Seiko 5 SNZH53 Watch Review

By: Michael Penate

 

Featured Insights

Seiko 5 SNZH53 Watch

 

$145 on Amazon

 

Case

• 42mm x 45mm x 14mm – well in line with the comfort and wearability of other Seiko divers but a slight (fun) departure in its use of polished and brushed surfaces

Dial

• Strong legibility and visual interested thanks for faceted baton markers and sunburst effect of the blue dial – the lume could be a bit better

Strap

• 22mm bracelet can be much improved – no taper and felt bulky – would highly recommend a different strap pairing (sailcloth for instance)

Movement

• Seiko Caliber 7S36B Automatic – historically QC has been an issue on Seiko movements at this level, but experienced no issues during this review

Seiko is king in the world affordable mechanical watches and if you talk to several members of the watch hobbyist community, it’s a safe bet to assume that their collection started with a Seiko. There are a number of models that have been recommended – many of which are some iteration of a Seiko 5 or the classic SKX007. Today, we’re reviewing something a little different and a model that seems to be growing in popularity as an alternative, introductory Seiko watch. It’s the Seiko 5 SNZH53*, a watch that is just a tad bit underrated in my book and something I feel many collectors can turn to if they’re put off by the strictly utilitarian nature of several other entry-level Seikos.

It’s hard to miss but the Seiko SNZH53 is heavily influenced by the design of Blancpain’s breakthrough Fifty-Fathoms – leading many to refer to this as some kind of homage. If you ask me, that’s neither here nor there and several enthusiasts embrace this idea when they turn to the watch as a modding platform. I purchased the watch without really considering those points and it was still enjoyable overall. In fact, I find this to be one of the most visually impressive entry-level models Seiko makes. Much of that has to do with the glossy blue bezel that really adds a sense of depth to the overall design.

Case

In typical Seiko fashion, the proportions on the SNZH53 are spot on. If you’ve messed with a few divers from the brand, you’ll probably find this to be one of the more “compact” designs available. It has a pretty universal fit thanks to its 42mm wide case that is also 45mm lug to lug. There is also a bit more refinement if you compare this to something like a 007 – with plenty of polished surfaces along the sides, brushing on top of the lugs, and a curvy lug design that makes the entire package a little more fun. Thickness is 14mm and the bubbly Hardlex crystal makes for some romantic, vintage vibes.

The bezel action (120 clicks) is also very smooth with plenty of play. I think it should be noted that this is really more of a dive-style watch – not a full-on diver. So really, the bezel play didn’t bug me all that much and it was perfectly fine with basic timing in the kitchen. A small, push-pull crown is all you get and besides the small variety of finished surfaces mentioned previously, it’s pretty straightforward. On some days, I actually preferred this case style over the SKX007… now if Seiko would just revise this to come with a screw-down crown, that would be awesome. Lug width is 22mm and water resistance is apparently 100m – but I wouldn’t count on that feature for anything other than hand washing.

Dial

The dial is just as attractive as the bezel, with a glossy, almost sunburst-like finish that really works with the faceted baton hour markers. You also get a nice, pronounced trail of minute hash marks, an even distribution of text, and a framed day/date window that really doesn’t feel obtrusive. I should note that the model pictured here is a ‘J’ variant, which features both English and Arabic on the date wheel. I will say that these features – paired with the huge sword hands – make for a very legible dial. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t change anything here… except for the lume, which is a little spotty at times.

Bracelet

On the other hand, this bracelet is something I could have really done without. Sure, it was secure and perfectly appropriate for the price, but it just felt so chunky. It doesn’t taper much, is a bit rattly, and honestly just doesn’t elevate the way in anyway. Thankfully, this is a Seiko and the 22mm lug width means you’re going to have plenty of strap options. Personally, I think these look best on a sailcloth strap, which really completes the whole Fifty Fathoms look if that’s what you’re going for.

Movement

Inside the Seiko 5 SNZH53 is the brand’s 7S36B automatic movement. It’s a 23-jewel movement that operates just like the 7S26 while offering reliable and relatively accurate timekeeping. Understandably, folks often have difficulty with bad batches and receive units that are almost comically inaccurate and very hard to repair/adjust. But, I had no issues with this specific example and unlike the SKX, the SNZH53 offers a cool display caseback that lets you check out the movement itself. Ideally, I’d love to see this watch with something that hacks – like a 4R series movement.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I’d happily recommend the Seiko 5 SNZH53* to anyone, really. It’ll probably never enjoy the same kind of following that the SKX has but I’d argue that the folks enjoying these watches don’t really care. It’s also worth noting that Seiko also produces a two-tone version, a version with a black dial, and, I believe, a fully gold-plated version. However, I think this blue version is perhaps the most loved and universally wearable iteration you can get. It’s a winner for me… but I really have to stop giving these away and finally keep one in my own collection. Seiko


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