I’ve discussed in many Seiko reviews the discontinuation of the SKX. While you can still find new ones in the marketplace, it does appear that Seiko is no longer producing the watch. This has left a void that many watch companies, including Seiko, are trying to fill.
Marc at Long Island Watch, an online watch retailer, made quite a splash when he debuted the Long Island Watch Islander. After the retailer began offering modified Seiko SKXs, it seemed a logical step to begin producing their own watches. There is no denying that the Islander models are Seiko-style cases with custom parts inside.
Long Island Watch has an advantage in this segment in that they already know what watches consumers are buying. The Islander models available appear to directly echo those purchasing habits in the most popular models. It might be easy to sell a modded Seiko, but it is an entirely different animal to produce your own watch modeled after a Seiko. Can the Islander fill the void in a post-SKX world? Let’s find out.
On the Wrist
If this section that appears in most of my reviews was to answer one question, “What does this watch feel like on the wrist,” this review would be over quickly. The answer to that question is it feels like an SKX. The case is a direct clone of the SKX case, and the dimensions are the same. However, the similarities to a stock SKX end there. There is a bit more to the Islander.
The first difference I noticed was the dial. Of course, the Seiko branding is gone, but something else has been added. The printed dial from the SKX has been replaced with a modern applied dial. The markers are all applied and pack enough depth to pop out at you when the light hits them. The markers aren’t just SKX markers with depth, they are like the markers on the Seiko Marinemaster. This is a welcome change as the Marinemaster has my favorite dial out of all Seiko divers.
The Islander will not come with your basic Seiko bracelet, which leads to an instant on-wrist comfort improvement. Having handled a few Strapcode bracelets, this bracelet is like one of those. All the links are solid, including the endlinks. If you’ve ever felt that the stock Seiko Oyster-style bracelet felt cheap (I know I have) then this bracelet will make you feel much more secure about what your watch is attached to.
Islander ISL-01 Video Review
This is normally where I start discussing the dial and case details of a watch. I will touch on some of those things later but given the similarity to the SKX I want to focus on more of what makes this a watch you should look at instead of an SKX.
I usually don’t spend a lot of time talking about the price of a watch because value and price mean different things to different people. I’m making an exception here because I believe this watch is a steal at its price at the time of this writing. The Islander models that resemble the SKX are $299. It’s difficult to find a new SKX for much less than that.
So what? It’s not a Seiko, so why should I compare it to the Seiko price? This watch is heavily aimed at people in 2 camps: those who like to mod watches and those who want an SKX without all the outdated technology of the SKX.
If you are a modder who wants to pick up an SKX and put in all the elements present in the Isander (NH36 movement, sapphire crystal, lumed ceramic bezel, better bracelet, and a new dial) you would be spending far more than $299. How they can pack all those features into this watch and sell it for $299 is beyond me.
If you fall into the other camp and love the SKX but wish it had updated features like a hacking hand-winding movement and sapphire crystal, the Islander is still a great buy. The Islander is essentially what the SKX would be if Seiko released that watch today, but perhaps sans the sapphire since Seiko still uses Hardlex in many entry-level dive watches.
Either way you look at it, the Islander is a great value at almost any budget. What makes this watch even more attractive is the fact that if there is something you don’t like about it but there is an SKX aftermarket part you do like, it will fit this watch.
Anyone can buy aftermarket SKX mod parts in bulk, put together watches, and sell them. They might not be able to do it for $299 but it can be done. What is more difficult to master is quality control. Assembling watches for the masses and having them come out with aligned bezels is something Seiko even has problems with.
The Islander is a solid watch with no quality issues on the review sample I had. The bezel and chapter ring were aligned, the screw-down crown was smooth and didn’t catch awkwardly, and the finishing on the case was spot-on to what Seiko offers.
As I mentioned previously, the dial is like that of a Seiko Marinemaster. The hands are still SKX-style but they work well with the dial configuration. The Islander is offered with a lumed SKX-style bezel insert but I had the 12-hour bezel on my review sample. I’m always a fan of a 12-hour bezels and having it lumed was even better. The bezel action is excellent, and I have zero complaints.
I made a ton of comparisons to the SKX in this review but justifiably so. There is no denying that the watch is modeled after the SKX. There are ways to offer an SKX-style watch and still make it work as a somewhat original watch. The Islander accomplishes that.
I like the Seiko SKX; it’s a great watch. Because of that sentiment, I also like this watch. I can’t fault the design choices made here and not fault them on the SKX. What has always bugged me about the SKX was the movement, a matter that the Islander resolves.
The SKX used to be the watch that everyone told someone starting out in mechanical watches to buy. While I’m sure some people still do that, I believe there are better choices out there. The Islander adds itself into that mix and with good reason. It is familiar in style, affordable, packs a great feature set, and offers itself as a great mod platform if the wearer so chooses. There are many great starter watches out there, but few can claim those things like the Islander can.
Check out more dive watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the Islander website
|Lug-to-lug Height||46mm||Lug Width||22mm|
|Water Resistance||200 meters||Lume||Yes|