Taking its unofficial nickname from the Austrian action star that wore it in a string of his biggest 1980s flicks, the Seiko Prospex “Arnie” Watch first debuted in 1982 before reappearing in its modern form 37 years later in 2019. Now armed with a host of new tech and functionality, the contemporary iteration of this famously film-worn timepiece has increasingly garnered cult status since its debut only a few years ago. Curious to see if the “Arnie” Watch is worthy of the ample hype that it’s generated thus far, we’ve gotten our hands on one of the three new references in order to put it to the test in this hands-on review of the Seiko Prospex “Arnie” SNJ025 Watch.
At A Glance
Seiko Prospex ‘’Arnie’’ Watch SNJ025 Specs
Case Size: 47.8mm
Lug to Lug: 51.3mm
Case Thickness: 14.4mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement Type: Solar Quartz
Power Reserve: 6 Months (W/ Full Charge)
Movement: Caliber H851
Crystal: Hardlex Mineral Glass
A Horological Icon Circa ’82
The History Of The “Arnie” Watch
Japan’s love for daring expeditions to remote and often hostile locales has necessitated and ultimately given way to a host of thoroughly impressive — and thoroughly rugged – outdoor garments, hardwearing pieces of gear, and of course, ultra-tough outdoor timepieces like the “Arnie” Prospex watch. Engineered from the ground up for adventure use in extremely harsh conditions, the original Seiko Prospex H558 (and H601) was designed to conform to six main briefs; it needed to be water-resistant down to around 100 meters; have a shock resistance of at least 3’; be capable of operating in extreme temperatures ranging from -40°F to 140°F; possess enough lume to be readable in total darkness when viewed from 10” away; be armed with ample resistance to gas and chemical exposure; and be incredibly resistant to bumps, abrasions, and decompression.
Worn on expeditions to both the north and south poles and even adorning the wrist of adventurers while summiting Mount Everest, the original Seiko H558-5009 first hit the market in 1982 and was produced until the dawn of the ’90s. Along with its unique appearance and layout, it also boasted the distinction of being the first dive watch to feature a digital alarm chronograph paired with a hybrid analog display. Alongside its use on various noteworthy expeditions, the watch’s iconic status was further cemented through its numerous appearances in a string of blockbuster 1980s action films — most notably being worn by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1985’s Commando, and even more famously in 1987’s Predator. And it’s these on-screen appearances that earned the timepiece its unofficial yet well-deserved monicker of the “Arnie” watch.
An Updated Icon
Modern Additions To The ''Arnie'' Watch
In 2019, almost 30 years after Seiko originally pulled the plug on production, the Japanese brand revived the “Arnie” watch, delivering a modernized reissue that sports a host of updated features and tech. Extremely authentic to its early ‘80s predecessor, the 2019 “Arnie” watch looks nearly identical to its vintage 1982 counterpart, save for an ever-so-slightly-wider case as well as the addition of some new text on the dial — one of which denotes the watch’s increased water resistance to 200 meters and the other highlighting the modern variant’s new solar-powered nature.
Retaining its iconic tuna-style case and rotating bezel while measuring roughly 2mm larger than its early 1982 predecessor, the updated “Arnie” watch is offered in a trio of references all sporting different finishes; the SNJ027, the SNJ028, and the SNJ025 — the latter of which remains truest to the original. New tech and functionality on the watch include the ability to easily set up a second-time zone — a feature where the wearer’s home time is shown on the analog display while the digital display reads out the local time. Additionally, the watch’s solar-powered setup affords it a whopping six-month power reserve (when fully charged), plus there’s a new battery check system to monitor the 182.5-day reserve.
Unboxing The Governator's Go-To
Our First Impressions Of The New “Arnie” Watch
If we had to describe our first thoughts on the SNJ025 in two words they would be “handsome” and “rugged.” Sporting a light yet unmistakable tactical flair, the watch readily announces itself as being adventure and outdoor-focused, combining numerous aesthetic traits from both the dive and tool watch genres. At the same time, the watch blends into regular settings and pairs nicely with everyday wardrobes without looking overly tactical like many of our favorite survival watches. And while it only occupies a small slice at the top of the dial, the watch’s digital readout hugely elevates the timepiece as a whole, adding a host of supplementary contemporary tech and functionality, and allowing for our favorite feature on the watch, though more on that later.
The watch’s size is also interesting. Despite measuring nearly 48mm in width, the SNJ025 looks and feels smaller than we had expected it too — a fact that’s no doubt owed to its tuna-style case setup and the fact that its lugs only protrude a few millimeters from its shroud — fitting nicely on the wrist and having a noticeable presence without looking or feeling like you’re wearing a wall clock on your wrist. At just shy of three-quarters of a pound, the watch also has a satisfying heft to it, though doesn’t feel overly bulky, even when worn all day. The size of the case and its 0.70lb (or 11.2oz) weight coupled with the silicone strap that it ships with collectively make for a watch that’s surprisingly comfortable — though with a 22mm lug width finding an aftermarket band or bracelet to pair with the Seiko is also a breeze. While on the subject, we’ll also point out that the “Arnie” watch also happens to pair wonderfully with a NATO-style strap.
In the Japanese watch brand’s typical fashion, the SNJ025 boasts an excellent fit and finish that, while obviously not on par with items from Grand Seiko, is nonetheless that of an objectively premium timepiece, with a level of craftsmanship and overall finish that greatly outshine budget brands like Timex and Casio. This latter area also undoubtedly plays a hole in the watch’s pricing, as well.
The SNJ025’s Case
Utilizing a tuna-style setup, the Seiko Prospex “Arnie” SNJ025 Watch is constructed around a uniquely-designed 47.8mm case that’s made from a combination of stainless steel and plastic. Measuring 14.4mm thick, the case sports a knurled screw-down electric crown at 3 o’clock that’s complemented via a set of locking screw-down-to-open pushers at 8 and 10 o’clock. The solar diver also features a non-fixed bezel with a black elapsed time insert that smoothly rotates with a satisfying clicking sound as it rounds the dial. What’s more, the bezel is fortified via a shroud with recesses at 1 and 7 o’clock, making it markedly easier to rotate while still keeping the unidirectional-rotating item well protected.
Fully ISO 6452-certified and good for reaching depths of up to 660′, the watch is capped off with a non-transparent stainless steel case back inscribed with the dive watch’s water resistance rating, land of origin, the name of its manufacturer, and the Japanese brand’s Tsunami logo engraved into its center. The lugs, outer bezel ring, chrono pushers, and the outside of the crown all sport a high-polished finish that contrast the matte black finishes of the plastic case shroud and diver-style strap.
The “Arnie” Watch’s Dial
Though it at first looks like a very lightly textured black dial, the SNJ025 actually sports a face with a purple-grayish hue that reveals itself when viewed closely under ample light. Subtly concealing a solar cell, the dial features bar indices at 3, 6, and 9, a triangle with rounded edges at 12 o’clock, and circular markers at every other hour — all of which have been hit with Lumibrite for viewing in low light conditions. Paired with the markers are ultra-wide, truncated hour and minute markers — the former of which features a sword-style profile while the latter sports an arrow silhouette — along with a skinny seconds hand. Just like the hour markers and indices, the entire handset has been treated with LumiBrite lume. Just above the base of the handset is a prominently featured Seiko logo, while directly beneath is a Prospex logo, the word “Solar,” and the watch’s 200m/660′ water-resistance rating in orange — the latter of which adds a dash of color to the otherwise largely muted dial.
Sitting at the top of the dial is a small digital LCD display that packs an enormous host of functionality, with the tiny readout boasting an alarm, a calendar, a stopwatch, a chronograph function, a battery level monitor, and the ability to program and display a second-time zone. What’s more, the digital display — along with some help from the electric crown — also allows for the watch’s coolest feature. The crown allows the user to adjust the time on the digital readout. Once set to the desired time, the user simply taps the “action” button/pusher, and the hands quickly follow suit, synchronizing to the digital display and finding their correct positions on the dial — and providing a seriously cool and incredibly satisfying horological party trick in the process (to fully appreciate this element, however, you really do need to see it in action — which can be done by checking out our accompanying video review of the watch). Lastly, the digital dial also supplements the handset and indices’ LumiBrite lume with bright blue backlighting that can be activated via simply tapping one of the chrono pushers.
Fixed Ring Fascination
The “Arnie” Prospex’s Band
The modern take on the “Arnie” watch comes paired with a rugged 22mm fully waterproof silicone strap with a lightly textured interior surface that keeps the band firmly in place. A trio of ridges also adorn either side of the band where it connects to the lugs — a feature that bolsters comfort while also adding a few style points and a bit more of a tactical feel. Additionally, the silicone strap has been outfitted with stainless steel hardware with a brushed finish. In place of a traditional free loop and fixed loop setup, the “Arnie” Prospex features a unique oversized, square-shaped fixed ring that’s crafted from stainless steel and decorated via five circular cutouts — another element that adds a dash of tactical influence. This diver-style band also boast some mild stretch and flex to it that allow it to better conform to the wearer’s wrist as it moves — and ever-so-slightly changes in size — throughout the course of the day.
Half-Year Hybrid Hero
The SNJ025’s Movement
In late 1969, Seiko introduced the world’s very first quartz wristwatch with the Quartz Astron 35SQ. And the company’s tradition of being a pioneer in the quartz watch space very much lives on through the SNJ025. Kept ticking via a Caliber H851 movement, the watch’s use of a solar-powered cell enables it to boast a wildly impressive battery reserve of six months (when fully charged). As one would expect from a Japanese quartz movement, the H851 is wildly accurate, boasting a deviation of just +/- 15 seconds per month — a level of accuracy that outdoes Swiss-made timepieces like the Rolex Submariner some four times over. Alongside basic timekeeping duties, the watch also offers calendar and chronograph functions, a programable alarm and a stopwatch, and the GMT-esque ability to program a second time zone.
A Reissued Icon, Done Right
Our Verdict On Seiko’s Modernized “Arnie” Watch
The original “Arnie” Prospex watch was already a horological icon through and through, so there was admittedly some concern that the modern iteration of the timepiece would be yet another example of a watch company trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. However, we are happy to report that with the SNJ025, that most certainly is not the case, as Seiko has managed to bolster the timepiece’s functionality and performance, thoroughly modernizing the Prospex model whilst still retaining most if not all of the hallmark design cues and character of the original — and everything that made it so cool in the first place.
One common sticking point people have with the “Arnie” watch is its price. With an MSRP of around $500, many take issue with the fact the thing is made in China, powered by a quartz movement, constructed around a case made from a combination of stainless steel and plastic, and capped off with Seiko’s own Hardlex mineral glass crystal. And while it may not offer the best bang for your buck, we really do feel that the watch’s smaller details no doubt help to justify its price tag. The watch also wears best on medium and larger wrists, though if you happen to have small wrists and are interested in sporting an oversized diver, the new “Arnie” reference is undoubtedly one of your best options.
While it isn’t a statement that we’d typically make about most modern reissues of watches, we genuinely believe the updated “Arnie” Prospex is better than the original in just about every measurable way. From its ability to dive even deeper beneath the waves to its added digital functionality to its improved lume to its solar-powered setup and the whopping six months of battery life that it affords — all of which make an already excellent outdoor watch that much better, and that much more adventure-ready. So, whether you’re looking for a trusty outdoor timepiece or a dependable EDC timepiece that’s equal parts rugged and stylish, the updated “Arnie” watch is well worth a look.
The Most Iconic Movie Watches Of All Time
Interested in checking out some additional timepieces that have been made famous through their appearances on the silver screen? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the most iconic movie watches of all time for a handpicked list of the most celebrated film-worn timepieces — very much including the Seiko H558 “Arnie Watch.”