Seiko SNZG15 Review

Seiko SNZG15 Review – The Big Brother To The SNK809

Seiko SNZG15 is quite famous nowadays thanks to its very affordable price and cool design. If you’re familiar with the popular Seiko SNK809, you will surely notice there’s a lot of similarity between the two watches.

In my opinion, the Seiko SNZG15 is a good option for those looking at a budget automatic watch with a cool military design, good build quality, practical watch face layout and huge water resistance rating (100m).

It has that sort of no-nonsense style that makes it look really cool. You can just wear it all day long as a beater watch for all sorts of activities. The nylon strap on it will make sure the watch is light on your wrist and won’t impede on your movement.

The Seiko SNZG15 is certainly an upgrade over the SNK809 with bigger size and better overall build quality in my opinion – it is the more pricier watch of the two.

Not to mention the better water resistance rating in this watch (100 m vs 30 m) compared to the SNK809 makes it a great choice for adventure type of activities.  No worries, we will get into the detail comparison of both watches later on.

 

Seiko SNZG15 front

 

SNZG15K1 VS SNZG15J1

I believe I should write a bit about one of the common questions regarding the Seiko SNZG15 – What’s the difference between SNZG15K1 vs SNZG15J1?

To put it simply, the J version is made in Japan while the K version is made elsewhere in Asia (China, Southeast Asia, etc).

That’s why you guys will frequently encounter the J version to has command higher price than the K version.

Fans associate the Made In Japan SNZG15J1 having a higher quality than the SNZG15K1 and are willing to pay a higher price for that.

Now, I’m pretty sure Seiko has the same quality standards for their factories but it’s quite hard to not say the Made in Japan version to be better.

Either way, it depends on how much you want that Made In Japan badge.

Just know that the Japan version typically costs more – the SNZG15J1 can be about $30-$40 more expensive than the SNZG15K1.

With that out of the line, let’s get into the in-depth Seiko SNZG15 review shall we.

 

Seiko SNZG15 Watch Specification

Diameter: 42 mm
Thickness: 11 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Case: Stainless steel case with gray matte finish
Strap: Nylon strap
Watch Crystal: Hardlex crystal

Dial: Black dial
Hands: Sword hands
Markers: Numeral markers

Movement: Seiko Cal. 7S36 automatic self-wind movement
Movement Features: 23 jewels, 21600 vibrations per hour or 6 beats per second, Non-hacking movement, Cannot be manually wind
Accuracy: +-15 seconds per day
Power Reserve: 41 hours
User Manual: Download Seiko Cal. 7S36 movement user manual here

Water Resistance: 100 m
Other Features: Lume, Day date display, Exhibition caseback

Military Styled Dial

The dial of this Seiko SNZG15 is unmistakably military style with that black matte face and easy to read white numeral markers.

It’s fairly simple and yet that’s one of its strength. It’s very easy to read time on this watch as the numerals are easily deciphered compared to index markers by our brain.

The highly contrasted black face and white markers/hands also help with that.

The Seiko SNZG15 also has an inner markings from 13 to 24, presumably to show the pm time.

It has a sword style hands that are just normal in size. The seconds hand has a red tip which is a very nice touch on the dial to make it a bit more colorful than the monotonous black-white.

There are index markers also index markers at the outer edge of the dial.

The lume of the watch is applied on these index markers and the hands which help to tell time in dark areas.

 

Seiko SNZG15 lume

The lume on the Seiko SNZG15 is minimal but should do be able to help to tell time in dark areas

Just don’t expect a diver’s watch-like lumes on the Seiko SNZG15 as it’s still in the more affordable sector of the Seiko 5 line up.

But still, some lume is very much welcomed on any watch that’s intended to be our daily beater watch.

Recessed Dial Design

From a glance, the dial looks normal like any other military watch.

But a close observation will reveal that the dial is unique in which it has a recessed inner dial.

 

Seiko SNZG15 recessed dial

Notice how the outer edge of the dial (the index markings) is a bit higher from the inner part?

 

If you guys look closely, you’ll notice how the outer edge of the dial is in fact slightly higher than the inner dial.

This unique design gives the Seiko SNZG15 a 3-D look that’s so great to look at.

It’s sort of like an easter egg that only those looking closely at it can notice LOL!

Either way, this effort by Seiko certainly had made the Seiko SNZG15 to has its own character and stood up from the rest of the other Seiko 5s.

 

Day Date Display: Ugly Or Functional?

Being a Seiko 5 watch, the SNZG15 has day date display at its right side of dial.

Some people say this break the watch’s symmetry, and thus making it look less appealing which is correct to a certain extent.

But then, having day date display on it makes the watch more functional and useful.

Consider this: you’re busy working and suddenly you remember about an assignment or meeting at a particular date.

And being someone with less than stellar memory, you somehow forget about what date it is currently.

With just a flick of your wrist, the Seiko SNZG15 can tell the day and date in less than you’ll require to take out your smartphone from the pocket and bring it out from sleep.

Such scenario happened to me a few times in a week LOL! And that’s the reason why I feel that day date display is instrumental for a watch meant to be an everyday watch.

Let me know in the comments section below if you guys agree with me on this or not. I love to hear your thoughts on this matter =)

42 mm Stainless Steel Case

Securing the watch is a stainless steel case with a 42 mm diameter and 11 mm thickness.

Due to its average size, I don’t think there is any problem for any men to wear this as it’s not too big or too small.

 

Seiko SNZG15 on hand

 

Not to mention its narrow bezel design makes the dial appear larger and results in the watch looks bigger than it actually is.

 

Impact Resistant Hardlex Crystal

On top of the watch is a hardlex crystal which is Seiko’s own upgrade version of mineral crystal. It has a higher impact resistance making it more shatter proof.

But it’s still a mineral crystal and will scratch easily. Despite what the online retailers will tell you, hardlex is not scratch resistant – only sapphire is qualified to wear that title.

(read my introduction to watch crystals HERE for more info.)

The problem with sapphire is it’s more expensive and hardly any watch below $200 will has them on it.

Because of this, my recommendation is to take a good care of the Seiko SNZG15 (or any watches with mineral/hardlex) to avoid it from scratches.

 

Seiko SNZG15 side

 

That means always putting it face up on a table, don’t put it inside a pocket full of metals/coins/keys, avoid any contact with hard surfaces such as steel, concrete, rocks etc.

With good care, your mineral/hardlex crystal watches can lasts a lifetime =)

Nylon Strap and Exhibition Caseback

The SNZG15 uses a nylon strap attached to its 22 mm width lugs. Honestly, I think a leather strap will do wonders on this watch but then again, this is to be expected for a watch at this price.

If you guys want to make it more stylish, consider using different straps on it instead of sticking with the boring nylon.

Or you could also get the Seiko SNZG13 or SNZG17. Both are the same watch as this Seiko SNZG15 but with stainless steel bracelet.

The difference is the SNZG13 is silver color while the SNZG17 has black pvd case.

 

Seiko SNZG15 exhibition caseback

 

At the back of the watch is an exhibition caseback that is certainly welcomed on any automatic watch.

The movement is not decorated but still, it’s fascinating to be able to see the internal workings of an automatic.

This is something that you won’t be able to see on a quartz watch lol!

 

Seiko Cal. 7S36 Automatic Self-Wind Movement

Powering the SNZG15 is the Caliber 7S36 automatic self-wind movement by Seiko.

It is not to be mistaken with the 7S26 movement commonly found in the famous Seiko SKX series.

Frankly speaking, I’m not sure the difference between these 2 movements apart from their jewel count. The 7S36 has 23 jewels while the 7S26 has 21 jewels.

But specification wise, both looks almost the same with the day date wheel, 6 beats per second, non-hacking and cannot be manually wind. Even the power reserve is the same at 41 hours.

If you guys know the difference between these 2 movements, do let me know ya!

 


Watch the video above to see the SNZG15 up close

 

Various Colors To Choose From

One of the good thing about the Seiko SNZG15 is there are many different colors to choose from – though these different versions have different model no.

Seiko made at least 6 different variations of the watch. Each variation will has a complementing strap color to its dial.

Below is the list of those variations and their model no. in case you guys want to find it:

  1. SNZG07 – Cream dial and nylon strap
  2. SNZG09 – Dark Green dial and nylon strap
  3. SNZG11 – Blue dial and nylon strap
  4. SNZG13 – Black (similar dial to SNZG15) but with stainless steel bracelet and polished case (thanks to Fred for this info!)
  5. SNZG15 – Black dial and nylon strap
  6. SNZG17 – Black (similar to SNZG15) but with Gunmetal PVD stainless steel case and bracelet

(Click here to check out the various Seiko SNZG series on Amazon)

SNZG15 VS SNK809

 

Seiko SNZG15

 

Seiko SNK809

Now, onto the fun part. What’s the difference between these two similar Seiko 5 watches: SNZG15 vs SNK809?

I’ve broken it down into a few points to better breakdown the differences of these 2 affordable automatics.

1- Watch Size

SNZG15 is the bigger watch here at 42 mm diameter compared to the 37 mm of the SNK809.

For those that want a more classic look with small watch, the SNK809 is best for them.

But if you want a more modern look or your wrist is just big, the Seiko SNZG15 is the better choice.

2- Dial Design

The Seiko SNZG15 has a military/field type of dial design while the SNK809 is more towards aviator (B-Uhr Type B) dial.

While the SNK809 markings are unique (it has minutes as the main markings), the SNZG15 dial is clearer and easier to tell time with because of the normal 1-12 hour markings.

Either way, both watches are truly made as field watches. Both can be used casually and for outdoor activities as its not too flashy with simple look.

3- Movement

The two watches have different automatic movements in them. The Seiko SNZG15 has the 7S36 with 23 jewels while the SNK809 has the 7S26 with 21 jewels.

As stated earlier, I can’t find any difference in these two movements as the specifications are identical to each other.

4- Water Resistance

This is the area where the Seiko SNZG15 trumps over the SNK809. SNK809 only has 30 m water resistance but the SNZG15 has a better 100 m water resistance rating.

5- Price

The SNZG15 is almost twice the price of the SNK809 (which typically sells for around $50-$70 online).

 

So, does the price hike in the Seiko SNZG15 is justifiable? It’s really hard to say frankly speaking.

Though the 100 m water resistance is good, but not everyone will use their watches to swim or dive.

For me, I think the deciding factor to go for the Seiko SNZG15 is because you like the military design, easy to read dial and its bigger size.

But from an automatic watch point of view, the SNK809 is the one with better value for money.

(Read my in-depth review of the Seiko SNK809 HERE for more info about the watch)

 

Who Is This Watch For?

The Seiko SNZG15 is for those wanting a good quality automatic watch at an affordable price.

It has a simple design and if you’re looking for a beater watch to be used during gardening, carpenting, all the outdoor works – then this is the watch for you.

Being the cheaper automatic watch means you’ll be able to do all sorts of stuffs without a concern about damaging that expensive watch on your wrist =)

Who Should Not Get It?

Those that want a more flashy and dressy type of watch will do well to find another watch.

Even though we can increase its style with a good looking brown leather strap, the watch face is still too simplistic and just not suitable for a dress watch.

Also, we need to remember that the 7S36 movement cannot be manual wind which will pose problem to keep the watch fully charged.

In fact, this is one of the common complains or problems faced by the Seiko SNZG15 owners that don’t fully understand its specification before getting it.

Since it cannot be manually wind, the watch will only rely on you guys wearing it to charge its mainspring.

So unless you are wearing this at least every other day, then you are in for a real problem..

Seiko SNZG15 Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. Average sized case that can fit with all wrist sizes
  2. Easy to read dial
  3. Simple military watch design
  4. 100 m water resistance
  5. Self-winding automatic movement
  6. Lume on hands and markers

Cons

  1. Automatic movement does not has hacking and cannot be manual wind

Final Thoughts

The Seiko SNZG15 is one of the most affordable automatic watches around. And it does not look and feel cheap at all.

It has a nice simple design that’s good for those wanting a beater watch for daily wear.

The automatic movement inside it is actually on par with the ones used in Seiko’s diver’s watches – that shows how robust the movement is.

For those wanting a good automatic watch without breaking your bank, this Seiko SNZG15 should be in your shopping list.

 

I hope you guys enjoy this Seiko SNZG15 review. Let me know if you guys have any comments or questions on it.

Cheers!
Isaac

18 thoughts on “Seiko SNZG15 Review – The Big Brother To The SNK809”

  1. I love my SNZG15! It is my very first automatic watch. Lacking hacking and hand winding were something that bothers me. I have bought NH36 movement online and local watchmaker was happy to swap it with 7S. I left the 7S movement for him as a pay. Now my SNZG15 has become THE watch! Love them even more!

    Reply
    • That’s definitely a worthwhile upgrade to me! The NH36 brings hacking and hand-winding on the table, something that the stock 7S36 movement in the SNZG15 don’t have. Really happy for you buddy =)

  2. Hi Isaac, this is a very good, fair and unbiased review. I will be getting an upgrade from the SNK to SNZ because of the size. The SNK looks a bit tiny on my wrist. I love the design because it is simple and practical. A good value for money too as compared to the others and the legendary Seiko 5 had proven its quality and robustness. I am from Malaysia. (0835 09112018)

    Reply
    • Hi Ben. Thanks for the kind words. I guess it’s a good thing that watch brands make their models in at least 2 sizes eh? Either way, I’m happy for your new watch. Do let me know what’s your impression of your new SNZG ya!

  3. Hi Isaac, thanks for a nice review. I have the Japan version and agree with everything you say. For the price, it’s a nice first automatic watch. But I must say I’m a bit disappointed. The biggest con is the lack of hand-winding as you mention. If you own several watches, you will grow tired of resetting the time and date. I also found some cons that I didn’t read about before. Firstly, in my opinion, the hands look silly small from some angles, due to the addition of the outer dial. The hands have pretty much the same length as hands on watches without the outer dial, so they are further from the “edge”. If you angle your wrist so you always look at the watch from straight above it’s not a legibility problem, but it still makes the design feel a bit imbalanced. I work as a designer so I’m a bit OCD about these things. Strangely I didn’t think about this until I saw the watch in real life, but then most photos are taken from straight above. Secondly, the center of the back (the glorious exhibition caseback) protrudes a bit, which makes the watch ride too high on my skinny wrist. The “arms” or whatever you call the parts that attach to the strap don’t even touch my wrists. I need to tension the strap too hard in order to get a nice tight fit. And finally, this is a cool looking retro military style watch, but the reflecting crystal glass would for sure break military stealth protocol, so it’s not something you would actually wear in the military, but that’s probably obvious to most people. But the crystal could be useful if you get lost while hiking and need to signal to a rescue helicopter, or perhaps more likely, if you want to play with your cat 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Tom. It’s great to know a fellow watch enthusiast as yours. I absolutely agree with everything you’ve mentioned above. Gee, I don’t notice about the short minute hand until you pointed that out! It’s definitely a weird one for sure LOL!

      In terms of the absence of hand-winding feature, I’ve found its easier if you wear the same watch for 3 to 4 days at a time, instead of wearing a different watch everyday. That way, you will only have to reset the time every 3-4 days vs. everyday. This is just some of the more practical ways I’ve worn my watch nowadays =)

  4. On the movement: the only diffence between the 7s26 and the 7s36 is the addition of two non-functional jewels in the latter. That means they don’t actually bear any moving parts, and should ‘officially’ not be labeled as being a 23 jewel movement… I really don’t know what Seiko was up to in doing this. Reliability and accuracy should be quasi identical for both movements

    Reply
    • 21 jewels second hand makes 21 tiny steps every second. And 23 jewels makes 23 steps every second witch makes the second hand more smooth.

    • Hi there. Actually the jewels are not referring to the tiny steps (that’s the beats per second, and for this Seiko, it’s 6 beats/tiny steps per second). The jewels are pivot points used in the watch movement to make the necessary parts move without friction.

  5. I just got my Snzg15 for Christmas, due to my old Seiko getting scratched up. I hope this bad boy does no get scratched. So far I love the watch, however I noticed it was gaining time like a race hound. So I googled it and tried the tapping back fix. So far today it has worked. Now I am constantly checking it. However I will not return it because I really like it! Size & features all great from the deal on Amazon!

    Reply
  6. With respect your comment about day and date on a watch, ultimately it’s a personal thing but for me a practical watch should have both day and date as a necessity.

    I once owned an Omega Speedmaster automatic with day/date, and it was the best thing ever! Apart from the watch itself, which was incredibly thick and heavy, the convenience of having both the day and date make me yearn for this feature in every watch I’ve worn since – I think people who haven’t had this feature just don’t know what they’re missing out on.

    And for the record, yes – I have also purchased an SNZG15, because despite the affordable entry price it’s a really well made watch that is easy to service and will last a lifetime.

    Reply
    • Hi Mark. Great to meet someone who shares my opinion on the day date =)

      It’s not quite as refined but nobody can dismiss the usefulness and functionality of the day date on this Seiko SNZG15. As a man that values functionality, it’s one of my favorite complication on an automatic watch.

      Cheers!

  7. You can’t go wrong with Seiko. My husband has always worn Seiko watches and is in the process of replacing his 15 year old Seiko with a new one. This is a very thorough review and will help him decide which watch he will purchase. Personally, he only buys Seiko watches made in Japan and never from China where the end product is of lower quality.

    Reply
    • Hi Karen. I absolutely agree with you. The brand is an example of a good value for money buy. Besides, you are never afraid to wear your Seiko for any outdoor activity for fear of wrecking the watch (as compared to the more expensive brands). Just saying LOL!

      Cheers

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