The Seiko SKX007 and its family of Seiko Beater Divers

In this article we will not examine a rare chronograph, a long-forgotten military watch, an historic aviation piece, nor any vintage timepiece that will make a record sale at Bonhams. We will not argue about exquisite calibers, or exotic methods of construction. We will not analyze avant-garde design. We will focus on a type of watch that every person who loves watches absolutely must have. The Beater watch, a Seiko SKX007.

This category encompasses all the watches we wear most frequently, our go-to watches, watches that we use for our day-to-day activities. These watches usually are used on the beach, when we do sports, and any time we do not want to risk our most beloved (and usually expensive) watches. Beaters take most of our wrist time quietly, and we can depend upon them. The definition of what constitutes a beater timepiece is of course shaped by one’s lifestyle and budget. Granted, some people use in their everyday activities a Lange & Söhne Datograph, or a Patek Philippe, or even maybe a Rolex Submariner Comex (ref.5514). We will not discuss those guys here; we will deal instead with the 95% of the watch population, who love to wear a mechanical watch and also live in the real world. (It should be noted that the definition of the beater watch is a Casio G-Shock; but we at Monochrome insist upon the beauty of a mechanical timepiece).

Seiko SKX-007 - 11

So, setting aside quartz watches, and also keeping in mind that we’re referring to watches that are accessible to everyone, we are ready to examine here a timepiece that it is cheap, a watch that can withstand almost everything you throw at it and more, has style, has pedigree, is mechanical, can be worn in almost any circumstance and most importantly, is a watch that if dropped, scratched, or otherwise lost to some disaster you will not grieve over. We will argue that perhaps the greatest beater watch of all time is the all-time classic offering from the Japanese watchmaking giant, the Seiko SKX007.

The history of the Seiko SKX007 starts in 1965 with the introduction of the first mechanical Seiko diver, the 6217-8000/8001, or as Seiko aficionados refer to it, the 62MAS. This model was mechanical of course and was rated to 150m and it had borrowed many stylistic cues from the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. After three years in production, Seiko introduced the iconic 6105, a diver watch that put the Japanese into a very strong position in the market. The 6105 was at that time cheap, easily accessible and also very, very reliable. This latter point’s biggest proof was that many U.S Soldiers in the Vietnam War were quite fond of this model. The 6105 could withstand almost anything. Before its production ended in 1977, it came in two distinct cases: the 6105-8000 (the cushion case) and its most famous sibling, 6105-8009 (the turtle case), which was immortalized forever as the watch worn by Captain Benjamin L. Willard, portrayed by Martin Sheen, in the movie Apocalypse Now. The 6105 had two calibers (6105A and 6105B) and was waterproof to 150m as well.

Seiko SKX-007 - 12

In 1975, Seiko introduced the Tuna, a purpose-built professional diver with many innovations in its design and construction. At that point Seiko decided to more vividly differentiate its diver-watch offerings and set a clear demarcation between its professional line (starting in 1967 with the 6215) and its sports/amateur divers line. So from 1975 onwards this gap widened, but without any noticeable worsening of performance in their more basic divers. The record of the 6105 and the qualities it proved to have (functional, durable, cheap) had earned Seiko divers a place in the hearts and minds of potential buyers around the globe. I think the concept of the beater watch as defined in this article took shape with that specific model, and has continued to characterize this line of divers all the way to the present.

The predecessor of the 6105 launched in 1977. The introduction of the 6306/9 stayed true to the inherent qualities we touched on earlier. The 6306, marketed earlier in Japan (JDM), and had a cushion case and a 21-jewel caliber that ran at 21,600bph; its production lasted up until 1981. Its brother, the 6309, had a 17-jewel caliber and was produced up untill 1988 in many variations (6309-7040/9 and later 6309-7290, 729A, 729B). The 6309, available in all parts of the world except Japan, became a staple for the working diver, for the spear fisherman, and for the recreational swimmer. It became a hit because it had all the properties of a good mechanical watch, it was superbly executed, and above all it had a great price tag.

Seiko SKX-007 - 13

The 7002 replaced it 1988; this model came in seven variations with a caliber having 17 jewels and running at 21,600bph. Seiko changed the design of the case to a slimmed-down version, like the one we see on the Seiko SKX007, a case inherited from the 6309-7290. The 7002 was the very first non-prospex (professional grade diver) that had a water resistance of 200m (for the late series, the first 7002 were resistant up to 150m), while at the same time it had a unidirectional 120-click bezel. The 7002 was another one of those rugged, cheap divers from Seiko. The model had great success on the market and was especially favored by the personnel of various military forces around the world. It was replaced in 1996 by the 7S26 series of watches.

So as we have established, the SKX007 (7S26 series) has a great pedigree; its ancestors were used and abused in the harshest conditions but always kept running. The 6309 and the 6105 are especially considered all-time classic divers nowadays, and although they were produced in huge numbers, their prices on the vintage market continue to climb steadily. For an excellent and all original 6105-8009 you must spend 1000+ euros, while for a great condition 6309 you need half of that. So, is the Seiko SKX007 a worthy descendant of this beater diver line form Seiko?

Seiko SKX-007 - 5

Before we go on we must note that Seiko is marketing so many variants of the 7S26 diver that it is very hard to truly keep track on them (007J +K, 009J+K, 011, 171, 173, 175 and the list goes on). For the purpose of the article we will stick to their best seller the SKX007.

The SKX007 is an ISO certified diver watch, which is a very important distinction since it specifies a tool watch that is certified for actual scuba diving use in accordance with the very stringent standards set by the ISO organization:

ISO 6425 standard for diving watches

The standards and features for diver’s watches are regulated by the International Organization for Standardization in the ISO 6425 standard.

  • Besides water resistance standards to a minimum of 100 m depth rating ISO 6425 also provides minimum requirements for mechanical diver’s watches (quartz and digital watches have slightly differing readability requirements)
  • The presence of a unidirectional bezel with at least at every 5 minutes elapsed minute markings and a pre-select marker to mark a specific minute marking.
  • The presence of clearly distinguishable minute markings on the watch face.
  • Adequate readability/visibility at 25 cm (9.8 in) in total darkness.
  • The presence of an indication that the watch is running in total darkness. This is usually indicated by a running second hand with a luminous tip or tail.
  • Magnetic resistance. This is tested by 3 expositions to a direct current magnetic field of 4,800 A/m. The watch must keep its accuracy to ± 30 seconds/day as measured before the test despite the magnetic field.
  • Shock resistance. This is tested by two shocks (one on the 9 o’clock side, and one to the crystal and perpendicular to the face). The shock is usually delivered by a hard plastic hammer mounted as a pendulum, so as to deliver a measured amount of energy, specifically, a 3 kg hammer with an impact velocity of 4.43 m/s. The change in rate allowed is ± 60 seconds/day.
  • Chemical resistance. This is tested by immersion in a 30 g/l NaCl solution for 24 hours to test its rust resistance. This test water solution has a salinity comparable to normal seawater.
  • Strap/band solidity. This is tested by applying a force of 200 N (45 lbf) to each spring bar (or attaching point) in opposite directions with no damage to the watch or attachment point.
  • The presence of an End Of Life (EOL) indicator on battery powered watches.

Testing diving watches for ISO 6425 compliance is voluntary and involves additional costs, so not every manufacturer presents their watches for certification according to this standard.

Seiko SKX-007 - 8

It’s really a very impressive accomplishment for a cheap watch to meet these criteria. Furthermore, the Seiko SKX007 has a 200m water resistance, a 41mm case with 22mm lugs, a 120-click unidirectional bezel, a day/date display and a screw down crown situated at 4 o’ clock. The case is constructed from thick stainless steel (316L) with an oversized crown and a handsomely designed crown guard that is very comfortable on the wrist. The caseback has Seiko’s trademark tsunami logo; the bezel has a nice grip (altough it could have been better) with a luminous pip at 12 o’ clock; and it’s very positive and tight. It has a hardlex crystal with a flat face and chamfered edge, and looking inside of it we see a well-executed dial. It is clean, its readability is superb, the chapter ring is actually usable and the lume is mind-blowing. I think on front, Seiko has no competition, even compared with more expensive Swiss offerings (especially into the range under 1.000Eur). Last but not least the day/date feature has the proper size, not too big not too small, very easy to read and for me, constituting a great advantage for a beater watch.

The Seiko SKX007 clearly has an impressive quality / price ratio. It’s highly functional, a well thought-out and executed diver with a great record of reliability. Affordable quality is the name of the game here I think: it is a beater diver watch that will not put us in the poorhouse; it does the exact same things any mechanical diver does, but at a fraction of the price.

Seiko SKX-007 - 7

A big factor that helps the Seiko SKX007 to be so reliable lies of course at its heart, the 7s26 caliber. This automatic movement has 21 jewels and beats at 21,600bph. It incorporates quickset day and date displays and automatic bi-directional winding via Seiko’s patented Magic Lever system (perhaps the biggest negative point of the watch, as it lacks any manual winding capability). The ability to withstand abuse is a highly desirable feature for a beater watch. The SKX007 has several features that contribute significantly in this regard and a few of them are only visible upon removing the solid steel back. The 7S26 uses Seiko’s patented Diashock protection system on the balance pivots, has a soft, plastic spacer ring closely integrated with the movement and a relatively low-mass rotor that is unlikely to bend or break even with very severe shocks. The plastic spacer ring, combined with the sheer massiveness of the case, provides a great deal of additional shock resistance and also happens to be a more economical solution than a metal spacer ring. This blend of economic and sensible engineering is a trend that persists in almost every facet of the design of the 7S26 movement. (All the info regarding the 7s26 came from a marvelous review by John Davis, which you can find here).

So, the Seiko SKX007 has a great, and reliable caliber, supporting its well thought-out construction and design parameters that are amplified by its pedigree and its very accessible price. Could someone ask for more from a beater watch? I think here lies the quintessence of such a timepiece. It does not possess the historical significance of a Blancpain FF, or the military heritage of the Omega Seamaster 300, or even the universal recognition and investment factor of the Rolex submariner. It is not as gracious as the Jaeger-Lecoultre Polaris, not as groundbreaking as the IWC Ocean 2000…. Those watches, after all, are milestones in the history of the watchmaking industry. Fair enough. What it does have, though, is an unparalleled quality, and it is exceedingly honest, almost to a fault. It is an economically designed and constructed diver watch that was created for maximum performance and robustness at minimal cost. It has no pretense of being the greatest diver watch ever, but it enjoys plenty of wrist time, for a variety of reasons.

Seiko SKX-007 - 2

Others might acknowledge its low value and use it as we all should use watches and mechanical creations in general; use them for what they were made for. For that – for everyday, hard working used under sometimes punishing conditions – the SKX007 is the perfect choice. Some might wear it a lot because they respect it for what it is. It is heartily true unto itself as a low cost, low maintenance, long lasting and well functioning automatic diver watch. If reliability is your number one priority, then this watch is the obvious choice, and it does all that with no sacrifice of accuracy or style. Others might actually like it best for all of these qualities-me, for instance.

The beater divers from Seiko managed to capture the hearts and minds of the regular watch-maniac audience because they offer so much and ask for so little, but above all, the most significant accomplishment in the SKX007 conception and implementation is that it managed to offer to countless people the experience and the joy of owning a mechanical watch at all. For that alone, even if we forget all of its many virtues, the Seiko SKX007 and its ancestors might constitute one of the most important bloodlines in the history of watchmaking.

61 responses

  1. Great article! Big fan of my SKX007 🙂 Nice to see it getting some love!!

  2. That’s a great strap with the rectangular holes on your main pic. Fits this Seiko so well! May I know what brand is this strap and where can I get it from?

  3. What a great article and a nice, concise history of the lineage. When asked by friends for recommendations on a nice, mechanical watch that will run without fault, this is always my answer. Also, worth mentioning, it looks fantastic on so many different straps. The 007 is an absolute must for any watch collector or anyone thinking of becoming one. 🙂

  4. A fantastic article that does what I thought would be impossible – makes me love the SKX007 even more. A great summary of the history of the piece, along with a solid explanation of what makes it such a great watch.

    All that is missing is a nod to the modding community – the SKX007 has a huge group of fans who use it as a base for many modification projects, and there are a wealth of available parts for amateurs and professional modders alike to build upon the solid foundation that is the 7S26 movement.

  5. one of the greatest article for the best beater
    must get one of these again

  6. That strap is most likely an IsoFrane (Google it) or one of the look alikes that are available.

    I have the SKX009 variant….it is, indeed, a great watch and outperforms other watches that I own whose price tags are more than six times that of the 007/009.

  7. @ DRQ. Its a Benarus Strap.

    @ Jon Walmsley. Thank you for your nice words. You are right about the modding community. However, i chose to keep the story exclusively for the stock skx007 on purpose. Cheers

  8. ….Great article…..great photos……
    ….The Seiko SKX 007-009 imho, are iconic diver watches and i dare to predict that they will be future classics…..like the 6105……
    ….I believe that the majority of watch collectors must have at least one…..or two….or maybe three…..
    ….Thank yoy Ilias…..

  9. Amazing article indeed!

    An SKX007 could easily be the one and only for someone and at the same time stand among far more expensive watches within a collection, without having or deserving any less wrist time.

    A true must have.

  10. Great article!
    I was wondering where that nato came from. It looks very high-quality with the threading seeming thinner than what the standard 15-bucks nato looks like. or is that only due to the water?
    best regards,
    Alex

  11. Thank you Gentlemen!

    Alex:
    The Nato straps you see are from Phoenix. They are thinner than the average nato strap, and they age very nicely imho…

  12. Will a 22mm Super Engineer II watch band for SEIKO Diver SKX007 fit on a 6309-7049 watch?

  13. Hi Ilias, great article. Would you mind sharing whether the Benarus strap is the grey or green version? Thank you.

  14. Enjoyed the article. Correction about the vintage 6105’s – the only difference between the 6105-8000 and 6105-8009 is the target market, 0 for JDM, 9 for export. So, these are often referred to as 6105-800x. The watch you describe as a ‘turtle case’ is a 6105-811x.

  15. @ Ron- Yeap, the skx007 is still available…. You can find your answer on any forum in the net….
    @ JD Richard- Sorry but i cannot be sure about that
    @Joe- The Benarus strap on the photo is the black version
    @ Erik S….. You are absolutely right… the ‘turtle case’ comment refers of course to the 8119. That was just a typo error. Regarding your second comment, please check the original FF bathyscape (not the FF)….

    Cheers to all….. 🙂

  16. Just received my new skx007. Face on my watch looks just like one picture above EXCEPT it does not say “21 jewels” below “Diver’s 200m.” Movement in my watch as described on back is “7S26.” Thanks.

  17. Just wanted to commend you on a very well thought out and well written article. I’ve owned my SKX007 for about two years now and can say that it really does withstand any abuse thrown at it. I knew nothing about mechanical watches before buying it, and it really has jump-started my hobby of appreciating and researching watches. Sometimes I dream about buying more a more “prestigious” diver’s watch (aka Rolex 114060), but then read an article like this find myself once again fully satisfied with what the SKX007 has to offer at the price point (and my wife thanks you for keeping our savings account in the black). I bought a 009 for my wife about a year ago and she too loves it and wears it every day. Cheers.

  18. Dear Ilias,
    Thank you for the great review and photos – I love my SKX007 just as much as you do. It also goes very nicely with the bracelet you wear – where did you get this? What brand’s that from?

    Thank you very much!

  19. Thank you Philip for your nice words….
    The strap in the photo is from Benarus….. You might also check the excellent but expensive isofrane. For a classic Seiko look check also the model 284 Flat vent from Bonetto Cinturini….. Cheers

  20. I really recently bought the “pepsi,” the SKX009 and it is impressive. I ordered it with the Juliblee bracelet and it was easy to fit, but since it is summer, I ordered the Seiko rubber 22mm band and it looks fantastic. It keeps better time than my Hamilton Navy Scuba (my 1st mechanical) and twice the depth for water resistance at less than 1/2 the price. Had I known about this series of watches, I would have skipped the Hammy, and bought the SKX. I like it so much that I will eventually add the ‘007’ to my collection.
    Frankly, after the Hammy which has had some quality issues, I was going to step up to an Oris or Longines, but I am so satisfied with the pepsi, I think I will save my money which would be at least an $800 or greater price difference!

  21. From my reading I gather that some of these 007s are made in Japan. Should one be specifically
    looking for one of these? As I have seen numerous bad reviews on Amazon from people who
    have purchased these, I would like to know who are the reputable dealers. What forums would
    be good sources of this information?

  22. Dear Ilias,

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough here – I was talking about the wristlet that you wear along with the watch in some photos (for eg. first image in article). My SKX007 I wear on a maratec composite as bracelet which I also like very much.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Philip

  23. An extremely well written review, cheers from a SKX007 user 🙂
    I must say yours is the JDM version, assuming from the photos, it said 21 jewels and also made in japan on its dial.
    I was looking for the JDM ones, but unfortunately it’s quite difficult to find one in my country (Indonesia).
    But the not-JDM version is lovely too, and I must say I’m very pleased with it.
    Very underrated piece, reliable movement, classy look. You get a lot more than what you paid for.
    Quite disappointed with the jubilee bracelet; hollow end links, not a very good finish too.
    I decided to buy the rubber one, and changed it into oyster bracelet.
    Best decision ever.

  24. Loved the article.

    By then ( later 2014) was the final review that made me finally buy one after a long time indecision… By then i was going for another “famous” diver in the price range,the Orient Mako…

    Almost a year by now and i’m loving it… saw use at river and sea beaches in water related activities ( not scuba diving ) and everything’s ok with him… I’m cautious with the watch only in one thing… after a day at the beach,when coming home i put it on sweet water for an hour or so ( the Nato band,also ).

    At begining was a loser but now it’s a better time keeper and with no service at the watch ( never opened the back case ).

    Finnaly…. Love the distinctive case and dial design as i prefer Diver’s with a simple tool watch appearence

  25. Great watches, I have two. One a bit older (150 m) on a REME colour military strap. The other a bit newer, on an Oyster strap. Why pay car price money when you can get this quality for decent money.

  26. Hello Ilias,
    I’m not sure if this issue was covered, but I am on the verge of purchasing a Seiko skx007 and I noticed that there is a model skxoo7j with the type 21 jewels written under divers 200m on the dial and not written on the skxoo7k2. What’s the difference? I noticed that Peter Kiernan asked this same question on May 7th 2015 @ 1:08.
    Also this is the best article and research that I have ever read on this model, after reading this article I’m wondering why I don’t have this watch on my wrist now.

    Thank You,
    Jason

  27. Ilias, an absolutely amazing article about the only diver watch that anyone will even need! I have the Blue-dialled, Pepsi-bezelled brother, the SKX009J which I absolutely love. It’s one of those items that I would like with me if I ever find myself in a marooned-on-an-island-in-the-middle-of-nowhere scenario. Looking to add the SKX007J to the collection soon (comprising of the SKX009J and the SRP307J1 2nd generation “Monster” so far) and I will certainly be ordering some of those tasty Phoenix straps when the new watch arrives.

    Jason, as far as I know the difference between the J and K versions are:

    * J variant destined for the Japanese market, K for rest of the world,
    * J variant has the “MADE IN JAPAN” text and “21 Jewels” on the dial, when the K doesn’t
    *J variant has a slightly different information on the case-back (relating to the 7s26 caliber I believe) and also a slopped/beveled day/date window.

    So in a nutshell, the differences are cosmetic. There is no difference in the construction, materials used, or caliber. The J version is seen as more collectible and rarer (although I’m not sure if the latter is true, maybe if anyone that has any production numbers can shed some light into this) but it is by no means better or worse than the K version.

    Hope this helps.

    George

  28. the J is made in Japan, the K is made in Singapore. I believe that they are both made with the same parts.

  29. Great read! Just bought an 009 from Yorkshire watch company and have a president bracket fitted, this watch is so much more easy to wear than my Rolex sub as it is more robust.

  30. how did you drill the lugs, or did you have someone else do it? If so, who?

  31. Would anyone be willing to sell one watch band link for the skx007 with the super oyster 22mm stainless band? I just bought a new one and its tight! fred.quimby1$$$@$$$Gmail.com remove the $ symbols and you have my email.

  32. where can I buy skx007j ?? I’ve tried Yorkshirewatches.co.uk but they are out of stock. I couldn’t find it on eBay, alibaba or Amazon… those I found were over priced. I really want to buy this watch… thanks.

  33. @Brice Goulard Can I trust the website?? I have read some bad reviews about that site.Thanks.

  34. I guess so… Long established dealer from what I’ve heard. But again, if you don’t feel it, don’t go. Maybe best to use Ebay or Amazon.

  35. Hey. Great article. Please can you confirm what brand the NATO strap used is. Thanks.

  36. I love this watch and suddenly realize that if I lost it, it would be terribly missed.

  37. Its a pity they are terribly expensive now. For what used to be a moderately priced entry level watch, its now common to see prices from $300AUD to $500AUD for essentially a watch that has not changed since the 80’s. No longer a “cheap beater”. That title is starting to shift to the Casio and Citizen equivalent divers instead.

  38. Price always affected by a certain factor such as popularity or availability (its discontinued now) but i can assure you, even at 400usd its still worth it.

  39. Seiko SKX007J1 7S26 made in Japan is always available in UAE at Al Futtaim Watches(Official Dealer). I had one, got it for 750 AED after discount.

  40. Love the watch. Got it after reading this and other articles like this. Is there an iconic chrono watch like the skx007? Affordable, well built, great history, another one for the beginners collection?

  41. Got a new one on my wrist… made in China, the Japan version, for 212 usd, delivered today

  42. Mine is the SKX007KD, it has the diver 200m in red…, got it on Amazon, shop name ‘Japan Shop Ninja’… got steel bracelet… love it.

  43. The only reason why version K is not stamped “manufactured in japan” is because the laws in europe and america forbid it. Seiko himself admits that it is only a question of commercial road, not of origin of manufacture.

  44. I own my SKX007 since around 11/2014 (actually this article sold me to it) and I really really love this watch. I wear it almost daily since then and it looks as good as new. Want to get an Oyster Bracelet soon to switch styles a little bit. Looking forward to many many years to come.

  45. Long Island Watches still under $200 with a coupon for signing up for emails. I’ve bought several Seiko divers there and am very pleased. The 009 is identical to the 007 except for the Pepsi bezel, and is a workhorse. I have both and they keep excellent time.

  46. Will SKX013 be too small for a 7″ wrist? thanks for any help i can get.

  47. As a new SKX owner, I absolutely love this watch. I also own a Rolex GMT that I have had for 18 years. Having said that, as I have become a more educated watch collector, I appreciate Seiko more and more. Also, the 007 would work best for a 7 inch wrist. I have a 7.25 wrist and even a 6.5 inch wrist could pull this off with no problem.

  48. @Austine
    My wrist is about 7,5 inches and i am happy that i didn’t order the little one.

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