Update 2/26/20: Late last year, Seiko announced the official discontinuation of the Seiko SKX. While you can still find it, often on the used market, Seiko has instead launched a lineup of new Seiko 5 Sports divers to take its place. Read more about the 2019 Seiko 5 Sports Divers here.
Let me preface this article with the discretion: I absolutely adore my Seiko SKX. Before my SKX007, it was absolutely unfathomable for me to drop hundreds of dollars on a watch. It’s the first watch I bought after realizing I wanted to make the jump into some “serious” mechanical watches. But with all of the hype around the watch, it’s easy for a few of its flaws to go unnoticed.
There are probably 14 million reasons why you should buy the Seiko SKX. But it’s very rare you’ll find someone discussing any reasons why you shouldn’t buy the adopted child of the watch community. In this article, I’ll be giving you my 7 reasons why you shouldn’t buy an SKX. But first, what is the Seiko SKX?
What is the Seiko SKX?
The Seiko SKX is one of the most popular dive watches in the world. Watch enthusiasts absolutely adore it. Most have owned, or considered owning one, at one point in their watch collecting ‘careers’.
It looks awesome, is an ISO certified dive watch, it’s basically indestructible and rather affordable.
I’ve also named it one of the best dive watches you can buy under $200.
The Seiko SKX comes in a few variations. the most popular models are the SKX007 and SKX009. The only difference between the two are color. The SKX007 has a black bezel insert with a dark charcoal dial and the SKX009 has a red and navy bezel insert with a navy blue dial. There also exists a very similar, but smaller models, the SKX013 for those with smaller wrists. More about that later.
But what are some reasons you shouldn’t buy such an awesome watch?
Why You Shouldn’t Buy The Seiko SKX
1. Quirkiness and Lacking Versatility
While not completely unconventional in its appearance, it doesn’t take as many design cues from the Rolex Submariner like many other affordable dive watches tend to. Seiko watches tend to have a character and charm of their own. This is definitely what draws many people so heavily toward it, while also being a turn off to some.
The Seiko SKX is unapologetic about its identity as a tool watch. The hour markers are simply bold lume dots, without any embossing shown in other SKX variants, such as the SKX171 and SKX031.
The hands look fine, but you don’t often see a lollipop second hand on a diver watch. The list goes on.
While these “quirks” are more up to personal taste, it’s pretty evident this isn’t the most “handsome” watch. But, it’s not trying to be. After all, we’re discussing a watch that’s designed as a tool.
But if you’re looking for a watch that you can wear day in and day out, this… Is honestly, probably it… Unless you wear a suit often.
That’s right. My one caveat for when you shouldn’t wear the SKX is with a suit. Can you wear it with a suit?
It’s your wrist, your outfit, your life. Wear a darn Apple Watch with your suit, for all I care. The days of traditional styling rules are gone, especially when it comes to things like watches… Nobody really cares what you’re wearing on your wrist. With that said, things like the bold nature and overall dimensions can make the watch clunky to wear with a suit.
The height is a whopping 13.25mm. Combined with the pronounced coin edge bezel that doesn’t taper and sticks out proudly, it can be hard to fit this watch under a sleeve cuff.
There are many dive watches that are more suitable for a formal environment. Heck, James Bond is well known in the watch community for being one of the first to rock a dive watch with a suit.
2. Quality Control Issues
Of the many Seikos I’ve owned, I’ve been lucky enough to have never experienced any major quality control issues first hand. However, there have been many horror stories of someone finding an issue on even their 2nd or even 3rd exchange of a Seiko SKX.
Some common quality control issues you on an SKX you should look out for are:
- Misaligned chapter ring
- Misaligned bezel insert
- Hour/minute hands not lining up
Mind you, these are all relatively minor quality control issues. Rarely will you be able to notice these if you aren’t particularly looking for them. Not to mention, most can easily be fixed by most any decent watchmaker. The problem I have is in principal.
Spending nearly $200 on a brand new watch, you’d expect everything to be in alignment, and checked over, before being sent over to you. Even quartz brands like Timex rarely have any quality control issues, and why should we expect Seiko to not fix something on a $200 watch that is rarely ever an issue on a $30 Timex? Just my two cents.
3. Unconventional Crown Position
The unconventionally placed crown is another thing some may not like. Personally, I tend to find the SKX a lot more comfortable to wear than most watches, and the crown at the 4:00 position definitely helps with that. It doesn’t get in the way of your wrist when you bend it.
Again, it’s just one of those little quirks that set this watch apart – for better or worse. Most watches typically have the crown sitting at the 3:00 position. If you’re looking for a “traditional” or a “handsome” looking watch, this probably isn’t for you.
4. Outdated 7S26 Movement
There’s a lot to be said about how awesome the included Seiko 7S26 movement is. It’s been around for over 20 years, is virtually indestructible, and very affordable. But it’s also the same exact movement they use in their entry-level line, the Seiko 5.
For an entry-level movement, it’s absolutely phenomenal. It just gets the job done. But at a watch at this price point, you’d expect a little better.
One of the 7S26 movement’s main flaws is its poor accuracy.
Its specifications say it must run around +/-25 seconds per day. That means it can be ahead or behind by 25 seconds at the end of the day, and still pass inspection.
But at a price point around $200, we start to see other watches such as the Orient Mako II and Ray II with much higher accuracy. It’s rated at +25/-15 seconds per day, but most find theirs running at around +/-5. Not to mention, the modern movement features such as hacking and hand winding are two things the SKX lacks entirely.
Is this a huge deal-breaker? Not really, for me at least. But I would definitely love to see updated movements implemented in future iterations of the SKX to reclaim its former glory.
5. Seiko Hardlex Crystal
This is one of those nit-picky things that one might call out about why you shouldn’t get an SKX.
The hardlex crystal on an SKX is a special Seiko proprietary hardlex, their upgraded version of a mineral crystal. It’s not just any old hardlex or mineral crystal you can find on any other watch. I must admit, it’s better than most.
I’ve worn this thing hard for months on end and the crystal still looked as new as it did the day I bought it.
Some, however, complain that some watches around this price point are starting to include much more scratch resistant sapphire crystals, which are as durable as they get.
Personally, I think the hardlex is about on par for the price point, and even in similarly priced watches like the Orient Ray II, you still get a mineral crystal, which is about the same in terms of scratch resistance.
6. Flimsy SKX Jubilee Bracelet & Terrible Rubber Strap
One of the most common gripes about people who otherwise love their SKX is the bracelet. It comes with two options: a jubilee bracelet and a rubber strap. I’ll discuss both.
While it has solid links and not folded links like some of its Seiko 5 affordable counterparts, it still is flimsy. It feels very dainty, delicate and almost tinny. It feels like you could probably break it apart with your bare hands if you really wanted to.
With that said, some people also happen to love how light and flimsy it is. The smaller and lighter jubilee links allow the bracelet to wrap around your wrist relatively comfortably, even when in motion.
The rubber strap, on the other hand, is a whole different mess. It just never really feels comfortable, even with extended wear and break-in. If choosing between the two, I’d just opt for the metal bracelet. A well-fitted metal bracelet is harder to find than a replacement rubber strap.
7. Beefy Dimensions
While I find the Seiko SKX007 nearly perfectly proportioned for my 7-inch wrists, this might not be the case for everybody.
Like most dive watches, it tends to look a little chunky. Although I must say, for its size, it wears really well. It’s measured with a diameter of 42mm. It also has a relatively short lug to lug width of only 46mm and the lugs curve around your wrist. This makes the watch wear and feel a little smaller than its actual dimensions on paper.
Still, for some, especially those new to mechanical watches, or those with smaller wrists, the 42mm can be quite intimidating. Luckily, Seiko thought of a solution.
Meet the SKX007 and 009’s little brother, the Seiko SKX013.
The Seiko SKX013 is nearly identical to the previously mentioned models, but with a few small variations.
8. New Seiko 5 Sports Divers Are Better! (And More Affordable)
In 2019, Seiko officially announced the discontinuation of the Seiko SKX. Just another reason to avoid such a popular watch – you’re going to have a hard time getting your hands on one for a reasonable price!
As a replacement, Seiko announced the release of a new line of Seiko divers, the Seiko 5 sports divers. Are these new divers a direct replacement and better than the Seiko SKX in every way? No. They have their shortcomings.
They lack the 200m ISO certification, and a certain nostalgic vintage charm that the SKX has.
But with what they lack, they make up for in so many different ways such as an upgraded movement, slightly higher quality bracelets and straps and an overhauled, modernized appearance.
How many of us really go diving with our dive watches anyway?
What are the differences between SKX007/009 and the SKX013?
- The 013 is smaller. Only 37mm across. This is a much more wearable and less intimidating size, even for those with smaller wrists, including women.
- Because the watch is smaller, the hour markers are pushed closer together, giving the dial less negative space and a slightly busier feel.
- The second hand has been replaced, with an all-white arrow. I guess they figured they wanted to make the second hand even more legible on a smaller watch. It looks decent. I almost prefer it over the lollipop hand on the 007/009.
There’s no doubt the Seiko SKX is an awesome watch at a price that is hard to beat. But it’s not perfect. It’s an older model that has stood the test of time but is starting to get beat out by the upgraded features in watches at a similar price point, such as Orient’s line of divers.
If you love the look of this watch, buy it. There’s nothing else on the market that looks like it. But if you’re someone who wants the absolute best bang for your buck, aesthetics aside, there are other options to consider.