A FOREWORD (PRIOR MOVING ANY FORWARD)
Fervid compulsions that drove the SKX spirit finally evolved it into its replacement. Still, the SKX – beautiful enough to be remembered, praised and adored for their great service and looks – are greatly sought after both over the real world and online commercial domains.
Now that the dust has settled and we are kind of used to the fact that Seiko’s enormously popular SKX twins are not available as production models anymore, many have branched out to try others. Those however, who take mechanical diving watches seriously (and we mean…seriously), never found another one to fit as appropriately the saying – ‘one size fits all!’
Still, old stock SKX twins rear their pretty heads once in a while to get fished away almost immediately! And the SKX009 (among the two) are disappearing faster.
Let’s try to see, why.
We’ll also have a look at those pieces carrying the SKX 009 legacy forward.
SKX 009: AT A GLANCE
Of quite a moderate size (42.5mm across), it beautifully fits all above a six-and-a-half wrist. Below that, it might appear cumbersome but then again, may not be so for its very moderate lug-to-lug 22 mm gap.
Add to it the position of the guarded screw-down crown. At 4 o’clock, it is very less prone towards giving you wrist bites. This is another feature of the SKX009 to facilitate a comfortable fit.
Seiko never advertised the SKX 009 (or its twin) as ISO6425 certified watches, although they got it done for both the SKX models. Most trust they would have held to their purpose well without it. That’s kind of unbelievable looking at their prices.
Being very affordable and attractive to look at, for many, the SKX009 became their first automatic wristwatch.
Sure, amidst all that positivity, some negative points are bound to exist. It’s the Law of Nature. It maintains the balance.
SKX009: THE SLIGHTLY BAD PARTS
The 7S26 calibre is the first one in this aspect. No, it’s not obsolete; just a bit outdated. But nevertheless, reliable as ever with promised accuracy tolerances when regulated, oiled and adjusted well! Still, it lacks a manual-winding system and an absence of seconds-hacking mechanism turns absolutely accurate time adjustment into quite a difficult task. Precision-freaks – this can become your preferred pastime! It’s challenging, too.
Complaints also go towards a bezel that takes a slightly greater effort to turn. Can’t help but; it’s the price you pay for the ISO-6425 safety standard. In one way it’s a blessing in disguise; it’s guarded against accidental rotations in case it bangs/knocks against a hard surface.
Talking about the bezel, the Pepsi colourway (Red and Blue on ceramic) earns it the name. It resembles the logo of the American soft drinks company. It turns only in one direction, its notched side making for easier grips even when it’s wet or your hands. The ratchet mechanism of the bezel creates audible clicks as it turns, clicking twice for every minute passed. You can track up to 60 minutes of elapsed time (120 clicks) with this timer mechanism, each click representing half-a-minute of elapsed time. It results in more precise time tracking. Where you set the zero-marker is where you start to countdown. The ten-minute marks are represented with numbers.
The crown is for setting the time, day and date. Make sure you screw it down properly after setting the time and the calendar. The water resistance won’t hold otherwise. Also, it must not be unscrewed under water or in a wet condition. Make sure your hands too are reasonably dry before you do that. To help prevent sediment build-up and remove chances for corrosion which might break the stem, unscrew the crown and give it a turn every few days. It will also preserve the flexibility of the gasket and prevent any breakage. The deep grooves facilitate a strong grip even when your hands are oily or you got your gloves on.
ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE…
You speak nothing about a Seiko diver watch unless you speak about its luminescence, which is unique both in its intensity and longevity. The paint used for this purpose is Lumi-Brite – a brighter and longer-lasting luminous paint that’s completely free from radioactivity unlike earlier, when radioactive substances generated the afterglow. It is brighter than ordinary luminous paints and conventional fluorescent paints and offers longer output duration (3-5 hours) when exposed to bright lights above 500lux for 10 minutes or more. Being made from inorganic materials, LumiBrite has a long life and will keep giving out the glow for a lifetime.
In the classic Seiko style, there are no numbers on the dial indicating hour/minute. It has large circular markers instead, making it easy to read the time in dark. The lume is evenly distributed to the very edge of each marker and hand. During the daytime, the contrast between the blue background and white markers create a high contrast that you can easily read even under a glaring Sun!
AT THE VERY HEART OF IT…
Those who are in love with the Magic Lever winding system (a 1959 Seiko invention; its earlier versions involved only three moving parts: the rotor, the Magic Lever and the pawl wheel while the newer implementations use one extra wheel for added robustness and a higher efficiency) are definitely going to love it. It makes up for the lack of a manual winding system, which in turn, makes it one of the simplest among all automatics around and therefore; less troublesome. There’s no coupling between levers and intermediate wheel functions to get knocked off under shocks and vibrations; no bridge-removal or similar complex procedures to undergo to set things right if anything goes wrong.
|Cal. 7S26 Specs|
|Movement Type||Mechanical Automatic|
|Vibrations/Hour||SeikoDiashock (spring-loaded mounting system for the jewel bearings to support the balance wheel.)|
|Regulator||Etachron-style; uses rotating blocks attached to the hairspring stud and a movable, regulating arm.|
|Operational Temperature||-10oC to 60oC (14oF-140oF)|
|Power Reserve||40+ hours (approx.)|
|Magnetic Resistance||4,800 A/m (60 gauss)|
|Winding Direction/System||Bi-directional/Magic Lever|
The advantage with this configuration is it allows the ratchet wheel to turn in the desired direction irrespective of the direction of oscillation of the rotor. It has greatly enhanced the movement’s energy-saving efficiency and has increased by many times the movement’s potential energy gathering capabilities.
Compare it to a Swiss ETA 2824 or 2892 or other Seiko movements with manual winding systems that wind the mainspring arbour (a rotating shaft that serves as an axis for the rotor), you’ll find the 7S26 has almost no dead angle (the angle of back and forth movements that doesn’t coil the mainspring) present. As a whole, the 7S26 automatic winding system is a triumph of simplicity that comes with some apparent sacrifices which nevertheless, have increased the movement’s life, winding efficiency as well as its overall resilience.
Next, we’ll have a look at the straps.
MATERIALS THAT CREATE THE BOND
Switch between Polycaprolactam (nylon), suede, leather, rubber, or stainless steel to suit your personal style or the occasion.
Straps made from ordinary, chemically treated rubber can feel quite a bit stiff at first but as you break it in, it softens up greatly; conforming to the contours of your wrist within a few days’ time. Silicon rubber doesn’t pose that problem. It is soft and supple right from the beginning.
However, you need to be careful about both if you are applying any skin-maintenance products topically. This includes sun screens, mosquito repellents and even some skin-nourishing products. These might cause discoloration of the strap and reduce the life of the rubber if allowed to stay. Good news is – only if you let them sit on the material for 24 hours or more.
To avoid that, always rinse sunscreen lotions or moisturisers sticking to your entire watch with fresh/distilled water. The same applies when you take it swimming in salt water or in a chlorinated pool. Gently clean the band/strap with a mild detergent and a brush with soft bristles. This will help to further extend the life of the rubber strap. For, the softer and dryer the rubber band, the longer it will last.
Alternatively, you may apply a very light coat of a rubber protector of correct grade (silicone lubricant, for example) to keep the rubber pliable and stopping it from becoming brittle and breaking. This must be done after thoroughly cleaning the strap. Applying silicone to a dirty band will trap dirt/dust particle.
Be careful not to expose straps to strong detergents, paints, solvents, adhesives, mercury or cosmetic sprays. Yes, you must practice that even with metal bracelets. even with stainless steel bracelets! For leather and suede, there are leather cleaning and nourishing products that can keep your strap looking like new for many years.
PROTECT YOUR SKX009 FROM MAGNETISM
It’s important not to take any mechanical watch near strong magnetic fields; however, the calibre 7S26 is quite a bit immune to magnetic fluxes created by everyday household appliances (TV, PC, speakers, cell phones, hair-dryers, electric razors, magnetic locks etc.). It’s the mainspring made out of a material named SPRON that’s responsible. Seiko developed this material jointly with the Metal Materials Laboratory of Tohoku University as a spring-material for mechanical wristwatches with superior elasticity, anti-magnetic properties, a great strength and a high heat and corrosion resistance.
WHAT CARRIES THE SKX LEGACY FORWARD?
We have had discussed about the new slew of Seiko5 that emerged as a direct replacement of the SKX007 earlier, so this time, we look at some prominent members of the Seiko diver family that can shoulder the ways the SKX got us used to. The name that effortlessly surfaces is Prospex and the five names below are going to shoulder the duties of the SKX without failing. These SKX alternatives are probably even better, but some of them are going to cost you more than the Seiko SKX009. That’s kind of okay, for you also get the manual winding and seconds-hacking capabilities, ISO6425 certification and the 4’o clock crown with them.
1. Seiko Prospex Baby Tuna Automatic 200M: The Seiko Baby Tuna Prospex is a solidly built, reliable diver watch with a fabulous lume and a great bracelet. It’s a practical diving companion that’s tough to beat. This watch is meant to take a beating but considering its design and size, only large-wristed people should go for it. This watch will not let you down, whatever your pursuit might be. The workhorse 4R36 automatic movement will continue to tick year after year. Also see the stealth version here.
2. Seiko Prospex Turtle International Edition Automatic Diver’s: Robust and durable, its great legibility offers a clear view of the dial and the hands under low-light conditions. The Prospex Turtle International Edition delivers value not too many automatic watches on the market can; besides looking great. Considering its shape, the Turtle International Edition is bulky and rather large, but complies very well with the purpose it’s built for. Movement: Caliber 4R36.
3. Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver’s King Turtle: This Prospex Special Edition is nicknamed the King Turtle due to its sheer size and looks awesome with its Oceanic blue, shark-fin patterned dial. It runs on a Seiko calibre 4R36 movement with both manual and automatic winding capabilities and roundabout the same power reserve as the calibre 7S26. The blue, ceramic one-way rotating elapsed timing bezel, the magnified day/date calendar, the LumiBrite hands and markers, the Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface, the screw-down crown and case back, the ISO certification – all point towards the fact that it’s a true diver watch meant for marine adventures.
4. Seiko Prospex Turtle Auto: Calling it an impressive, sporty, dive watch would be an understatement; even mentioning that it offers an incredible value for your money! You need to look at its great specs to understand its true value. Whether it’s the water-resistance or the accuracy; durability or hardiness or even the sleek and clean dial layout – every bit of the Turtle Prospex makes it a truly timeless divers’ watch that’s built to last through your every endeavour out in the wild! Extremely robust and reliable, this tool watch is surprisingly versatile and works excellently for all kinds of occasions despite its relatively bulky case size.
5. Seiko Prospex Sumo Automatic Diver: Considered as one of the greatest, entry-level diver/sports watches, the Sumo is one of the better-built Seiko-s with a slightly different but refined looks. It houses an in-house, improved Caliber 6R35 movement, which is thinner than its predecessor, the 6r15.
The Seiko Sumo is also known as the MM200 or Marinemaster 200 because of its similarities with the real Marine Master (MM300)
CONCLUSION: AT THE END OF IT ALL
While the SKX009 has been held in high esteem among diver watches that are considered as sheer technology housed in fortress-like cases, tru th remains they are no more manufactured. Go for one if you come across it; else, the five we mentioned above are definitely going to keep up with your every whim that will accompany the bumpy sides of outdoor adventures and recreation. They are stylishly rugged; sophisticated, strong and resilient.