I have to concede that Seiko watches have always been something of a guilty pleasure of mine, quite possibly a hangover from when I was a callow youth starting out at a local jewellers and the Japanese brand were one of our top sellers.
Founded by Kintaro Hattori and first incorporated in 1917 Seiko have seen a number of transitions over the years but have managed to establish themselves as one of the premier Japanese watch manufacturers, offering attractive and practical watches ever since their first piece saw the light of day almost two centuries ago. Whilst Swiss watchmakers garner most of the plaudits for innovation, it was Seiko who introduced the first commercial run of quartz watches in the shape of the Astron. Admittedly it cost roughly the same as a family car at the time, but such is the price of progress! Seiko are also credited with producing the first quartz chronograph and by the late 1980’s had developed the first hybrid automatic/quartz movements combining the accuracy of a quartz watch with the advantages of the in-built power source provided by an automatic movement, which they later marketed as the extremely popular Seiko Kinetic range.
The company has a long established reputation for accuracy, having regularly provided the official timekeeping for events such as the Olympic Games, IAAF World Championships and the FIFA World Cup however one of Seiko’s greatest strengths has also proven to be something of a double edged sword; the reality is that the company produces excellent timepieces, as stylish as many of those from the luxury watch brands but often at a fraction of the price, largely (though not exclusively) driven by their use of quartz movements over mechanical in many models. It is this perception that Seiko produce “cheaper” watches than the “luxury” brands that holds them back in this regard, with purists arguing that they can never truly be in the same league as Rolex, Omega and the like although proponents of the Grand Seiko would argue very much to the contrary.
So it is that we come to one of their latest offerings, the SKX013, a diver’s watch aimed at those of us who don’t necessarily prescribe to the tenet that bigger is best. The SKX range is one of the most respected in the industry with the SKX007 having become almost an icon in its own right amongst watch enthusiasts. The SKX013 is essentially the little brother to the family and represents an excellent addition to the range.
At first glance there appears to be very little discernible difference between the 013 and it’s larger sibling, however the SKX013 has a wrist-friendly diameter of just 37mm, a good 5mm narrower than the SKX007. The two models are the same thickness however, and despite its smaller overall dimensions there is no mistaking that the SKX013 is first and foremost a diver’s watch. The thick steel case is solid and well finished and is complemented by a polished steel caseback and screw down crown (offset at the 4pm position) to ensure water-tightness.
The case is ISO certified water-resistant to 200m and whilst it isn’t overly chunky it retains the reassuring solidity you would expect from a Seiko diving watch. This is all complemented by the blackened steel rotating bezel, a variation which seems familiar across many brands yet still manages to retain a definite “Seiko” style.
Despite the smaller proportions, the SKX013 houses exactly the same Caliber 7S26 automatic movement as its big brother and as such gives equally impressive performance, accuracy and reliability. The 7S26 includes the Seiko Diashock system and has not surprisingly formed the mainstay of many of the brand’s models since the mid 1990’s, offering 40+ hours of power reserve and around 60 gauss of magnetic resistance.
The Dial & Crystal
The dial is as clear and practical as you would expect, the matte black face contrasting well with the bright lume markings and hands for good legibility underwater. The only slight criticism is that the date window retains a similar scale to the SKX007, which on the smaller model means it cuts into the rehaut somewhat so makes the SKX013 dial appear a little less symmetrical, but this really is only a matter of personal taste.
The crystal is Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex mineral glass, a toughened and shatterproof material which has excellent scratch resistance and offers a crisp, clean view of the dial with next to no annoying reflection, which can be vital when in use underwater.
The watch comes as standard either with a black rubber strap or polished steel jubilee bracelet. The black strap version looks and feels instantly like a classic dive watch where the jubilee version could almost be passed off as more of a dress watch, however the bracelet doesn’t feel quite as solid as it should in relation to the rest of the watch so whilst it’s fine in the short term, we can see people opting to change this up. Given the fact the SKX013 is an excellent value timepiece this can probably be forgiven, but you may find yourself paying more for a replacement steel style strap than for the watch itself! Alternatively NATO style watch straps seem to be the way to go at the moment, and would probably be a good option should you decide to upgrade the band.
The SKX013 is versatile enough to function perfectly well as a diver’s watch whilst not being out of place when you have to dress more formally, though it is probably shown in its best light when teamed up with casual attire.
This is a solid and well made watch that strikes a nice balance between being a classic diver’s piece whilst offering something for those with a slightly smaller wrist. Though it is comparatively small it offers that reassuring presence one would expect without being overly heavy so if you have always wanted a divers watch but struggled to find one that was comfortable the Seiko SKX013 might just be the answer.
With a price tag of around £200 (new) straight out of the box, it certainly offers exceptional value and judging by the reaction of people who have already bought one the SKX013 is already carving quite a niche for itself.