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Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar ‘Arnie’ Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches

Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar 'Arnie' Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches Hands-On

The new Seiko Arnie is a star, thanks to its forerunner’s memorable association with one of the world’s biggest (literally) and most enduring names: Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s not unusual for watches to end up with an unofficial celebrity association that effectively comes to define the model. These genuine relationships between star and timepiece are often the most long-lived. It means so much more when a celebrity actually chooses to wear a product rather than insincerely strapping on whatever they’re being bribed to wear. It stands to reason that a watch chosen personally is far more likely to be a true reflection of them and their values, which is something that resonates with fans who wear watches for the same reasons. And so, when Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most bankable stars of the 1980s, donned models from Seiko’s first Ana-Digi hybrid quartz family (the Seiko H558-500x range) or modifications thereof, for films such as Commando, Raw Deal, Running Man, and Predator, the association was immortalized.

Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar 'Arnie' Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches Hands-On

Now, almost 30 years since the H558-5000 series and its offshoots were discontinued, a new model reference has been released to fill the gaping void left by Arnie’s favorite ticker (aside from the one he had surgically repaired in 1997 and again in 2018). The biggest functional update to mention, off the bat, is the fact that this re-edition (which has not been released to coincide with any notable anniversary of the piece, which is decidedly off-brand) is actually solar-powered. Had the technology been affordable at the time, it’s an update I’m sure would have appealed to Arnie, given the environments in which his characters frequently sported the watch. (It’s hard to get a battery flipped in the jungle, after all.)

Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar 'Arnie' Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches Hands-On

The original H558-5000 on which this Seiko SNJ025 Solar watch is based was released in 1982. As you can probably tell from the case, it is part of the Tuna family. But despite it clearly presenting a huge amount of Tuna DNA, it is known for being much thinner than the top-heavy models that would follow. It is pleasing to see that, while this new edition has crept up in diameter a little bit to 47.9mm (from the original 45mm), the thickness, although increased from the original’s 11.3mm, is still relatively conservative and wears very comfortably indeed.

Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar 'Arnie' Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches Hands-On

This new release is composed of three models. We were lucky enough to sit down with them in Baselworld and have a good look at the much-improved build quality and the pleasing choice of colorways on offer. The solar movement driving the new releases is the Seiko H851. This movement features analog and digital time displays (enabling a dual-time readout), a chronograph function, an alarm, and a calendar. Using and setting the functions is likely to be simple enough — if it’s based on the old model’s function map, then it definitely will be — but the pieces we had a chance to photograph weren’t fully functional samples.

Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar 'Arnie' Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches Hands-On

In terms of legibility, the new Seiko Arnie watches score high, but it must be said that those tiny hands are a drawback and will absolutely infuriate some watch fans. I can only imagine the hands have been so markedly stunted so they do not obscure the digital display when traveling past 12, but with modern electronic movement capabilities, I would have much preferred to see full-length hands that could be momentarily shifted out of the way of the digital display by the press (or even holding down) of a button (as is the case in the Casio Mudmaster Models).


Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar 'Arnie' Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches Hands-On

There are some subtle alterations to the dial text, which are, in my opinion, for the better. The text on the 1980s models was often yellow (and in other cases, a more orangey shade of red). Here, we have a much brighter red/orange being used on the dial beneath the newly installed “Solar” printing. It works with every colorway and, in my opinion, looks particularly striking on the otherwise monochrome iteration. The PADI-branded model (with the Pepsi bezel) is, while my favorite PADI watch from Seiko, my least favorite in this collection simply because it over-dresses a watch that flourishes thanks to its brutal functionality.

Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar 'Arnie' Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches Hands-On

Another change can be seen on the chapter ring. The modern SNJ025 uses a 24-hour ring instead of a depth-meter, which is almost certainly of more use to more people than the previous allocation of space. A depth meter doesn’t actually tell a diver any “live” information about their dive, is merely a chart that tells the diver how many seconds they need to safely surface from a depth of up to 50 meters (if the rotating bezel is aligned with 12 o’clock). Pretty niche, and pretty academic — while it may look cool, a depth-meter is not much use to the majority of people to whom this watch will appeal.

Hands-On With The Reissued Seiko Solar 'Arnie' Prospex SNJ025 & SNJ027 Watches Hands-On

This means that, ultimately, this is a very solid, much-appreciated re-release of a treasured entry from Seiko’s back catalog, and a cool new reference to inspire the next generation of Arnie fanatics. The Seiko Solar “Arnie” SNJ025 and SNJ027 watches will retail for right around $520. There is no word on any planned limitation, so these pieces should be freely available, and given the relatively high cost of buying a vintage example in good condition, it is likely these updated and box-fresh units will fly off the shelves. Learn more about the ‘Arnie’ watch and Seiko brand history at



Disqus Debug thread_id: 7595637788

  • H.S.M.

    Arnie or no Arnie, there is no itch it could scratch for me.
    I would rather buy a bunch of Seiko 5s on that money.

  • Mark

    Didn’t Arnie also wear the Arnie in the movie Twins?

  • Larry Holmack

    I had one of the original ones….long since gone….and kind of like the Pepsi Bezel version. But..the MSRP seems a little high, considering I could just get another G Shock or the 52 mm Timex Command for around $100 and be happy I saved $420.

  • mach2guy

    The Good: A fair price
    The Bad: TOO Big, Stubby hands, and the deal killer…made in China!

  • larry

    Made in China is a non starter for me !!

    • Mikita

      Why? I’ve had some Seiko watch assembled in China, it was same quality with the rest factories.

      • Independent_George

        Read his Disqus profile. I don’t think his issue is with Chinese QC.

        • Mikita

          Indeed 🙂

      • Josh

        Prestige, heritage and pride (and perhaps even politics)..that’s why.

    • Sorry Larry I just couldn’t resist..

      > Chinese Supplies make up 70-80% of Walmart’s merchandise

      > Foxconn or its official Chinese name Hon Hai Precision Industry currently assembles majority of Apples’s iPhone in Shenzen, China. Check your iPhone backcasing. Somewhere embossed is a sentence, “Designed by Apple in Californis, Assembled in China”

      > In 2017, US imported almost US $15 billion worth of shoes from China, US $84 billion worth of cellphones, computer software and hardware US $67 billion, toys US $28 billion, furniture and bedding US $27 billion (Analysis of census data by American Enterprise Institute).The figures are rising by the way…

      I rest my case

      • Independent_George

        I don’t think that your economic rationalist arguments are gonna sway his populist, nationalist sentiments.

    • Auto Correct

      If it’s good enough for the Swiss, its good enough for Seiko.

      • Jared

        yeah there is a reason “Swiss made” rules don’t require 100% production in Switzerland

        if they did, half the swiss brands would go out of business as their production costs(for the non-movement part) would go up 10x overnight

        would you pay $10,000 for an Oris or a Ball?

      • Josh

        I would rather they add $150 to the MSRP and make it in JAPAN…

        • Swiss_Cheese

          Just tacking $150 to the price wouldn’t be enough to justify moving production to Japan. I would guess they not only have increased labour costs and the cost of materials would potentially be higher if the material manufacturing originated from China (Silicon, aluminium etc). With the ‘Solar’ watches being solely a mass produced line it would make sense to go to the country where a large amount of the worlds mass production occurs – which would also most likely be the place with all the biggest and best gadgets for production. At the end of the day, Seiko, like most companies are in business to turn a profit and it makes sense if you can turn a larger profit by outsourcing your manufacturing process without impacting the quality, you do it. Seiko isn’t marketing it’s more affordable watches to the watch nerds (quite niche in the grand scheme of things), they market them to the general public – the people who go, “oh well I need a new watch” and for 99% of the general public the first thing they consider is the price. I think Seiko would be much happier selling 1 million $520 watches to the every-man than 500k $670 watches.

    • Mikita

      Then undress, quickly!

  • gwd

    Retro cool, but too big.

  • ennaskirenaj

    Waaay tooo big on my 7 inch wrist

    • Josh

      In the words of Arnie “Don’t be a girly man” ….This is a sports’s supposed to wear big. It will be fine on your 7 inch wrist.

  • NaJo

    Japanese watch made in china? NO.

    • Independent_George

      As opposed to Malaysia or Vietnam?

      • Josh

        I would rather they add $150 and make it in JAPAN…

      • Mikita

        I have one Seiko 5 made in Malaysia, another Seiko 5 made in Japan (J-code), and one Seiko Solar made in China. All hold up exceptionally well. But, as you said, those comments are not related to QC..

  • Seiko needs me to be their new marketing strategist. The caseback would have engravings with inspirational quotes from the movie Predator. Here’s an example:

    “I ain’t got time to bleed”
    Designed by Seiko Japan
    Assembled in China
    Preferred Choice of A.Schwarzenegger

    • Lincolnshire Poacher


  • Norman Stansfield

    Want a Arnie? Get a Casio AMW320 on E-bay for $50.

  • SuperStrapper

    I’m just not a fan of the ani-digi look. In the height of my g shock buying I obtained a bunch. The hand setting without a crown is cool, and they perform just as reliably as an all-digi one, but I came to realise that I just don’t like the look. I like my analogue watches, and I like my digital ones, but I no longer participate in race blending

  • Colt Foutz

    Maybe we can ask the blacksmith down the street to forge a car and the tailor around the block to knit some pants. Oh, right. It’s not 1740.

  • Colt Foutz

    Bonus points. But they screw it up at the ‘dinkee, too.

  • Colt Foutz

    You just did.

  • No, I still think the hands are painfully short. Thanks for the photo.

  • 10 points to Gryffindor 😉

  • The point is that celebrities with ambassador roles are (mostly) contractly prevented from wearing other brands. While we run advertisements and sponsored posts they are clearly marked as such (sponsored posts even include a disclaimer at the begining and end of every article). The majority of our content is editorial, which is the celebrity-equivalent of Arnie choosing to wear a watch he is not paid to wear. I think the distinction is pretty clear.

    • Luciano

      No. You’re wrong and you’re insulting those celebrities by saying that they’re dishonest. Just check the definition of “to bribe”: “to dishonestly persuade (someone) to act in one’s favour by a gift of money or other inducement.”

  • CG78

    Holy shit… Made in China…..

  • Jan

    you mentioned the exact diameter, please also tell us the exact thickness, especially since it was also increased. Thank you!

  • Bob Ilsley

    I do like the look of this watch. I never got a copy of the original because the hand set looked to small on the dial for my liking. I think Seiko did a better job on this watch. That being said, did anyone read the owners manual where it states that the LCD panel is only expected to last 5 – 7 years and then have to be replaced (by Seiko at your expense)? WAS thinking about picking one up once the prices came down a bit but that aspect makes the watch almost disposable but that’s a bit of a steep price for a throw away!

    • mrG

      All LCD displays have a “life expectancy” of 7 years. That includes laptops, televisions, watches, vehicle dash boards blah blah.
      But we all know they last longer than 7 years.
      I have a 16 year old LCD watch that is working just fine.
      Also, you say “5 to 7 years”, but it is clearly stated as 7 years on page 57 of the instruction manual.

  • Colin Mann

    Them hands make it a 100% no.

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