth noting however that the mechanism that attaches the bracelet to the lugs of the SNZG (and several other Seiko’s we’ve tested) is quite tough to adjust. Taking the bracelet off is fairly painless, bit getting it back on is quite difficult. This has a but to do with the snug fit of the bracelet to the case of the SNZG, so to that end, the trouble may be worth it. Nevertheless, it is worth noting.

As you may imagine, the SNZG also looks great on a nylon NATO strap. The Military styling of the watch pairs perfectly with the rugged good looks of a nylon NATO, we have pictured it here with a green NATO, but it does look fantastic on other colors as well.

On both the steel bracelet and nylon NATOS I found that the SNZG paired quite well with both formal office attire (slacks, oxford shirt, leather shoes) and weekend rags. The metal bracelet certainly helps the the SNZG look at times a bit more formal and at others quite sporty. And with either the bracelet or a NATO, the SNZG is quite comfortable to wear, making it an ideal watch for daily use.

Conclusion

There is a lot to like about the Seiko 5 SNZG, from its spot on military styling to its trusty, and full-featured Seiko automatic movement. Further, I found that the versatile styling of the SNZG made it ideal for daily wear. So, at $115 with a metal bracelet or $100 on nylon, the SNZG seems like an obvious addition to any watch nerd’s collection, or the perfect starter mechanical for a young collector. It is also important to keep in mind however that the Seiko 5 line is held up to higher standards for excellence than most other watches in its price range, and comes from a company with horological roots dating back the late 1800’s. So whether you’re an avid collector or new to the world of watches, appreciate the Seiko 5 for all that it has to offer and all that it stands for.

  • http://www.pretenseofknowledge.com/ Speedmaster

    Very nice, and maybe the best bang for the buck. Though I still want that Seiko 5 that looks like the Fifty Fathoms. ;-)

  • http://lewisleong.com Lewis

    “This video is private” :(

  • http://URL Brett Robinson

    I’ve owned one of these for about 6 months now, and I paid around US$180 for the Japanese-made variant, as distinct from the standard Malaysian-manufactured version. I work in a profession where a suit is a must, but due to the nature of the job my watches tend to cop a battering. In my opinion, this watch strikes a solid balance between professional, presentable and utilitarian, and it has stood up to a remarkable amount of (unintentional) abuse. I’d love to wear my dress watches to work, but they just wouldn’t survive, and I’m pleased to report the Seiko has garnered its fair share of compliments. Highly recommended.

  • http://URL Grant Eagon

    Love your site. Would it be possible to replace the face of this watch with something simple like the Maratac Pilot? I like the size and features of this watch, just not the logos. How would you compare the Maratac to the Seiko?

  • http://URL Zach Saratlija

    I have the SNZG13 with a staineless steel strap. Now I bought mine for $240 and that’s cheap in Australia for this watch. But I have no choice as too where it’s made if I did I’d choose Japan :-). But anyway this watch is fantastic. It’s one of my weekend Seiko watches and as always you can’t beat Seiko lumibrite. I went camping a few weeks back and it was the camp from hell. So much went wrong but this watch stayed strong and was the only item to come out of the camp in the condition it entered. So for the price paid, durability and all round ease of use and comfort. It’s fantastic. But as there is not hacking or manual winding I’m a little dissapointed. But Seiko are fixing this and it’s something I can live with. So all up, a great watch.

  • http://URL TerryH

    Great review! I bought the SNZG13 in SS six months ago on sale for $79US. I set it 25 days ago, and checking today it’s now 40 seconds fast, for an average of +1.6 secs/day!! I’ve made some great buys, but few have provided as much mechanical competency and aesthetic pleasure for the dollar as my SNZG13.

    Since I love this watch so much, I’m now looking to change it. ;-) The bracelet is comfortable enough, but is a tiny bit noisier than my Seiko Sportura. I’m thinking of going a bit radical, a distressed leather handmade strap for winter, like those from Gunny (which would cost more than the SNZG13 itself… eek!) and NATO straps for our Austin TX summers. I’d love to read/see what straps others are wearing on this extraordinary timepiece.

  • http://URL H

    Hi,

    Is the case diameter 42mm including the crown? I keep getting mixed measurements on this watch. I would like to make sure before I buy this for someone.

    Thanks!

  • http://URL bogie

    bought this one few months ago based on instinct and the info came after only making it more worthy purchase and perfect choice since my other collections were always the casio calculator watch and data bank since college.

  • http://URL Adam

    Why aren’t those watches sync’d!?! D:

  • http://URL DG Cayse

    I’ve had the watch on a nylon strap for about 1 year. Picked it up as an after though – it was recommended to me by the local watch shop.
    Made in Japan. Its worked it way into my daily wear line-up.

    Bad points:

    Nylon strap absorbs body odor – It can STINK. Wash it in hot weather and let it air dry.

    Lume isn’t up to SEIKO standards. Faint at best and goes dark very quickly – in 20 minutes or so.

    The crystal will scratch, be careful in doorways.

    Non-hacking and non-windable. Fully automatic wind.

    Good Points:

    Dependable. It seems to get better with more wear.

    Accurate as necessary. For its price point its well within acceptable deviation. You might want to have the local watchsmith do a cleaning and adjustment if its that important.

    Clean ‘classic’ looks. It blends in well.

    24 hr time on dial. For me, this is important. Great legibility.

    Price is great for what you get – value for money spent.

    In todays world of high dollar “status” watches this SEIKO is a very good, and affordable, deal.

  • Pingback: FS: Seiko SNZG13

  • http://URL samiuela tuifua

    cool watch,i like seiko,what store can i buy seiko sport

  • Robert L.

    great review! where did you get that olive (I believe?) nato strap?

  • Holden

    Look for the SNZG13J1 model. The “J1″ is the model made in Japan. There are some “K1″ models out there and I believe they are made in Malaysia. The Japanese model also says “Made in Japan” in small letters on the face around the 8 o’clock position. I found mine at:

    http://www.creationwatches.com/products/seiko-automatic-sports-89/seiko-automatic-sports-snzg13j1-snzg13j-snzg13-mens-watch-2223.html

    Awesome review by the way!

  • Ukail

    Nice review.
    That strap looks is a killer tho. Is it from Gnomon watches? Would like to know the code..