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Like it’s brother the SKX007 and all of it’s spiritual predecessors (62MAS, 6105, 7002, etc), the SKX line from Seiko is well-known for it’s unbeatable value and legendary durability. The 009 is identical to the 007 in every way except for the bezel and dial colors, the 009 sporting a red/blue ‘pepsi’ bezel and dark navy dial instead of the more conservative all black ensemble of the 007. The SKX009 is an ISO 6425 certified diving watch, which means that not only can it maintain waterproofness to 200 meters, but also meets stringent standards for chemical, shock and magnetic resistance.
Within the actual diving community, you’re much more likely to find an SKX strapped to a wrist than any luxury offering from Rolex or Omega. It’s a watch that begs to beaten around, every nick and scratch inscribing the legend of it’s wearer’s misadventures. It comes shipped with a Seiko rubber bracelet or a stainless steel ‘Jubilee’ style bracelet, the latter increasing the cost by around $30. The watch itself wears fairly tall, especially with a NATO strap, but the short lugs make it a manageable 42mm watch for the small-wristed crowd.
Design and Appearance
The design of the SKX009 is very distinctly Seiko. While exhibiting some influence from early dive classics from Rolex and Blancpain, the SKX has an original design language that has evolved from 60 years of innovation. This is not a fashion-first design, each element of the case and dial serving a unapologetically utilitarian purpose. The large white Lumibrite enhanced markers are clearly legible, above and below water. The arrow tipped hands are easily distinguishable and also brightly illuminated when charged.
The seconds hand is a simple stick with a circular counter-balance. This aspect of the design has always slightly confused me. At some point in the evolution of the SKX design, the circular marker on the seconds-hand moved from the tip to the counter-balance. It seems to make a lot more sense on the tip, considering an illuminated counter-balance hardly gives one a confident reading of the seconds in the dark.
Another slightly nit-picky problem I have with the design: in some lights, the color of the markers and the hands don’t quite match. It’s not a deal breaker, but may inflame the OCD tendencies of some watch collectors. Overall, it’s a highly functional design that may even sneak it’s way into the boardroom unnoticed, given the proper strap.
The case is rather tall, with a mix of polished and brushed finishes. The crown is also large, unsigned, and uniquely located at the 4’o clock position. This positioning makes it a bit easier to adjust while on the wrist. The bezel is unidirectional and moves 120 clicks. The edges of the bezel are also very unique, with two layers of “pyramids” to make underwater grip easy to maintain. The back of the case is polished and exhibits Seiko’s classic “Tsunami” logo.
The overall finishing is nothing special, but given it’s price you should definitely temper your expectations. The sweeping curves and beveled edges are just dynamic enough to make you forget you are wearing a high-precision tool.
Movement and Manufacturing
In the watch industry there is a lot of fuss made about “in-house” manufacturing. There are only a few brands that have achieved this level of operational advancement, giving them the ability to manufacture there own movements instead of sourcing generic modules from companies like ETA or Sellita. Brands that have in-house manufacture capabilities (i.e. Rolex) can claim a huge premium in the market. It requires millions of dollars to invest in the equipment necessary to achieve this type of production, and those brands generally integrate those costs into the retail price of theirs offerings.
But Seiko is a curious beast, a company that has not only mastered production of their own mechanical movements, but also all of the associated parts and materials needed for complete watch assembly. They even make their own movement lubricants and luminous materials. So, why don’t Seiko watches cost 10x as much as they do? It’s a testament to the value proposition that Seiko has created.
The Seiko SKX009 is fitted with the Seiko 7S26 movement. This is a very basic and reliable movement with a day/date complication and a 40 hour power reserve. It lacks both hand-winding and hacking, but has a very clever mechanism (‘the magic lever’) that allows the rotor to charge the movement bi-directionally. This movement itself is manufactured by machines, and lacks any type of decoration or adornment. It’s not a pretty movement, but then again it’s not really meant to be.
There are reports of this movement lasting for decades without the need for servicing. If you need the hacking or hand-winding feature, you might want to check out Seiko’s mid-range selection of Prospex divers, which have the upgraded and equally reliable 6R15 movement. The 7S26 has a simple job to do, and it does it well, without much fanfare.
One last note, there are actually two slightly different production versions of the SKX009, the SKX009K and the SKX009J. The model with the “J” designation is assembled in Japan, while the model with the “K” designation is assembled in Malaysia. Both version use the same genuine Seiko parts. The “J” version is a bit harder to obtain and a bit more expensive as well.
There is a slight difference in the printing on the dial, the “J” version having “21 jewels” underneath “Diver’s 200m” as well as “Made in Japan” in small print on the bottom of the dial. Additionally, there are some that claim a slight difference in colorization and case finishing, while others maintaining that they are nearly identical.
I don’t have both variants to compare, but I’d venture to say that unless you are a hardcore Seiko collector, you’d be just as happy with the easier to obtain and cheaper “K” version of the watch.
Overall, the SKX line of diver’s from Seiko have cemented themselves in the top 5 lists of dive watch aficionado’s everywhere. And with good reason, a watch from a proven company with decades of dive watch heritage, paired with a technically superior build and legendary durability, you’ve got a modern classic that can be had for less than $250.
If you don’t mind the utilitarian styling and undecorated movement, you too can own a piece of diving history for what amounts to chump change in the watch collecting world.