Is the OG Seiko SKX still worth its premium? Is the OG Seiko SKX still worth its premium?

Is the OG Seiko SKX still worth its premium?

Fergus Nash

When the Seiko SKX was discontinued in 2019 there was a great disturbance in the watch community, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. For many SKX owners however, the sudden silence came when they realised how much they could resell their $150 watches for. Even before the pandemic, prices had been climbing due to a perceived shortage and some third-party retailers were even able to sell them for four figures. Now, nearly five years on, there is still a plethora of SKXs on the market both new-old-stock and used for anywhere between A$350-1,000. Yes, it’s a classic watch, but is it still worth it?

Seiko SKX 1

The first line of defence for SKX loyalists is to talk about specifications. The Seiko SKX is an ISO 6425-compliant dive watch with 200 metres of water resistance and a screw-down crown. The Seiko SRPD range which replaced the SKX stylistically, or “5KX”, is rated to 100 metres with a push/pull crown. It’s not ISO 6425-compliant, and therefore it can’t have the word “diver’s” on the dial. So, that means you can’t take a modern SRPD diving, right? Not really. The mythology surrounding wristwatch water-resistance is expansive and fraught with debate, some even going as far as saying that 100-metre resistant watches can only handle light splashing and brief submersion. But, the truth is that an SRPD is just as capable as an SKX in the vast majority of situations. People have been diving with less water resistance for decades, and the rubber gaskets which seal the SRPD watches are actually thicker than the ones on the SKX. All you need to do is browse reddit for stories, and you’ll see plenty of positive testimonials about the new 5KXs taking to the depths.

Seiko 5KX

So, it becomes apparent that the obsession with 200 metres as a magic diving number has more to do with viral marketing than actual experience. But for the sake of argument, let’s say you do require a 200-metre rating and a screw-down crown because you’re just too nervous about pulling the crown out when you’re underwater. Seiko keep those watches among their Prospex range, many of which can be found for the same price or less than a Seiko SKX007. The SRPE Turtle, for example, is a fantastic watch for the money, with all the diving specs you could want and design heritage to boot. Admittedly, none of the Prospex range have the exact same look and ease of wearability as the SKX, so what’s another option? In the world of microbrands, there are thousands of dive watches which cost around the $200 mark and surpass specifications that the SKX had. The Islander for example is a direct homage to the SKX in all its colour and size variants, plus the benefit of a sapphire crystal and other mod-inspired designs.

Seiko SKX Amazon

If you’re still stubborn and you must have a Seiko and it must be a true SKX, then let’s consider what you’re sacrificing. The Seiko SKX range was conceived in 1996, and so it was equipped with Seiko’s 7S26 movement. Even up to 2019, the SKX was given a 7S26, even though the 4R range of upgraded movements has been around since 2011. Although they were reliable calibres, the 7S26 has been outdated for a long while. Modern watch-wearers are used to the creature comforts of hacking seconds for ease of adjustment and hand-winding to get the watch working when it runs out of power. The 4R36 which now powers the SRPD 5KX range does include those features, but nothing is stopping you from doing the old “Seiko shuffle” to kick-start the movement if you want to. So if you want to buy an old Seiko SKX but don’t want the second hand to be unsynchronised, you’re looking at an extra cost to upgrade the movement. And if you’re going down the route of modification, it would probably be cheaper to assemble your own watch with a genuine SKX replacement dial, a screw-down case with higher water resistance ratings, and sapphire crystals. All of the SKX And SRPD dimensions and components are interchangeable, with a large number of companies providing modified parts.

It should be clear at this point that there’s no logical reason to buy a Seiko SKX at their inflated prices. But, the watch hobby is very rarely driven entirely by logic. Whether or not I approve, the SKX holds its romanticised place in the watch community for a good reason, even if their budget-friendly legacy is now just a nostalgic memory.