Is The Seiko SKX Worth Buying in 2022?
March 15, 2022
If you’re searching for an affordable mechanical dive watch, you’re bound to come across the Seiko SKX eventually. It has become legendary as a rugged, capable, and attractive dive watch option.
Seiko discontinued the SKX line in 2018. And though you can still find new ones, scarcity has led to significant price increases, especially for the SKX013. And today a lot of great alternatives to the SKX are available, including some more modern offerings from Seiko.
So is it worth buying the Seiko SKX007, SKX009, or SKX013 in 2022? If you are looking for those very specific things that the SKX offers, then it might be. For everyone else, no, it probably isn’t. I’ll dive more into both answers below.
Is the Seiko SKX a good watch?
Yes, the Seiko SKX007, along with its siblings the SKX009 and SKX013, is a pretty good watch.
For years, the Seiko SKX007, and to a similar extent the SKX009 and SKX013, were THE go-to affordable dive watches. A common answer for anyone looking to get their first mechanical watch was this: just get an SKX. Even those with a collection of more expensive watches often added an SKX to the bunch as their inexpensive “beater.” If you were looking for a solid, respectable watch at a very affordable price, the SKX series were some of the best—if not the best—options available.
The Seiko SKX is a well-made and mechanically reliable watch. The stainless steel case is solid, with polished sides and brushed lugs. The tall, 120-click unidirectional dive bezel is easy to grip, and the action is positive and fairly smooth. The aluminum bezel insert is easy to read, and so is the highly visible dial, with its wide hands and large, round hour markers. And the Seiko LumiBright on those hands and dial markers is bright and strong. It has become the de facto measuring stick for lume.
The SKX007, SKX009 and SKX013 all provide both a date and day display, which adds to their utility.
Powering these SKX watches is the Seiko 7s26 automatic mechanical movement. It’s not a fancy movement, but it’s a workhorse, and has reliably served many, many watch owners over the years.
A true dive watch
The Seiko SKX007, SKX009, and SKX013 are true dive watches. They have a water resistance of 200m / 20ATM, feature a screw-down crown, and are all ISO 6425 certified for diving.
The SKX line descends from the legendary Seiko divers of the 1960s and 70s. So they have a very respectable pedigree, from a world-class watch brand with a heritage reaching back to 1881.
The Seiko SKX: a modern classic
On top of all that, the Seiko SKX is just a good-looking watch, no matter which model you choose. It has a classic diver aesthetic that looks great on a bracelet, on rubber, on leather, or on a Nato strap. And they all wear very well. The SKX007 and SKX009 are 42mm watches, but with a comparably short 46mm lug-to-lug length, they wear incredibly well on a wide range of wrists. And if you want something smaller, the Seiko SKX013 has you covered. With a 38mm wide case and lug-to-lug length of 44mm, it shrinks the SKX design to better fit smaller wrists.
This style, wearability, and heritage, combined with solid construction and functional utility have made the Seiko SKX a modern classic. Add with so many SKX owners out there, both casual wearers and watch enthusiasts alike, and it’s easy to see why the SKX is such a recommended watch.
What the Seiko SKX lacks
The SKX isn’t a perfect watch, however, if there even is such a thing. There are a handful of knocks against it.
First, and most obvious, is the movement. The mechanical 7s26 movement that powers the Seiko SKX007, SKX009 and SKX013 is a workhorse automatic movement, sure. But it is also a very basic movement that doesn’t have hacking seconds. So precisely setting the time takes a bit of extra effort. It also doesn’t hand wind—you need to move the rotor to wind the watch or get it to start again when it stops. In defense of the 7s26, however, it takes very motion to get it going. A quick shake and the watch is running again. But hacking and hand winding are standard on nearly every modern watch movement, so the 7s26 shows its age and simplicity by lacking these features.
The Seiko 7s26 also is not the most accurate movement, with an accuracy ranging from -20 to +49 seconds per day. Many SKX owners will probably find that their watch runs well inside of this range, but such a wide accuracy specification again shows the basic nature of the movement.
The crystal on the Seiko SKX is Hardlex, Seiko’s proprietary hardened mineral glass. While it is much harder than a plexiglass crystal, Hardlex isn’t as scratch-resistance as sapphire glass.
The SKX comes on either a rubber strap or a jubilee bracelet. While both watch bands have their charms, neither is very high quality. Many owners put their SKX on an aftermarket strap, like a Barton Elite Silicone band or replacement bracelet by STRAPCODE or Uncle Seiko.
The price of an SKX
And finally, the price. At one time, you could get a Seiko SKX for under $200, making it a real deal. Even after Seiko discontinued the SKX watches in 2018, you could still find the watches for between $200 and $300 brand new. But now, as the stock of new SKX watches dwindles, prices have climbed significantly. At the time of this writing, a new Seiko SKX007 or SKX009 starts around $400, with many prices above $500. And if you are looking for a new Seiko SKX013, it could cost you over $600. That’s a lot to pay for such an “entry-level” watch.
So, all things considered, you might still ask yourself: should I buy a Seiko SKX in 2022?
Yes, the Seiko SKX is worth buying in 2022
If you are dead-set on getting a classic, rugged, no-frills automatic Seiko dive watch in a fairly wearable size, the Seiko SKX fits the bill. If you want a relatively affordable dive watch and insist that it comes with the heritage of a long-standing brand, the SKX will deliver.
Or if you have read the many articles and heard all the podcasts that say everyone should have a Seiko SKX in their collection, or that everyone should start with an SKX, and you want to be a part of that club, nothing else can substitute.
If these things are important to you and you don’t mind the extremely inflated prices of a new SKX or don’t mind buying pre-owned (still at elevated prices, most likely), then yes, the Seiko SKX is worth buying in 2021. It is a fun and functional watch, and like I said a modern classic.
You can find a new Seiko SKX007 on Amazon, or a pre-owned SKX007 on eBay. My recommendation is to go pre-owned.
The Seiko SKX009 can be found on Amazon or on eBay as well, usually for a lot less than you’d pay for a new SKX007. And if you’re looking for a Seiko SKX013, the best bet to find one on eBay. But prices for the 013 are generally the highest of all the SKX models.
No, the Seiko SKX is not worth buying in 2022
But for most people, no, the Seiko SKX probably isn’t worth buying in 2022. The SKX007, SKX009, and SKX013 aren’t nearly the great value proposition that they once were. From a design, technical, and value perspective, there many are dive watches available today that have as much or even much more to offer than the SKX.
So if what you really want in a Seiko SKX because, well, it’s an SKX, by all means, do it. But if you really just looking for a great affordable dive watch or dive-style watch, there are many, many different options available that will probably suit your needs as well as or better than the discontinued Seiko.
Here are some alternatives to the Seiko SKX.
Seiko 5 Sports
The Seiko 5 Sports dive style watches seem to be the clear successors to the SKX in Seiko’s lineup, at least from a design perspective. In fact, the watch community nicknamed them the “5KX”. With the Seiko 5 Sports watches, you get the heritage of the Seiko brand and the lineage of the Seiko 5 lineup, which goes back to 1963. Some people complain that the 100m water resistance rating and push-pull crown of the Seiko 5 keep it from being a true dive watch. But unless you are actually diving with it, the Seiko 5 sports should be perfectly fine for most people, most of the time. And the Seiko 5 sports line offers a range of colors, providing many more style choices than the SKX.
Seiko Prospex SRP777 Turtle
For an affordable, true 200m dive watch while staying within the Seiko family of divers, the Seiko Turtle is the obvious replacement for the SKX. The Turtle (which is a nickname, not the official name given by Seiko) is rich with heritage itself, having descended from the legendary Seiko divers of the past. Captain Willard, Martin Sheen’s character in the film Apocalypse Now wore one of its predecessors. And there are several Seiko Turtle variations to choose from. The most basic is the SRP777, which is closest in spirit to the SKX007. But there is also a Pepsi-bezel variant, the SRP779, the blue-dial SRP773, and the PADI Special Edition SRPE99.
For a bit more bling, you can go with one of the Save The Ocean versions, like the SRPD21 with its shimmering blue wave pattern dial that includes a shark fin peeking out from the waves. Or the SRPC91 with its blue gradient dial, which creates the look of sunlight disappearing into the ocean’s depths. There is even a gilt dial variant, the SRP775. The Seiko Turtles are slightly larger than the SKX at 45mm, but the cushion case design and short lug-to-lug allow them to fit comfortably and still look good, even on smaller wrists.
Seiko Prospex King Turtle SRPE03 and SRPE05
The Seiko SRPE03 and SRPE05, nicknamed the King Turtle, offer a few differences and enhancements over the standard Seiko Turtles. Most notable is the sapphire crystal, which many will see as a distinct improvement over the Hardlex glass found on other Seiko dive watches in this price range. Another is the more durable ceramic bezel insert. The King Turtle also features a cyclops magnifier over the day-date window for increased legibility and a waffle-patterned, textured dial for extra style.
If you’re looking for something a little more angular as opposed to the curvier case shapes of the SKX and Turtle, the Seiko Prospex Samurai may be the right watch for you. Available in many of the same dial and bezel configurations as the Seiko Turtle, the Samurai has a similar 4R movement and Hardlex crystal but is slightly less wide and slightly longer than the Turtle. It also has a date display, but not a date function. And the modern look of the watch is distinctly sharper, with angled lugs and case beveling.
Though it isn’t a Seiko, perhaps one of the best replacements for the Seiko SKX is the Orient Kamasu. Orient is owned by Seiko Epson, so the two brands are related but operate separately from one another. The Kamasu falls right into the price point where the SKX had reigned, yet it offers many improvements over the older Seiko. It’s a true dive watch with 20ATM / 200m of water resistance and a screw-down crown. With a wearable case size that’s 41.8mm wide, 46.5mm long lug-to-lug, and only 12.8mm thick, the Kamasu is also less chunky than the SKX. And it has a really legible dial with lots of lume and a day-date display. But the Kamasu adds sapphire crystal and more modern, in-house movement that’s not only reliable but provides the hacking and hand-winding capabilities that the SKX lacks. Though the oyster bracelet could use some improvement, it’s a good one for this price point, and certainly better than jangly jubilee found on the SKX. And the Orient Kamasu comes in several color options, including an eye-catching deep red, jade green, or a gilt-dial with gold and black bezel.
Similar, but even more affordable is the Orient Kanno. The Kanno is larger, with a 44mm case that’s 50mm long lug-to-lug. And it has a mineral crystal instead of sapphire. But if you have larger wrists and are looking for a mechanical watch that will cost less than many on this list, the Kanno could be a good option.
Other Orient Divers
There are a few other Orient dive watches worth mentioning here. Both have sapphire crystals and screw-down crowns, provide 200m of water resistance and use in-house Orient automatic movements that hack and hand-wind. The SAA0200 looks a lot like the Kamasu with some differences in the dial markers and comes in black or blue. The case of the RA-AC0K looks a lot like the Seiko SKX, with an off-set crown at 4:00. It also has an angled date-only window at 4:30. But the RA-AC0K is larger than the SKX, with a 43.4mm wide case that’s 51mm long lug-to-lug, much longer than the 44mm lug-to-lug measurement of the SKX. It’s available in several colors, including black, green, and Pepsi.
When online retailer Island Watch learned that Seiko was going to discontinue the SKX, founder Marc Frankel knew that the disappearance of the SKX would leave a hole in the watch landscape. So he created the Islander Automatic Dive Watch, his own replacement for the SKX. More than just a replacement, actually. At first glance, the case design and bezel design of the Islander look nearly identical to the SKX. But the Islander improves on many features. It uses an NH36 movement that provides hacking and hand-winding capabilities. It also includes a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, a luminous ceramic bezel insert, and a solid link oyster bracelet—all arguably improvements over the Seiko SKX. And with a starting price tag of $299, the Islander will probably run you less than a new SKX as well.
If you want a rugged, chunky diver as an affordable alternative to the Seiko SKX and don’t mind getting onto a waiting list to get it, look at Helm Watches. Helm offers several dive watch models, all with Seiko automatic moments, 300m water resistance, sapphire crystals, and highly legible dials. There are different styles and sizes to choose from as well: the 40mm Komodo and 42mm-43mm Khuraburi, Vanuatu, and Vanuatu Titanium. These watches seem to have earned a lot of fans, and have Jodi from the Just One More Watch YouTube channel has raved about them on more than one occasion. They are thick watches and are produced in limited batches that sell out quickly. But if that doesn’t put you off, and you have the wrist for them, check out Helm. They run between $275 and $375, plus shipping, and are available from helmwatches.com.
The Vaer D5 is a bit on the higher end as a Seiko SKX alternative, starting at $499. But these are really well-made dive watches from an up-and-coming microbrand, assembled in the USA with great technical specs. They are a really comfortable 40mm size as well, have a vintage aesthetic, and are available in multiple dial and strap combo options. Check out my full review of the Vaer D5, and then check the watches out yourself. They’re certainly worth a look as an alternative to the Seiko SKX, especially at the current new SKX prices.