Collecting: Seiko’s SNK809 military field Watch

Could this wristwatch be in the running for the most affordable, well-built field watch for everyday use? A Gentleman’s Jotter puts Seiko’s entry level SNK809 under the microscope…

Seiko’s watchmaking lineage has already been explored with a study of the bullet proof SKX diver, so it’s safe to say that any watch from this brand will be reliable and well made, if you are happy to replace the rather basic stock straps that come as standard.

The SNK809 is part of the Seiko 5 range which can be traced back to 1963 with the introduction of the Sportsmatic 5, leading a few years later to the Sports 5 line.

The 5 stands for the number of principles each timepiece in this series must adhere to:

  • An automatic movement
  • A day/date complication in a single aperture
  • Water resistance (30m here)
  • Seiko’s unique recessed crown at 4 o’clock
  • A versatile and robust construction (Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex mineral crystal and stainless steel construction)

The SNK809 passes all of these requirements with flying colours. The watch face and bead blasted matte finish are clearly inspired by military field/pilot watches of a bygone era, but with an applied Seiko logo, the aforementioned recessed crown, a red tipped lollipop second hand and uniformed day/date wheel (marked in red on Sundays to let you know it’s a day to rest), it still has enough of Seiko’s unique character and personality to make it standout from a straight homage. The SNK809 has a 37mm case, 11mm thickness and 18 mm lugs for strap sizing.

It does have it cons however: a not so comfortable fabric strap and a movement that is neither hand winding, hackable or particularly attractive. These are minor irritations for a watch that delivers on so many levels, especially at such an affordable price, retailing on Amazon for around £50-60.

The calibre 7s26 in house 21 jewel movement has a 40 hour power reserve and is an extremely reliable workhorse, visible through the open caseback. The watch comes with Lumibrite markers and hands, which although are not as super bright as the SKX, are still effective for low light conditions.

If you are used to quartz watches and would like to dip your toe into automatics without breaking the bank, or perhaps are looking for a gift for someone to introduce them to traditional watchmaking, then this is certainly one to consider.

Over the months of owning this wristwatch I’ve become quietly fond of it, so much so I replaced the strap with a comfortable brown suede, as well as a mesh bracelet. However, I was never an admirer of the matte bead blasting and so for a few pounds I picked up a tub of Mothers Mag and Allumimium Polish which I feel has really brought the case to life with a stunning glossy finish. See the last two images for examples of this.



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