The Playbook For The Modern Man

What I Discovered After Buying My First Automatic Watch

This is going to become an expensive hobby.

I’ve owned watches for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a kid I’ve had some form of time-teller on my wrist. I can’t remember the very first watch I got, but it was probably the basic digital Casio we’ve all owned at some point. As soon as I entered my twenties and started earning my own money, I started to become more conscious of my appearance, clothing, and accessories.

I’ve always had a fascination with watches, and how brands manage to implement small design tweaks that make theirs instantly recognisable. The only thing I don’t enjoy about watches is their price tag. That’s not to say they’re not worth their asking prices – I’m aware how much work goes into their production – but because I know it’ll be a cold day in hell before I can afford one.

It’s why I’ve always had to settle for watches on the much more affordable end of the budget scale, although I did have a ‘blow out’ (in my eyes anyway) when I spent £325 of my student loan on a TW Steel CEO Canteen.

 

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Fast forward about 10 years and I find myself in Australia, working for a men’s lifestyle publication that places a heavy focus on watches. I’ve been exposed to new brands and new terminology, and it’s got me thinking more about watches and the ones I should be buying. Not to mention a good reason to replace my extensive Daniel Wellington collection.

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I’ve always wanted to own an automatic watch. Not only because I would never have to replace the battery, but, to me anyway, I see them as a more premium offering and the pinnacle of watchmaking. So, after learning a little bit more about the brands available in my budget, I settled on a Seiko 5 Sports – which after doing some digging along appears to be the first brand of choice for many a watch enthusiast – specifically, the SNZF15J1 with a Pepsi-style bezel. And no, I wasn’t deliberately trying to imitate a Rolex on my wrist.

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Not only is my Seiko 5 my first automatic, but if memory serves, it’s also my first with a bracelet. I’ve always owned watches with either leather, rubber or nato straps, but since owning the Seiko, I’m not entirely sure why. After having a few links removed, it fits perfectly on my wrist, and it’s lightweight so I barely know it’s there. It’s also immune from contracting a smell from sweat. I’ve owned smaller watches and I’ve owned bigger (here’s looking at you again, TW Steel) but the 41mm case of the Seiko is the goldilocks of sizes for me.

A quick search on Reddit proves I’m not alone in choosing a Seiko to start off my collection, as Jhardnn got himself the SNZF17 – essentially the same watch as myself, but with a clean black dial instead of the blue dial/Pepsi bezel combination of mine. Like him, I feel owning this Seiko will kickstart a genuine hobby.

One of the main factors that drew me to this Seiko 5 was the price. I paid £133/A$260 for it, which means I can wear it on a daily basis and not have to worry too much if it receives the odd knock. Obviously I want to keep it in as good condition as possible, but it’s not as if I’ve got the equivalent of a house deposit on my wrist. I work part-time at a café/bar, making coffee, smoothies, and cocktails, so there’s always a high chance of it being subjected to splashes and stains. But a quick wipe with a damp cloth and it’s fit to fight another day.

For that kind of money, I’m also aware I’m not going to get the very finest materials – we’re not quite in the realm of Haute horology here – and with this example, Seiko has used stainless steel for the most part. I feel it’s a solidly built watch, considering the price, and have no criticisms to make, and I particularly like the see-through back so I can see the movement working.

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Add to that a 40-hour power reserve, which means that if I do happen to leave it on my bedside table for a day or so, I don’t have to worry about it coming to a halt, and I can comfortably wear it to the swimming pool or in the sea thanks to its 100-metre water resistance.

The combination of owning this Seiko and working at DMARGE has definitely whetted my appetite for watches, and I’m now making it my mission to save up enough cash to spend on a higher-quality model one day. All I need to do now is come up with a shortlist, which is no easy task.

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  • Mack Knife

    I find it sort of funny when someone remembers something and it goes way back to something digital (as in a Casio) watch. Now if the comment was something along the line new if a Timex, a watch that can take a licking and keep on ticking, there is a look back. I have to consider that there are entire generations who’s memory only goes back as far as their iPhone.

  • Vincent Kiu

    My 1st automatic was an oris f1 daydate. Ever since my daughter knock it off the table, the watch had a huge dent on its bezel and cost me dearly, I had to switch to a seiko 5 sports for my daily driver. After more than 5 years it’s still working accurately and being serviced once.

  • Shawn S

    I thought this was a good article and it made me think of my first experience with a automatic. My brother just got back from Iran in the 70’s and he had a seiko auto which I was amazed by! I ended up with one of my own in the 80’s and as time passed (no pun) I ended up with a used tag from a used watch shop. After a few tags I finally purchased a omega automatic I wear daily. It keeps ok time but looks like a million bucks! When working though I wear a g shock.

  • spritrig

    Vostok Amphibia is a great first automatic watch. 200m water resistance. $55 direct from Russia.

  • bluescratch

    So you started earning your own money in your 20’s? Okay. Hope you enjoy your journey into mechanical watches.
    Started earning my own money at 13, been into watches that long too.

  • TheWordBird

    Cool

  • DJ Ray Ray Boogie

    My first automatic watch was also a Seiko 5 SNK. Half the fun is swapping out the straps and completely changing the look and feel of the watch.

    My next acquisition will probably be a dive watch.

  • 200F

    Run away…it’s not too late to save yourself…

  • 200F

    Also…spend a bit more coin and pick up a discontinued SKX009 or SKX007 before new ones disappear forever.

  • Danangme

    I bought my first automatic in 1970,a day/date Wittenauer for 90.00 and I still have it and it still runs great.

  • adriankeith

    Shhhhhhhhh… we don’t need those prices getting inflated.

  • disqus_agJYaD66lj

    Where did you get it serviced in Malaysia?

  • JamesBondage

    I got an automatic from my better half for our 2 year anniversary. It’s a Bulova with a skeleton back, nicest watch I’ve ever owned

  • Juan Steinberg

    Congratulations. I did mine in my 40s.

  • Vincent Kiu

    i sent it back to the authorised dealer where i bought the watch,Tokyo Times.

  • Baba Lui II

    My first automatic watch it as Seiko SKX007 diver. I’m totally disappointed. 2 time on service since 2 years. Now is going +30 seconds per day. So every 4 days you must set it. Later I purchased one Vostok Amfibia it had one factory mistake with rotor what was it screwed enough and Vostok repaired it. Now watch is going fantastic. Seiko I’m wearing for during the day and for sport and Vostok rare edition as dressy watch. Now I am collecting money for Tudor blck bay Chrono heritage.

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