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 Post subject: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:54 pm 
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Given the interest in vintage Seiko divers, I thought it was worth posting about their modern descendents, especially the one in the most direct line in descent from the 6309 that people have been looking at. This is the SKX007 - also known as the SKX09 when it has a bezel with a "pepsi" red quadrant - and the SKX013 when in a slightly smaller case sized for women:

Image

The 7 evolved from the 6309 in a an extremely simple way - Seiko modified their standard mechanical watch mechanism to be even more reliable than it already was, and copied what jewellers in Asia had been doing for clients in machining away the "excess" metal from the 6309's large cushion case to make it slightly lighter. Otherwise Seiko stuck with already worked for them - an ultra clear face and hands, and a crown at 4 instead of 3 to make it less likely to stick in your wrist. Earlier versions of this process were called the 7002 and replaced the 6309 in 1988, and the final SKX007 was introduced in 1996.

The result was a huge success. These watches are true ISO rated divers (meaning they have to meet standards for drop resistance and water resistance, and that they have to be tested more thoroughly than normal watches) and became a standard on dive boats, because they're widely reckoned to be the tougest mechanical watch in existence, they enormous "lume" (i.e. they glow really brightly in the dark) and because, as ISO divers go, they are so cheap - buying an SKX007 is cheaper than getting a Rolex Submariner serviced. (About $200-$250.)

The SKX007 was also a big hit aesthetically, so much so that Seiko's $2000 and $4000 "Marine Masters" use a variation on its case design. At the same time, a modding industry grew up around the watch, and it's probably unique in the ready availability of replacement faces, hands, bezel rings, and crystals.

Other things worth knowing:

- The watch doesn't automatically "hack" (ie freeze the seconds hand) when re-setting, but if you are fussy then you an give the winder a little "back pressure" to freeze the seconds

- The SKX007 uses oversize spring bars. Not every strap can accept these, but you should never use smaller bars - they waggle in the receiving holes, grinding the edges of the bars and the holes.

- The worst case repair for an SK007 is that you replace the entire mechanism. You can do this yourself with a few tools bought off ebay, and "mechs" can be bought for about $50

- Standard accuracy is about 20 seconds a day, but watches often tweak to 5-10s a day if you have a jeweller tune them or do it yourself. However, once you've opened the case you have let dirt in, which reduced the time between services.

- If you leave an SK007 sealed, the life between services is reckoned to be about 20 years. So you should probably leave it sealed - unless you are diving, in which case you should have the watch seal serviced regularly and then pressure tested. At least in theory - because there are divers (I am *not* a diver!) who just use a G-Shock or an SK007 or whatever until it dies, with no seal servicing, and people do seem to get away with it...

- As standard the SKX007 comes on a steel "jubilee" bracelet or a rubber strap called a "wave vent" Z22. Most people would say that you are better replacing both of these: an online company called "Yobokies" and an ebay seller called "wjean" sell exceptional "oyster" style bracelets designed for the 7; a better (more comfortable) rubber strap would be the Seiko B22 (do NOT buy Seiko rubber straps on ebay - most are fakes and can tear very easily, leaving you with a dropped watch) or possibly a "flat vent" Z22. Nylon NATO straps are probably the most popular choice (the pattern of the one shown is called a "Bond" because Sean Connery wears a similar strap in Dr No - so free visual pun!):

Image

..Notice the guards on each side of the winder to keep it from harm.

And this is an SK007 on a wjeans/yobokie (they look identical and probably come from the same factory) oyster bracelet:

Image

- You can also find variants of the SKX007/9 with different model numbers and weird face colours and odd bezels if you trawl ebay

- Seiko-made faces are outstandingly bright; non-Seiko faces sold by modders will have much less lume.

- There is also a slightly smaller women's version, the SK013, which is still an ISO rated diver:

Image

(These are on stcok wave vent Z22's: I like the Z22 and think it is comfortable, but a lot of people do not - so it's probably a good idea to pick up a NATO as well when you order the watch.)

- All versions are autowinding only - ie you can't wind them by hand. But the autowinder is arguably the most efficient in existence - 7's usually start ticking when you pick them up. To wind one before wearing, you just swirl it around for 10-20 seconds before putting it on.

- The glass is a high graded of toughened borosilicate glass. Seiko never put sapphire onto working diving watches because it shatters too easily. You can easily get the glass replaced with artificial silicon, which is theoretically more scratch resistant, the Seiko boro is so scratch resistant itself that it almost certainly isn't worth doing.

- SK007s are produced in both Japan and Korea, and have a J or a K after the model number to tell you which. No one has ever detected a quality difference between the two, and the production lines are believed to be almost entirely automated anyway! So you won't gain anything by looking around for one of the less common J's, which are usually sold at a premium.

- The bezel rotates (one way) for timing purposes.

This review shows far more model variations and dozens of mods:

http://quartzimodo.com/seiko-skx007j-review/


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:07 am 
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You seem to know your Seiko's Im about to take the plunge (plunge :lol: ) and treat my self to a late birthday present any thoughts about new Seiko's along the lines of the one in your first photo?


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 2:44 pm 
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Easily done.

Either go to http://www.yorkshirewatches.co.uk/ or buy from a UK business seller (subject to the usual feedback checks) on ebay. If you like the bracelet in the first photo, that's the stock Seiko Jubilee:

http://www.yorkshirewatches.co.uk/seiko ... -230-p.asp

A lot of watch nerds look down on the Jubilee because the links aren't all solid... But they're not on a Rolex bracelet either! The Jubilees are very comfortable and have a real retro cool, so I'd try one if they've caught your eye. If you like the style but decide you are one of those people who like a heavier bracelet then there is now this

http://www.tungchoywatch.com/product_in ... ts_id/1429

Image

..The $50-$100 aftermarket bracelets from wjean, yobokies and tungchoy are as good or better than you get from Swiss makers at 6 times the price.. and probably come from what are often the same factories. If you were to buy an aftermarket it is worth looking around at all the options - there are some very interesting mesh and grain-of-rice bracelets, but make sure what you get can take those special "fat" spring bars, and if in doubt stick to products sold by wjean, yobokies, and tungchoy.

It's worth grabbing a NATO strap at the same time as the watch - the size you'll need is 22mm. (Maratacs are like NATOs but slightly thicker, and Rhinos are the same but thicker again.)

Other than that... The SKX007's main rival is the Seiko Monster - same mech and again a real ISO diver, but a more "in your face" look:

Image

...The bracelet on the Monster is considered outstanding, so very few people buy the rubber strap version or an upgrade bracelet. And if you are VERY extrovert you can get the Monster with an Orange face:

Image

If you don't like either the 7 or a Monster, an almost new one will easily sell on ebay.

The main non-Seiko rivals (none of whioch have the desireable "modularity", but all of which have are good value and have a reasonable rep for toughness as mechanicals go - and mechs are NOT as tough as quartz by and large) imo are

Image

...The Vostok Amphibian. Soviet made, has to be bought used or NOS online - cheaper, but very variable quality and no real lume. There are lots of face variations - Steve Zissou wears the "Suba dude" variant. They often come with a Soviet made bracelet that's famously awful to wear, so count on replacing it.

Image

..The Citizen NY004. Nothing wrong with it and cheaper than the 7, but arguably lacking its charisma.

Image

..The Orange Watch Company Submariner. Twice the cost of an SKX007 and an aftermarket bracelet, but imo the sub that stays truest in spirit to early Rolex models - and a lot of people do like the Sub case (which was arguably originated by Blancpain, not Rolex..) so is for them. Or

Image

..The SKX031. Imo the nicest sub case watch ever made because of the non-wimpy hands. Not an ISO diver - it only has 100m water resistance. Out of production, but can still be found used on ebay.

Personally I'd go the 7, and if not a Monster, because they're the classics, well-proven, mechs etc are easy to get, but the other watches all have their points too. At least I suppose they must do, because some people buy them.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:22 pm 
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Ok: Now for quartz modern Seiko divers. The main one you'll find in the UK is the Seiko ska367/369/371/427 - the model number varies with face and bezel colour. This comes with either a rubber strap and bracelet. It's known as the BFK for "Big Freaking Kinetic" because it uses Seiko's wrist movement powered "kinetic" quartz technology - much more accurate than any mechnical - and because its is HUGE:

Image

This one is a 371 - black face, "Pepsi" bezel. Again, this is a true ISO certified diver. These go for round about 225 pounds from UK sellers.


Last edited by PurpleFrog on Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:38 pm 
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By now you may have realized that Seiko specialize in watches that are, well, BUTCH. This tendancy gets even more pronounced in the upper range of Seiko divers...

This is one of Seiko's Marine Master series - a $4000 600m Marine Master

Image

..And, yes, it is does look like a butchified SX007 with a stupid price and depth rating. It's expensive because it has that stupid depth rating and Seiko's Spring Drive mechanism (don't ask) but it's still hard to see where that extra $3750 went. It's pretty though, isn't it? In a butch way.

But if you look at the MM600 and think "That's like something Graham Norton would wear"... well, Seiko can still help you! Meet the so-called Tuna Can series - because, doh, that's the size of the watch:

Image

These were originally developed for working divers who have a much harder life than recreational ones because of all the welding, fixing, and general, well, really, really butch stuff they do. The idea was that an outer shroud would protect the watch from impacts. But then dive computers came along, and the pros prefer those, and Seiko discovered that the Tunas are sort of like Poekemon for grown ups - high priced collectibles. So they shoved the price waaaay up and keep changing models - there are quartz Tunas, mechanical ones, black ones and silver ones, different depth ratings, whatever. A new one is going to cost at least $1000, and they can be much more.

Anyway, if you want esoterica like the Marine Master or Tuna, then the two main sellers are both in Japan - just google "seiya" and "Higuchi".


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:25 pm 
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Well, a more thorough answer to a question I have yet to see thanks for taking the time :D


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:33 pm 
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RobMac wrote:
Well, a more thorough answer to a question I have yet to see thanks for taking the time :D


..Just don't buy the $4000 Spring Drive without thinking about it for at least a month, or I'll suffer ***major*** guilt!

A 7 or a Monster from a UK seller is a really safe bet; you have the usual UK consumer law weeks grace to send them back if you hate them when you open the box; they sell easily on ebay after that; and the most expensive realistic repair is putting in a whole new mech bought online for $50. A Seiko BFK will be more accurate - much more accurate - but re-sale probably isn't quite as good, and if you pranged it cycling or doing DIY, it would have to go to a real watch repairer.


Last edited by PurpleFrog on Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:52 pm 
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Thats a good write up on the various models Seiko are producing. Well done that man 8) .

The only thing I'd disagree with is your description of the spring drive being stupidly priced. On the contrary, I think its a bit of a bargain but only if you buy s/h or get a good discount on a new one as they do suffer a bit of depreciation. But when you consider the technology that goes into them, the fact that they are hand assembled by some of the best watchmakers in the world and not to mention the accuracy. For a watch to be COSC certified (Rolex etc) it must stay within 4 secs per day. The Seiko spring drive is rated to 15 secs per month... Then there's the fact that most of the Swiss watches in this price range use a ETA or Valjoux movement which gets decorated or slightly modified by the manufacturer and passed off as one of their own. For a true in-house Swiss movement then you are looking at £3k+ so yeah, I consider the SD to be a relative bargain...


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 6:14 pm 
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Fudd wrote:
For a watch to be COSC certified (Rolex etc) it must stay within 4 secs per day.


To be COSC certified it must also be Swiss, something the Swiss watch industry came up with to protect itself when the Japanese mechanical watches started winning observatory awards. (Just search for Seiko VFA, amazing watches). The Seiko GS watches undergo stricter and more lengthy tests than COSC certified Swiss watches.

Thinking of buying a Rolex? Have a read:

http://people.timezone.com/library/horo ... logium0036


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Seiko Divers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:34 pm 
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Fudd wrote:
The only thing I'd disagree with is your description of the spring drive being stupidly priced. On the contrary, I think its a bit of a bargain but only if you buy s/h or get a good discount on a new one as they do suffer a bit of depreciation.


They're also a servicing nightmare - you have to send them back to Japan.

Quote:
But when you consider the technology that goes into them, the fact that they are hand assembled by some of the best watchmakers in the world and not to mention the accuracy. For a watch to be COSC certified (Rolex etc) it must stay within 4 secs per day.


It's -4 to +6 - and many/most 7s26 mechs will regulate in that range if you can be bothered with the extra servicing.

Quote:
The Seiko spring drive is rated to 15 secs per month...


..Which is the same as an ordinary $20 quartz, let's remember. And Seiko sold a high accuracy quartz in a slightly slimmed down 7 style case that was good for 8 seconds a year. (SBMC023 if you want to try to find one.)

This is why I don't get Spring Drive - if you want more accuracy than a mechanical will give, why not just buy an ordinary quartz? That said, they still make more sense to me than $8000 Swiss mechnicals, and you're right about the Mad Seiko Skillz - Spring Drives take about a day to assemble and the work is done in a cleanroom, just like for a space probe!


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