About ten days ago, I received my very first mechanical watch: a Seiko SNZG15 J1. Since I've been reading the forum a lot to help me chose the right model, I decided to write a review too, hoping this might help other newcomers in the Seiko / cheap mechanical watches world.
Looks and apparent quality : I had never owned a watch of this quality before (always had cheap noname quartz or lately entry level digital Casios - the later are actually fine for plastic made watches) so I was very pleased when I opened the box to discover a really well made and beautiful object. I instantly loved the case made of proper, flawless blasted steel, the feel of the crown, the finish and proper alignment of the date display, ...
However, I must second what others have said about the nylon strap : its fine looking when worn and not looked at too closely. But, when you look carefully you can tell it's cheaply made (see pictures). It's also not very confortable at first as it's quite a hard fabric and the side that faces the wrist has some "nylon weldings" that are quite itchy (see pics). Needs a couple of days of breaking in anyway. I'd say it does the job ok but I'll probably replace it sooner or later.
The lumebrite thing is amazingly powerful : it glows at night like nothing I'd seen before on a watch! Actually you can even see it glowing in daylight. Lasts long too, after 7-8 hours, though faded, it still glows enough to tell the time. The second hand has lumebrite too, and it's quite nice to see it moving at night. I have however a little complaint here too : when you look closely (see pictures), some of the lumebrite patches have been applied with less care than I would have expected. For instance the triangle on top doesn't perfeclty fit the white printed triangle on the dial. Same goes for a couple of hour markers (see pic below). Like I said, you need to look closely, but once you know it you can't help noticing it and feeling like those lumebrite spots have been glued there by your 4 year old. Don't get me wrong, I love the watch and am aware that at this price (100 euros) it can not compete with 5000 euros++ Rolexes, but I think this little flaw had to be told.
Concerning accuracy, well I have been VERY pleased. My job requires relatively good accuracy, let's say less than 10 seconds of difference wih atomic time. I even used a Casio Waveceptor before receiving the Seiko and I wondered if a mechanical would do the job. The 7s36 being a non-hacked mechanism, I also wanted to avoid having to fiddle with the crown everyday to set the time while trying to have the handles properly aligned, etc. Well it's been an accuracy delight so far! Depending on my level of activity during the day, it takes or lose up to -4/+4 seconds in an average day of 16 hours (sometimes less, sometimes it even stays dead on time). It seems that the more I move, the more seconds it loses - the less I'm active, the more it gains (seems counter-intuitive to me lol). This is fine by me. When night time comes, I just either lay it flat face up to gain back a few seconds or lay it on it's side to lose back a few, and when I wake up in the morning it's right back on atomic time (-1/+1) for a fresh day. I sure hope it'll stay that accurate in a couple of months (have read that it might either go bonkers or settle down after that period of time)...
In the meantime, I really really love that to regulate it, I just have to change the way I lay it on my night table. It's actually way easier than using the crown like I used to on quartz watches. This all makes this watch like a living thing and I really like that too. There's a real pleasure in checking the accuracy before going to bed, or at various times during the day just for fun, and discover that it has gained or lost one second and link that to my level of activity. I can really accept that kind of "inacuracy", that is well within my specs. Well, it actually makes me passionate about this watch. I don't think I could go back to a quartz.
Regarding the size, I have a small wrist (16 cm) and I hesitated a lot (like others on the forum) with the smaller and even cheaper SNK 809. Well I'm really happy with my choice because it doesn't look too big at all. Actually, I think I could even go for a larger watch next time. The SNK809 would have definatelly been too small (that's a shame really cause I love its looks).
One last note regarding the Hardlex Crystal. I can't compare with anything except plastic crystals found on my previous watches. Those got scratches in a couple of days of light use (no sport, etc.). The Seiko's still immaculate. That's all I can say for now.
To conclude, despite its little flaws, it's really a nice watch that has given me confidence in buying more Seiko 5 in the future.
That's all folks.