On one of my dive weekends I received a request to write a review of the beloved Seiko SKX for two reasons. The first was that there was no review of this iconic watch with how it performed while diving. The second was that the adored watch was about to be discontinued and replaced. Given the numerous articles, blog entries, and forum and social media posts made about this watch since its release in 1996, I was very skeptical about doing this. As a result, we will briefly go over the watch strictly as to how it performed while underwater, and we will also confront whether taking such a watch diving is a good idea in the first place.
Performance in a Diving Application
“It is the details that matter most in narrowing down the correct dive instrument.”
The SKX is a terrific watch for time-telling underwater. Its legibility and simple dial design make time at a glance duties fairly simple. Its 22mm standard lugs also allow a variety of exposure suit straps. The watch does disappoint in two major ways, however.
The first is Seiko’s Hardlex crystal that you have to be mindful of throughout your dive weekend. Dive watches receive the majority of their damage while on a boat, or while putting on and taking off one’s scuba gear. Anything short of a sapphire crystal or possibly Gorilla Glass (though I have found the latter easy to damage) are not ideal. Below is a picture of a good friend’s high-end dive computer and its cracked crystal. This dive computer was damaged on the ladder of the boat during inclement weather.
The bezel of the SKX also moves too easily, making elapsed timing unreliable. I found that my wetsuit itself moved the bezel. This is not acceptable.
As you can see, the SKX is not the best choice of watch to take with you on a series of dives. Given the choices available for dive watches below $1000, I cannot recommend this watch as a dive instrument.
The only thing the SKX did well underwater was look good. In this 009 colour scheme, the watch was quite beautiful underwater, especially as I went deeper and the colours slowly became less saturated. If all you want is for your dive watch to make you smile underwater, then all of the above is not something you should not be concerned about.
There are a very small group of people for whom I would recommend this watch, and we shall go into who they are and why next.
The SKX Diving Performance in Awkward Social Applications
“It is in the tales which we choose to tell each other, that are in reality only telling of the story teller.”
“I really like your SKX,” I said to the young man sitting in front of me. “How long have you had it for?”
“Oh, I have had it for ages! I’ve done everything with it as well!”
His enthusiasm was positively electric and given that this was a watch enthusiast gathering, he could not wait to tell me everything about it in one breath. After about 15 minutes of telling me about all the accomplishments that he conquered while wearing the watch, he unfortunately finished with this.
“I’ve also taken it diving,” he said proudly.
“That’s great! Where did you take it diving,” I asked.
“Which charter did you use and where did you get your open water certification from?” His face went pale. After a few moments of awkward silence in the busy bar, I asked, “You never went diving with it, did you?”
After staring at the bottom of the pint of stout in front of him, he slowly said “No.”
Over the last three years I have encountered over fifteen other men who simply lied about what they have done with their Seiko SKXs and, oddly, their Rolexes. I heard another gentlemen tell the exact same story about his Rolex Explorer, only to admit later that he only took it snorkeling in Cuba. One gentleman proudly boasted about meeting a world leader while wearing his Rolex and got the date that he was in office incorrect. Upon finding out that they were speaking to someone who could quickly see that they were lying, all of them sheepishly went away ashamed of being caught in their lie.
We are told that these time-telling instruments hold their value in the stories that they gather, and in the ones that we build with them. If you are someone who believes this and loves to speak for hours on end about what you have done and accomplished while wearing a mechanical watch, then I sincerely recommend the SKX, or any other watch for diving purposes. The damage that the Hardlex crystal will incur will make your stories more believable, and the bezel being loose may not be a concern for you after all.
In conclusion the SKX is a terrific watch for daily use, and a subpar to mediocre watch when put into a diving environment.