I’ve owned and loved the legendary Seiko diver, the pepsi-bezel Seiko SKX009 for quite some time. Its black dial/bezel sibling, the SKX007, was one of my first “big boy” automatic watches ever. Naturally, I have a soft spot for the lineage of Seiko divers, as it helped suck me into a hobby that I am now so deeply passionate about.
When I saw that the Seiko SKX was being discontinued in 2019, and nearly replaced by these new Seiko 5 Sports Divers (nicknamed the “5KX”), my heart sank. A bit dramatic, sure. But I do feel for those who weren’t able to get their hands on a watch as enjoyable as the SKX when it was more reasonably priced than it is today.
Well, times have changed, and the SKX is no longer. Regardless, I knew I HAD to pick up one of the Seiko 5KX divers to try them out in person. With a ton of various color configurations to choose from, I ended up picking up the Seiko 5 SRPD95, thanks to its tasteful faux patina hour markers, something that exists in few other watches in my collection.
With that said… Welcome to this Seiko 5 Sports Diver SRPD95 Review.
- Diameter: 42.5mm
- Thickness: 13.5mm
- Lug to Lug: 46mm
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Weight: 99g (without bracelet)
- Water Resistance Rating: 100 meters
- Movement: Seiko 4R36
- Crystal: Hardlex
- Screw-Down Crown: No
- Check price on Amazon
Seiko 5 Sports 5KX vs Seiko SKX
The Seiko 5 Sports Diver retains nearly identical dimensions to the Seiko SKX. In fact, almost all of the third-party mod parts available for the SKX also fit the Seiko 5 Sports Diver. The key differences here are the 100 meters of water resistance vs the previous 200 meters on the SKX, and the upgraded 4R36 movement.
Case, Fit, and Finish
The case shape, fit, and finish of the SKX was always one of the features that impressed me most. For such an affordable watch, there is clearly a high level of attention to detail in every curvature and polished or brushed surface on this case. Let me explain.
The case is decently brushed on top and throughout the lugs, as is typical for Seiko standard, even in their more affordable watches. With that said, it’s not quite on par with mid-level watches ($1,000+) that obviously cost much more, so let’s compare apples to apples.
What makes the finishing of this case so impressive, however, is the transition between the brushed and polished surfaces. The top of the case flows downward to each side, tapering to an abrupt and very sharp polished beveled chamfer. This is 100% one of the sole aspects that makes this watch look like money. That it costs money. A lot of it.
You see, the polished chamfer flows all the way down the sides of the case, but is visible just enough on top, that it reflects light in a way that is almost magical. I’ll admit, this is something that took me almost a year of wearing my SKX009 to notice. It’s very subtle, but it definitely adds a level of dynamic visual interest that some other affordable watches simply overlook.
With that said, the case is rounded, and curves nicely, both along the sides, and down the lugs, which helps the watch to fit very comfortably on the curvature of the wrist.
One of the notable key features of any Seiko 5, the crown at the unusual 4:00 position, is present on the 5KX as well. The beefy knurled crown is a joy to grip and use to set the time, day/date, or handwinding functions. It’s protected by healthy crown guards that are so large, and protective, that it’s very surprising this watch doesn’t have a screw-down crown. Why not go the extra mile to add that extra level of water resistance, if you’re going to make such an effort to protect the crown from physical damage? A bit disappointing, if you ask me.
Dial & Design
The dial is one of the largest differences when comparing the Seiko 5KX to the SKX.
The SRPD95 model features embossed faux patina hour markers that are punctuated by a silver bevel and a second hand with a red painted tip. The contrast makes this quite a legible watch.
The dial is a deep sunburst black that opens up into a dark espresso under certain lighting conditions, giving the watch a much more dressy appeal than the matte black SKX007 dial.
The dial is bordered by a white chapter ring which adds some visual contrast that I thought I would like, but honestly looks a bit out of place. It accents the significant depth of the watch between the crystal and the dial, and I’ve begun to grow tired of it. I think I will eventually trade this model for a different model, with a chapter ring that matches the dial, like the SRPD55, for example.
The Seiko logo is now applied instead of embossed and I enjoy its execution, though some find it a bit too dressy for a dive watch. Underneath is the new, polarizing Seiko 5 Sports logo that’s essentially a sidewise S, like you’d use to draw in grammar school when bored in class.
And finally, to cement the fact that this new lineup of Seiko 5 is no longer a purpose-built tool watch, but an everyday watch with a bit of a dressy appeal, the bottom text reads “Automatic” in an almost elegant cursive that does dress up the watch a tad. Especially when comparing it to the bright orange ISO certification and water resistance rating that lived on the same spot on the dial of the Seiko SKX. How times have changed.
Dimensions, Wearability and Comfort
The case shape of the Seiko 5 SRPD93, very much like the SKX, is a bit of a compact, yet chunky beast. Let me explain.
The diameter of this watch is only 42.5mm, which isn’t very large. Pair that with a relatively compact lug to lug measurement of only 46mm, and this watch should fit comfortably on most average-sized wrists. It may look just a tad large if you have a smaller wrist (think 6.5″ wrists or smaller).
What makes the Seiko 5 feel a bit “chunky” is its thickness. At 13.5mm thick, it sits tall and proud on the wrist, in relation to its other dimensions. This is further punctuated by the coin edge dive bezel which sits completely flat, unlike some other dive watches that have a rounded tapered dive bezel. While you probably could pull off wearing this watch with a suit, or in an office setting, don’t expect it to easily slip under a shirt cuff.
Regardless, its dimensions suit my 7″ wrists very well. It just barely approaches either end of my wrist, curving around it comfortably, without hanging over.
A Dive Bezel You Can’t Use for Diving
The bezel is your standard dive bezel that divers traditionally use to measure how much oxygen is left in their dive tank. Since the Seiko 5KX sports divers only have 100 meters of water resistance, you can scratch the idea of diving in this watch off your bucket list. It simply isn’t water-resistant enough to do so.
Fortunately, a dive bezel has a nearly unlimited amount of other uses, only limited by your imagination. Use it to a time a pizza in the oven, laundry running, how long you’ve been starting to see if the bezel inserts on your watch is misaligned, etc. You can use the dive bezel to measure anything in up to 60 minutes of time increments.
The bezel is a 120-click unidirectional bezel that feels smooth to turn, and satisfyingly clicks into place with each rotation. Unfortunately, like many entry-level Seikos, the bezel insert is just barely misaligned. It’s so subtle, that most people won’t notice it in their day to day, but it is noticeable enough to drive anyone with severe OCD away from this watch. It’s unfortunate that even after all of the feedback Seiko has been given about their many quality control issues from previous models, like the SKX, they still haven’t fixed it. I mean, what’s the point in having a newer/updated model if you’re not going to fix the issues that were apparent in the older models?
The bezel insert itself is aluminum and has markings for 5-minute intervals, with numerals at each 10-minute interval, and pips along each minute between 0-20 minutes. It also features a triangle at the 0-minute mark for quick and easy orientation.
The bezel and insert are directly compatible and interchangeable with any Seiko SKX mod bezel or insert, should you choose to go that route.
Stock Rubber Strap / Bracelet
The Seiko 5 Sports SRPD95 comes on a rubber strap, but the SRPD73 model is identical in its watch head but comes on a Milanese mesh bracelet instead. The SRPD95 I own comes on a Milanese mesh-styled rubber strap. Though not great, the strap isn’t the worst rubber strap I’ve tried. In fact, it’s even more comfortable than the rubber straps that came stock on the Seiko SKX in many ways. With that said, I’m not really a fan of the aesthetic of the “mesh” texture they embossed on the strap, oddly emulating a steel mesh bracelet.
The K1 version features a stainless milanese mesh bracelet instead. Personally, that’s the model I would opt for if given the choice again. I simply found a better deal on the K2 version and knew I would most likely be swapping the strap out for a different one anyway, so I figured I would save the extra few bucks.
Hardlex Crystal… Again?!
Like the Seiko SKX, the SRPD95 features a hardlex crystal… Yet again, another area that Seiko could have improved this watch over the Seiko SKX, but decided to leave as-is. Why, Seiko? …WHY?!
The crystal on the Seiko 5 is seiko’s proprietary hardlex crystal that is, admittedly, much more durable than typical mineral crystals. But it’s not quite as durable as sapphire crystals seen in some other watches in this price range, like the Orient Kamasu. It’s really unfortunate that Seiko either overlooked this potential upgrade, or just decided against it altogether. I’m not sure which is worse.
Yet another area where the Seiko 5 sports divers falls short of the Seiko SKX. Let’s be clear, however, in noting the SKX simply has exceptional lume that is often unmatched by even dive watches that costs THOUSANDS of dollars. So to say that the Seiko 5 Sports Diver lume is inferior is, well… Obvious.
With that said, the lume of the Seiko 5 is usable, but definitely not good or great. It takes a while to charge in sunlight, and doesn’t get as bright as the SKX lume. I guess because this isn’t a true diving watch Seiko figured the lume would be less of a necessity, as its typically a feature important for divers to be able to read the time in the dark depths of the ocean. Well Seiko, what about me? Now how will I be able to tell the time in the dark depths of my bedroom without sufficient lume?
4R36 Movement & Accuracy
One of the few functional upgrades Seiko included in the Sports divers over the SKX is the new 4R36 movement with hacking and handwinding. Essentially an upgraded version of their previously iterated 7S26 movement, the addition of hacking and hand winding is welcome and helps modernize the watch a bit.
The 4R36 movement beats at 21,600bph, has a power reserve of 41+ hours, and a day/date wheel. Like the 7S26, it also has Seiko’s diashock technology built in, which makes it a bit more durable and robust, as it has resistance to shocks through drops or shakes.
Another addition Seiko added is a see-through display caseback which allows you to view the 4R36 movement through the back of the watch. It’s definitely not the most attractive or well-decorated movement, but the new Seiko 5 Sports logo on the automatic movement rotor is interesting, at least. I speculate the 5KX will likely be the first automatic watch for many, so being able to view the movement will likely be interesting, despite the movement itself not being all too pretty to look at.
Alternatives to the Seiko 5 Sports 5KX
Seiko SKX007 & SKX009
The Seiko SKX is the clear alternative to the new Seiko 5 Sports Divers… If you can find one, now that they have been discontinued. The SKX features a 200 meter water resistance rating, ISO certification, screw-down crown, and a more “tool-watch” aesthetic, though the slightly more refined design and variety of color options in the 5KX divers may appeal to you more.
While the Seiko SKX has officially been discontinued by Seiko, you can still occasionally find them for purchase online via Amazon.
The Seiko SKX used to be considered the go-to affordable dive watch recommendation. In my opinion, the Orient Kamasu has since taken that spot, and has even better specifications than the SKX in some regards.
The addition of a sapphire crystal, and 200 meters of water resistance makes the Kamasu a more direct competitor (and upgrade) to the Seiko SKX and 5KX divers. Of course, it lacks the ISO certification of the SKX, but how many of us are truly taking our dive watch to the depths of the ocean?
Seiko Turtle & Mini Turtle
Still looking for an ISO certified diver with 200 meters of water resistance to scratch that dive watch itch? The Seiko Turtle and Mini Turtle are part of Seiko’s Prospex lineup, their professionally rated watches.
While the Seiko 5 Sports Diver are built for fashion and everyday wear, the Turtle is a true tool watch. The full-sized turtle is a bit larger than the Seiko 5 Sports divers, while the Mini Turtle is a bit smaller. I’d recommend the Turtle for those with larger wrists, and the mini turtle with those with smaller.
The Seiko 5 Sports divers, in comparison, is a much more versatile watch in the sense that it can fit nearly perfectly on a very wide variety of wrist sizes, and comes in more color options. But if you’re looking for a purpose-built dive watch, it’s hard to do better than the turtle.
The Vostok Amphibia is a bit more funky and way less refined than the Seiko 5 Sports Divers when it comes to aesthetics. But its 200 meters of water resistance, screw-down crown, and more affordable price tag might actually overcome the fancy schmancy looks of the 5KX for you.
There’s a wide variety of Amphibia designs to choose from, with different colors, case sizes, and even dial designs.
If the Orient Kamasu didn’t exist, the Citizen Promaster would be my go-to recommendation for the new best dive watch on a budget.
The Promaster comes in automatic or eco-drive variants, so you can choose the movement that suits your lifestyle better. If you want the fun of owning an automatic watch, you can do that. But if you want the accuracy and reliability of a quartz watch, the eco-drive will get you 99% of the way there, with the added bonus of never having to swap your better, as it runs on solar power.
With that said, it’s also a very handsome and simple design that just screams “tool watch” like the SKX did in its hay day.
5KX Strap Suggestions
Like its predecessor, the Seiko 5 Sports Divers look great on a wide variety of strap combinations. Of course, the colors of straps chosen will largely depend on the color dial you picked.
Since my SRPD95 has a black dial with a white chapter ring, its monochromatic color scheme lends itself to just about any color. But what I like to do when choosing a watch strap, is pick a subtle accent color from the watch’s dial. In this case, cream from the faux patina’d hour markers, or red from the painted second hand tip. Then, choose a strap that has an accent of that color, like a nato strap with a red stripe, or a leather strap with cream stitching to match the hour marker’s patina.
Apply this to your Seiko 5 of choice, and you can come up with some pretty cool combinations.
With that said, I love wearing my Seiko 5 Sports Divers on nato or rubber straps when swimming. They seem to be the most comfortable and water-resistant.
A stainless steel Milanese mesh bracelet helps add to the vintage aesthetic of the watch, and comes included on the very similar Seiko SRPD73.
And a leather strap with cream stitching, while somewhat unconventional, paired with a dive watch, looks killer on weekends or even to the office, when you don’t plan on getting your watch wet (which would potentially damage the leather).
Should You Buy The Seiko 5 Sports 5KX?
These new Seiko 5 Sports Divers are for a very specific audience. And I don’t think that audience is the watch collector like myself who has dozens of watches and multiple watch boxes.
These pseudo dive watches are aimed at the novice collector who wants a fashionable and somewhat retro dive watch design with a modern flair. Seiko is smart to release so many different color variations for these divers, as someone might find just the right colorway that speaks to them, that they may not have found in any other Seiko, or any other watch.
The Final Verdict
Seiko may have just missed the mark on the 5KX by removing some of the key features that made the SKX so beloved, without offering too many upgrades to compensate. The new Seiko 5 Sports Diver SRPD95 lacks the 200 meters water resistance, screw-down crown, and possibly most notably the ISO certification of the legendary Seiko SKX.
Minor upgrades were made, like the addition of the hacking/handwinding 4R36 movement, and a see-through display caseback, but functionally, not much else.
With all of that said, 100 meters of water resistance should be more than enough for most people. And the wide variety of dial, bracelet and color options makes the Seiko 5 Sports 5KX diver a great entry-level mechanical watch that you can enjoy wearing for years to come.