June 17, 2017
I am very happy with this little "Fleiger style" watch, particularly with it's dial, which compares to any that I have seen in the affordable watch space. The dial has a great deal of well composed detail, this is subtle and hard to see in photographs. In person this very inexpensive watch actually looks high-end.
It is indeed a small watch, 36.5 mm; be aware of that. It's cute as a button, and not much bigger. I have to adjust a bit after wearing this watch to a feeling that my other watches are clownishly large.
Of the 5 different models in the SNK80x series, I recommend this one. This model has a different "color scheme", not just a different colored dial. Notice the black outlining of the handset (the others all have monochromatic handsets). The slender ring between the edge and center of the watch, providing separation between the hours and minute numerals, is gold on this model, but black or white on the other models. The lighter dial provides a background that allows similar adjacent colors of the silver Seiko logo and golden '5" numeral to appear more distinctly, and this cream- light-beige tone also nicely complements the pale green color of the 'super-luminova' application around the dial and on the handset. These, and other little subtleties of the color scheme implemented for the SNK803, add sophistication to the dial that I don't find in the other models. The choice between the models is subjective, of course, and if only black will do, then by all means, get the black version. But the 803 model makes use of color in a way that adds refinement, and puts it over the top for me!
Note: many photographs of this model make it appear that the color is a darker, brownish yellow. The dial doesn't really shift in color as such photos suggest. The first photo of the listing is pretty close to the comparatively light, creamy-beige, actual color.
I like the stainless steel case. It has an interesting multi-layered construction, with the top part having the bead-blasted finish and the bottom (as well as the sides between the lugs) being highly polished. The round bezel formed out of the top section simulates a third layer. The case's sleek lines and tiered geometry contribute significantly to the SNK803's visual appeal.
This watch has Seiko "Lumi-Bright" (sic) applied to small pips around the dial, and on the hands. I think it's the same compound Seiko uses on other models; it's quickly responsive to charging by a light source, and glows very brightly at first. The initial light-show is very pretty. However, not much surface area is allotted for lume on this watch, so the brightness seems to fade a little faster than on models with more copious amounts of lume, such as Sieko's dive watches.
This is a "Seiko 5" watch. "5" is actually a specification for 5 features - i. automatic movement, ii. Day, iii.Date, iv shock resistance and v. water resistance. The basic idea is that Seiko 5 Sports models should be rugged and suitable for outdoor activities. The low cost of these SNK80x models makes them attractive as 'beater' watches, and I've watched reviews on Youtube from people who who attest to the outstanding durability of this watch, after having worn them for years while working in physically demanding, outdoorsy professions
However, water resistance on this model may be a little questionable. It's specified as "water resistant" on the case-back. This is the most minimal water resistance level, just above "not water resistant at all". Seiko is pretty good about testing and actually meeting their specifications, including those for water resistance, but I've heard some reports specific to this model that suggest it may not represent Seiko's best (as far as making the case water resistant).. It's not designed for extended submersion under water, etc. Also - the canvas strap doesn't seem very compatible with aquatic adventure; seems likely to get mildew.
...speaking of the strap, I have trouble understanding all the bitching and moaning about it in other reviews. I think it's a pretty good strap, It looks good with the watch. But I haven't had the watch long enough to know how it holds up or whether it becomes uncomfortable.
Update: I still think the strap is under-rated, but I eventually changed it out in favor of a Seiko OEM bracelet from the black version (SNK809?) which is the only model that is available with a metal bracelet - it's bead blasted and nicely matches the case).
This watch contains an "un-adjusted" Seiko 7S26 movement. This movement's strong point is that it continues to run reliably, just about as accurately, for a very long time before requiring service - typically well over 12 years. Up to 20+ is quite possible. Some people claim to have Seiko watches from the 60s (with very similar movement inside) that are still running beautifully without ever visiting a watch maker (50+ years!).
Note: mine was +20 secs/day, out of the box, not good, the worst Seiko I've ever seen. So I removed the case-back and adjusted the watch's timing by using a tooth-pick to move the regulation lever the slightest amount possible towards "-". I wasn't even sure I had moved it. But I was very lucky - on the first try the adjustment brought the watch to better than +1 sec/day. Accuracy has been rock stable since I made this change about 6 months ago. This highlights an advantage of getting an inexpensive watch -- I did not hesitate try this adjustment. Had I botched it (which is easy to do if not very careful .. if you poke past the adjustment lever into the hair spring, it will end up in a tangled, inoperable mess), I'd be out $50-60 bucks. So what! ... I could just get another! But I wouldn't consider, even for a moment, trying this with a watch I paid hundreds or thousands of $ for. So, ironically, precisely because I paid so little, I ended up watch that exceeds the Rolex 'superlative' chronometer standard (+-2 secs/day).
Note:There are various videos on Youtube that show how to regulate an automatic movement, including several specific to Seiko's 7S26.. This is not something that is for the faint of heart. It's not as easy as some people claim. It takes a steady hand and quite a bit of patience. -Don't try it with an expensive watch!
The movement has a power reserve of 43 hours. It's a good idea to test this shortly after purchase - once in a while there are problems with the rotor winding system, or mainspring/barrel assembly, resulting in limited power reserve -- these things are defects, cause for a return w/refund or repair under warranty. The "automatic" winding system should work well enough to get the watch completely would up after a day or two of full time wear. Swinging the watch gently and not too rapidly from side to side, face up, parallel to the ground, about 200 mm from side to side, can wind the watch up fully in a little over 5 minutes, I've found.
The 7S26 movement does not support manually winding with the crown, nor 'hacking', which means the second hand stopping when the crown is fully extended. These are convenient features that Seiko neglected to add to this entry level movement.
I've gotten used to it, as I have couple models with 7Sx6 movements. I'm willing to take a couple extra minutes to prepare these for wearing. Most people probably aren't as picky about making sure the watch is wound before setting the time, but I like to try to keep the watch as accurate as possible, and find just shaking it a few times isn't going to give the watch enough power to run optimally (till it's been worn for quite a while), so I 'wind them up' by swaying the watch side to side (face up, horizontal to the ground, about 200cm back and forth, gently, to imitate the arc the watch moves through when you walk), for as much as 3 or 4 minutes. Many people demonstrate getting an automatic movement going by shaking it like a rattle. This is probably not a good idea. It probably won't harm the watch unless you shake it pretty violently, but it's not the most efficient method. The watch is designed to wind fastest if you walk with it. So if you imitate the rate and range of a walking motion, it winds up fastest.
It's actually possible, also, to set the watch accurate to the second, even without hacking. If you rotate the crown a little bit backwards and stop, it will "pin" the second hand (stop it's movement). You have to continue putting a little pressure on the crown in the reverse direction till the real time catches up to the second hand. This doesn't work if the watch is almost fully wound. Sometimes the second hand starts going backwards - this is OK, and speeds up the the process of synchronized with time. It doesn't hurt the watch. Called "back hacking" it's a common practice.
Watch hobbyists have a saying, you hear it all the time: 'You can never go wrong with a Seiko'. This statement is meaningful. Seiko's products have consistent high quality, at all price points. The quality i in the materials used, in the finishing of the case, the quality of the crystal, the long lasting brightness of the substance applied to hands and markers to illuminate the the watch in the dark, and the distinctive approach taken to each model, making it unique and in it's own way, unlike any other. The high quality is hard to see in on-line photographs, and Seiko watches almost always seem a lot nicer when you "meet them in person". I think this is part of the 'you can't go wrong' stuff. If you like the on-line photos of a Sieko, but maybe aren't sure, you are not going to be disappointed with the actual watch. You will often adore it immediately, when you actually see it, and at the least not be disappointed.