Is The Seiko SKX Discontinued?
To the dismay of fans the world over, in the second half of 2019, the SKX watch family was discontinued. As one may expect from a large corporation, the death of this beloved model was rather unceremonious.
In fact, no official communication was offered. Instead, a 60s-era, 27-variation watch model line was re-introduced in its place: the Seiko 5 Sports SRPD line.
The SKX’s Replacement
The modern SRPD models share almost the exact same design as the historic SKX but with diminished diving specifications. This fact ultimately served as the writing on the wall regarding the SKX’s future. It was more than clear that Seiko was moving in a different direction, a less specialized one, and the SKX’s characteristics simply didn’t fit the new mold.
With the new 5 Sports, the Japanese watch brand would still capture the masses who found the SKX aesthetically appealing. However, by reducing the water resistance to 100M and employing a non-screw-down crown (among other changes), those individuals who wanted a serious Seiko dive watch would now be forced to look higher up on the price scale at the Prospex line. Prices for the new Seiko 5 Sports are also in the same $250-350 range which is essentially what one could have expected to pay for a new SKX.
Following the same thread, 2020 saw Seiko introduce the 5 Sports SRPE, which are very similar to the SRPD though they mostly have smooth, non-rotating bezels.
The different bezel style gives the watch a more formal tone while also establishing a road map for the future: Seiko plans to continue using this tried-and-true platform while also making small tweaks in design to serve different purposes such as for special or limited-edition releases.
The SKX may no longer be in production but there appears to be plenty of stock of them in online shops. Unsurprisingly, asking prices have already increased after discontinuation but it is still relatively easy to buy a new SKX online, at least as of this writing.
Seiko SKX: Why Is It So Popular?
Even though the Seiko SKX is no longer in active production, it remains an incredibly popular watch in any of its versions.
Anyone unacquainted with the SKX may find themselves wondering which specific characteristics have helped it attain such a cult following. Below, we expand on some of the most common aspects that are mentioned when discussing the success of the Seiko SKX.
The SKX’s Design
It may seem obvious now but it’s worth formalizing: the main reason the SKX is so popular is that its looks are universally appealing.
At the heart of the SKX trend is a deep appreciation of the design and aesthetic put forth by Seiko. Yes, it’s a dive watch and dive watch models are a dime a dozen. But one could argue that the SKX is one of the reasons that this same diver “look” has become so popular.
[The Sub has been largely crowned as the main reason dive watch styles are so popular. You can read more about the Rolex Submariner’s history by clicking through to our guide.]
While indeed a dive watch, the SKX doesn’t have the traditional dive watch case shape. You’ve likely already noticed the offset crown & crown-guards at 4 o’clock, as opposed to the usual 3 o’clock placement.
Intended to make for more comfortable wear by preventing the crown from “digging” into your wrist, the crown style has now become a trademark of the SKX and other popular Seiko divers.
Looking closer, the case of the SKX is smooth, cushion-shaped, and without any hard edges. The sides are high-polish with a brushed-finish top and lugs. There are some slight bevels, also mirror-polished, between the top and flank of the case that are slightly reminiscent of Grand Seiko’s Zaratsu finishing.
Lastly, the outer circumference of the diver’s bezel is knurled to provide additional grip, particularly for when the user is wearing (diving) gloves. Intended to fulfill a functional purpose, the knurling also imparts visual complexity, particularly when viewed from the side.
The SKX’s long list of assets includes the oversized and fully-lumed indices on the dial. There’s also a crisply-printed minute track on the rehaut. Coupled with broad center hands (also fully-lumed) these characteristics make for easy time-telling, day or night, for young and old.
Complication: Day and Date
When it comes to complications, the SKX possesses what’s probably the most useful timepiece complications ever: a day and date.
Perpetual calendars are cool, as are minute repeaters and alarms. Yet, no matter how mechanically intricate they may be, it’s hard to make an argument for why someone needs a tourbillon strapped to their wrist. However, day and date are two complications that you can be sure to use at least once per day.
[Want to learn more about tourbillons, perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, or alarms? Check out our extensive wristwatch complication guide.]
Even more enticing is that the SKX makes the mechanical day-date complication available to wristwatch fans at a comparatively affordable price.
Automatic mechanical watches with a day and date complication can easily cost more than a thousand dollars if not multiple thousands of dollars. This is without even considering the embodiment of the day and date watch, the Rolex Day-Date, which starts around $30,000 new.
On the other hand, for less than $500 the SKX fulfills the mechanical watch stipulation while also providing a pragmatic complication in an aesthetically pleasing form.
But that’s not all that’s made the SKX a slam-dunk – let’s continue.
Professional Diving Specification
On our diver’s watch guide, we’ve previously covered some of the specific criteria that must be met for a timepiece to qualify as an ISO 6425 Professional Diver’s Watch. Here’s the base of it:
- Minimum 100m water resistance
- Device for measuring elapsed time
- Legibility in blackout conditions
- Temperature, magnetism, corrosion, & shock resistance
With a 200m water depth rating, unidirectional rotating bezel, luminous dial elements, and the robust 7S26 movement beating within, the Seiko SKX meets all of the requirements necessary to be an ISO 6425-certified diver’s watch. However, seeing as how the certification is bestowed on timepieces that are individually tested, it cannot be said that the SKX is ISO 6425 certified.
Nevertheless, the lack of certification has not stopped watch buyers from referring to the SKX as a true diver’s watch. Rightfully so, seeing as how in this instance the only thing separating an SKX from being certified is the cash required to pay a testing agency.
Seiko 7S26 Movement
SKXs are powered by the Seiko 7S26 caliber. This movement boasts:
- Bi-directional self-winding function
- 21 jewels
- 21,600 beats/hour
- Seiko Diashock shock-resistance technology
- 60 gauss magnetic resistance
- ~40 hours power reserve
- Day & date calendar
Originally introduced in 1996 with the SKX, the 7S26 movement is a workhorse automatic caliber that has proven its value over decades of service. It may not be the most precise Seiko movement, nor the prettiest, nor the most functionally capable, but it does what it was designed to do very well – take hits and keep on tickin’.
Much of the ruggedness associated with the SKX stems from the resilience of the movement within. Couple that with the stainless steel case components, a shatter-resistant Hardlex crystal, a screw-down crown with guards, and a tough rubber strap and you get the SKX – one of the most highly-rated entry-level automatic watches ever.
On the Hardlex crystal: Many have criticized the Hardlex crystal that is outfitted on SKXs by the manufacturer. While it is not nearly as scratch-resistant as sapphire it is significantly less expensive. Obviously, this helps keep the retail price of the watch down. Nevertheless, if after a couple of years of wear you become dissatisfied with the wear on your crystal, replacements can be found online for around $20.
Seiko SKX Mods (Modifications)
Ironically enough, what has made the SKX such a ubiquitous wristwatch is the ease with which it can be modified.
Aftermarket bezels, bezel inserts, crowns, crystals, hands, straps… the list goes on and on. Some have applied ceramic coatings to give their SKX a blackout look. Others have swapped the 7S26 movement for another with complications such as a GMT, essentially making a completely new watch.
Unfamiliar with the watch modification hobby? Fear not. Seiko SKX modding communities thrive on online forums and they’re quite receptive to newcomers.
Never modded a wristwatch before? You’re with the majority of watch collectors. Nevertheless, tutorials and how-to’s are also plentiful, in written or video format.
A popular first mod for those looking into SKX customization seems to be a bezel insert change. For example, for around $50 you can outfit your SKX with a shiny new ceramic bezel insert. However, by the time you’ve learned how easy it is to modify your SKX, you’re likely already hooked and the modding expenses are sure to increase from that point forward.
Seiko SKX Price Point
Lastly, though certainly not least important, is the price point of the Seiko SKX. As mentioned above, even after discontinuation, you can pick up a standard SKX007 (Black dial / black bezel) for less than $500.
That’s a renowned dive watch style with a solid automatic movement, day-date complication, and tons of mod options for less than $500. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal especially considering the popularity of the SKX. Such demand for watch models generally equates to thousand-dollar premiums in the watch industry.
Luckily for those with smaller budgets, Seiko has managed to create this microcosm within the luxury watch sector where you can fulfill your watch collecting desires for hundreds as opposed to thousands of dollars.
Should I Buy A Seiko SKX?
Taking into account all of the above points, there’s only one question left to ask: Should you buy a Seiko SKX?
Yes. If you’re this far into researching the SKX, it’s likely that you’re already captivated by the looks of the watch. And if you like how it looks, you’re going to like how it wears.
After this, there are really no aspects of the watch that could prevent you from enjoying it fully. The water resistance ensures you never have to take it off and the robust construction ensures it will keep recording the time and date accurately. All that’s left is to consider how much you may want to modify it, but even if you make no modifications to your SKX, you’re going to be satisfied with the original configuration.
Which Seiko SKX to Buy?
Deciding which SKX model to buy is akin to deciding which ice cream flavor you want. There are tons of options for you to pick from and they’re all good. In the end, it comes down to what you’re looking for.
If you think the standard 42.5mm case diameter is too big for you, smaller case sizes are available.
Meanwhile, if you don’t fancy the black rubber strap, some SKXs are sold with a Seiko version of the Jubilee bracelet.
Otherwise, there’s the SKX011 with a bright orange dial if you don’t want a black or dark blue dial. Still not happy with the OEM dial color options? There are countless dial mods available online. And if you’re not savvy enough to change it yourself, a local watchmaker can take care of it in short order (for a fee.)
Seiko SKX Made In Japan – Is There A Difference?
There exists a subset of SKXs which are manufactured in Japan. These are delineated by the letter J in the reference, such as in the SKX007J1. Moreover, they also have small printing on the dial which indicates “Made in Japan.”
Aside from differences in dial printings and on the caseback, everything is the same as those made outside Japan (Malaysia / Singapore). Watch collectors are a picky bunch so this is the kind of caveat they will swoon over, but for the average person first getting into the SKX culture, the country of manufacture should not matter too much.
There’s a reason why the SKX is so universally loved – it’s a great watch in many respects. Whether you’re just getting started collecting watches or already have a cherished collection, adding an SKX to your repertoire is sure to be a rewarding choice.