The Seiko SKX series – produced from 1996 to 2018 – includes hundreds of references. Forty-six of those references are dive watches. A handful of those dive watches are bonafide icons, the most popular being the 42.5mm SKX007. If you don’t own this watch, you probably know someone who does. During its production, the SKX007 posed ridiculous value for under $200; it was the gateway into watch enthusiasm for many. However, gone are the days of buying a new SKX007 on Amazon. Since the watch’s discontinuation, secondhand prices have shot up dramatically, sometimes approaching $1,000 for NOS (now old stock) examples. The same is true for the SKX007’s 37mm sibling, the SKX013. The once undeniable value proposition is now a bit questionable, especially as the market of entry-level dive watches grows and evolves. So, why did I buy an SKX013 in 2023?
What Are You Really Buying?
In February of 2022, Teddy Baldassare published a video entitled The Seiko SKX is an Icon, But It’s Time to Move On. In this video, Teddy goes over the history of the SKX, explaining its iconic status. Then, he takes an honest look at the watch’s market position as an entry-level diver. In short, the SKX is no longer a good deal. You can get a technically-superior dive watch at or below the price of a used SKX, all day. The watch’s 7S26 movement doesn’t hack (which is honestly fine given its inaccuracy), it doesn’t handwind, and it has a meager power reserve of just 40 hours. If you’ve owned a 7S26-powered watch, you know the joys of shaking it awake like it’s late for school. The SKX also uses a Hardlex crystal instead of sapphire; notice the scratch on mine at ~1:30 (pictured above).
Before destroying the SKX’s current market position, Teddy points out that if you “want to own a piece of Seiko’s very important history, I get why you might want to look at this watch”. This is closer to my line of thinking. The more I learn about Seiko’s historical dive watches – the “Captain Willard” 6105, “Grandfather Tuna” 6195, and of course, the 62MAS – the more context I have with which to appreciate the SKX line.
Seiko has been making dive watches for almost 80 years. In that time, they've gotten pretty good at it. With vertically-integrated mechanics, impressive durability, and a relevant, recognizable design language, Seiko dive watches are a perennial go-to: from military combat to the silver screen. The SKX, a culmination of Seiko’s history and design, embodies this idea of an approachable, bulletproof dive watch. Throughout the ‘90s, ‘00s, and even ‘10s, the Seiko SKX turned hordes of unassuming people into unrelenting watch nerds. As someone (one of those nerds) who grew up during the SKX's hay day but never owned one, I felt it was only time. So, did I buy a 7S26-powered watch with a Hardlex crystal, or did I buy an emblem of watch enthusiasm from my formative years?
My Seiko SKX013: Thoughts, Opinions, and Price
Purchase philosophy aside, this is a great watch. I was worried about it feeling small and tall on the wrist (37mm in diameter and 13mm thick), but the case proportions are good — the lug curvature prevents it from wearing like a hockey puck. Speaking of which, the SKX013 isn’t just a shrunken-down SKX007: it has a completely unique case design. The lugs are longer than those of the SKX007, creating a silhouette closer to traditional skin divers of the ‘60s and ‘70s (e.g. the 62MAS). In fact, the lug-to-lug measurements of these watches are only 3mm apart despite their 5.5mm difference in diameter. While I love the stubby-lug Seiko look, I decided to opt for the SKX013’s proportions.
Obviously, as an ISO-rated diver, I don’t have to baby this thing or worry about getting it wet. Despite its size, it feels very rugged. The 120-click bezel action is satisfying, the crown screws down smoothly, and the dial is super legible. Until wearing the SKX013 on a daily basis, I didn’t realize how light the grey dial was. In pictures, it looks almost as dark as the bezel: this is not the case, particularly in sunlight. The steel case has polished flanks and a brushed top surface – both of which are starting to see their first dings and scratches. To be honest, the SKX013 is about what I expected it to be: no disappointments, no surprises, just a solid little dive watch.
I found this SKX013 on eBay with an aftermarket bracelet (I've been wearing it mostly on an Everest Universal Rubber Strap). After looking at the listing's pictures, comparing them to other pictures online, requesting more pictures from the seller, and a bit of negotiation, the watch was mine for $250. Given its condition and authenticity, I feel as though I got a solid deal in today’s market. Similar examples fetch well over $300. Regardless, I don’t plan on selling it anytime soon: this watch is getting far too much wrist time to part ways with it just yet.
Why I Bought the Seiko SKX013
I haven’t owned a proper dive watch in years. The last one I owned, also a Seiko, has been out of my collection since 2016. I finally decided it was time for a replacement. During my search, which consisted largely of independent brands, I kept coming back to the SKX. Yes, there are plenty of “better” entry-level dive watches for the price — those with newer superior movements, sapphire crystals, etc. — but none of them come close to the SKX in terms of their significance. If you’re buying a mechanical watch in 2023, you’re buying a lot more than an assemblage of parts. You’re buying history, taste, and some potentially-questionable timekeeping. For me, the Seiko SKX013 was a perfect combination of the three.