In case you missed it, this year marks the 10th anniversary of Worn & Wound. Looking back over those 10 years, discussing the watches that have had the greatest impact on us as collectors, it quickly became clear that there was one watch (or close relative of) that served as a common thread connecting all of our experiences in this hobby in some way, shape or form: the Seiko SXK007. I’d wager there’s a good chance that you’ve crossed paths with this watch at some point in your own journey. See Worn & Wound’s 2015 review right here.
In an effort to articulate just what this watch has meant to us, we asked a few editors to tell us just how the SKX has affected their collection, their taste, or their view of watches in general with some personal stories. Few of us still have one, heck, some of us don’t even particularly like the watch, but it’s left a mark on each of us the same.
Has the Seiko SKX007 or any of its predecessors shaped your experience as a watch collector and enthusiast? Share your story in the comments below and we’ll discuss in an upcoming podcast.
I don’t have a particularly deep connection to the SKX007. In my earliest days of watch enthusiasm I found one, kept it for a short time, and traded it toward, if memory serves, a Seiko Monster that I liked quite a bit better. When I think of the SKX007, I think of what it led me to down the line, more than the watch itself. Even now, with the SKX007 out of production and a watch landscape that looks very different from the one I started in, it crosses my mind whenever I write about a new Seiko diver. It remains a skeleton key to understanding the complex world of modern Seiko sports watches. But does that mean it’s any good?
This might be my hottest take, but in my opinion, it’s not very good. I know, I know. Pure heresy, right? But I stand by the assertion that I laid out last year: that we’re all a bit better off with new entry points into Seiko divers, even though that necessarily means spending a bit more. If we care about growing the hobby, we should all want better watches on the wrists of people shopping for their first, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that the range of Turtles (regular, King, and Mini) are all objectively better than the SKX.
But that said, there’s still a lower priced entry point into real Seiko sports watches if the Turtle isn’t quite your thing, and it’s perhaps a bit more true to the SKX ethos, even if it’s not, strictly speaking, a full fledged, ISO certified diver. I’m speaking of course about the wide array of Seiko 5 Sports watches that were unveiled nearly two years ago. These, to me, have the charm that a lot of people speak about with the SKX, but in a watch with a movement that hand winds and hacks, and a case that to my eye is finished much better. And the dial options are endless, from literal carbon copies of the SKX007/009, to more modern and colorful textured dials. I own one with a sunburst blue dial, and after ripping the bracelet off and putting it on a cheap elastic fabric strap, it’s proven to be a solid weekend beater. Sure, the crown is of the push/pull variety, and as mentioned above, it’s not an ISO certified dive watch. But I’m taking this thing to the farmer’s market, and 100 meters of water resistance is nothing to sneeze at. Put your trust in gaskets, people!
I admit it’s a little strange that I’ve embraced the Seiko 5 Sports watches while dismissing the SKX. I think it all comes down to timing. When I first met the SKX, I was new to watches, hungry to learn, and always in search of something better. It didn’t take me long to find something I liked more, and I moved on. Now that I’ve experienced many more watches at a variety of price levels, it’s somehow easier for me to see the appeal of a watch like the Seiko 5 Sports, or the SKX (if that’s your thing). For me, these watches are palate cleansers. It’s a bonus that they’re also quite capable and can easily slide into any collection, either as permanent additions, or just stops along the way.
At the end of the day, I think the best thing the SKX did for the watch community was to create something to rally around. Every hobby needs a cult favorite at the entry point to get people excited. Something accessible, generally pretty likeable, and well respected by folks who have been around the block a bit. The SKX never resonated strongly with me, and I don’t miss it, but if it helped to develop an expectation of what you can obtain and reasonably expect in terms of quality for a few hundred bucks, I’m grateful for it.
I feel like the odd one out when it comes to the Seiko SKX. Nothing about it, aside from its highly accessible price and apparent robustness, ever really grabbed me. Handling multiple SKX007 and SXK009s at watch meet-ups over the years did little to change my mind either. But this isn’t the place to argue against its huge popularity. I’m the outlier, and I get that. Instead, I can appreciate a whole segment of this hobby and community where the humble SKX offers a great opportunity –modding.
It’s impossible to splash around for too long in the shallow (affordable) end of the watch scene without becoming aware of the SKX007, and that early awareness is usually followed up quickly by a whole array of SKX mods. While it’s entirely possible to turn your SKX into an homage of a more expensive luxury dive watch, I particularly like the fact that the majority of SKX mods that I see are a unique watch created to suit the tastes of one person. I like the individuality that goes along with them. The fact that you can put together your own combination of aftermarket parts and never see another one the same is testament to the sheer number of bezel and insert options, dials, hands and almost anything else you can think of that are readily available from a large number of vendors.
Despite not really liking the stock SKX007, and having a lack of dexterity and confidence in this area, I’ve been close to giving it a go myself. The online community offering support and encouragement is huge, and even knowing how to order from Yobokies’ photobucket gallery of parts felt like you were part of a secret club. With a surge of accessible vendors offering modding parts and tools, even the Yobokies store is now a modern web store. Sourcing parts and working out how to put it all together couldn’t be easier. There are two main things currently stopping me. Firstly, I just can’t settle on a combination of dial, hands, bezel and insert. Secondly, I have a worry deep inside that once I’ve completed my first SKX mod, the second, third and fourth will soon follow.
Without wishing to speak badly of this much loved model, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a pretty basic watch built on a budget. A common modification that I would view as an upgrade rather than simply an amendment is to swap out the SKX’s mineral crystal for an AR coated sapphire one. The majority of the remaining modifications though are cosmetic in nature, and from what I can gather are generally fairly simple to accomplish with the aid of some YouTube instructions, the right tools and a little patience. Bezel and insert changes, new dial and hands, switching in a signed crown – these are all things that are achievable to most people and really transform the SKX into something special and personal.
If you’re like me and think that any tinkering, regulating and servicing of a movement is probably best left to the trained professionals, but still want to get satisfaction from knowing how things are put together and being able to do it yourself, the SKX represents an opportunity far greater than the modest watch itself. So why has the SKX been the go-to modding watch for some time now? The two qualities I mentioned above (price and robustness) plus the fact it was produced in large numbers made it the perfect candidate for modding. I guess it can’t be all that bad to start with either. I still don’t love the watch, but I love this whole aspect of the watch community that has grown up around it.
The year was 2011 and the rule was strict, “No phones in class, not even once or you’re gone”. How in the world was I supposed to track how much time this torturous (and necessary to graduate) class had left? The only logical answer was to start wearing a watch. All of my class notes were being written with a fountain pen, and a mechanical watch seemed like the next step. I was fascinated with all things esoteric, and at the time a mechanical was just the thing I needed. A tiny little machine with the single purpose of telling the time, powered by the movement of my wrist, sealed in an ultra waterproof metal case? Sold.
I’m a serial researcher. It doesn’t matter what I’m buying, I have to do the deep dive to make sure I’m getting exactly what I want. It took me two weeks to settle on which irrigation controller to buy for my lawn. Turns out that the world of watches was even more deep than I had thought. After hitting the forums (admittedly during classes with professors that were a bit less strict on “checking” your phone), a clear first choice was emerging — the Seiko SKX line of dive watches. They’re rock-solid, built tough, have an undeniably classic aesthetic, and didn’t break the bank — ideal for a college student who wants something nice that’ll last without blowing through the budget. One of the perks of being the guy who both “has everything” and is “impossible to shop for” is that my mom happened to ask if there was anything I wanted for the holidays that year. A few days later, the SKX173 was on my wrist. While I debated between the 007 and the 173, something about the rectangular indices and different seconds hand resonated more with me.
This watch opened up a whole world of strap swapping, gentle modding, and overall enthusiasm into the world of watches. It allowed me to bond with a co-worker over micro brands. He unfortunately passed away far too young, but from time to time I check out his post history when I’m feeling nostalgic. More research and enthusiasm around the SKX led me to this very site that you’re reading this on. Without a doubt, the SKX173 will stay in my collection forever. It was the watch that got me into watches, and for that, it will always have a permanent residence in my watch box.
The Seiko SKX007 is as ubiquitous as it is functional, it’s the everyman’s diver. In a world where so often function takes a back seat to form, Seiko has produced a classically styled watch that remains at its heart a true tool watch. And an affordable one at that. I hate to admit it, but I’ve never owned one, but it has definitely had an effect on my watch collection. When I first began to lean toward dive watches, I of course started to look at Seikos. On the numerous online dive watch forums, I would browse various posts with people’s divers to see what was out there and what moved the needle for me. And of course, there were lots of Seikos, including the SKX007. It definitely caught my eye, the overly functional form, with those enormous and bright lume plots and the arrow tip minute hand. So many times I nearly bought one, but I kept going back to the vintage Seikos, like the 6309 and the 6105 models. I’ll be honest, at first I wasn’t too keen on the dial/hands combo. But it grew on me, and eventually I decided I had to have a Seiko diver. Being a ‘vintage guy’, I passed on the modern SKX007 and went with its older relative, a 6309-7040. When you compare these two, you can readily see the roots of the design that led to the SKX007.
I absolutely love everything about the 6309, and that love for its design details kind of soured me on the detail evolution seen on the SKX007. In short, it just isn’t for me. The case became too skinny with the odd crown guard, and the day/date window looks a bit anemic to me. But at least they kept the bezel and hands, and I do like the second hand with the back-end lollipop tip. I am also vehemently averse to the jubilee style bracelet, but that’s an easy fix with so many aftermarket options out there. So, even though I’ve never owned an SKX007, it has definitely influenced my collecting taste by leading me backwards to its ancestors.
My personal taste idiosyncrasies aside, the SKX007 has certainly left its indelible mark on the watch collecting world. It is at its core an extremely well designed diver that is overly robust and functional, and at a price-point that is accessible to all. It is basically a purpose-built tool watch diver that is equally at home on a desk diver as it is on a professional diver. I know many collectors that have dozens of rare and very expensive watches that have an SKX007 in their collection as an every day, grab and go watch that they can wear without worry. It has also been a gateway watch for many folks, starting with one and then branching out as their watch addiction takes hold….
I have owned, and still own, a lot of Seikos. I have reviewed a lot of Seikos. But somehow, the one Seiko I’ve never owned is the SKX007, perhaps the most important semi-modern Seiko to the enthusiast crowd. Though, in its heyday, a 007 could be had for a couple of hundred bucks, or less, I managed never to pick one up. The Submariner-of-sub-$500-dive-watches somehow always eluded me. And, perhaps, that was because of their sheer popularity. They were always around. Friends and colleagues had them. I didn’t feel a need. Now that I’m much further down the watch collecting rabbit hole, I have to say I’m sorry I didn’t own one, but think that it might be too late for me.
Now, it’s, of course, literally never too late to own any watch, but in terms of my ability to appreciate it for what it is, or was, I think the ship has sailed. While I think in some sense the idea of an “entry” watch is an insulting concept, as any watch can be both your first and last and there’s nothing wrong with that, for collectors, the 007 is such a great watch to have owned early on. I recall seeing them back in the day and thinking along the lines of “oh, it’s just another dive watch,” but now that I’ve seen a countless number of dive watches, I realize it wasn’t. The 007 was a truly tough watch with a design language that speaks to Seiko’s history, and more importantly perhaps, distinguished it from a sea of similar watches. As a watch to establish your tastes with, for the price, it really was unrivaled.
As such, it’s a sacred watch for so many watch enthusiasts. It’s an old friend that never leaves your watch box because, even if it is less worn these days, you tie to it the memory of your early days as a collector. It’s a standard on which you’ve built your collection. When reading about or handling a new watch, it’s always in your mind. How does it compare to the 007 you cherish, that you got for $150? That’s a two-way road, of course. It set a very high standard, particularly for the price, that is hard to beat and often can’t be.
But, sitting here today with a colleague’s 007 on my wrist, I do get it. In fact, I get it more than I used to. It’s a solid, purposeful diver with no bells or whistles. The lume-filled applied markers I’ve come to expect from the brand are not present, instead there is a flat, pad-printed dial. And you know what? I like that. Like a vintage Sub, it looks more like a tool than a wrist-accessory (not that my precious SPB149 is just an accessory, but I’m not going diving either). Perhaps as watches get more complex and manufacturing more capable, particularly at lower prices, a return to something so simple and true will be in demand.
The case, though perhaps a touch large for current tastes at 42.5mm, makes up for it with an easy-to-wear lug-to-lug of 46mm. The only thing that throws me a bit is the 22mm lug width, which just looks a bit wide to my eyes. But more importantly, it has those great Seiko curves. That rounded off, polished underside that lets your wrist flex and deceives the eye into reading the case as thinner than it really is. The crown at four not only increases comfort, but ties it into the rich history of Seiko divers, bringing the Capt. Willard to mind. Though inexpensive and easy to overlook, the 007 packs a whole story behind its design in a way that only a watch can.
Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps now is actually the perfect time for me to pick up a 007. Before, it was just a watch, and now, it’s both a symbol of what can make an affordable watch so great, and an era that is slightly passed. The 007, as I’m sure you are aware, is no longer in production. The similarly-styled Seiko 5 Sports has taken up the mantle of the design, but with a different purpose at heart. Though perhaps its simple appearance was a sign of a different era of manufacturing, the result is a watch that just was what it was. It wasn’t meant to be flashy on Instagram, stand out on a table at a watch meetup, or sell out in mere moments. It just was meant to tell the time, above and below water. How oddly refreshing.
My first serious exposure to this hobby was a bit unusual. Much of it revolved around rather high end manufacturers in the pre-hype days, with my taste being informed by hanging out with the likes of Ben Clymer in the early days of Hodinkee (think auction scenes, high-end indies, and nerding out over A series Royal Oaks and gilt dial Subs). Needless to say, it didn’t take long to realize that my budget was a universe away from where my heart was (even at pre-boom prices). Thankfully, I quickly found my own ways to enjoy the hobby. This hinged on my discovery of Seiko dive watches, and the SKX in 007 and 009 guise in particular.
Jumping into the world of Seiko divers was revelatory. Here was a group of watches I could nerd out over in the same way I enjoyed in the high end stuff, with the noted difference that I could afford what I was looking at. The eventual experience of owning a few, flipping a few, and ultimately keeping a few, served to broaden my view of watches as a whole, rounding out my perspective on where and how I could find enjoyment in this hobby.
Today, the watch with the longest tenure in my own collection is the Seiko 7002, a predecessor to the iconic SKX watches. It’s the last watch I’d sell, partly because it’s not worth much, but because it keeps me grounded in those first years of the hobby. Everything was new, everything was exciting, and this was my own little slice of it. Now, more than 10 years later, the 7002 takes me back to that place, and grounds me in looking for the things that really matter in this hobby, which ain’t the price tag.
This is a watch that I wear strictly for my own enjoyment, and encourages me to actively question what makes me enjoy the other watches I’ve added through the years. It’s not flashy, it’s not impressive to anyone outside of a very small group of people, and frankly, it’s a little unruly on the wrist (and requires a good bit of movement to keep running). But none of that matters, it’s the watch that pulled me in, and the watch that gave me some agency in this hobby. For that, it’s earned its keep in my watchbox.