Budget Military Watch Beater: Seiko SNK803


This baby was bought on impulse, bought at a time when I just had an itch to scratch, and not a need to meet. It was definitely more of a want that had to be fulfilled after staying dry for a few months.

This series of watches is my favourite iteration of Seiko’s military watches amongst many others.

SNX range (35mm diameter)



Photo Credit: Yeoman. SNX427 (L) and SNX425 (R)

This is likely to be the first range of Seiko military watches launched using the 7S movement. They are not branded as Seiko 5 watches despite having all the characteristics of one. The earlier generation of this watches comes with a solid case back while the latter generation comes with a see-through case back.

SNK range (37mm diameter)


Photo Credit: Carousell

This is likely to be the next range of Seiko military watches. Note the now prominent Seiko 5 badge branding. Also the dial markings have changed substantially from the SNX series, which had the 24 hour marking on the inner circle and the 12 hr marking on the outer circle. Here, we have the 12 hour marking on the inner circle with the minute markings on the outer circle. I personally prefer this design.

SNZG range (41mm diameter)


Photo Credit: Yeoman. SNZG versus the SNX

This can be thought of as the evolution and upsizing of the classic SNX range launched earlier. However, the dial is much bigger and comes with a minute chapter ring to introduce some depth to the dial.  This was also the first Seiko military watch I purchased many years ago before eventually selling it away as I thought it was too big for my 6.5in wrist.

Later Seiko military-inspired watches

There are several other follow up military watches to the SNZG, however, I find that these 3 are the nicest of them all. All the talk about the “good old days” certainly apply here!


Photo Credit: Yeoman. SRP275. What’s up with all these different sized fonts and the “Sports” branding?



I bought it brand new, hence any marks/scratches are all due to me

I went with the beige variation of the SNK series because I thought the colour scheme was certainly something different to the usual, blue, black and green. I also swap out the factory canvas strap to a shell NATO.

The case is 37mm across, with 18mm lugs. The size might sound diminutive to you, but the all dial design with the light dial colour makes the watch wear larger. It was definitely the perfect size for me, as the 41mm version was too big, and it was as light as a feather compared to all my other watches.  It accompanied me on several overseas trips and outdoor activities and performed admirably, staying out of the way until called for. Sometimes I even forgot that I was wearing a watch, given its small physical presence and weight.

The case is matt blasted on the top and sides, but the area between the lugs and the case back are polished. The matt finishing is very well done for its price and hides minor scratches well, although nicks still show up prominently.

The unsigned crown sits at the 4 o’clock position, similar to the Seiko divers, and does not screw in. However, the crown’s default position is recessed and helps to portray a seamless design all around. Fittingly, the crown is small but easy to pull out. The movement cannot be hand wound, hence there is no concern for experiencing any difficulty in hand winding the watch due to the small crown.

The flat, hardened mineral crystal here sits flush with the bezel and has no anti-reflective coating applied. Cost is the dominant factor that determines the use of the mineral crystal, as with all other Seiko 5s, instead of sapphire. Seiko’s mineral crystal is not scratch proof, but it will be harder to shatter a mineral crystal compared to sapphire. I have already nicked my crystal, but thankfully it’s close to invisible unless you know where to look for it.

As mentioned earlier, the area between the lugs and case back are surprisingly highly polished, in contrast to the matt finishing on the top and sides. I do wonder why Seiko made this decision since I would imagine that it will likely cost the same for Seiko to have the matt finishing applied to the entire case, or vice versa (which thankfully did not happen). A high shine and military looks do not go well together unless you’re talking about parade boots!



The dial is 28mm across, which might surprise you to know, is actually close to the 30mm diameter as the Seiko monsters. Hence you are definitely not losing any time-reading visibility here due to its size.

The only item that is applied on the dial is the preeminent “Seiko 5” badge. Otherwise, everything else on the dial is printed, all the way from the minute markers, minute hash markers to the hour markers. No doubt this is to help keep costs down, however, this does not equal to slipshod work. The printing is fantastic when examined closely, with absolutely no sign of bleeding anywhere. Even the movement name and dial number printed at the 6 o’clock position is flawless. Absolutely flawless. You got to give it to Seiko for delivering quality work at such a low price!

The blacked out hour and minute hands are sword-shaped, with plenty of space for the application of lume. This is probably the rare few times that Seiko used a lume colour that was in line with the dial colour. The blacked out seconds hands has a lumed lollipop at the end, while the opposite end has a dash of red at the tip.

There are also lume dots at each 5 minute marker. Bright it is not, but serves its purpose it does. It is likely that Seiko kept the lume to a minimum due to the military look of this watch which would look displaced if it was a glowing beacon of lume at night.

Typical for Seiko 5 watches, it also has the day and date at the 3 o’clock position. The cutout is not framed.

Overall, readability of the dial cannot be compared to bright hands against a dark background (think Sinn U1 style), however, due to the conscious effort to eliminate all shiny surfaces on the dial, it is fairly easy to read in bright daylight.


The movement is the venerable, yet bulletproof 7S36, which can now be found as the renamed 4R movements. However, the older 7S36 do not have the handwinding and hacking ability of the 4R movements. Otherwise, expect your 7S watches to last for decades before it needs any servicing.


I bought this watch for probably USD 50. This is likely what some Swiss brands will charge just to do a battery change. At this price point, there are very little expectations, and hence very little room for disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, all the quality delivered by my SNK is way beyond what it costs me and I have absolutely no regrets about buying it. It has yet to disappoint me, and I foresee many more adventures with this little hardy gem, which can go places that I cannot bear to bring more expensive watches to.

One thought on “Budget Military Watch Beater: Seiko SNK803

  1. Pingback: Seiko Military SNX427: The Original Seiko 5 Military | musingsofawatchaddict

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