Review of the Seiko SNZH57K1 (Fifty Fathoms)

I purchased this watch in May 2016 after the purchase of my Tudor Pelagos 25600TB.

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I was always looking forward to purchase a cheap Seiko which looked like the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms at a fraction of the cost. To me, the gold and black colour scheme was appealing. To be honest, this was a fairly impulsive buy as it was just a month after my Tudor purchase. The SNZH57K1 (45mm case and is 14mm thick) uses the Seiko 7S36 movement. Many of my friends have praised the watch for its resemblance with the Blancpain FF. It can also be highly modded by shops like Yobokies and strapcode. The watch is a simple time only watch with a second hand. I purchased this from a seller on Carousell. The watch is part of the cheaper Seiko 5 range, as compared to the Presage, Prospex line etc. Seiko is a renowned brand which needs no introduction whatsoever.

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Seiko movements are reliable and are made in-house. The Seiko 7S36 mechanical movements has been around for ages and keep good time and chronometry. In addition, because they are Japanese movements, they are a lot more affordable. In fact, the 4R36s, 6R15s are comparable to Miyota movements or even Swiss ETAs. There is minimal lume on the SNZH57K1. Seiko watches are good value-for-money and aesthetically pleasing and for good reason. In terms of price point, Seiko 5’s are very affordable and presents excellent value for those who are new to mechanical watches.

The main reason why I found it so attractive was the colour scheme and hardlex crystal. My reasons are listed below:

The SNZH57K1 comes in a stainless steel case (about 49mm lug-to-lug) and a generic Seiko dive bracelet. The watch is quite substantial on the wrist. The bracelet is of standard fair and is common across many of Seiko’s other watches, like the Seiko Sumo. However, it is sturdy and durable. I have also paired it with an olive green nato, giving it a sporty feel.

The watch, has great reviews online. This is due to the overall appearance of the watch. Many are attracted to the vintage inspired look of the dial, reminiscent of the Blancpain FF which retails for more than $10,000. The dial is largely symmetrical, other than the day-date indication at 3 o’clock. The hour markers and minute markers are shaped like broad arrows. The dial is black, with gold fonts and markers. One thing I love is that the background of the date window matches the dial colour. Way to go, Seiko!

The SNZH57K1 is a dive watch with 100 meters water resistance. This watch can certainly be used for sports and for daily use. It will pair well with formal attire, like a suit/blazer or even t-shirts and jeans. I have worn this piece numerous times to work and I have had no trouble with it. Being 14mm tall, it might not slide under most shirt-cuffs. I would say that the watch is not very stealthy in nature due to the unique colour on the dial. The watch does not get as much wrist time as my Ball or Tudor watches as it also costs much less. The uni-directional bezel is also coated with the Hardlex crystal and is easy to turn.

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The watch uses the Seiko 7S36 automatic movement, which is non-hand winding and non-hacking. This a certainly a workhorse movement that is widely used in other Seikos like the famous SKX range. The movement comes with a 42 hour power reserve when fully charged. However, I am not used to watches which can’t wind and have to be powered via wrist movements. I guess at this price point, I have no right to complain. The movement is also sparsely decorated as can be seen from the display caseback. The rotor is also very quiet and barely audible. The watch seems to be fairly accurate based on the brief period which I had it with me.

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SNZH57K1 has Seiko’s renowned proprietary Hardlex crystal. It gives the watch greater presence and texture, evoking a vintage feel while claiming to be harder than hesalite crystal. Although not as superior to sapphire crystal in terms of scratch resistance properties, it is durable and decent enough.

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Overall, after owning it for only 3 months (I sold it to a friend subsequently), I am still impressed by how the watch looks and might consider buying it back in future. My main gripe was not that it could not hand-wind unlike my other watches and hence, I could not accurately judge its power reserve.  The Seiko SNZH57K1 is a fun entry level dive watch which has vintage aesthetics. It is something that is highly recommended. The watch retails for SGD 250+ and is readily available. I sold it only because I wanted to upgrade to Swiss timepieces. If you are considering an entry level dive watch, this watch might just be the one for you.

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