Seiko 5 SNKL23: The Best Automatic Watch Under $100

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In this modern era, where watch technology has become a thing of wonder, it’s hard to make mechanical watches attractive to the masses. With quartz and smartwatches hogging the market today, the option that one has in acquiring a really great timepiece is endless. Mechanical watches are notorious in fetching astronomical prices, that’s why it’s almost always shunned upon.

Enter the Seiko 5 SNKL23. It’s an entry-level watch from Seiko, the Japanese watch company that made quartz happen with their Astron watch series. Seiko is one of the few watch companies that’s outside the Swiss-made branding, and it has been creating automatic timepieces that can go toe-to-toe with its Swiss counterparts.

Seiko 5

The Seiko 5 series as a collection is one for the books. It’s probably one of the most celebrated automatic watch collections out there because of its function, attention to detail, and overall build quality. Every watch in the Seiko 5 series is a looker. In 2019, the company refurbished the entire collection, giving it a revamped name of Seiko 5 Sports.

And while the new crop of Seiko 5 Sports watches is not in the $100 price range anymore, which is a shame, to be honest, watches from the previous iterations still remain at large in the market today. And the line still holds the best automatic watches from the company. Seiko 5 SNKL23 is one of these models still traded brand new and used worldwide.

Build and Looks

The watch itself features a black dial with a stainless steel clasp out of the box. With a thickness of 10.6mm, the watch is 38mm wide – not the biggest watch, and it will surely look small on bigger wrists, but is perfect for small to average wrist sizes. Black and silver is always a good combination, and in the Seiko SNKL23, it becomes a classic.

To say that the watch is good-looking is doing it a disservice. The build of this watch is top-notch, the front muted and elegant, and while it’s not a sapphire crystal that’s protecting the dial, the clarity of the glass is decidedly at par. The display case back features the watch’s in-house movement, Caliber 7S26, a decent movement for an everyday type of watch.

The movement comes with 21 jewels, a standard among many Seiko diver’s watches. The dial has pinstripe design overlayed with dauphine hands. The watch has a day-date feature as well, and when worn, it’s as versatile as any Swiss-made watch in the market today. For the price point, it’s a steal altogether.


With all watches, whether they’re mechanical, quartz, or smartwatch, one of the ways you can easily take their styling to the next level is outfitting them with new straps. While the default stainless steel clasp of the SNKL23 is dressy and classic to a fault, it can become stale fast.

Search for a black or brown leather strap with a plain or alligator pattern, and you take the watch’s style to a casual yet still elegant look. A Milanese watch strap makes the watch pop in your hands. Perfect for a casual stroll or a night out!

The lug width on the SNKL23 measures 18mm, 2mm short of the standard. Sure, it can become tricky to find straps at this lug width, but there are independent watch strap sellers out there that cater to this specialized size.


While there are many options for automatic watches in the market within a $100 budget, the SNKL23 is arguably the best option out there. You can never go wrong with it. It’s a looker with a great movement and versatile styling methods. What more can you ask for?

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