July 19, 2024

The Seiko Recraft SNKN01 is a Great Inexpensive Automatic Watch

The Recraft line of watches feature large 43.5mm cases and a vintage-inspired look. The case reminds me a little bit of the vintage Hamilton Pan Europ; fans of vintage watches from the 1970’s will find the design familiar and attractive.

It’s one of those watches that feels satisfying to own and wear.

Seiko as a brand is one of my favorites and the Recraft series of watches appear to be a great addition to the world of affordable automatics. Let’s check it out.

Seiko Recraft SNKN01 Aesthetics & Design

Seiko SNKN01 Recraft Automatic

Where I feel the SNKN01 is let down somewhat is the strap, which looks a little old despite being essentially brand new. It’s easy enough to pull the strap off and switch it up, so I wouldn’t place too much concern here. This is an easy change, and also reflective of its frugal pricing.

Looking at this watch in particular, I don’t find much visually to dislike. I’ve noticed that I check the time a lot when wearing the SNKN01. I’m a fan of how Seiko styled the dial; the contrast between steel and grey against the blue markers and the orange seconds hand looks great. The blue outer ring is like a homing beacon, constantly drawing my eye.

All said, I think the SNKN01 is a great looking watch.

Seiko Recraft SNKN01 Crown

Seiko Recraft SNKN01 7S26C Automatic Movement

Turn the watch over and you’re presented with the clean, but undecorated, 7S26C movement. Like other inexpensive Seiko automatics, the movement is sparse. However, the viewing window is unobstructed, affording you an excellent view of what is known to be a rugged and reliable movement.

Still, I think the SNKN01 is a great looking watch. The SNKMN97 is actually my favorite color combination, and it’s much more legible in direct light.This problem with timekeeping seems isolated to the SNKN01; other color combinations are fine. I like the dial, even if it swallows the hands in certain light.

The hour and minute hands have a good angle to them that reflects light and makes them appear larger than they are. In direct light you’re going to have to make a considered effort to tell the time. It looks brilliant, but it also somewhat obscures the actual act of timekeeping. The dial has an almost mat finish to it, but in the right light it can really shine; light strikes the face in metallic waves, wrapping around the dial and lighting up the face.

The crown is also polished, lacking any engraving, and blends in to the look just fine.The case is mostly a brushed finish – a great compliment to the grey dial – with touches of polish on the top of the lugs and the sides of the case.

Matt Diehl from A Blog to Watch did a great piece on the Recraft series that shows off some of the different models. It’s a good read. I recommend checking it out, especially since he talks a lot about the roots of the design language.

Seiko SNKN01 Build Quality

You can see the imperfection on the face once the watch is less than a foot away from your eyes. I can’t imagine every Recraft sold will have a similar problem. Although, the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock hour markers don’t sit evenly in their colored area. Up close, it’s fairly obvious when you’re looking for it. Again, not a big deal, but it drives the perfectionist in me a little crazy. Seiko is generally quite good with their fit and finish.

Crystal, Case, & Dial

Seiko SNKN01 Damage on Dial

The case, which is mostly brushed save for two polished stripes on each side and the tops of the lugs, looks good and is built well.

It’s something you have to look for to find, but it’s clearly visible to the naked eye.Overall, build quality isn’t bad. However, one part of the colored rim beside the 9 o’clock hour marker has a barely perceptible line through the square. This is the first Seiko I’ve reviewed that has had such an issue on the dial.

Flat crystals generally wear better than domed ones.The flat hardlex crystal is flush with the bezel and shows no scratches or wear. The Graf Zeppelin I reviewed last week and the Orient Bambino both have domed crystals, for example, and the Zeppelin has taken a couple of knocks accidentally because of it.

Strap & Clasp

The truth is that the strap is comfortable enough to wear, but it fails to match the dial in terms of depth or visual appeal.Calf-skin leather with a standard steel buckle feels like a bit of a letdown compared to the dramatic and sporty dial.

It’s also stitched well and feels well made despite its drowsy appearance.Still, the strap’s alligator-grain hides wear marks really well. It’s harder to see where the clasp marks dig into the leather because your eye struggles to see through the noise.

The buckle is engraved and branded, but is otherwise just like every other buckle like it.

About the Seiko 7S26C Automatic Movement

In my review of the Seiko 5 SNK809 I mention that the SNK809 is a good value for money in part because of the movement inside. That movement – Seiko’s own 7S26 – made its debut in 1996, and the 7S26C iteration used inside the SNKN01 was released in 2011. It has 21 jewels, beats at 21,600 bph, and is non-hacking and non-handwinding.

Every “watch person” should have at least one in their collection.Standard deviation is -20/+40 seconds per day, and the 7S26C inside this one was +27 seconds per day. That’s quite a lot, but frankly, rigid accuracy is not something the 7S26 is known for; instead, it’s known for being a reliable and rugged movement.

A slight movement will get the second hands going.Expect a power reserve somewhere around 42 hours. As mentioned, you can’t hand-wind the 7S26, but it doesn’t take much to get it started.

The Recraft Series Offers Great Value

The automatic movement inside may be lacking in accuracy and features, but it’s a reliable unit that will last for many years assuming proper care. So too will the case and dial, which are made well.Found on Amazon commonly for under $175, the Recraft series has a lot to like.

For someone looking for an affordable automatic, the SNKN01 – and the Recraft series of watches – offer a lot of value. It doesn’t get much better than that.The SNKN01 is a great looking watch that is powered by the legendary 7S26 automatic movement. I’ve seen this watch for as low as $110 on Amazon, and at that price it’s an obvious choice.

The SNKN01 consistently shows above its price, looking and feeling like a watch that costs double or triple what it does. It feels contemporary because of its size, but retro because of its dial, and the combination works really well overall.

If you’re looking for a watch around this size and want an automatic, the Recraft series offers a few models that you should consider.I’m a fan of Seiko’s and have added the SNKN01 to my collection. There’s a color combination for just about any application, and it will absolutely put a smile on your face whenever you wear it.