10 for 10 Ep. 3: It was only a matter of time before the Seiko SKX got a mention, let's dive straight into it...
Episode 3 of 10 for 10. Ready for another watch? This is a series from WatchGecko that sets out to inform you, the reader about 10 watches branching over 10 different categories that combined offer an extremely versatile, enjoyable and rounded collection.All together coming in at a value less than £10,000. Some watches may be more expensive, some may be extremely affordable but together they will all come in less than £10,000.
The beater watch
Next up is a type of watch that has somewhat been created by the watch community. Unlike divers, chronographs and field watches, the beater watch is a little vaguer in its definition.
The 'need' for beater watches was somewhat birthed from the concept of owning watches that the owner would prefer to keep in better condition. A beater watch is something the owner straps to their wrist when doing activities that may involve manual labour, extreme sports or even something as simple as gardening. The well being and condition of the beater watch isn't a primary concern for the owner as beater watches are simply there to be the go-to watch for when things get a little more hands-on.
Once you start growing a collection, the need for a 'beater' watch increases, which is where this article comes in...
The Seiko SKX Diver
If you're invested in the watch community (which if you're reading this you probably are) you'll likely be very familiar with this watch. The SKX from Seiko has received success far greater than I imagine Seiko could ever believe. For a model that was introduced in 1996 alongside many other modern divers using the 7s26 movement on the surface, it may come as a shock to see why this specific model has risen to the success it has.
Searching terms online such as 'best entry-level watch' or 'first mechanical watch suggestions' will yield results where the SKX is unavoidable. I think it's time we break down the SKX feature by feature to really understand why.
The SKX has had many different examples in its lifetime - however, the particular one we have is the SKX009J1. If you're familiar with diving watches the SKX has everything you'd expect to see. The stainless steel sports watch comes in at 42mm wide with a thickness of 13.5mm the SKX is a modern proportioned piece. A lug to lug length of 46mm really assists this piece feels very wearable on the wrist - more on that later.
The 009 version has a red and blue 120 click rotating bezel, simple and reassuring to turn on the wrist.
Bold hour markers combined with easy to read lumed hands make up the core DNA of the SKX. A raised, angled seconds track can be found on this particular model around the rehaut just adding that further level of depth.
The lume used on the watch is Lumibrite, perfectly visible glowing a warm green colour. When the SKX is on the wrist you'll be viewing that dial through a hardlex crystal, this may not be the somewhat standard sapphire crystal we see on almost all watches today, but I don't think you can knock marks off of Seiko here bearing in mind the overall price of the watch.
The watch goes a step above average divers by offering both day and date display on the dial at the 3 o'clock position. The watch features a screw-down crown at the 4 o clock position assisting the 200m water resistance rating.
Powering the SKX is the Seiko 7S26 automatic movement. This movement was introduced alongside the SKX back in '96 and has gone on to become a standard option for affordable Seiko watches across many different models. It's robust construction, 41 hours of power reserve and ease of servicing has resulted in it becoming a fan favourite.
The SKX009 on the wrist
The SKX wears very comfortably on my 7 1/4 inch wrist. For a wrist which is used to a case width of 40mm maximum, I do enjoy strapping this 42mm diver to the wrist every now and then. One key feature of how a watch wears on the wrist is actually the lug to lug length of the case. Commonly we all look to case width to determine how a watch would wear - however lug to lug is equally as valuable information, case in point this SKX.
When wearing the SKX, I used the watch for all manner of activities with no issues at all, the SKX took them all in its stride. The watches wearable proportions and highly legibility dial makes it perfect for use more active work. The thickness of the piece doesn't feel too bulky at all.
It's 13.5mm thickness is a broken up into an 8mm thick case with a 5.5mm thick bezel, meaning you don't notice the bezel as much on the wrist when looking from the side of the watch.
Is the SKX the modern-day Submariner?
One key point that can be credited to the SKX as a positive is the continual rise in popularity of sports watches and the evolutionary advancements towards their increased versatility. This is something I have mentioned on the WatchGecko Online Magazine before (funnily enough talking about Rolex) so it's hard to imagine the SKX would be so popular if it wasn't for the market's opinion on how versatile diving watches has become.
Straps changing time...
The SKX009 reviewed comes on a diving rubber strap in a dark black colour. This suits the watches style naturally very well due to it's high resistance to water. Rubber straps are also one of the best options for activewear alongside nylon straps such as military style straps. With a lug width of 22mm, robust strap options for the SKX are available in abundance...
ZULUDIVER 284 Rubber Strap - BlueThe 284 from our ZULUDIVER collection on the surface is very similar to the standard Seiko strap, however, it favours a highly durable Italian rubber material that boasts many great properties. Freshwater, saltwater and UV, all things this watch strap is resistant to making it ideal for all manner of activities. I found the blue version of the strap received the most wrist time, picking up on the blue found on the Seiko's bezel.
Genuine H Link Shark Mesh 316L Stainless Watch Strap
The Shark Mesh is an age-old combination that we have been putting together here at WatchGecko for years. You really do get the best of both worlds here. As it's a mesh bracelet, it brings with it a slightly different dynamic to a traditionally depthless metal bracelet which when combined with its raw, chain metal like execution really enhances the watch's ability to go anywhere, do anything. Check out this WatchGecko classic for yourself here.
What we would change
For all of the SKX's positive points, there are also a couple of things I'm not as keen on. These actually resulted in me still going for an SKX as my personally beater watch, just a slightly different version...
Crown position - for me, I found the crown at the 4 o'clock position more of an annoyance than a positive with the SKX007. I've never felt a 3 o'clock crown position frustrating so would always favour a 3 over a 4. The crown guards on the SKX also don't help the time changing process.
Size - Even though the relatively short lug to lug distance helps the watch wear smaller than the advertised 42mm would lead you to think, I still would prefer a slightly smaller watch. This is purely personal taste however, for a 42mm watch the SKX007 wears impressively well. I personally went for the SKX031.This is a sub 40mm cased SKX coming in around 12mm thick. It has the crown at the 3 clock position rather than 4 and has improved framing around the day and date window. This normally comes with a black bezel, however, I've changed that out with a faded one. Unfortunately, this watch has been discontinued making it a little tricky to get your hands on one.
Why the SKX is the go-to 'beater'?
Well to start with the watch is built to an impressively high level for the price you pay. You get yourself a robust, reliable diver with a respected movement in a wearable size for an appealing price. The watch has a timeless classic design, not trying to be anything it isn't just doing all it needs to, affordably. Due to the popularity of the watch, servicing and parts are readily available and affordable. And failing all that, you could always just pick up a new one for £269...
Stay tuned to the blog for regular new episodes as well as our YouTube channel for extended looks at each watch featured.
*Originally published in 2019