If you’re curious about the differences between the iconic Seiko SKX models, we’ve got you covered!
The Seiko SKX series is a pretty big subline, much bigger than most people realize.
It comprises dive watches of all colorways including the bright orange SKX011, and all sizes like the larger-than-life Seiko Monsters, SKX779, and 881. There are even adorned variants, like the 005 and its guilloche-esque dial.
Still, the SKX007, his little brother the SKX013, and the Pepsi-bezel SKX009 are arguably the core line.
I don’t make sweeping statements about watches unless they’re easy ones (for example, that the Submariner is the most famous watch in the world). However, these SKXs are 100% the most ubiquitous entry-level “real” timepieces in the watch world.
They’re automatics with a no-nonsense design, rife with versatility, and they have all of the history and lore necessary for a watch to achieve icon status.
On top of that, no collector, no matter how advanced they get, ever really “graduates” from an SKX if that was their gateway watch.
Essential Design: What All Three Have in Common
These SKXs are the quintessence of good, honest function. They each feature a solid stainless steel case, a unidirectional bezel, the signature four o’clock crown placement, and the round indices with a triangular 12.
They all have 200 meters of water resistance and Seiko’s Hardlex crystal, which is a standard mineral that’s been treated to be harder.
All of these core SKXs are powered by Seiko’s Caliber 7S26, a 21-jewel automatic with a 43-hour power reserve.
The word “workhorse” is thrown around a lot for basic mechanical movements, but some might say it was coined for this guy. It’s durable, often described as “bullet-proof”, and incredibly efficient with its respectable 21,600 bph.
A lot of 7S26 Seiko watches now run on the 4R movements which allow hacking. However, unlike the 4Rs, the 7S26 is a true-blue heritage movement for Seiko.
Sure, you can “upgrade” to a hacking movement, but most purists would say the 7S26 belongs in the SKXs. It’s sort of how there are some classic movies that shouldn’t be colorized or are more effective since they were shot on film.
Finally, these beaters boast ISO 6425 certification, which makes them authentic professional watches in countries that acknowledge ISO standards.
Why the SKX Is So Legendary: A Brief History
The history of the SKX actually goes even further back in time than its 1996 debut, and it’s one of the reasons why this watch has so much street cred.
The first mechanical Seiko diver, the SKX’s forefather, was the 6217-8000/8001 from 1965, more commonly called the 62MAS. Then the 6105 came along, which made Seiko what it is today — a go-to for affordable and quality mechanicals.
Historical and pop culture status was also achieved at this point since many US Soldiers used the 6105 and it was famously worn by Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now.
The Seiko 7002, is the SKX’s most immediate ancestor and featured the four-positioned crown, 200 meters of water resistance, and the same outlined syringe-sword-and-arrow hands.
And finally, in 1996, the SKX007, SKX013, and SKX009 all debuted to pretty immediate popularity, thanks to their unprecedented price-to-quality.
Though all three are, as mentioned, core models of sorts, the SKX007 is considered the most basic version — a flagship, if you will. So we’ll compare all three with the 007 as the “control” model.
The SKX007 vs The SKX013: A Comparison
Right away, the SX013 is essentially just a smaller version of the SKX007. The 007, 41mm, is considered the robust classic dive, while the 38mm 013 is considered the mid-size classic dive.
Props to Seiko for not referring to a 38mm watch as “small,” which could have easily happened in the ‘90s while we were well into the bigger-is-better craze.
Plus, 38mm is around the size that the very first dive watches were, and the SKXs are meant to be classically designed. Plus, the SKX013 is 12mm thick, just 1mm thinner than the SKX007, meaning it has a substantial, almost squat wrist presence.
Since both watches use the same movement, their proportions aren’t one-to-one, though few people would notice this right away. There’s more negative space on the SKX007, which makes it look a touch cleaner.
Relatedly, something controversial about the 013 is that the day-date actually dips into the rehaut. Some people hate this, though, for the watch’s price, it’s hardly ever a dealbreaker.
I actually don’t mind it at all! It reminds me of when a boxed mineral crystal distorts and reflects an outerdial track.
I consider it visual intrigue, though I understand that, for some, it takes away from the overall perfect balance of the watch since it only happens in one small portion of the edge.
Another difference between the two, as far as the dial goes, is their minute and second hands, though both have syringe-sword hour hands.
The SKX007’s arrow minute hand is shaped like a standard arrow, includes the fletching on the opposite end of the arrowhead, and is outlined only at the edges.
Meanwhile, the 013’s hour hand has a smoother silhouette because it lacks the fletching, and has a fully outlined arrowhead, meaning the outline cuts into the body of the hand, which gives it a bit more dimension.
The second hands are completely different. The 007 is equipped with a standard needle second hand with a lollipop counterweight, while the 013 has a full-fledged arrow syringe. Some might consider the 013’s hands to be more sophisticated.
Finally, the 013 has longer lugs, which, like the design of the hands, adds more aerodynamism to the overall aesthetic.
And since it’s rarer, the SKX013 is also more expensive than the SKX007.
The SKX007 vs The SKX009 (With a Cameo from the SKX015)
There SKX007 and the SKX009 have literally the exact same specs, from the movement to the dial elements. This also means that the differences between the 009 and the mid-size 013 are essentially outlined above.
The only difference with the SKX009 is its coloring. While the 013 and the 007 have black dials and bezels, the 009 sports a dark blue dial and a Pepsi bezel.
Unlike the AM-PM bezels of GMT watches though, its red portion is sequestered to the northeastern section of the ring, taking up just over a fourth of it.
Also worth mentioning is the SKX015, which is the 38mm version of the SKX009.
The differences between the two Pepsis are exactly like the differences between the black dial SKXs, all the way down to the lugs and arrows.
SKX-K vs SKX-J
You may have noticed that some SKXs end with a K or a J. So, what’s the difference between an SKX007K vs an SKX007J?
Basically, the J means that it was made in Japan, where Seiko is located. The K means that it was built overseas, possibly in Malaysia or Korea (it isn’t actually clear).
Japan tends to keep its greatest hits on domestic shores, so the J watches are often slightly higher in quality, often flaunting sharper finishing. They also come with a higher price tag.
I honestly think that the differences are minute and overall unimportant. If you’re dying to get your hands on a J watch, you can pick one out from the crowd by looking for a 21 Jewels appellate on the dial, and a Japan WP embossing on the back.
The K has a cleaner dial since it doesn’t have that marking on it, and will only have a WP on the back.
Also, sellers often add a 1 or 2 to the end of the reference, to signify what strap it comes with. For example, you may be looking at an SKX007K1, one with a rubber strap, or an SKX007K2, one with a Jubilee bracelet.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about the SKX series, for some at-a-glance answers!
What is the difference between SKX007 and SKX013?
The SKX007 has a 41mm case, while the SKX013 has a 38mm case. Since they use the same movement, the SKX007 has more negative space on its dial. Meanwhile, the mid-size SKX013 has sharper hands and lugs.
What is the difference between Seiko SKX007 and SKX009?
The only difference between the two is the coloring. The SKX007 is a traditional black dial with a black bezel, while the SKX009 is a Pepsi watch, with a dark blue dial and a red-and-blue bezel.
Is the Seiko SKX009 discontinued?
Yes, the Seiko SKX009 was discontinued in 2019.
The SKX series of watches, particularly these three, have often been considered the greatest beaters of all time.
Even though they’ve been discontinued for a few years now, they’re easily available on the Amazons and Jomashops of the world.
Since their discontinuation, SKX watch prices have definitely risen, though at an inconsequential glacial pace.
These days, however, an SKX007 is nearing the thousand mark. Once it reaches vintage status, who knows how much the price will inflate from there.
And while some of you may be thinking that its low price was a big part of its appeal, I would argue that the SKX is definitely an icon, and stories and status are two main reasons we buy watches.
Besides, if you want an SKX-like beater on the cheap, there’s always Seiko 5.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!
Leave a Reply