Seiko Arnie Review (Prospex SNJ025)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando

Back in the 80’s, an Austrian weightlifter made a number of insanely violent and entertaining movies. In 1985’s Commando and 1987’s Predator, Arnold Schwarzenegger wore a Seiko H558-5009 ani-digital dive watch. The future governor of California made his modest little Seiko into an action movie superstar. Fast forward to late 2019 . . .

Seiko SNJ025 2019 Arnie

Seiko rolls out the Prospex SNJ025,”a modern interpretation of the 1982 Hybrid Diver’s Watch.” Translation: it’s a brand new version of the H558-5009. With it’s black 47.8mm case, polished lugs and black uni-directional bezel, the SNJ025 is the most faithful tribute to Arnie’s watch. It’s also a personification of the man himself – bold, brash, and unapologetically big.

You read that diameter right, the SNJ025 is a husky boy – over 14mm thick and 51mm lug lug.  Anyone who says it “wears smaller” or “doesn’t feel awkward” has never worn an SNJ025. While none of Seiko’s Tuna-style watches are known for their sleekness on the wrist, the SNJ025 somehow moves the needle in the wrong direction.

If the SNJ025’s size doesn’t make you uncomfortable the silicone strap will. This is the most uncomfortable diver strap I’ve ever worn. With the least bit of perspiration or moisture, the cheap-feeling material creeps and clings to the skin like a leech. The adjustment holes are too large and widely spaced. I was never able to find one that fit my 8″ wrist comfortably. Wearing it slightly loose left it flopping around like a brick tied to a rope.

Seiko’s H851 solar quartz movement drives the SNJ025 analog time display and the small digital screen. Two locking pushers on the case’s left side control a handful of complications: time, calendar, chronograph and alarm. As Casio’s square bodies demonstrate, these handy complications are all that most people want or need.

Seiko SNJ025 with chronograph activated

Unfortunately, the SNJ025 complicates the complications. As with the Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark, you have to unscrew the Seiko’s crown guards to operate the pushers, drastically reducing water resistance. The upper pusher button is both the trigger for the backlight and an activator button for functions like the chronograph. That means you can activate the chronograph but you can’t illuminate it. Ok?

Despite the watch’s Mr. Universe-like proportions, the SNJ025’s digital display is so small that it’s virtually illegible at a glance. Even in perfect lighting, my eyes need a beat or two to adjust and focus in on the display. In difficult lighting conditions, the wet or rain or in the dark – i.e. places where a tool watch is imminently useful – you simply can’t see it.

The H851 movement in the SNJ025 has a neat trick up its sleeve: a six-month power reserve. It can sit in the dark for weeks or months conserving power, then snap right back to the correct time and date when it sees the sun again.

The SNJ025 overall level of finish is more than adequate. The case is handsomely polished while Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex crystal assures scratch resistance. The lume plots and dial markings are Seiko crisp; the seconds hand lines up perfectly with the markers. The printed bezel clicks with precision with a recessed lume pip at the 60 minutes/12 hour position.

Seiko SNJ025 with clock activated

The SNJ025 is constructed well…unfortunately in China. The “Arnie” is part of Seiko’s Prospex line. If the Japanese watchmaker wants customers to view Prospex watches as a premium product, they’d do well to consolidate manufacturing at home in Japan where it belongs.

The SNJ025 is a lousy tool watch, and it’s certainly not a high end watch. It won’t make you look like an action hero, and it won’t attract a mate drawn to baller-status wrist candy (though it may pull a housekeeper or two). If you want a good watch, there are a lot better ways to spend your $525.

What this Seiko IS is a great toy. If you’re a 30- or 40-something who fondly remembers Arnie at his most bad-ass, with a rocket launcher on his shoulder and a modest digital Seiko on his wrist, the SNJ025 might be just the toy for  you.

Model: Seiko Prospex SNJ025
Price: $525

SPECIFICATIONS:

Case: 47.8 mm x 14.4 mm x 51.3 mm polished stainless steel with integral lightweight nylon protector
Crown: Screw down
Bezel: Unidirectional rotating with elapsed time
Crystal: Hardlex
Strap: Silicone
Movement: Caliber H851 solar quartz
Power Reserve: up to 6 months
Water resistance: 200m (660 ft)

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Design * * *
An ugly, unwieldy beast. Too big, too heavy, too much – just like Arnold in the 80’s.

Legibility * *
What’s the point of having a digital display that’s unreadable?

Comfort * *
It’s not.

Overall * * *
A two-star watch with just enough star power to net three.

25 comments

  1. Commend deleted. TTAW does not allowing flaming or ad hominem attacks. Persistent offenders will be permanently banned.

  2. China?
    What’s the problem?? LOW end’s ?
    SEIKO esamble their watches every where, WITH IT’S TOP 10 QUALITY !!!
    Forget myts and legends

    SEIKO is SEIKO

    1. Because it’s a terrible watch? I find it amusing that some folks expect all reviews to be positive. I suppose that expectation has been cultivated by the litany of blogs and reviewers that never met a watch they didn’t like… lest they bite the hand that feeds them, eh?

  3. Yet I find my snj025 excellent, a strong, go to watch getting a lot of wrist time despite my growing watch collection.

  4. If you cannot read the digital part of the watch then you must be as fucking blind as a bat.my eyes are not as good as they used to be ,but i can read the digital very comfortable upto 50 inches.you shouldnreally go and get or change your glasses,or simply get an 55mm invicta.ffs.

  5. If you cannot read the digital part of the arnie i suggest you dont drive anymore ,because you will cause the biggest fuckup accident of all times.

    1. You are right, we should probably all get our eyes checked. With COVID happening it’s been a while. In kind, we’d suggest that you seek a psychiatric consultation for the defensive anger that you feel over a watch review on the internet. Surely there are good counselors down there in SA that can help you with those misplaced emotions. You don’t have to suffer alone.

      Or better yet, since you clearly have passionate feelings about the Arnie, how about submitting a written counterpoint to our review?

  6. If you are not able to read or see the digital part of the arnie,how do you see day and date on other watches.they are the same in size.

  7. This watch is more of a fashion watch than a tool watch or daily wearer. I bought it to wear as an everyday, do-anything watch. It does not fit this role very well. I have a 7″ wrist and it fits well, but the watch stands too tall off of the wrist, and it is too heavy. You are aware of it being on your wrist the whole time you are wearing it, and others will be aware of it as well with the polished metal screw down pushers, and the polished screws and lugs. In person, the watch looks quite “blingy” and flashy. It also, despite what has been said in many other reviews, does not feel rugged. It actually feels kind of delicate.

    I really wanted to love this watch. I have been buying watches like it since I first saw it in the 80s–at the time not knowing what watch Arnold Schwarzenegger was wearing in the movies. But sadly, this is more of a production. I think the original H558 is a better proportioned and styled piece, and would better fit the role I was looking for this watch to fill. I hope Seiko will introduce another version of this watch that is a little leaner-not as tall, smaller pushers without screw downs, smaller crown–a little more rugged feeling, and more toned down–unpolished, no rivets, smaller crown.

    If you are looking for more of a showpiece/fashion type watch that is certainly capable, this watch is great. But, if you are looking for a working, everyday, tool-type watch, I do not feel this watch is the best choice.

  8. Luke, I would appreciate if you would delete my above commentary (the three paragraph reply) about the SNJ025. Although it documents my own experience, I do think it is too harsh. I really like Seiko as a company. This watch is a fine watch for some people, and I wouldn’t want my own feelings about the watch to dissuade people from buying what is a fine watch with certain design choices that I happen to disagree with. And, for full disclosure, I have bought and sold this watch two times!

    Thank you!

  9. I bought the sieko snj025 four months ago after doing some research including this review(didn’t stop me from buying).
    First of all, you did a good and honest review, thank you for that. I would like to add my personal opinion and experience with this watch.
    My work includes being at sea, i use this watch as a tool watch.

    I didn’t pay the full price on this watch. paid 380$ on chrono24 wich is a good price in my point of view, 500$ plus is to much for this big boy.

    The strap is comfortable, but it is to soft and seems to me that it will wear out pretty fast. The stainless steel buckle is solid and the steel strap loup is a great idea that may extend the life of the strap. The shafts of the srap feel cheap.

    This watch is not perfect.
    It has it’s bugs like being unable to light the screen when the stop watch is on, but if it is that dark even under water you will carry a flashlight. The fact that the screen is small is a good thing in my opinion it gives the look of an analog watch with benefits of a digital. Solar power is a big plus.

    Screw down crown and buttons. Their size makes perfect sense when you wear gloves.
    Why I think it is a great idea to make screw down buttons, the answer is water resistance.
    Gaskets dry very fast when they are exposed to salt wich is in high percentage even in the air when near the Ocean or Sea. Screws take off the stress and are more durable.

    Bezel action is very good in all conditions underwater with gloves, when it is wet and dirty, but it feels cheap.

    Overall size is ok if compared to similar watches, big plus for me that this watch is light for its size.

    For my taste and needs this watch is perfect.

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