Saturday, August 25, 2018

Seiko’s Famous SKX007

by Rob Mawyer

If you’re in the market for a new car, you have an important question to answer: Am I looking to turn heads? Or am I looking for something that gets the job done? Often, the purchase of a watch boils down to that same fundamental quandary. Seiko’s famous SKX007, the quintessential beater, probably won’t draw many looks your way, but, having worn one nearly each day for a year, I can attest that it will hold up to nearly anything you put it through.

SKX007 Vitals

  • Diameter: 42.5 mm (45.5 including the crown)
  • Lug-to-Lug: 45 mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Seiko Caliber 7S26
  • Price: Approximately $200 USD (rubber diver band)
  • Type: Diver’s

Seiko SKX007 bezel, chapter ring, and face.
In person, the SKX007 is stout but undeniably handsome. This impression derives from a large stainless steel case beneath a steel unidirectional bezel painted black with white numerals and indicators. On the bezel, dots mark minutes-elapsed up to 60, while hashes and Arabic numerals mark five- and ten-minute increments, respectively. A luminescent pearl is embedded in the triangle zero marker. The screw-down crown, located at 4 o’clock, is flanked by unobtrusive, rounded steel guards. The beveled chapter ring provides nice depth, complementing the matte black face, which is by far the watch’s most attractive feature. ISO 6425 compliant, the minute and hour hands and hour indices are well-lumed, and a luminous ball on the opposing side of the second hand indicates the watch is functioning. The SKX007 has a day-date complication at the three o’clock position. The caliber 7S26 movement cannot be hand wound and is not hackable. Finally, the watch is protected by Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex crystal, and the case back is stainless steel and branded with a tsunami wave.

At 43 mm in diameter, the SKX007 looks good on a variety of wrist sizes, but fair warning: The SKX007 is a heavy watch. This quality cuts both ways. On one hand, you have the feeling that you’re wearing something not just durable but seemingly impervious to heavy use. This is an attractive feature for those of us who seek to balance the toughness, say, of a G-Shock with the craft and refinement of a mechanical timepiece. I’m not at all suggesting that the SKX line would hold up to the abuse that a Casio Mudmaster could shrug off with ease, but it definitely is the case that I’ve put this watch to fairly extreme use over the past year without any noticeable effects on its performance or appearance.

On the other hand, the SKX is not particularly comfortable to wear, especially for long periods. Wearing the watch all day, I’ll often experience a dull ache in both the medial and ulnar sides of my wrist. It feels almost as if I’ve been handcuffed. Some of this can be attributed to the black rubber strap, which is as bad as other reviews have mentioned (more on that later), but my sense is that much of the discomfort proceeds simply from the watch’s bulkiness.

There are some other deficiencies worth noting, as well. When wet, the unidirectional elapsed time bezel, stiff under the best of circumstances, is, ironically, incredibly difficult to turn when wet. Similarly, the screw down crown is persnickety, tending to become cross-threaded and requiring a very, very deliberate press-and-turn maneuver. Perhaps these idiosyncrasies are specific to my watch and not generalizable, but my hunch is they might be endemic to the line overall.

Steel case back with tidal wave stamp.
And about that strap. It really is the worst. Charitably, you could call it rugged, and that ruggedness complements the sense of durability I mentioned earlier. However, you can imagine on the SKX007 a better polyurethane band like the one packaged with the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster (BN0151-09L). A band like that one, styled in black, of course, would preserve both the diver aesthetic and the functional durability while enormously upgrading the comfort. Regardless, prospective buyers should consider laying out slightly more for the model with the jubilee bracelet or else investing in an alternative band. I’m not sold on the way the SKX007 looks on a NATO band, but, hey, that’s me.

Despite these idiosyncrasies and deficiencies, there is no doubt that you’re getting real value with the SKX007. The ISO 6425 certification—and all the rigor that entails—along with the workmanlike caliber 7S26 movement, all for a sub-$200 price point, is certainly attractive for enthusiasts and collectors alike. But beware: While the SKX007 is a fine watch, there is nothing remotely luxurious here. The SKX isn’t an Audi; it’s more of a minivan—steady, reliable, practical, dependable—with one or two flaws that might make you wish you were sporting something just a tad nicer.


Rob Mawyer teaches English at Rock Valley College in Illinois. You can find him on Twitter at @mawyerrob.

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