Seiko SKX007 Diver's Watch
Review: The canonical entry-level mechanical dive watch
The Seiko SKX007 was, and still is, my first mechanical watch. It's the watch, watch aficionados tell you to buy as your first mechanical watch. It is the most lauded of all entry-level timepieces. Although no longer in production it's still fairly easy to pick one up and I bought a new one back in 2016 for £150.00, a remarkable price for such a thing. I also sold it a year later for the same price as I didn't like it at all.
The SKX is an automatic mechanical watch (it winds by you moving while wearing it) with Seiko's own 7S26 movement. It has a shiny steel case, a black dial and a 120 click bezel. It's rated as 200m for those who wish to submerge it, and the crown is unusually set at 4 o'clock - the idea being it doesn't stick into your wrist. Mine was supplied on the rubber dive strap but you can also get it on a bracelet.
It's a large, heavy watch at 42.5 x 46mm and 13.25mm thick. Without the strap it weights 80g. The strap is fairly easily replaced with a spring bar tool and a steady hand and the 22mm width is common enough for a wide choice of other straps. The supplied strap felt a bit plasticky to me so I replaced it with a G10 (or NATO) strap for the entire time I owned it.
The markings on the dial are lumed and when charged with light are very bright and easy to see. The unidirectional rotating bezel is easy to operate and I used it regularly for timing. It doesn't work with gloves though, at least the ones I used, the bezel is too slippy. The Seiko has a power reserve so when you take it off it keeps the time until you put it back on, thus starting the automatic winding again. How long this last seems a matter of debate. I've read it's 40 hours but many seem to experience less, down to 20 hours or worse. I suspect this depends on how active you are while wearing it. I found it would usually last overnight but not if you left it off for a day. This is mildly annoying as setting the date and time has a few peculiarities.
The way this movement works means you shouldn't set the date between 8:00 pm and 3:00 am, doing so may damage the mechanism. The date also has a second language version marked in with the English. Between this and the power reserve, I found it best to wear the watch as much as possible. Then there is the timekeeping.
If you are used to a quartz watch, the timekeeping of mechanical watches is a surprise. They lose a bit of time every day. Add this to the power reserve, the time and date setting and if you are at all OCD, it can be a bit of a pain point.
There is nothing wrong with the Seiko, by mechanical watch standards it is excellent value for money. Consider the Rolex Submariner, the standard all diver's watches are measure against is £6300, an Omega Seamaster at £3900, both with the same functionality, but just £150 for this Seiko - it is remarkable. Obviously the quality of components and finish is vastly improved on the others but nevertheless.
My problem wasn't the price though, or the timekeeping. It was the design. Being my first mechanical watch I saw this as being a dipping my toe into the water experience, if you'll pardon the pun. A voyage back into watches to discover what I liked and what I didn't and I learnt a lot. I discovered I don't like the weight. On the NATO the SKX would often move on my wrist. See the driving photo. The rubber strap holds in place better but I found it unpleasant to wear. I noticed the weight of it more so than the thickness or size. I was coming from a G Shock, which weighs nothing compared to the SKX but was bigger and held the wrist better. I also discovered I don't like shiny steel cases. The polished steel means the watch is slippy, which means it moves more. I much prefer a brushed steel appearance or a black case. I didn't like the typefaces, there are too many and look a bit tacky. I didn't like the stubby, thick hands or the offset crown. There was a lot to learn.
I considered moving on to another watch like a Tudor Black Bay or an Oris dive watch, both better in many of the things I didn't like but over 10 times the price. Did I want a dive watch at all? I liked the aesthetic but was it for me?
Over the last 4 years, I have mentally owned a lot of the watches that have appeared on Hodinkee. The vintage look, especially with dive or tool watches continues unabated but 4 years on and I am tired of that look on modern watches. I don't mind actual vintage watches or classic designs that haven't changed, like the Submariner, but now I'm not sure I'd want to own one. I've tried to move back to a G Shock but the analogue element of the SKX seems to have ruined the Casio for me. I've tried a Timex Expedition but that seems doomed as well.
I've found I like the less popular. In fact the complete opposite to what I've bought. Modern designs. I love to look at vintage and classic designs but I realise now that what brought me back to watches were the watches seemingly less popular with the watch community. Watches made with modern material science, carbon, ceramic and aluminium derived cases and bezels, skeletonised dials and perhaps a splash of rose gold. The problem being I'll never afford one.
|Bezel||Steel / Unidirectional|