The beloved child of the watch community, the Seiko SKX, is simply one of the most popular and iconic dive watches ever. It’s a staple in many enthusiasts’ collections and was previously recommended as the best entry-level automatic watch for those just getting into the hobby.
Therefore, it was a huge blow (and a big surprise) when Seiko discontinued production of the SKX in 2019. Shortly after, Seiko announced 27 new Sports Divers models, that looked quite similar to the SKX: the Seiko 5 SRPD series; nicknamed the 5KX, as a result.
While 5KX watches look and wear very similarly to the SKX, both in aesthetics, dimensions, and when wearing on the wrists; there are quite a few distinct differences between them.
As a long-time owner of the Seiko SKX (first a 007, then a 009, and now a modded SKX013), I decided to pick up one of these new Seiko 5 Sports Divers, reference SRPD95, to compare the two for myself.
Today we’re going to be doing a side-by-side comparison of the Seiko 5KX vs.SKX to see exactly what the differences are and if the new Seiko 5 Divers are the right choice for you.
Aesthetics and Design
The Seiko 5 Sports Divers and SKX very closely resemble each other. Probably because… It seems the Seiko 5 Sports Divers essentially use a nearly identical case design. In fact, I believe they share the same case altogether, which is why many of the third-party mod parts and bracelets available for the SKX are also directly compatible with the Seiko 5 divers.
With that said, there are quite a few distinct visual differences once we start to inspect the dial of the watch.
Right off the bat, one of the most noticeable differences are the hour markers. The SKX has painted hour markers that are not embossed or outlined in any way. This gives them a very flat look. The Seiko 5 Sports Divers hour markers are embossed with a silver outline that adds some dimension, and a bit of bling, making it appear a bit more fashionable than the SKX. On this particular SRPD73 Seiko 5 model I own, the hour markers are cream-colored to emulate an aged and worn patina. Not all models in the Seiko 5 share this same patina, keep in mind.
Further, the dial on the SKX has a subtle matte finish that does lighten up to reveal its color with indirect lighting, but the sunburst dial on the Seiko 5 Sports adds much appreciated dynamic visual interest to an already interesting looking watch. The dial looks dark and consistent in dark lighting conditions but opens up when placed in light to reveal its beautiful variation depending on which angle you view the dial from. Holding the watch at one angle may make the sunburst black dial look charcoal, while other angles make it look a bit of a dark chocolate brown. This wouldn’t at all suit the tool watch nature of the SKX, but It’s a very welcome addition for a desk diver like me who likes to randomly stare at their watch from different angles throughout the day.
Logos & Dial Text
The logos on both watches are also varied; the Seiko SKX is painted “SEIKO Automatic” on top, with “Diver’s 200m” written in orange, on the bottom, to signify this watch is rated to survive being submerged in depths of water down to 200 meters. The orange text choice is a bit of an odd choice for the pepsi dial variant SKX009, since the orange does clash with the red accent on the dive bezel. It looks a bit better on the SKX007 with its black dial, as it’s a relatively monochromatic watch otherwise.
The branding on the new Seiko 5 model states “Seiko” followed by Seiko’s new Seiko 5 logo – that seems to be a bit of a combination of the old Seiko 5 badge and Sports Divers logo. The Seiko logo is applied in silver this time, adding some depth and dimension to the dial, and the silver color does help add to the streamlined finished look of this watch. The bottom text simply reads “Automatic”, painted in silver, and written in an italic script font that is a bit elegant.
Both watches feature a day/date wheel at the 3:00 position, with no change made on the day/date wheel itself.
The broad arrow hands from the SKX remain on the Seiko 5 Sports, this time with the cream faux patina to match the hour markers, instead of the white-painted hands on the SKX. Further, accenting the tip of the now silver (instead of white) second hand is a pop of red, which I love, as it breaks up the monochromatic color scheme of the Seiko 5, and also helps for orientation when reading the time.
While the Seiko SKX007 and SKX009 have chapter rings that match the dial color (black and navy blue, respectively), some of the new Seiko 5 5KX divers have varied chapter ring colors that may contrast or match the dial, depending on which model you get. My SRPD73 has a white chapter ring that contrasts with the dark sunburst dial. At first glance, I thought I would really enjoy this variation. It helps add a feeling of depth between the crystal and dial. But overall, after months of wear, I’ve decided that the contrasting chapter ring in this context is more of an eyesore for me than it is enjoyable.
One final aesthetic difference between the two is the case back. The Seiko SKX case back is stainless steel throughout, featuring an embossing of “the great wave”, which, admittedly looks cool. Even cooler, however, is the see-through clear case back on the Seiko 5 Sports diver that allows you to see the movement through the back of the case. Admittedly, the 4R36 is not a well-decorated, nor beautiful movement to look at. But the ability to marvel at the movement in an entry-level timepiece might just be the feature that hooks a newcomer into the hobby.
Movement: 7S26 vs 4R36
One of the major complaints about the SKX was its lack of hacking and hand winding – features that we almost come to expect in modern wristwatches. Seiko decided to finally address this in the new Seiko 5 Sports Divers watches by finally upgrading the older Seiko 7S26 movement to the newer 4R36.
They’re mostly similar in inaccuracy, however, neither are what I would define as accurate. The 7S26 boasts an unimpressive rating of accuracy between -20 and +49 seconds/day, while the upgraded 4R36 movement has a rating between -35 and +34 seconds/day. Again, these are not very accurate movements, and if accuracy is your main concern, neither of these watches will likely really appeal to you. They feature day/date complications that tell you… Well, the day and date.
They also both feature Seiko’s Diashock technology which helps with shock resistance and overall durability. All that means is that it can likely survive an extra drop or two (or three, if you’re lucky) over your standard mechanical watch movement.
Overall, these movements are more or less the same. The biggest differentiator is the addition of hacking and hand-winding in the Seiko 5 Sports Diver’s slightly upgraded 4R36 movement.
Included Stainless Steel Bracelets & Rubber Straps
The Seiko SKX came with two different bracelet/strap options.
- A rubber dive strap. Nothing especially noteworthy, and many SKX owners replaced it with a third-party rubber strap rather quickly. However, it works in a pinch for swimming or diving, as it’s waterproof and rather comfortable after a bit of break-in.
- Jubilee bracelet. The stock SKX jubilee bracelet is absolutely notorious for being “jingly jangly”, meaning, it rattles a ton on your wrist, thanks to its lightweight and flimsy hollow links. The end links are hollow also, and overall the bracelet feels a lot more lightweight than it looks. While it’s not quite as robust as a Strapcode bracelet (Amazon) it’s lightweight and comfortable and drapes well over the wrist. My one complaint is that it can make the watch feel a bit top-heavy, since the SKX head is a bit heavy, while the bracelet is light, distributing all of the weight to the watch head.
Seiko 5 Sports 5KX
The Seiko 5 Sports Divers straps come in a wide variety, depending on which model you pick up. My SRPD73 comes with a Milanese mesh bracelet or a black rubber strap with the texturing of a Milanese mesh. Some of the other variations of Seiko 5 Divers have stainless steel bracelets, natos, and even leather straps. While I can’t speak on the quality of all these straps, since I haven’t tried them, I can only assume they are on par with that of my SRPD73 – which is to say they are a bit of a step up in quality over the SKX’s straps, but not an “endgame” strap by any means. If you’re someone who wears your watch regularly, you’ll often want to swap out the stock strap included on your affordable watch for something more comfortable and durable.
Both have 22mm lug widths and case shapes that are shaped exactly the same, so any bracelet or strap that is curved to fit one can fit the other. So you can wear a Strapcode bracelet designed for the SKX on the 5KX and vice versa.
The only slight difference between fitting the strap on the two watches, however, are the drilled lug holes on the lugs of the Seiko 5 Sports divers that simply makes changing straps a bit easier. Another welcome addition. Thank you, Seiko!
An area in that Seiko easily could have improved in the 5KX is the hardlex crystal. Hardlex is Seiko’s own proprietary crystal. While it’s a lot more scratch-resistant than basic mineral crystals, it’s nowhere near as scratch resistant as sapphire. When the Seiko SKX was released in the 90s, sapphire crystals were nowhere near as popular as they are now in everyday affordable watches. However, today, we often see sapphire crystals included in other entry-level dive watches for a similar price, such as the Orient Kamasu.
One of the biggest downgrades from the SKX to the Seiko 5 Sports divers is water resistance. One of the reasons the SKX was so beloved was because it was an affordable dive watch with 200 meters of water resistance and a screw-down crown. The Seiko 5 Sports divers have… Neither of those.
I guess Seiko decided that the modern audience who are picking up the Seiko 5 Sports Divers cares more about fashion than function. Now, I’ll admit… I’ve never really taken advantage of the 200 meters of water resistance on my SKX. I’ve swum and showered wearing it, without issue. But just knowing that the SKX COULD go the depths, if I needed to push its limits, was very assuring, and gave me an extra sense of confidence and security when wearing it in the water. Further, the SKX had an ISO certification, which the 5KX no longer has.
Dimensions and Wearability
Both watches have nearly identical cases. In fact, I’d be shocked if they aren’t exactly the same cases, down to the polished and brushed surfaces. There are a few differences in variations in the cases that we’ve spoken about before – like the see-through case back on the Seiko 5 Sports vs the stainless steel case back on the SKX, and the drilled lug holes on the Seiko 5 Sports. Aside from that, they’re the same, even down to the coin edge dive bezel.
Their dimensions are identical, with only an ever so slight variation in thickness, since the see-through case back is just a hair thicker than the stainless steel case back – but not by any noticeable margin.
Both watches wear relatively thick and compact, with relatively short lug to lugs, and a 42mm diameter that can fit a wide variety of wrists without being overbearing. They both share 22mm lug widths, so make sure your straps are… Well, 22mm.
Should You Get the 5KX or SKX?
All in all, the differences between the two watches are subtle on paper, but really change the demographic who might want to pick up and own each watch.
The tried and true Seiko SKX is known for its reliability and toughness, in its 200 meters of water resistance, screw-down crown, and ISO certification, making it a professional dive watch. While this will likely be overkill for most, including desk divers such as myself, it instills a sense of confidence when wearing the SKX on your wrist – and is one heck of a cool backstory. Its aesthetic is much more “tool watch” than fashionable. In fact, the SKX is very reminiscent of older Rolex Submariners, when they were originally built purposely for divers before they morphed into the world-renowned luxury brand we all know today.
This makes the SKX a perfect choice for someone who will push their watch to its limits; and the depths of the ocean, like a professional diver. Further, given its history in horology and long-standing reputation, the SKX is also the perfect companion for any watch enthusiast who wants a watch that has a significant backstory.
The Seiko 5 Sports Divers, on the other hand, is made more for the desk diver who maybe works in an office and doesn’t push the limits of their watch too much. There’s no doubt the Seiko 5 Sports has a bit of a more refined look, and a huge array of color combinations to accent any style. While the 5KX certainly isn’t a frail watch that should stay protected in a watch box, unfortunately, its sub-par 100 meters water resistance rating and lack of a screw-down crown may be a dealbreaker for some enthusiasts who were expecting an upgrade to their already beloved SKX; and especially divers.
Seiko 5KX Specifications
- Diameter: 42.5mm
- Thickness: 13mm
- Lug to Lug: 46mm
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Water Resistance Rating: 100 meters (330 feet)
- Movement: 4R36 With Hacking and Handwinding
- Crystal: Hardlex
- See price on Amazon
Seiko SKX Specifications
- Diameter: 42.5mm
- Thickness: 13mm
- Lug to Lug: 46mm
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Water Resistance rating: 200 meters (660 feet)
- Movement: 7S26
- Crystal: Hardlex
- See price on Amazon
The Final Verdict
If you’re looking for a true dive watch with a ton of history and a cool backstory, it might still be worth hunting down a Seiko SKX, despite its discontinuation. It’s a watch that I think will continue to rise in value as they become more and more scarce over the years since they’ve been discontinued. This will make it a coveted part of many collector’s collections, and I’m really glad to own one.
If you’re someone who wears watches more for the fashion and cool factor, the new Seiko 5 Sports Divers will likely suit your needs. The 100 meters of water resistance means you can comfortably swim or shower with the watch on, and not have to baby it too much. This will be more than enough for most people’s needs everyday needs. The wide variety of color options means there’s almost certainly a color variation for anyone, and a couple of modern upgrades like a see-through case back and movement with hacking and hand winding make the watch a bit more modern and a viable option to pick up today. The 5KX is more widely available, and thus more affordable, and can easily be found for purchase at retailers like Amazon.