Seiko SKX007 Review
Thinking about picking up a modern classic, the Seiko SKX007?
In this review hopefully I’ll be able to convince you that yes, you do want to grab one of these.
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The Seiko SKX007 is my top pick for an affordable mechanical dive watch, usually available for around $200 and in this review I’ll do my best to explain why.
So I apologize for the wait, but let’s get into it! First, a brief overview of the SKX007’s specifications:
Seiko SKX007 Automatic
The SKX007 was first produced by Seiko Watches in 1996, following a long line of Seiko dive watches that started in 1965 with the 62MAS, which was rated to 150m of WR.
Seiko has two separate lines of dive watches, the PROSPEX, or professional line, and their sport / amateur line. The sport line branched off from the PROSPEX watches in 1975, and focused more on recreational divers with their relatively shallow depth limits than the professional divers heading to extreme depths during saturation dives. The SKX007 is part of the sports line, but don’t worry. Seiko has never let even their budget watches suffer from quality issues.
The SKX007 is the direct descendant of the 7002, which was first produced in 1988 and favored by military personnel worldwide. It was Seiko’s best selling beater dive watch until the line was retired in 1996, replaced by the SKX series of watches utilizing the 7s26 automatic movement.
The SKX series of watches, of which the 007 is the best seller, includes many, many different variants. All of the variations are basically the same watch, using the same movement and case. The differences are all in bezels, dials, and hand set.
You can expect the same quality from any of these watches, so if you like the style of a different one than the 007, be assured it’ll be very similar to the watch I review here.
Below I’ve included a selection of SKX variants (by no means comprehensive):
Seiko SKX Variations
The 41mm x 46mm stainless steel case is smooth and flowing, with barely any hard lines or transitions. The gently curved and rounded lugs blend into the case and the prominent crown guards. The only 90 degree angles to be found are on the interior of the lugs and the inside of the crown guards. This gives the case a very organic look and feel, instead of the appearance of being something machined.
The sides of the case are highly polished to a mirror finish, while the top of the lugs have a less reflective brushed finish. The transition between the two finishes is very well done, and not noticeable unless you’re closely inspecting the case.
Located at the 4 o’clock position, the water-resistant, screw-down crown is extremely well protected by the large crown guards. The slightly rounded, plain end of the crown only barely extends past the end of the guards. The well grooved portion extends out above the downward sloping guards, offering a small area to get a grip.
It definitely takes a little effort to get the crown unscrewed, but this is of course by design in order to prevent the accidental opening while diving. The operation of the crown is excellent for a watch in this price range. It threads / unthreads smoothly and evenly, with no jiggle in the crown even when fully unthreaded. After unscrewing, it provides two very positive click positions when pulled outward, for setting the day/date and time. The crown always seems to get neglected in budget watches, with many feeling poorly machined and difficult to use, but that is not the case here.
My only complaints here are in regards to style – I’ve seen a number of watches where the grooving on the crown matches the groove pattern on the bezel, and this always seems to bring some unity to the design of the watch. A simple two-tiered grooving on the crown to match the pattern on the bezel would have upped the appearance of the watch by just a small, but important amount. I also would have liked to see an engraved logo on the end of the crown. This is actually one of the common mods performed on the SKX007, which I’ll talk more about near the end of the review.
The screw-down, rounded case-back rises significantly above the back of the case, reaching slightly taller than the ends of the curved lugs. It features a lovely engraving of a tsunami wave, which only appears now on Seiko’s ISO rated divers that have at least 200m of water resistance (some older divers with 150m WR also feature the wave).
There’s a common legend around the internet that the Seiko wave is based off of the famous Japanese wood-cut “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, but I’ve read convincing evidence otherwise. In short – Seiko’s been using various wave styles for a long time to denote the water resistance of their watches, and this particular wave engraving doesn’t resemble “The Great Wave” beyond some very passing similarities.
The flat, recessed crystal on the SKX007 is made out of ‘Hardlex’, Seiko’s proprietary hardened mineral crystal. Its resistance to scratches is greater than regular mineral crystals, but less than sapphire. However, it also won’t shatter if impacted directly like a sapphire crystal would. The crystal is slightly chamfered around the edge directly next to the bezel.
I’ve been wearing the SKX for a good 8 months now as my primary ‘beater’ watch while doing everything from diving to boat work. So far I’ve only managed to put one very small, shallow scratch on the crystal right above the 8 o’clock marker. The scratch is so small that I was unable to get it to show up in pictures, even with my macro lens. In comparison, after only a month of wearing my Vostok Amphibia, with it’s acrylic crystal, the crystal was completely covered in shallow scuffs and scratches.
Having the crystal flat and slightly recessed below the level of the bezel definitely helps keep it protected from abuse. Glancing hits from the side, which are probably the most likely on a watch, will usually hit the bezel and miss the crystal. Overall though, I’d say Hardlex is an excellent material for a watch crystal.
The 120-click, unidirectional (counter-clockwise) rotating timing bezel is constructed out of stainless steel with a black aluminum insert containing the timing markings. Every minute is marked, with long bars marking the 5-minutes, numerals for the 10-minutes, and small circles for the rest.
A two-tiered groove is engraved into the outer edge, providing excellent grip on the bezel, even when wearing thick neoprene diving gloves. The bezel turns with a quiet and smooth click action, with very little wobble once set into the desired position.
The triangular shielded lume pip marks the 0/60 minute mark, and is the only lume on the bezel itself. While it would be nice to have some lume applied to the other markers, it’s not really a big deal to only be able to see the 0/60 minute position, which still allows you to estimate rather closely what time the minute hand is currently pointing to.
I use the timing bezel constantly, for mundane tasks such as timing laundry, to more exciting activities like timing kayaking tours and SCUBA dives. The bezel on the SKX007 is a pleasure to use, just stiff enough to prevent accidental adjustment but still easily operable.
The dial of the Seiko SKX007 is minimalistic and utilitarian. A lume-filled triangle marks the 12 0’clock position, with large circles marking every 5 minutes. Larger ovals mark the 6 and 9 o’clock positions.
The white day/date window is located at 3 o’clock, with it’s size mirroring the oval at 9, maintaining the symmetry of the face. On this version of the SKX, the day can be set to show in either English or Spanish. All of the text is in black, except for SAT in blue and SUN in red. The date cycles through from 1-31, so during shorter months you’ll have to move it ahead.
Personally, I feel the day/date window could have used some slight styling. I’m a fan of the window on the Orient Ray II with it’s white border, and think something similar would have worked well on the SKX.
‘SEIKO AUTOMATIC’ appears centered above the hands and directly below the 12 o’clock triangle. Centered above the 6 o’clock oval in red text is printed “DIVER’S 200m”, indicating that the watch is a Certified ISO Diver.
At the very bottom of the dial, just above the chapter ring ‘7S26- 002R R 2’ in tiny, plain white text. This signifies the automatic movement being used in the SKX007.
The sloping chapter ring surrounds the dial, marking every minute with long bars. Every 5 minutes is marked with a slightly thicker bar. The chapter ring is well done, adding depth and a high-quality look to the face of the watch.
Overall, the face of the watch is quite good looking, if simplistic. It’s definitely designed more for use as a dive instrument than as jewelry, but this of course gives it it’s own charm than many people enjoy in their watches, including myself.
The shorter sword-shaped hour hand reaches just to the inner edge of the long oval markers, with the long arrow minute hand extending to the outer edge of the smaller circle markers. Both hands are outlined in chrome and deeply filled with luminescent paint.
The seconds hand is long, narrow, and white, counterbalanced by a black shaft featuring a lumed lollipop. This design is somewhat unique to the SKX, as it’s more usual to have the lumed portion on the main side of the hand.
The purpose of the lumed lollipop is not really to inform you of what second it is, but to allow the wearer to quickly check that the watch is still running in the dark. Having the watch cease operation during a dive, whether due to water ingress or other mechanical failure, would be extremely dangerous to the diver that did not notice.
The design of the hands follows the style of the bezel, designed to be highly functional and read at a glance. Each hand has both a unique form as well as length, making it hard to mix up the hour and minute hands.
The Seiko SKX007 is powered by Seiko’s caliber 7s26, a lower-end, budget, mechanical automatic movement. It features 21 jewels, and runs at 21,600 beats per hour. It’s wound by Seiko’s patented Magic Lever system, with a bi-directional winding mechanism powered by the movement of the wearers wrist. When fully wound, it can keep ticking for ~48hrs (power reserve) so no worries about not wearing it for a day and finding it’s stopped.
It lacks several features that you’d see in a higher end movement, such as hacking seconds and the ability to hand wind. Its accuracy also suffers, with anywhere from 20 seconds slow to 40 second fast per day being usual when received.
My personal review piece is actually outside of this range, running an average of -30/s/day. However, this seems to be highly variable, with several people reporting that theirs runs at an impressive +5/s/day.
So while I wouldn’t say I’m happy with -30/day, it really doesn’t bug me too much. I reset the time about every three days in order to keep it within a couple minutes of the real time. For anybody that would enjoy more accuracy, I’ve heard that allowing a watch-maker to regulate the movement can result in drastic improvements.
For the first few months after getting my SKX in the mail, I wore it on the rubber divers band that it first came on. Eventually however, I got a bit bored of the look and started switching things up.
First I purchased the StrapCode Super Oyster Type II stainless bracelet, which has been specifically designed for use with the SKX series cases. I’m still very happy with this combination, you can read my review of the Super Oyster by clicking here.
I ended up also purchasing this two-pack of 22mm straps from Amazon, which comes with a leather strap and a black NATO. While it can take a couple minutes to switch from the bracelet to the NATO style, I like to change it out occasionally for a more casual look.
The SKX is a versatile watch that looks at home on a wide variety of straps, allowing you to change the look and feel of the watch to match your personal style or mood.
Many people don’t realize that it’s possible to modify various aspects of a stock watch to drastically change the look of it. There’s actually a thriving community of watch modders built around the SKX models, providing many different after-market parts. It’s possible to change items such as the bezel, crown, handset, and dial. People provide services such as custom engraved bezels or blackening the case through vapor deposition.
While it’s very possible to do the work yourself with a small selection of tools, the chances of scratching or otherwise messing up the watch are quite high. I’d recommend practicing on an old watch before attempting to mod a time-piece that you’re attached to.
Does the famous SKX007 live up to expectations? In short, yes, it definitely does. While there are other somewhat cheaper quartz watches that are high quality, if you’re looking for a budget mechanical diver you can’t go wrong with Seiko’s SKX line-up. All of my complaints are quite minor and really just related to my personal tastes.
I’m planning on hanging onto my SKX007 for a long time yet, and I think I’ll be getting into doing some small mods on it here shortly.