One of the first decent watches I ever bought was a Seiko SKX007 diver. Its a lovely watch that can be had for very cheap but still carries the iconic Seiko diver styling, an excellent bezel, and great lume. The SKX series is arguably one of the most popular “gateway watches” that bring enthusiasts from cheap fashion brands into the exciting but often debilitating hobby of watch collecting.

Specific models like my 007 or the “Monster” SKX781/SKX779 are considered to be some of the best value that can be had in dive watches. These watches feature dependable and simple movements, 200m dive-ready construction, and sport excellent bezels and bracelets. I don’t believe there is a single “what should I buy for $200” thread on any watch forum on the internet that doesn’t have mention of a Seiko SKX diver. Seiko has realized this popularity and now makes a line of watches in their entry-level “Seiko 5 Sports” range that features much of the Monster styling at a lesser price. These new models fall into the SNZF range and today we will take a closer look at the SNZF45, aka the “white baby monster”.

  • 43 x 12.5 mm
  • Hardlex crystal
  • Stainless steel case and bracelet
  • Unidirectional bezel
  • Seiko 7S36 automatic
  • 100m WR

The term “baby monster” was coined online because these new models have the same dial and hand set as the original monsters but come in new color variations and are not part of the Seiko Prospex family of divers. Instead, the SNZF45 has only 100m of water resistance and lacks the screw down crown that is needed for a watch to have true aquatic aspirations. What you give up in diving capability, you gain in price. The going rate for a Monster or an SKX007 will range between $180 and $250, while I bought this SNZF45 for $135. At under $150, this Seiko plays in a field full of fashion brands and Timex models. The big questions is, to reach this price point have they taken too much away?

The SNZF45 is a heavy chunk of stainless steel. Its 43 x 12.5 mm case wears a little larger thanks to its chunky bezel and fairly straight lugs. The finishing is fine for the price point but does not match that seen on more expensive Seiko models from the SKX and SBDC lines. The bezel is not hard to grip but has a very vague mechanical feel and sound, it doesn’t really click from point to another. The bezel on the SKX range is definitely better in this regard and the grip is much better on my 007. Most Seiko watches use Hardlex crystals and the SNZF45 is no exception. Hardlex is Seiko’s proprietary version of mineral glass and it is very strong and very clear. Hardlex has been a very successful system for Seiko and a sapphire option would add cost to what is supposed to be a budget friendly watch.

The included stainless steel bracelet is very good with solid links and simple straight end links which work well with the short, straight lugs of the SNZF45. The bracelet is fitted using push pins and features a dive-style push-button clasp with a safety. The clasp does not have a dive extension but is rattle free and nicely finished.

This specific model has a bright white dial with a black scaled chapter ring which provides a lot of contrast and legibility to the design. The hands and markers carry a black border and a truly impressive amount of Seiko’s Lumibrite luminous paint. One of the main reasons the Monster models stood out among their competition from entry level Swiss brands and Japanese rivals like Citizen is the very bright lume applications used on their hands and markers. The SNZF45 does not disappoint, its large markers and hands glow as brightly as any Seiko I have ever owned and the Lumibrite lasts for quite a long time as well (please see the video for a good impression of the lume).

The automatic Seiko 7S36 movement can be seen through a display back which is very common on Seiko 5 Sport models. The 7S36 is a simple automatic movement that cannot be hand wound nor does it feature a hacking mechanism. Hacking allows for the second hand to stop when the crown is pulled all the way out. Without hacking it is very difficult to set the watch to atomic time. This is a small concern as the 7S26 that is used in the SKX line does not feature hacking either. This example ran about +12 seconds a day which is within the range for the movement and completely acceptable at this price point which is below where you will readily find an ETA 2824 or Seiko’s more advanced movements.

The SNZF45 has a lot of wrist presence thanks to its high contrast dial and raised, three dimensional markers and chapter ring. It is comfortable and fun to wear and definitely easy read to read, even at a glance. The crown action is very good and the stem has absolutely no wobble whatsoever. While I believe the SNZF45 is a good watch for the price, I don’t think Seiko has succeeded in making a cheaper package with the same relative value as the SKX line. The Monsters have better bracelets and bezels and the SKX007 is a more timeless design. If it were my money I would consider gathering up a few more dollars and buying a Black Monster (SKX779, ~ $200) or getting the lovely SKX007 on a jubilee bracelet for around $180. My SKX007 is about 5 years old, shows some wear, has seen both saltwater and fresh water, and still gets worn weekly as I love its size, design and excellent value.

5 Comments

  1. I’m just getting into the watches. What other daily use, automatic watch would you recommend under $150? The Orient Mako, Invicta 8926, etc? I do not dive so some of the benefits of the SKX line are less valuable. I do require a watch that will stand up to everyday useage, ie. showers, minor car repair, work around the house but then turn around the wear well to an informal business meeting. Alot to ask for a watch I know.  

    Among other things, I personally love the the see-thru back case. It gives the watch a high quality feel to it, if only aesthetic. But then that would be the main reason for me to purchase the watch since I don’t dive. Your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hi Thomas,

      The benefits of the Mako and the Invicta are the same as the SKX line only, for my money (I own an SKX007) the Seiko is much better made than its Orient or Invicta competition. There are a lot of models to choose from in the SKX line and if you don’t want a diver Seiko and Citizen make excellent sport and dress watches as well. I wouldn’t recommend a habit showering with a watch on as the hot water can present additional stress on the gaskets, not to mention what the soap can do to the gaskets over time. This is not a hard fact but its something to consider as, to preserve water resistance, the gaskets are the weakest most vulnerable point. 

      -JS

      Reply
  2. Nice review of a gorgeous watch..I have the same Baby monster and love that thing…Its amazing what the Seiko 5 sports team is doing with that  7S36 auto movement design …These guys deserve a medal…
    I also own a Baby Cesar the SNZJ15K1 and my Seiko 5 divers collection is growing…

    Reply
  3. It would be great if Seiko releases a white dial monster series watch!!!

    Reply
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