seiko sea urchin snzf17

Seiko Sea Urchin SNZF17 Review: Affordable Automatic Dive Watch

Staying true to the Seiko 5 ethos, the Seiko Sea Urchin SNZF17 features components of almost unheard of quality for an entry level automatic dive watch. The target audience for the Seiko Sea Urchin are those who are looking for a durable, high quality, automatic dive watch at an affordable price. The SNZF17 not only meets, but far exceeds expectation in all of these categories. For these reasons it is easy to recommend this watch to anyone looking for their first automatic dive watch, or a watch to serve as a durable every day carry.

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Seiko Sea Urchin – Built on Seiko ‘5’

The storied history of the Seiko 5 line began way back in 1963 with the Sportsmatic 5. The Seiko 5 line was conceived with affordable performance, quality, and style in mind and continues with these guiding principles. In addition to the superb craftsmanship offered at a price point accessible by all, the Seiko 5 Line has also been innovative throughout its existence, with such accomplishments as offering the world’s first chronograph with an automatic movement. So why exactly did Seiko call this line ‘5’? The reason, as you might have guessed, is fivefold! Seiko demanded the following features of each timepiece to bear the ‘5’ name:

  • Automatic winding movement
  • Day/date displayed in one window
  • Water resistant
  • Recessed crown
  • Hard-wearing case and bracelet

Seiko Sea Urchin SNZF17 Design

The dial of the Seiko Sea Urchin screams ‘classic dive watch’. It shares design elements with perhaps the most famous dive watch, the Rolex Submariner.

Related: 11 Affordable Rolex Submariner Alternatives & Homages

The face is finished in matte black, which certainly lends to its ability to be worn either dressed up or dressed down. The branding is noticeable yet remains far from garish, with a silver-tone and white Seiko 5 Sports logo perched neatly beneath the 12 o’ clock marker. The bottom half of the dial is tastefully filled with information regarding the water resistance, which in this case is 100m, and a reminder that you really are looking at an automatic watch with a 23 jewel movement. There are 60 individual second/minute markers around the dial for easy reference to the exact time, and the hours are marked by round and rectangular indicators featuring bright, well applied lume.

seiko sea urchin snzf17

The hands of the Seiko Sea Urchin really help this timepiece to stand out as a design all of its own. It utilizes broad, ‘spear’ style hands which allow for a generous application of lume for excellent visibility in dark conditions. The second hand is a sweeping style, and although it may not be as smooth as some of its Swiss counterparts, it still flows pleasingly around the dial. The second hand features no lume at the pointer end, however the counterweight is marked with a circle of photo-luminescent paint.

The Seiko Sea Urchin’s bezel is marked in the typical dive watch style, with Arabic numerals at 10 second intervals for dive time computation and coin-edge notches around the circumference for easy grip. It is finished in black, with silver-tone marking for an elegant look. As well as the good looks and functional markings, the bezel features unidirectional rotation, an essential component of any dive watch. This particular bezel boasts 120 click ratcheting, and unlike many watches at this price point, the bezel markers line up perfectly flush with the dial markers, testament to the excellent quality of craftsmanship across the Seiko 5 line.

The case of the Sieko Sea Urchin is made of high quality, solid stainless steel vs. the chrome plated brass of many other inexpensive watches, the Seiko Sea Urchin is built to last. The case measures in at 41mm, giving excellent presence on the wrist, and at 13mm deep bulk is kept to a minimum. For first time owners of mechanical watches, a big part of the ownership experience comes from seeing the inner workings of the automatic movement. The Sea Urchin satisfies this need to view the guts of the watch by way of its see-through caseback.

seiko sea urchin snzf17

Seiko Sea Urchin SNZF17 Movement

The Sea Urchin is powered by Seiko’s workhorse 7S36 movement. This automatic engine gains power from user movement by way of a free-swinging pendulum winding the spring that drives the watch. As mentioned above, the movement itself can be viewed via the glass caseback, where you’ll catch a glimpse of the dozens of individual components working in perfect harmony. When fully wound, the Sea Urchin’s power reserve is an impressive 40 hours!

As the Seiko Sea Urchin is part of the Seiko 5 line it features a single day/date window, in this case at the 3 o’clock position. A subtle facet of the day/date feature of this watch is the color matching: Whilst most watches at this price range would utilize a white day/date wheel regardless of the dial color, the Sea Urchin uses a beautifully matched black wheel with white and red text, one of the many small touches on this piece that really make it stand out among its peers.

The Sea Urchin uses a push-pull type crown for time adjustment. The crown itself is recessed in between protective lugs, which most would consider to be essential for an everyday wear type of watch. The crown has deep grooves for a solid grip when turning, and the face is plain for a timeless look.

The Seiko Sea Urchin sits on a 22mm bracelet made from the same high-quality, stainless steel as the case. It is an ‘Oyster’ Style band, with removable end links for size customization. The clasp, like most dive watches feature, is a fold-over type with spring-loaded security release buttons to ensure this watch won’t come loose unless you want it to!

In all the Seiko Sea Urchin SNZF17 offers an incredible value, with amazing features rarely seen at this price. As an everyday carry item, it really would be difficult to find anything else this good and this inexpensive!

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