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


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.

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