PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 27 Jun, 2016.
Ah, the Seiko 5 Military. Quite possibly one of the most famous automatic watches in the £50-£60 mark. A watch that populates so many feeds and threads on watch forums across the globe, mostly about “what is the best value automatic watch available” today.
Why I left it this late I have no idea – I felt the same when I finally got around to reviewing the Seiko SKX007. So here we are, I finally have one in my hands. Let’s take a closer look to see if the Seiko 5 deserves the folklore that precedes it.
Currently you can get the Seiko 5 for £58 from Creation Watches, or ~£65 from Amazon. It’s also available in black / green / blue dials with matching straps.
- Dimensions: 37mm diameter x 10.6mm height x 43mm lug to lug
- Weight: 60g
- Lug width: 18mm
- Crystal: hardlex
- Movement: Seiko 7S26B
- Water resistance: 30m
For me, at 37mm in diameter the case is a great size offering superb comfort. It’s also well machined and finished for the price.
The majority of the case is a matte, sand blasted finish bar the polished underside / inside of the lugs. This should prove to be very hard wearing and quite resistant to scratches.
The crystal is hardlex – which is Seiko’s proprietary hardened mineral. It’s in-between mineral and sapphire in terms of hardness, and is on a great amount of Seiko’s so is pretty cool to see on the cheaper options too. Whilst there’s no real anti-reflective coating, the glare is kept quite low.
Located at 4 is the small, unsigned push-pull crown. It’s simple and a little hard to pull out but is easy enough to use.
The caseback displays the Seiko 7S26B movement in all its glory, and is polished to match the inside of the lugs. The exhibition window has some minor printing on the underside of various watch specifics.
Overall, it’s a solid, well sized case that still feels quality despite the size – and this is supported by the weight of 60g considering the petit nature of it.
This is obviously the beige variation, but the Seiko 5 Military is also available in black / green / blue with matching straps.
It’s a relatively simple design in terms of print, albeit a little busy, with the minutes laid out in 5 minute increments around the outer edge and the hours within an inner border.
The printing is all surprisingly accurate, even on the microscopic text located at the base of the dial – on cheaper watches it’s never this fine and pinpoint, and is usually smudged and lacks definition. Not so here.
The day / date window is located at 3, with white wheels and black print (apart from Sunday which is red). The wheels line up nicely vertically with the inner border and also horizontally.
I really love the applied logo – it’s such great quality for the price and is the standout element on the dial. It’s deep, accurate any looks high quality.
The leaf hands have a black border with a lumed centre, and the seconds hand is a straight point with a smart lumed disc acting as the counterweight. They’re all made will with no signs of poor manufacturing.
The lume on the dial is surprisingly strong and reactive; it doesn’t take a lot to charge it and it lasts for a while.
The movement powering this watch is the highly regarded Seiko 7S26B. The 7Sxx family was originally introduced in 1996 and has become one of their most popular movements available. Hard wearing, simple, and reliable – it’s well known that they’ll run and run and run for decades without needing a service.
It runs at a standard 21.6k bph (6 ticks per second), and the only features missing are no hacking seconds hand or hand winding capabilities… But the omission of these complications could be the exact reason why they last so long. All it means is that you can’t set the watch band on the second, and that to get it started a little flick of the wrist is required rather than a manual crank.
It has an average 40 hour power reserve and houses 23 jewels. It also has a day and date complication – with the day being multilingual (English / French on this one, although you can get Spanish or Chinese too).
The crown stem is located at 4 rather than the usual 3, which I really like and feel is part of its charm. The only other thing to mention is that at times the rotor winding can be a little bit loud – but not enough to put you off.
The strap is made of nylon, and is surprisingly thick (more so than most NATO straps I’ve come across). It’s a beige / sandy color to match the dial and has proved to be perfectly comfortable.
The sizing holes have a leather surround to reinforce and ensure longevity from wear from the tang buckle – a clever addition that also looks OK too.
The strap features sand blasted hardware to match the case, with the buckle having the Seiko logo deeply engraved.
The strap has two keeper loops – one is free and one is stitched in place, which works well in keeping the loose flap neat and tidy. Whilst it’s not the best looking strap, it’s surprisingly well made and comfortable – in fact I’ve not really had the urge to have to change it at all.
I’ll happily admit that I won’t be wearing the Seiko 5 Military as a daily wearer – I just don’t think the style suits it. But that’s OK – because it doesn’t expect to be your all-day every-day watch. It’s a faithful servant, grateful and willing no matter when you put it on. Well made, dependable, simple, lightweight and reasonably priced – it’s quite possibly one of the best beaters going.
So whilst I won’t wear it daily, it’ll be a valuable part of my collection.