With more than 140 years of continuous watchmaking history to look back on, it’s not that hard to put together a Greatest Hits of Seiko labelled watches, although the Seiko name wasn’t introduced until 1924. There are countless genuine icons if you think about it. Watches like the Laurel, the Lord Marvel, the 62MAS, the Astron, or the early high-precision watches under the King Seiko and Grand Seiko subbrands, the list goes on and on. But perhaps the most iconic of all is the humble Seiko SKX. This shaped the image of Seiko dive watches since its launch in the late-1960s, eventually spawning the legendary SKX007 in the mid-1990s, one of the brand’s very best. It is a genuine horological masterpiece, not because it’s such an incredibly complex watch or finished to haute horlogerie standards, but because it was a really good, inexpensive watch ready to take a beating. Today we’re taking a closer look at three watches that keep this affordable and reliable spirit alive in virbant colourways; the Seiko 5 Sports SKX Style SRPK09, SRPK11 and SRPK13.
As Seiko celebrates the 55th anniversary of the Seiko 5 Sports this year, we’ve already covered the very cool SRPK17 anniversary edition, but we’re specifically looking at the new SKX models here. As said, SKX is one of the most important names in the brand’s history as far as awareness is concerned, as pretty much all of us instantly know what we’re dealing with. Most will probably have a mental image of the aforementioned SKX007 popping up. I won’t bore you with too many details, but in essence, the first Seiko 5 Sports SKX is the blueprint for the current Seiko 5 Sports collection and all derivatives that followed in its footsteps.
The Seiko 5 Sports range was revamped in 2019, although it was met with scepticism for multiple reasons. First and foremost was the discontinuation of the legendary SKX007 and the fact its replacement collection was downgraded from 200m to 100m of water resistance. That’s still more than enough to get you through daily chores and activities, but no longer a reliable companion for anything beyond the pool or a bit of snorkelling in the bay of an ocean. In return, we received a more focused range of urban- and leisure-oriented collections, in the style of the famous SKX of old. The three watches we’re looking at today combine the spirit of the SKX007 with vibrant colour schemes inspired by Seiko 5 Sports models from 1969.
The three Seiko 5 Sports SKX Style watches at hand have a 42.5mm wide stainless steel case with a height of 13.4mm and a 46mm lug-to-lug. In my book, that makes it a very wearable watch, which wears smaller than its initial dimensions suggest, but you can always debate about dimensions and proportions. The fact of the matter is, these will fit most people just fine. If you think otherwise, there’s always the 38mm Mid-Size collection as a smaller alternative. The case has a crown positioned at 4 o’clock, protected by a pair of guards, a signature styling element of the SKX Sports Style. The benefit is that it’s still very accessible to operate, yet does not dig into the wrist when wearing it.
On top of the case sits a unidirectional rotating bezel to time whatever you want to time, including a recreational dive in the ocean if needed. The insert varies between the three models, with a checker-board-like pattern on the SPRK09, a classic silver-on-black diving scale on the SRPK11 and a black insert with a silver and red scale for the SRPK13. All three have a five-minute graduation and a luminous pip at the top, but they do mix up the style for each watch quite a bit.
The other obvious difference between the three references at hand is the colours on the dials. First up, the SRPK09 is the quietest of the three, with a silver sunray-brushed dial. This is finished with a silver-coloured sloped minute flange. The SPRK11 has a bright orange dial with a horizontal black bar running across it, matched to a black and orange minute flange. Finally, the SRPK13 has a basic black dial but gets a healthy dose of colour thanks to the blue and green minute flange. The indices and hands are the same across all three references and are finished with LumiBrite inserts. The central seconds hand stands out thanks to its bright orange colour. The day-date window at three o’clock is finished with a faceted frame.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, I’d have to say it’s difficult to choose a favourite. There are elements in all three models that resonate with me, such as the subdued silver dial of the SRPK09, the orange dial with the black crossbar in the SRPK11 or the regatta-themed colours of the SRPK13. Regardless of which one floats your boat, the SRPK09, SRPK11 and SRPK13 all look very cool on the wrist and would be a perfect companions for any outdoor activity you might have planned. And in the end, it all comes down to personal preferences after all so I’m sure there’s at least one of the three that is to your liking.
Inside the Seiko 5 Sports SKX Style is the very well-known Calibre 4R36, a workhorse of a movement used in plenty of other models from the Japanese powerhouse. This automatic movement beats at a rate of 21,600vph and provides a power reserve of 41 hours. It indicates the hours, minutes and (hacking) seconds, as well as the day of the week and the date. The finishing is pretty much non-existent, which makes sense given the price point, yet you can see the movement ticking away through the open caseback. It’s regulated to run within +45 / -35 seconds per day, which isn’t exactly what you’d call precise but it’s common knowledge it generally runs well within that bandwidth.
All three references come on the same three-link stainless steel bracelet, which rattles a bit but wears nicely on the wrist. It’s fitted to a three-blade folding clasp which has a secure lock and push-button release. And although I’m not one to tell others how to wear a specific watch, I can see either of these three working very well on a cool and colourful NATO-style textile strap as well. Seiko sometimes puts the SKX Sports Style on such a strap, but in this case opted not to do so in respect of the original references from 1969 that served as inspiration.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact strategy when it comes to limited editions by Seiko, as we’ve recently addressed when covering the Seiko 5 Sports SRPK17 55th Anniversary Limited Edition. That one is limited to 15,555 pieces, a seemingly ridiculous high number but a number that makes at least a bit of sense when put in context. In other instances, like with the Peanut or Masked Rider editions, the production is limited to a much lower number (6,500 and 4,000 respectively) These three, however, a bit surprisingly perhaps, are part of the permanent collection which I applaud very much. Sometimes the limited edition game can become a bit tiresome, to be honest.
To me, the choice to have this on permanent offer signifies the everlasting popularity of the Seiko 5 Sports SKX Style. Apparently, the demand is out there for these watches to sell in the thousands. It won’t be too hard then, to track down one of these even if your local Seiko Boutique or selected retailer might not have it in stock when you step inside. And at a price of just EUR 350, you’re hard-pressed to find a watch that can match these three stylish summer watches, not in the least regarding horological relevance.
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