This Is The Best Entry Level Watch - Are Cheap Watches Worth It? - The Seiko 5 SNKL23 Review (Updated 2021)
 

This Is The Best Entry Level Watch - Are Cheap Watches Worth It? - The Seiko 5 SNKL23 Review (Updated 2021)

5 min read
Tim Vaux

Author

Brands

Seiko

Categories

Reviews Watch Buying Guide

Tim Vaux

Author

Brands

Seiko

Categories

Reviews Watch Buying Guide

Looking to get into watches? Introducing your new watch, the Seiko 5 SNKL23 Review...

For most of us, we all have that one watch that started it all. The one watch that kick-started this seemingly endless hobby. Traditionally these watches are more affordable than some of the grails we share but one thing remains universal. These pieces are always remembered as number one, the first watch.

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 on a metal mesh watch strap

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 fitted to Classic Mesh in Polished - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

 
Regular price
£32.00
Regular price
Sale price
£32.00
Classic Style Stainless Steel Milanese Mesh Watch Strap - Polished
Regular price
£48.00
Regular price
Sale price
£48.00
WatchGecko 'Oblique' Milanese Mesh Stainless Steel Watch Strap - Polished
New
Regular price
£32.00
Regular price
Sale price
£32.00
Classic Style Stainless Steel Milanese Mesh Watch Strap - Satin
Although there are so many watches that can be chosen as the starting point, one specific Seiko seems to crop up again and again as the one many people own and treasure as being ‘the beginning’.
The Seiko SARB033 vs the Seiko 5 SNKL23

The Seiko SARB033 vs the 5 SNKL23, pretty similar right? - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Seiko is a very popular choice for people’s first watches and although it wasn’t my first watch (that spot is reserved for a watch I had when I was about 7), the Seiko SARB033 was my first mechanical watch. This watch here, the Seiko 5 SNKL23 is infamous at the sub £100 mark.

So before we take a first look at this little Seiko 5 we should probably start with the price. You can pick one of these Seiko 5s up for right around £80 brand new. I’d recommend keeping that in mind as we run through this watches stats…

To start with, the SNKL23 is 38mm wide with a thickness around 10.6mm and lug to lug distance of 45.5mm. The case design itself is pretty modest and elegant, the only distinctively unique aspect is probably the crown position at 4 o'clock, everything else is stylish, smart and clean. So far, you’re getting a lot for £80

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 case and crown

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine 

 
Regular price
£140.00
Regular price
£198.90
Sale price
£140.00
Seiko SPB143 Watch Strap Set
Sold out

Flipping the watch over and we see (yes, this watch has a display caseback) the Seiko in-house calibre 7S26 comes with 21 jewels which sits in an almost endless amount of Seiko divers, most noticeably the SKX, which is priced at £250. The 7s26 comes with 21 jewels,

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 caseback and the movement inside

The display caseback of the Seiko 5 SNKL23 - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Sure it doesn’t have hacking or hand winding but I’m not sure how much of a deal-breaker this is for something that costs less than most official straps from the Swiss giants. Back to the front of the watch, we see dauphine hands with touches of lume, a day and date function and black dial in a pin-striped tuxedo style.

the Seiko 5 SNKL23 dial

For £80, the dial on the Seiko 5 SNKL23 is pretty attractive - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Design-wise this is a hard watch to fault. It’s not offensive or out there in any way with the most abstract feature being the crown at 4 and that dial change up. Everything else is modest and executed well.

How does it wear?

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 on a light brown leather strap

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 fitted to Stanton Dress Strap - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine 

 
Regular price
£68.00
Regular price
Sale price
£68.00
Vintage Highley Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Black
Best Seller
Regular price
£68.00
Regular price
Sale price
£68.00
Vintage Highley Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Chocolate Brown
Best Seller
Regular price
£68.00
Regular price
Sale price
£68.00
Vintage Highley Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Reddish Brown
Best Seller

So, how does this wear on the wirst? Well, This is a very classy looking watch on the wrist. Much like the SARB033 or pieces from the Grand Seiko line up, it’s versatility is it’s selling point. The first thing that jumps out is how symmetrical the case is. That hidden crown at 4 has quite a large impact on this watches aesthetics.

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 on a crocodile print leather strap

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 fitted to a crocodile print leather strap, here is a very similar strap! - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

It’s such a compact tidy package that genuinely punches well above its price point. When you consider that this is an entry-level watch with pretty attractive looks, solid stats, a respectable size and is made from a well known brand, it's very hard to fault.

Watch Straps for the Seiko 5 SNKL23

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 on a black crocodile print leather strap

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 fitted to a crocodile print leather strap, here is a very similar strap! - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

The lug width on the SNKL23 comes in at 18mm which traditionally could be a little tricky, however, in this case, it has two bonuses. Firstly, 18mm on a 38mm wide watch is a great transition to keep the footprint of the watch down, contributing to the overall package of the watch. And secondly our recently growing range of 18mm straps can really transform this watch, Let’s take a look now.

Geckota Kington Dress Leather Strap in Camel

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 on a light brown leather strap

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 fitted to Stanton Watch Strap - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine 

 
Regular price
£68.00
Regular price
Sale price
£68.00
Stanton Conceria Opera Suede Padded Watch Strap - Taupe
Regular price
£68.00
Regular price
Sale price
£68.00
Stanton Conceria Opera Suede Padded Watch Strap - Forest Green
Regular price
£68.00
Regular price
Sale price
£68.00
Stanton Badalassi Carlo Minerva Box Leather Padded Watch Strap - Black

This Stanton Genuine Leather watch strap is ideal for the SNKL23 as it combines a reasonable amount of padding for that day in day out comfort, a generous taper down to the buckle which takes into account for the watches smaller size, a great pull up leather really lifts the whole dial and makes it feel pretty premium and finally we see quick release springbars which if you’re looking at this watch as a first one for your collection is ideal.

Liverpool Crocodile Grain Leather in Black

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 on a black crocodile print leather strap

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 fitted to a crocodile print leather strap, here is a very similar strap! - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Next up we thought we dress this little Seiko up with a solid crocodile grain leather strap. The Liverpool strap in black is a go-to option if you want something traditionally dressy that will fit in perfectly for more smarter occasions.

Classic Style Milanese Mesh Strap in Polished

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 watch fitted to a metal mesh watch strap

The Seiko 5 SNKL23 fitted to Classic Mesh in Polished - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

For our final choice, we have something a little different. Here we’ve gone for the Classic Milanese Mesh strap to really make the watch pop on the wrist. If you didn’t think this watch punched above its weight beforehand, then this combo is sure to change your mind.

Final thoughts on the Seiko SNKL23

The Tudor Black Bay GMT, The Rolex Submariner and the Seiko SNKL23 together on leather watch straps

The Seiko SNKL23 stands up well to other luxury watches - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

 
Regular price
£98.00
Regular price
Sale price
£98.00
Rochefort Flat Patina Calf Leather Watch Strap - Chocolate Brown
Regular price
£48.00
Regular price
Sale price
£48.00
Radstock Vintage Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Light Brown
Regular price
£128.00
Regular price
Sale price
£128.00
Durbuy Ostrich Leg Leather Handmade Watch Strap
Well, it's a perfect gateway piece to ensure people who are looking to get into the hobby end up with a watch that can inform them about the extensive nature and passionate work that goes into horology. Sure, it doesn't have cutting edge technology but what would you expect for a watch priced around £80? Well, I'm pretty sure you'd expect a lot less than what the SNKL23 offers.

If you’re starting to get interested in watches and you’re looking for your first purchase, this one here packs the right amount of punch, has a decent amount of features at a fantastic price point and will look great while it does it. All while getting a respectable nod from the rest of the watch community.

We’ll be comparing this watch to other more expensive offerings from Seiko in the future so stay tuned to that. We also have a lot more reviews of watches planned for the rest of the year, so keep your eyes open for lot more of those in the coming weeks.

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Tim Vaux

About the Author: Tim Vaux

I don't think I can remember a time in my life when watches weren't in my life. I've been writing about watches online for a handful of years now, enjoying every moment of it. I'm passionate about experiencing the world of watches and translating those experiences via articles and images for the wider audience to consume.

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