If you’re looking for a unique, modestly priced automatic with a simple, military look, check out the Made in Japan/Japan market Seiko SNZG15J1.  Normally not available in the U.S., the Japan-made SNZG15J1 features a 23 jewel automatic movement in a stainless steel housing with a brushed metallic finish.

Part of the Seiko 5 Series - the “5″ denotes the watch’s five essential features, namely shock resistant, water resistant, automatic, and day and date display – the SNZG15J1 and its smaller brother, the SNK809 are readily available from a number of watch vendors in Asia; more on that in a bit. As you can see, the 12 hour markers are on the outer dial, with the 13 to 24 markers directly beneath, giving the watch a business like look. Seiko employs luminous material they call “Lumibrite,” and it’s quite bright and long lasting. This is a fairly large watch: the case is 45mm in diameter, and the lug width is 22mm; the case is 12mm thick.

The display back of course enables you to view the automatic movement. For the uninitiated, an automatic watch is a “self-winding” watch: a eccentric weight or rotor winds the watch as you move your arm and wrist during the day; over-winding is prevented by a slipping clutch on the mainspring. If this sounds complicated, it really isn’t: automatics have been around since the 18th century, and modern automatics are dependable and accurate.

The band is nylon, and in use has been very durable; the brushed metallic looked is carried over to the buckle:

A side view of the case:

A YouTube video which provides a good look at the watch in action:

It looks big on my smallish wrist, but I honestly don’t feel it’s that large a watch:

As mentioned earlier, the Seiko SNZG15J1 isn’t available in the U.S.  You can, however, order it from a number of Asian watch sellers for prices ranging from $115 to $130.

I paid $119, which included FedEx shipping from Singapore; delivery required 4 business days. (The firm I ordered from is Creation Watches; you can find them on eBay if interested, or click on this link.)

Creation Watches sold out of the SNZG15J1 shortly after I linked to the site; here’s another online retailer who offers the watch for a slightly higher price:  SkyWatches.com  Note that I have not purchased from this particular seller; shipping is free to the US.

~$120 for a Japan manufactured automatic Seiko 5 Series is a good value, in my opinion. Oh – one last thing: it keeps “good time” – it’s accurate to within ~3-4 seconds per day.

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8 Comments on Quick review: Seiko SNZG15J1 military automatic watch

  1. evan murray says:

    Read your review and decided I must have this watch. Ebay was too expensive at this time and all your links are out of stock. So I looked around and found a site with good reviews and had the watch in stock. I payed 127$ with free shipping at http://www.21jewels.com 2weekes later my watch arrived from Singapore to Southern California. You are spot on with your review! My only additions would be that the automatic movement might be noticeable for people with good hearing when all else is quiet, the watch has both English and Arabic day indicators, if you set it to English the Arabic will be visible from 12pm to 4am and vice versa. I set mine to Arabic just to mess with people when they ask to see the watch, I imagine this will make them inquire about the origins of the watch.
    My first watch in 15 yrs. Plan to wear it for the next 15!

    Evan

    PS: Thanks for the Review!

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Evan,

    Glad you like it. This is my daily watch, and I really enjoy it. Take care…

    [Reply]

  2. Geoff says:

    My Mum gave me a Seiko 5 21 jewel automatic for Christmas, when I was 16. That’s almost 42 years ago, and it still gains about 2 minutes per week …

    [Reply]

  3. “accurate to within ~3-4 seconds per day.”

    That’s pretty accurate for an automatic and considering that this watch is not that expensive.

    But how about the crystal? Is it fairly scratch resistant?

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Desmond:

    Thanks for the comment. Two points – I don’t believe, after living with this watch for ~10 months, that it’s as accurate as I originally thought. It seems to be that I set it ahead by a minute or so every few days. As for the crystal, I am very adept at bumping into things with my left wrist, and thus far the crystal is unblemished; I’m impressed by how well it’s held up.

    [Reply]

  4. Lim Mee Khing says:

    I have this watch on my wrist day and night except taking bath.
    When I woke up in the middle of the night, I would check the time and glad the luminous face show me the time as needed.
    Also, I wear it when I go to jog or work out in the gym. It is a very reliable piece of art work. If you are adventurous , love outdoor activities and doing rough job, I recommend you to buy the watch. You will definitely love it for its reliability and durability.

    [Reply]

  5. Dave says:

    Hi, I just purchased this watch and love it! I do have one question, in the manual it says push crown in while turning clockwise to lock. Is the crown supposed to physically stop turning once locked? Mine is still able to spin…kinda confused on this any help is appreciated!

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Dave,

    This watch doesn’t have a locking crown… yours is fine.

    [Reply]

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