Review Seiko 5 SNK803 Beige
For years I have wanted this watch. It was almost my first automatic watch, it lost out to my green military style 5. It is a Flieger or pilot style watch. It is a wonderfully clean design and has been made by many manufactures for many years. This Seiko example, the SNK803 has been in production for many years and uses the (now classic) 7S26 movement. My newest watch in my collection is about the most factory fresh models I haver ever worn. It was made in September of 2013, and now on my wrist as of December 2013, so less than three months since it left the factory in Malaysia. Interestingly, it is a 7S26C, not sure what has been updated, but the movement seems well finished and decorated for an entry level movement. But, let’s start with the outside. The dial for this watch is beige/cream colored with stark, black printing. The printing is Seiko perfect, with no flaws visible, even under a loupe. The Seiko and 5 shield are applied. What makes a pilot’s style watch unique is the emphasis on minutes instead of hours, instead of hours, like standard military watches. The hour makers are contained inside of a clean circle. The minutes are printed at 5 minute intervals, and have tick marks for every minute. There is no chapter ring. The 0 minute mark is a triangle. As you can see, the hands are Flieger extended diamonds and the second hand has a red tip and a large, luminous tail. The hands are filled with luminous material and show up well in all lighting conditions. There is the classic Seiko 5 day and date window. My only complaint is that, while there are luminous pips on every hour, there is no indication of what ‘up’ is on the watch in total darkness. A small complaint, and not unique, as several of my watches have the same issue. The bezel holding the flat, hardlex crystal matches the body of the watch well. The crystal has very little glare and is typical of a watch in this price point. Overall, a very clean, classic design.
The case of the watch is bead blasted stainless steel. The small, unsigned crown is at the 3:48 position, which is typical of most Seiko 5’s. Since the movement can not be hand wound or hacked, the small crown is not a big deal and is slightly recessed. The offset crown and the little projection make is very comfortable to wear and it never digs into your wrist. The lugs are 18mm and slightly turned down. The case is only about 37.5mm in diameter, so modern small for men, but good for those of us with smaller wrists, including women. My wife tried this watch on, and it looked perfectly acceptable. It is only 10.5 mm high, so it hides well under long sleeves. The watch wears well is is fairly light on the nylon strap.
The case back is a hardlex, display type showing the brand new 7S26C. It seems a little better finished than the A and B version, and apparently, there are some other improvements as well. It is a very tried and true design, a direct descent of the Seiko 5’s of 50 years ago! It lacks hacking or hand-winding, but, if you are a classic 5 fan, they are part of the charm. The watch winds quickly via your body motions. This particular movement seems well adjusted from the factory, I have worn it more than a week and have not had to adjust the time yet, so it must be less than 5 seconds a day of variation. As with every Seiko, it is all stainless steel. No base metal here.
Last, but not least is the nylon, two ring, strap. It is very heavy nylon with two steel keepers. One is fixed, the other floats. The buckle is signed Seiko and it, and the keepers are all bead blasted to match the finish of the watch. It is comfortable to wear and should last for many years.
Probably the most remarkable thing about this watch is the price, less than $60, shipped, from Amazon. At this price point, it is just a remarkable deal to get a Seiko Automatic for about the same price (actually, less than) a Timex or Fossil, or other fashion watch brands. Seiko, unlike many others, is a true watch manufacture, with all in house movements and more than 100 years of watch making experience. As you can see above, even the presentation box is nice quality. No cheap, plastic box, but a good quality box and pillow. Try getting that with a $60 Timex.
This watch happens to be a replacement for my departed Timex field watch. After its fourth battery change, the quartz module decided to strip some gears and not work any more. It will be interesting to see what this watch looks like after 15 years of service, with no battery changes to wreck the seals and warp the movement.
Overall, this watch is a fantastic deal, looks great, and is a must buy for pilot watch lovers. It comes in black, blue, and green as well, so if you want more of an authentic Flieger, Type B look, the black one matches up pretty well. I am very pleasantly surprised by the accuracy so far, and I have already put it though its paces. Shovelling snow with it on, going sledding, and doing ordinary daily activities without missing a beat. If you need a practical watch that will far outlast the Chinese made specials, look no further than a Seiko 5.
Case: 37.5mm diameter, stainless steel, 30m water resistance.
Back: Hardlex exhibition back, screw down.
Crystal: Hardlex, flat.
Movement: Automatic, 7S26C, Seiko in-house design. No handwind or hacking.
Complications: Day of week, Date
Other: Luminous hands and markers, Lumibrite.