5 Reasons Seiko SKX is the Best Entry-Level Mechanical Beater

by Karlton Miko Tyack  |  in Watches

Ever since the 1996 debut of the Seiko SKX watches, these durable dives have become the gateway mechanical watch for would-be collectors. We’re going to explore why they’re such a go-to timepiece with five reasons Seiko SKX is the best entry-level mechanical beater. 

After all, many in the watch community consider them to be the best value tool watch out there! This is especially true of the SKX007.

SKXs are an assembly of best practices, starting with Seiko’s first mechanical dive in 1965, the 62MAS which borrowed a lot from the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. It took over three decades of development and SKX ancestors before we’d be introduced to the 7S26 versions we know today.

Let’s start with the basic question…

Photo by Thang Cao

What is a Seiko SKX?

Seiko SKX watches are high-functioning divers with 200m water resistance and a unidirectional 120-click bezel. Unlike other budget watches, the bezel features half-minute increments. They’re discontinued by Seiko, but are still widely available.

They run on the in-house 7S26 caliber, a basic 21-jewel automatic movement. It features 40 hours of power and beats at 21,600 per hour, making for a smoother second hand than a quartz watch

The most popular is the SKX007, a 43mm, black dial, black bezel version, often credited as an iconic Submariner homage. This version is so popular, it’s been remixed a handful of times to accommodate the different tastes of collectors.

For example, the SKX013 is mostly just a 37mm version of the 007. The SKX173 is a North America-specific black dial watch, differentiated from the 007 by its lollipop hand and harder-edged indices.

Other popular versions are the orange SKX011 Seiko “Candy Corn” or “Orange Boy,” and the iconic SKX009 Pepsi bezel variation.

Seiko SKX011J1

The orange face, hard black-lined indices, and yellow bezel markers give this watch a cheery and playful look compared to the other SKX divers. Regardless, it still has all of the professional functionalities, including the 21-jewel automatic movement, 200m of water resistance, luminous hands and markers, and the unidirectional bezel. If you want a robust SKX diver that’s just a bit more fun, go for this eye-catching timepiece.

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Seiko Dive SKX009K2

One of Seiko’s classic SKXs, this bang-for-buck diver features a 1/4th red bezel and crown at the 4 o’clock position. This isn’t rare for a Seiko dive, but is a fun asymmetrical departure compared to many traditional Pepsi bezels. The flexible bracelet looks like an Oyster-Jubilee hybrid, made of rounded links that are longer in the middle for added complexity and shine. 

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If the model reference ends with the letter J, the watch is made in Japan for their domestic market. The SKX007J is one example. If it ends with the letter K, it’s built for the international market, likely made in Malaysia, Singapore, or South Korea. 

The face of the J versions feature a “21 Jewels” mark on the dial, and the back of the case is marked with a “Japan WP,” whereas the K model simply reads “WP.” The J versions also have a slightly sharper finish.  

Collectors like the nuances that set the Js apart from the Ks, so they tend to be the more desirable. But if you prefer a cleaner, more minimalist dial, go for the Ks. It’s all about your preferences!

Is a Seiko SKX Worth it?

The popular answer is yes. Any roundup of best entry-level dives or best beater watches will always include an SKX.

It boasts maximum performance, endurance, and a classic dive design that is exceedingly versatile. You can find a Seiko SKX007 in the $350-$400 range. A highly-rated dive watch with 200m water resistance, a unidirectional bezel, shock-resistance, and a good lume can easily set you back a grand. Style-wise, the dial goes with basically any strap you pair it with.

Did we mention that SKXs are low maintenance and easily serviced?

Seiko 5 SRPD watches feature a similar style, are definitely cheaper, and run on the updated, hacking 4R36. However, for just $100-$200 more, an SKX is ISO-certified, has 100m more water resistance, and is linked to a long history of Seiko divers.

Keep in mind that this kind of pedigree usually comes at a bigger premium. For example, a Tudor Pelagos or Black Bay, high-end Swiss divers, can cost anywhere from $4000-$5000. Meanwhile, their more famous brother, the Submariner, can set you back a cool $10,000.

Also, these Seikos last. Which brings us to the next question…

How Long Does a Seiko SKX Last?

Even if you subject your SKX to intense daily activity, it will easily last you a good ten years or more. With diligent servicing, the SKX007 has been known to last up to 25 years or more.

Truly, any mechanical watch can last forever. Since it’s manual, any malfunctioning part of an SKX can be revived or replaced.

Why is Seiko SKX So Popular?

The main two reasons are the quality to price ratio, and the variations offered. If you have smaller wrists, you can go for the 37mm SKX013. If you love color, the SKX011 and SKX009 are fun options. 

Pop culture-wise, one of the SKX ancestors, the 6105-8009, was famously worn by Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now.

Seiko SKX007 (Rubber Strap)

This watch is Seiko’s quintessential diver and its most popular, likely because it makes you look like a discerning collector!

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5 Reasons Seiko SKX is the Best Entry-level Mechanical Beater

Now that we’re caught up, let’s wrap up with our five reasons why SKX divers are such a great beater!

1. They’re Durable and ISO-certified

As most dive watches, SKXs have a stainless steel construction. A Seiko-specific perk is that the 7S26 caliber features the patented Diashock protection system, so the rotor is designed to handle even the most severe shocks. 

As we mentioned earlier, they’re ISO-certified dive watches. This means they were subjected to 25% more depth pressure than they’re rating. At 200m water resistance, SKX watches can actually survive the pressures at 250m deep. That’s a durable watch!

2. They’re Discontinued

Though their iconic aesthetic has been taken up by the Seiko 5 SRPDs, the Seiko SKX007, SKX009, and the SKX013 are discontinued. This is a good reason to get in on an SKX while they’re still widely available. If you already have one variation of an SKX and are considering the others, now is the time to catch them all!

3. They’re Affordable

Even as the price slowly goes up since its discontinuation, SKX watches are still bang-for-buck beaters. Anywhere between $300-$500, you own a tool watch with an automatic movement, water-resistance, high-luminosity, and style.

4. They’re Classic, Stylish, and Versatile

The timeless diver dial is super legible and features a day-date function. You can pair it with a Jubilee style bracelet for smarter looks, a rubber strap, or a NATO strap for a more utilitarian-cool casual situation. Since they’re tool watches, they even go well with leather rally straps.

5. They’re a Highly-Regarded Watch

For every reason we outlined here, the SKX is a cult classic in the watch community. Even the most high-end collectors respect the classic design, solid build, and decent quality for price. The SKX is truly a discerning man’s watch!

The Forever Beater Watch

Whether you’re looking for an entry-level beater or you’re acquiring a new dive for your collection, the SKX is an excellent option. They’re affordable and are known for Seiko’s Japanese efficiency.

We hope this was helpful! What are some reasons you love the SKX watches? Let us know by hitting us up on Instagram or on Twitter!