The Seiko SNZG Series

We take a look at the Seiko's take on the classic field watch with Seiko 5's SNZG Series.

Seiko has given us some of our favourite watches of all time. From the notoriously popular SKX007, to the beautifully elegant Presage line. Seiko has it all, they are probably one of the most diverse watch companies after all. From this company, comes the Seiko SNZG Series, a lineup of field watches for those of us who love being in the outdoors.

A Seiko SNZG11 on a pilot watch strap by Nomad Watch Works.

There are many lines in the Seiko watch brand, such as the Seiko 5, “Credor“, “Prospex“, “Presage” and the “Grand Seiko” series. They all offer watches in different categories at different price points. In this article, we will be looking at a watch series from their Seiko 5 line.

The SNZG Series is a series of military field watches. It is sometimes referred to as the big brother of the Seiko SNK Series, which is a very similar watch, albeit a few differences.

How does it look?

The Case

Being a field watch, the robust nature and durability of the watch had to come through in its design. It sports a 42mm (without crown) stainless steel case with a mostly matte brushed finish with the underside of the case polished.

The exhibition case back of the Seiko SNZG11 featuring the 7S36 Movement.

A noteworthy feature of the SNZG is that it has an exhibition case back. Although the movement housed in the watch is nothing to laud over, the display case is a nice touch, allowing it’s wearer to appreciate the movement inside the watch.

Both the front and back of the watch utilises Seiko’s Hardlex Crystal, commonly used in Seiko timepieces as it provides a good balance between cost and quality in watches in this price range.

The Dial

Perhaps where the watch shines most is in its dial. The watch comes in four different colours, green, black, cream and blue. The dial also features a raised chapter ring, a prominent trait of this watch series as it adds depth to the dial. The Seiko 5 logo is applied to the dial, adding on to the overall depth.

From left to right, the SNZG09, SNZG15, SNZG07 and SNZG11.
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The hands are white sword-shaped hands with lume and a red-tipped second hand. On the cream dial, the hands are black, which in contrast to the light coloured dial makes it easier to read. The lume on the hands are actually really impressive for a watch in this price range.

A lume shot of the SNZG11. The tiny arrow pip in between the hour and minute hands is the lume of the seconds hand.

The hour markers are white, except for the cream version which bears black indicators. They are large, twelve hour indicators in Arabic numerals, making them extremely easy to read, as a field watch should be. A day/date calendar window sits at the 3 O’Clock position on the dial, which believe it or not, is actually one of the five features the watch must possess in order to be classified into the aptly named Seiko 5 line.

The Movement

Speaking of the five criteria, another one is that the watch must house an automatic mechanical movement. If you are not sure what an automatic movement is, do take the time to read my article which covers the differences between a quartz and mechanical watch.

In the SNZG series, we will find the Seiko 7S36 Movement which was first introduced in 1996. It has a power reserve of around 40 hours, and runs at 21,600 bph.

Whilst the movement is far from being a masterpiece, it is still amusing to watch it from the exhibition case back the watch uses. Being more of an entry-level watch, it can also be seen as a stepping stone for newer enthusiasts into becoming more well-versed and familiar with a mechanical watch movement.

What’s Good About It?

Looking at this watch from the perspective of value, in my opinion, it is one of the best watches you could get at the price point. Going for about S$130, you get a solid durable field watch with a tried and tested movement.

Even when compared to it’s little brother from the SNK series, although more expensive, it offers, in my opinion, features worth the extra money. Firstly, the SNZG is larger than those in the SNK series. At 42mm compared to the smaller 37mm of the SNK, the SNZG is a more suitable size for those who fancy bigger watches.

The Seiko SNZG15 (Left) and SNK809 (Right).
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Something else which i feel puts the SNZG above it’s little brother is the placement and size of the crown. The crown is located at the 3 O’Clock position of the case, as compared to the SNK‘s smaller and harder-to-handle crown, located at the 4 O’Clock position.

Putting comparisions aside, the SNZG has no problem with simple water activities, saving you the trouble of removing it when showering, washing your hands or taking a dip in the pool. There is no screw-down crown on the watch so don’t even think about going diving with this watch.

Probably the best thing about this watch is it’s versatility when it comes to choosing your strap. With it’s 22mm lug width, finding a strap to suit the watch is no problem. From nice dressy leather straps to rugged canvas ones, almost any strap could go onto this watch and it would not look out of place. The navy and black dial variations especially are extremely easy to match in terms of colour.

So What’s Missing?

Something to point out about the watch is that the numerals on the dial, unfortunately, do not have any lume. This means that in the dark, you do not see any numbers.

Sure, it’s not a big issue, but considering how good the lume on the watch is, it would have been nice if the numbers themselves were visible in the dark.

In Conclusion

The Seiko 5 SNZG is an extremely reliable and well rounded field watch. Although not the most affordable, being twice the price of the SNK, it is still relatively cheap if compared to something like a Hamilton field watch for example. The value you get out of this watch, however, is tough to match.

The SNZG is a watch that both people new to the world of horology and seasoned veterans can appreciate. It is definitely one to keep your eye on and one you would not regret having in your collection. Do check out my article on the many types of watch straps to compliment your watch collection here.

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