Seiko 5 Sports SNZF17 Sea Urchin Review

Seiko SNZF17 wrist largeThe Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner has a mystique all its own.  Since 1953, regardless of its reference number, the Submariner has commanded the attention of both professionals and poseurs.  I cannot afford one.  Fortunately, there are many solid homages to this classic divers’ watch.  I started hunting for an affordable replication, which I found in the Seiko 5 Sports SNZF17, or, informally, the Sea Urchin.

There were a few requisites to my search.  The budget would be less than $200.00.  While I would not actually be diving with the watch, I wanted it to be a decent quality timepiece with some water resistance.  Since I am drawn to the look of the Rolex, the new watch had to have a black dial, coin-edged bezel with the proper silver digits on a black background, and a rugged bracelet.

In trolling Internet sellers, I saw the Seiko Sea Urchin and immediately knew it was a contender.  My luck with Seiko’s has always been good.  The Seiko chronograph bought for me for my college graduation has run without issue for three decades.  I still wear my late father’s Seiko dress watch, one I had given him 18 years ago.  The Seiko 5 SNZH57 Fathoms, which I previously reviewed, has been an excellent watch.

Seiko SNZF17 on wrist small Seiko SNZF17 display backWhen I ordered the Sea Urchin, I went for the SNZF17J1–the J1 denoting its build in Japan as opposed to Malaysia.  It may not have really made a difference, since my SNZH57 is Malaysian and it has been a good companion, but the “J” did add a few dollars to the price.  The Sea Urchin’s total with shipping: $171.00.

When the Sea Urchin crawled out of its box, I was immediately thrilled.  Its appearance was strikingly close to the Sub, without being a direct copycat.  In proportion, numbers and indices, case and bracelet design, and fit and finish, it pleased the latent license-to-kill in me.

Seiko SNZF17 on mapI removed three links from the bracelet, set the day/date and time, and then tried on the Sea Urchin.  At 41mm in case diameter, it had a nice heft without being too chunky.  The sound of the Seiko movement’s self-winding rotor was the sole noise emitted when I shook my wrist.  Nice.  The bezel rotated to port with confident clicks that centered on the marks.  The Hardlex crystal shone.

My Sea Urchin went to work with me the very next day.  I could not stop staring at it.  It wears much more expensively than it costs.  I thrust it out at a colleague sporting his Rolex Submariner.  After examining the Sea Urchin, he judged it worthy, saying he could consider buying one as a daily driver.  He already owns a Seiko Orange Monster.

These are specs for the SNZF17 from Seiko:

Type: Divers
Movement: Automatic
Calibre: 7S36 (23 Jewels)
Crystal: Hardlex crystal
Bezel: Unidirectional
Water resistance: 100m
Bracelet width: 22mm
Stainless steel case and bracelet
See through case back
Highly luminous hour markers and hands
Case: 45mm with crown (41mm without crown)
Thickness: 13mm
Made in Japan

One caveat here is that the crown does not screw down, thus the Urchin’s water resistance is, as far as I am concerned, suggested to be 100 meters.  My watch will suffer no more than splashes or an occasional dunk of 1 meter–at most.

If you are a movement snob, be aware that Seiko’s 7S36 is non-hacking and non-stem-winding.  These mechanical traits do not bother me for this type of moderate-use timepiece.  My Seiko Fathoms watch contains the same automatic movement and its inclusion is not a detractor.

Seiko SNZF17 lumeSeiko’s Sea Urchin has large spear-shaped hands, not the thinner Mercedes hands found in the Rolex.  The pointy triangular hands on the Sea Urchin make it easy for me to read the time, especially in low light as they are coated with a pleasingly aggressive lume.

The Seiko 5 Sports SNZF17 Sea Urchin is a terrific-looking product that would fit right in with Ray Ban Aviators, an Al Mar Eagle, and a Glock 43.  You may not be an intelligence operative, but this watch will make you “identify” as one.

Wilson out.


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13 Responses to Seiko 5 Sports SNZF17 Sea Urchin Review

  1. Lew says:

    I bought one after reading your review. I like it a lot. It’s a beautiful watch and has a quality heft. Thanks. Lew


  2. Paul D'Angelo says:

    If you want something even more Rolex like then you need to check out the Squale 1545. It is a self winding, almost exact copy of a Submariner with a sapphire crystal, and comes in a few different dial colors. It will cost you in the neighborhood of $ 500 but it is a quality built watch. I bought one for my son and he likes it a lot. It has a Swiss ETA 2824 movement which is used in many of today’s fine watches. Having owned a few Rolex watches in my lifetime, I look for certain things when I buy a watch. I like a rugged timepiece that can take some abuse. I no longer can spend thousands on a watch but for under $ 1000 you would be surprised how many great watches are available! For about the last Year and a half I have been wearing a Marathon GSAR. It is a self winding auto with a Swiss ETA 2824 movement. It is built like a tank and keeps good time. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a rugged watch. it has tritium markers and hands making it super bright for night viewing. So many watches-So little time…


  3. Pingback: Seiko SSB031–My Moonwatch |

  4. Garry Elder says:

    My first serious watch at, age 17 years was a Seiko Diver 1968 vintage purchased in Singapore. I was in the RAN and every sea going sailor had or wanted one. I am now 65 and have just purchased a Sea Urchin and love it. I believe I can smell the ocean and hear the seabirds.


  5. Garry Elder says:

    Hi Wilson re my Seiko Sea Urchin above. The watch is loosing 30/45 secs each 24 hours, I wear it 24/7. Seiko’s plus or minus parameters I understand but I think the above lose is to much. In your experience will the movement take a while to “run in”. Cheers Garry


    • Greg Clinkingbeard says:

      I bought the K version a few weeks ago. It is +- 2 seconds a day out of the box. My SKX was within about 10 for the first year and began losing over 30 before I regulated it. Now it’s back under 10. It took me some time to see the value in swinging the watch several times to help it wind.


  6. Todd Johnson says:

    I love my sea urchin, I also paid a premium for the J model.
    The J model is made in Malaysia with a Japanese supervisor on the production line. Japanese law allows this.


  7. Nestore says:

    Just bought mine last week. Now becoming my favorite.


  8. Sean Hashmi says:

    Bought the above mentioned 5 years ago. Have worn it almost daily since then. The reasons being that I drive a lot and sometimes inter province. It is easy to look at and tells time in a glance. At night the luminous large hands come in handy. I realized the convenience of my Seiko when I bought another watch which was atomic and shortly after that went for a long trip. The dial was busier, smaller and the hands were not that obvious and bright either at night time-in short had to struggle to know time and it was risky taking eyes off the highway. When visiting mountains/ rough terrain I doubted its sturdiness too. I was disappointed and told my wife that from that moment onwards the Seiko is my travel companion, it fits the bills for all purposes.


  9. lmao i loved the ending of this review great job


  10. Pingback: The Seiko SNZF11/13/15/17/19 (Sea Urchin) Review - Romeo's watches

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