Seiko’s dive watch range is probably one of the most varied and versatile in the industry. The Japanese watchmaker’s selection of robust dive tools spans from remarkably affordable models to icons like the ref 6105, which featured on Martin Sheen’s wrist in the 1979 American psychological war film, “Apocolypse Now”.
Because Seiko’s dive watch range is so varied, so too is its audience. It means that a person searching for a watch for underwater exploration can find a budget-friendly model that ticks all the fundamental qualities of a dive watch or pay a little extra to find a model that offers more premium finishes and an even more accurate movement. But what is Seiko’s best entry-level diver’s watch and why? Well, it’s simple. It’s the Seiko SKX007 and here’s exactly why…
The Seiko SkX007 dive watch is arguably one of the best value-for-money watches on the market, both in terms of its diver-friendly features and the fact that it meets the criteria set by ISO 6425 standards. To qualify for a full 6425 certification, there are many tests that a watch must undergo and pass. These include tests that determine a watch’s capability in terms of resistance to salt, water pressure, and shock among many others. As with all Seiko dive watches, the SKX007 model boasts humble beginnings that span right back to when the company made its debut 150-meter meter water-resistant watch in 1965.
As times have changed, professional and amateur divers have relied less on a wristwatch to accompany them down to great depths of water, but that doesn’t mean to say the demand for a dive watch is any less. Instead, the appeal of a tool from the dive watch category has become more about style than it has about water resistance. The good news is that the Seiko SKX007 is ideal for wearing whilst scuba diving, water sports and swimming, but also constitutes the perfect watch for everyday wear. The watch has a legible and clearly arranged dial, a robust bracelet and a sturdy stainless steel case to name just a few examples. Whilst these are characteristics that are shared with many a dive watch, the fact that the Seiko SKX007 was so affordably priced at the time of its release made it considerably more appealing.
The Seiko SkX007 shares several attributes with its ancestor - the Seiko 7002, namely its 200-meter water-resistant rating. That watch too represented an entry-level price point, not only into the realm of Seiko dive watches but also into the category of ISO-certified dive watches in general. There are many reasons why the Seiko SKX007 is an entry point into the dive watch field. Not only does it promise an already-mentioned 200-meter water resistance, but its practical 120-click bezel has a two-tiered groove pattern that allows for better grip. It also rotates in half-minute increments. The luminous triangle lines up exactly on the index (or exactly halfway between). The case of the Seiko SKX007 is heavy and certainly “present” on the wrist. Even the most expensive watches on the market made from materials like titanium can lack a sense of heftiness and substance. The Seiko feels substantial and ready, whether wearing it with a tux or a diving suit. In addition to this, its well-rounded flanks gently meld into the crown guards for a more fluid and intentional finish. The Tsunami medallion is also engraved into the back of the watch’s solid steel caseback.
As mentioned, there is much more to the budget-friendly Seiko SKX007 dive watch than its affordable price tag. Qualities in addition to its water resistance and its unidirectional rotating bezel include a relatively compact 41mm case size, even by today’s standards. The watch sits at a 13.25mm height and boasts a 46mm diameter from lug to lug. Without any strap, the watch weighs 80g. It also features a very legible dial that will prove useful for those who work during the night, as well as outdoor explorers, climbers, bikers, hikers and, of course, swimmers. This no-frills dial design gives the watch a pure utilitarian look.
Simple swings of the hand will wind the Seiko SKX007 up. You can’t manually wind the crown, but it is at least set into the side of the case to make its position both more comfortable, discreet and easy to operate when wanting to set or adjust the time. In this same vein, the dial of the Seiko SKX007 watch is black with large and plump lume plots that are easily visible both during the day and in dark conditions. There is also a thin line of luminescent coating added to the second hand, as well as a circular dot of Lumibrite on its counterbalance. The hour hand is executed in its usual spatula shape, while the minute hand features the arrow-tipped head. Of course, being a Seiko dive watch, the SKX007 model features a mix of circular, oblong and triangular hour indexes. The day date at 3 o’clock is dressed against a white background to enhance legibility against the rest of the watch’s black dial.
For its asking price, the Seiko SKX007 understandably forgoes a diver’s extension clasp on its robust stainless steel bracelet. That said, what it lacks in the clasp, it certainly makes up for in the rest of the bracelet design. The links are jubilee style, perfectly knurled and softly rounded for providing comfort on the wrist. If a metal bracelet would not normally be your first choice on a dive watch, you can always enjoy this on a NATO or sportier black rubber strap.
The Seiko SKX007 is powered by the renowned 7S26 Calibre - a tried and tested movement that has inspired an entire family of calibres – the 7S movement range. The non-hacking and non-winding mechanism was first developed in 1996 and promises an accuracy ranging from -20 seconds to +49 seconds per day. The 21 jewels serve as bearings for the movement’s gears. Their ability to minimise friction is owed to their smooth and durable surface. The Calibre 7S26 beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour and delivers a power reserve of around 41 hours, making the Calibre a popular option to use inside many Seiko dive watches. The movement is also protected inside Seiko’s Diashock technology, promising superior protection from severe shocks and unexpected impact. Subsequently, Seiko went on to produce several other variants of the 7S26, namely the 7S26A (1996), 7S26B (2006), and the 7S26C (2011) – each one bearing very little differences.
If the likes of the Rolex Submariner are considered an iconic dive watch in the luxury industry, the Seiko SKX007 is certainly its affordable counterpart. For many budding watch enthusiasts, it was their first dip into the dive watch genre. For others, it made for a perfect entry point into mechanical watches. The dive watch is equally as well made as it is well-received for its price tag. The SKX007 is no longer in production and it is this precise choice by the brand not to evolve the model that impacted on an even larger following. Over a decade ago, the price for the SKX007 was anywhere around the 200 USD mark. The chance of mistaking the watch for a replica was almost non-existent. The watch has become a collector’s item which now sells for much higher. The dwindling availability of the SKX007 on the market has no doubt sent prices higher. The watch is now worth double its original price and coupled with the fact that the SKX007 used a very affordable movement, counterfeit models have become considerably easy to manufacture.
It is still unknown as to the reason why Seiko never updated the SKX. Many hardcore fans would agree that an updated movement is all that would have been required to keep the dive watch in line with the demands of the modern collector.
There, of course, will always be alternatives to the SKX007 that make for a great investment piece. Those from the Seiko 5 Sports series for example, like the 5KX, are powered by a COSC-certified movement promising a superior performance. Combined with its see-through caseback and its affordable price, many similar qualities to the SKX007 can be enjoyed in the design of the 5KX. The Seiko Mini Turtle is another similarly designed watch to the SKX007 and is powered by the 4R35 Calibre – an upgrade to the SKX movement. The smaller and more compact version of the Seiko Turtle dive watch is built to look like a classic Seiko watch and promises the same 200-meter water resistance.
Buying the Seiko SKX007 for collectable purposes makes a lot of sense, and whilst there are many other Seiko models in the brand’s current catalogue that offer the same or improved features, there will always be something incredibly unique and desirable about a watch considered the affordable legend of the dive watch industry.