PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 25 Dec, 2014.
If you’re anything like me, you’re on the constant look out for the best affordable watches. No doubt you do a good amount of research. There’s loads of threads on the main watch forums – and there’s one watch which always gets a mention. That is the Seiko SKX007. From the pictures I’ve seen, it’s never really appealed that much to me. Still, there’s got to be something special about it for people to rave about it so much, right? Available on Amazon for around £150+, I thought I’d bite the bullet and buy one to see what all the fuss is about. Specs-wise, it’s pretty good. A dependable Seiko movement, a certified ISO divers watch, simple but pleasant design, and the kind of build quality you’d expect from one of the largest watch manufacturers in the world.
Still, I think it’s good to do an honest, in-depth review of this giant in the affordable watch community. Read on to find out if it’s really as good as it’s made out to be.
The case is reasonably simple, yet ergonomic in its design and provides something a little different to the norm.
It measures in at 41mm in diameter, with a height of 13.25mm, and a lug to lug length of 46mm. This to me is a nice respectable yet impressive looking divers watch size, which will suit and fit many people.
Regarding the weight, it’s got some heft to it but not so much that you can’t lift your wrist. The case by itself weighs in at 80g (with no strap), and it’s about 100g on a leather strap, and 135g on the Seiko jubilee bracelet.
The fit and finish of the case is definitely very impressive for the price. Usually on watches around this price point you get a few imperfections here and there. The case on the SKX007 is flawless. It’s brushed on the top, and mirror polished on the sides and back. The brushed finish is quite light and gentle, and the polished finish is spotless and mirror-like. The case also has a very nice chamfered edge along the top edge of the sides.
One thing I really like about the case is its fluidity thanks to its ergonomic shape and lines. The sides curve around nicely below the case towards the caseback, creating a distinctive bulge when looked at lug-on. The screw-in crown is located at 4, and the crown guards are moulded straight from the case in a very curvaceous fashion. They extend the whole length of the crown, so it’s very well protected. This does mean, however, that it can be a little tricky to unscrew the crown as a lot of it is obscured. The grip is a little on the minimal side too. The teeth don’t provide much purchase at all. Finally, I’m a little saddened that the crown doesn’t have any markings or engraving on the end. Instead it’s a very plain polished affair with nothing on.
Sitting atop the case is Seiko’s popular Hardlex crystal. Hardlex is a lot more scratch resistant than mineral crystal, but not as much as sapphire. Mineral crystal is 5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, Hardlex is 8, and sapphire is 9. Hardlex has slightly better shatter resistant properties than sapphire, and is clearer too. So what you lose out on in scratch resistance you gain elsewhere. It is also a lot cheaper too, which is one of the reasons why so many Seikos like the SKX007, Monster and Seiko 5 range can be such a reasonable price. It is incredibly clear, which is one of the reasons why the SKX007 is so pleasing to the eye – it’s amazing what a decent crystal can do. It reduces glare and reflections impressively. It has a slight beveled edge where it meets up with the bezel which is done with precision.
The bezel is another well known positive of the Seiko SKX007. The action is silky smooth, providing satisfying audible clicks at every point.
Being a certified ISO divers watch, the bezel is unidirectional – so it can only go counter clockwise. This is so you can use it to time the amount of oxygen you have in your dive. If you accidentally knocked the bezel, it can’t shift the way that will make it look like you have more oxygen than you do. It’ll only go the way to say that you have less time, so you never run out of air. The bezel rotates 120 clicks, and is slightly misaligned to the right which is a shame. Although it’s not a major problem, as many watch manufacturers fail to get this right so it’s not like it’s a terrible failure.
The bezel insert is a perfect fit, and the minute markers are all flawless. There’s a lume pip located at 12, within a triangle. This is very neat and tidy and the lume is the same impressive Seiko strength as the hands and dial markers. The grip on the bezel is excellent, provided by two rows of knurling around the outside edge. It’s all finished very well; there’s no rough or untidy edging or anything at all to be seen.
The solid screw-in caseback is quite bulbous, raising the watch up off your wrist a couple of mm. The wave logo is an homage to Katsushika Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’, a beautiful colour woodblock print piece of art dating around 1830. This is one of the most reproduced pieces of art in the world, and you’ll even find it in your emoji keyboard on your phone (see below). Anyway, I digress. It’s a beautiful choice for a caseback in this instance as not only does it support Seiko’s Japanese national heritage, it’s the perfect choice for a diver – an okinami (“wave of the open sea”) is, after all, an apt object to have on a divers watch. The wave is impressively stamped and machined into the caseback, with good accuracy and depth. There is also a number of watch specifics deeply etched around this centre piece, such as the serial number, Seiko, and some others.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the lugs are 22mm wide, so they’ll fit a wide range of nice straps.
It’s also good to mention that the SKX007 has a rating of 200m / 20ATM water resistance, which means you can wear it scuba diving and is another requirement for its ISO certification.
All in all, the case is very nice. You’d certainly be hard pushed to find a better finished one at this price. The only thing I’m disappointed in is the crown – with its lack of marking on the end and the grip too. But everything else is great.
The dial is very simple and bold – just what you need when diving. The lumed hour markers and strong hands are the key focus, providing excellent visibility against the black dial. The black colour is a pleasant deep black, although not jet black – it has a subtle charcoal appearance to it.
The hour markers are full painted lume, which is that well-known Seiko strength which lasts for hours and charges quickly. The marker at 12 is a triangle with a thin line extending from the bottom point, and the markers at 6 and 9 are elongated circles / ellipses, again with a thin line extending towards the centre of the dial. These small lines don’t actually serve any purpose apart from being quite a nice visual feature. The other hour markers are discs, and all make up quite a distinctive attribute of the SKX007.
The day / date wheels are located at 3, and are suitably positioned on the dial (as in, not too far in or out). The window is also a reasonable size, not being overbearing or taking over the design. It would have been nice to see a small applied border around the window instead of it being cut straight out of the dial, but costs need to be kept low. At least it’s been accurately and delicately cut out, and has a slight chamfered edge. The wheels are white with black printing, all of which is precise with no signs of smudging. The days are available in English or French, and I like how the days are in different colours at the weekend – blue for Saturday (relax, it’s Saturday) and red for Sunday (danger, back at work tomorrow!). On those days it brings a little colour to the dial which is gladly received.
Let’s talk about one of the main things Seiko’s known for – the outstanding lume. The SKX007 has stacks of LumiBrite applied to it – the hands and hour markers are all very well endowed with the stuff. It’s application is thick and even, and it provides many hours of light from minimal charge. I’d even go as far as saying that the lume on this SKX007 is better than the lume on the Seiko Monster I reviewed quite a while back.
The hands are a very distinctive shape, the hour hand being a sword with a point, the minute hand being an arrow with a wide point and tail. They are both made of spotless polished stainless steel and are filled with lume. The seconds hand is a simple point, the whole tip painted white, with the counterbalance being black containing a lumed disc. Again, the entire set of hands is immaculately formed.
The printing on the dial is relatively minimal, keeping readability to a maximum and complexity to a minimum. It has the Seiko logo printed in white within the top half, and “diver’s 200m” in red in the bottom. Right at the foot of the dial is the movement, 7S26, 002R which refers to the dial design (colour and round hour markers shape), and R 2 which refers to the type of lume.
Much like the Monster, the SKX007 features an impressive rehaut, which I really like. It joins up the dial with the bezel seamlessly and to me a decent rehaut always shows good attention to detail, as there’s no part of the watch left untouched. The rehaut contains the minute track, with white thin printed lines for each minute, and thicker ones for each hour. I feel that it finishes the dial well and is again immaculately done.
Whilst the dial is rather simple, it is timeless in its design, and exemplary in its implementation.
The bracelet that came with my Seiko is the Jubilee, making it the Seiko SKX007K2. I must say from the outset that I was expecting a similar quality bracelet to the Seiko Monster. Alas I was quite disappointed.
The main thing going for the jubilee bracelet is how graciously comfortable it is. Because each link is so short, it moulds around your wrist with ease and feels great.
But, I’ve found that’s where the pleasantries end. The end links are hollow, and don’t fit the case very well or follow the lines with good enough accuracy. And I was bitterly disappointed when the sealed pin for the pivot of the locking flap on the buckle broke after light wear, resulting in the whole thing falling apart. I was a little surprised with this. Just for reference, the bracelet measures 22mm wide at the lugs, and 20mm wide at the buckle.
But, all is not lost, as this meant I had to put a leather strap on the SKX007. Wow, what a transformation this made! The only handy 22mm wide leather strap I had was from my trusty Christopher Ward C11 with quick release pins (every leather strap should have these in my opinion). What was previously frustration turned into delight as it provides a completely different look for the watch. The jubilee just didn’t do it for me from as aesthetic standpoint, but the leather strap makes the watch look great.
There are obviously oyster and rubber straps for the SKX007, but I can’t pass comment on either of these. I have read that the oyster is higher quality than the jubilee which is good. And I don’t think much can go wrong with the rubber.
There’s not a movement out there that can rival the Seiko 7s26 in terms of affordability, build quality and being so hard working. It was first released in 1996, and many of these original movements are still going strong without a service. So don’t be surprised if your SKX007 lasts for 15 years without skipping a beat.
Obviously because of the nature of a low cost movement, there are sacrifices you have to make. These are the fact that you can’t hand wind the movement, and the seconds hand doesn’t hack. What does this means for you as a wearer? Not a great deal. When the watch has stopped, it only takes a small amount of movement to give it enough of a wind to start it up. This is mainly thanks to Seiko’s Magic Lever Winding System, which allows the movement to wind quickly, and with the rotor spinning in either direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise).
Regarding the non-hacking seconds hand, this is only a problem if you want to set the watch with perfect accuracy on the second.
Regarding the 7s26’s accuracy, it’s proving to be very good out of the box. It’s about 7 seconds fast a day, which is most definitely acceptable for a watch costing £150 (remember that’s only 2 seconds more than a COSC certified movement).
The 7s26 is not built to be good looking. Rather, it’s designed and made to be rugged and cheap. Thankfully I have can’t see the movement due to the solid screw-in caseback.
The 7s26 is the perfect no-nonsense, dependable movement for the SKX007.
There’s no surprises as to what watches are the SKX007’s competition. The main one is its big brother, the Seiko Monster.
The Seiko Monster is also an ISO rated dive watch, with similar excellent build quality to the SKX007. However, the stock Monster bracelet is a marvellous piece of engineering – much better than the SKX007. But, it has a very definite design style. It’s a bit too brash for some, and in my eyes not quite as good looking as the SKX007.
The other option is also from Japan, in the form of the Orient Mako. This is more glamorous and smarter looking than the SKX007. Very high quality, and a similar price to the SKX007 to boot. It also has Orient’s in-house movement which is a neat selling point. The main drawback with the Mako is that it’s a mineral crystal, whereas the SKX007 has a more hard-wearing hardlex crystal.
I’m not going to say which one you should buy, because they’re all excellent value for money, and all have their plus and minus points.
I was a little apprehensive when I first bought the Seiko SKX007. I was worried that I wouldn’t like it or that it would not live up to everyone’s comments and the accolade it’s generated over so many years. I’m pleased to say I’m suitably impressed. The jubilee bracelet is pretty average, but slap a decent leather strap on the SKX007 and you’ve got yourself a simple yet brilliant watch for the price. Yes it’s quite utilitarian and not the most elegant, but I think that’s part of its charm. It doesn’t try to be something it’s not. All it wants to do is serve you in the best way it can for as little money as possible.
The build quality and fit and finish of the SKX007 is definitely higher than the average watch at this price no doubt about it, thanks to the proficient and adept chaps at Seiko. The machining of the case and every element of the dial are spotless and executed with exemplary precision.
So, as much as I really didn’t want to do this (I really wanted to be a little disappointed with the watch to justify not buying one sooner), I must say that the SKX007 IS as impressive as everyone makes it out to be.