When you’re getting into watch collecting it starts with getting an automatic watch. The only issue is that automatic watches are pricey, most decent ones start around $1,000. We know of a few watches that are worthy of collecting, and under $200. Seriously. These watches come from Seiko and while most people think of Seiko watches as cheap and easy to find, they are damn cheap and easy to find, but they’re also great. What we’re talking about are Seiko diver watches SKX007, SKX173 – black diver, and the SKX009 “Pepsi” diver. Seiko’s first diver was produced in the 60′s and to this day, Seiko diver watches are some of the most reliable and well-built diver and/or automatic watches in the game. Not for the price, but period.
We’ve known how good Seiko diver watches are, and have owned vintage Seiko divers, but have yet to try one of the new divers. When we saw the 007 black and Pepsi diver in Japan, they were beefy, vibrant, and beautiful. We got a chance to take the Pepsi diver for a test drive to see how good it performed.
First off, the SKX007, SKX173 – black divers, and the SKX009 “Pepsi” diver all cost $155-180 depending on the strap on Amazon. The watch we tested was the Pepsi Diver SKX009 with a rubber band. Over a week of running, swimming, and wearing this with suits, below is what we found.
Spoiler alert: buy this watch. We did after our test drive.
CASE: Seiko divers have a very distinct case that is unlike most diver watches. The new watches are circular with the crown near 4 o’clock with crown guards. The size of the watch is 42mm in diameter which is inline with watches by today’s standards. The case is made 316L stainless steel with brushed front and sides. The case is beefy and if you were to use a thin nato strap, it would look disproportionate.
CASE BACK: This diver has a tsunami design in the middle of the case back. For all watches it’s good to check the serial number to see when your watch was produced. Ours was made in May 2015. The movement looks easy to access through the six indentations around the movement to open it. The back is made of the same steel and brushed as well.
CRYSTAL: Sapphire crystal is expensive, and is a standard among quality watches. Seiko makes cheaper watches and they save on many things, one of which is using Hardlex which is a mineral crystal. Hardlex isn’t scratch proof, but it is more resistant to being shattered than Sapphire crystal, and worthy of handling scuba expeditions.
BEZEL: Made of steel like all other parts. The bezel rotates 120 clicks, meaning you can time in small increments, up to 30 seconds. The bezel is red and navy blue. The red and blue used on this bezel are vibrant and bright. The red starts at 0 and stops at 20, and navy is used for the rest. There’s a reason why this watch is dubbed “Pepsi” and that is because the bezel is reminiscent of Pepsi’s colors.
DIAL: The SKX009 dial looks a bit grey or very dark blue and many Seiko fans have theories on the color. What’s most important is the dial is legible and the hour markers are circular, and there is a triangle at the 12 o’clock position. There is an equal spacing between the hour markers and there is a day and date function replacing the 4 o’clock marker. The day can be set in english or Spanish. The hour hand is sword shaped and the minute marker is an arrow. Best of both worlds.
LUME: Seiko divers are known for their bright lume and the SKX009 is no exception. The lume is on the hour markers, hands, and a few positions on the bezel. We’ve tested the lume against one of our most used diver watch by Bathy’s, and the Seiko lume was much stronger and brighter. Seiko uses it`s own Luminova-style paint, called Lumibrite.
CROWN: Seiko diver’s crowns are on the 4 o`clock position. This is guarded by crown guards and it’s a screw-down. The screw-down is very tight and perfect for under water use as it’s tough to shake loose. The crown controls the day, date, and time and if you go backwards the second-hand will also go backwards if you want to set the exact time. The crown is unsigned.
MOVEMENT: Seiko divers run on the workhorse 7S26 movement. This is one of the most reliable movements that Seiko makes. This is an automatic movement which requires physical movement. Once this movement gets going, it’ll move at 21,600 BPH. There are 21 jewels in this movement which are used in areas where metal wear will occur and the jewels help to minimize this and keep the movement running at top speed. In one week of constant use, we noticed +/-10 seconds. This movement requires servicing every few years. The power reserve wasn’t great at a little over 1 day, but otherwise, think workhorse, but make sure you move.
BRACELET: We wanted to test the rubber band as it’s more durable for active use. In the first week, we found the band to be very stiff and doesn’t give much. If the band fits your wrist perfectly, you may notice slight indentations on your wrist, if it’s loose, you’ll just get indentations on your wrist. Maybe with more use the band will give more.
OVERALL: The Seiko (Pepsi) Diver SKX009 is a durable workhorse. The case is hefty and carries some weight, but the dial and bezel are beautiful and legible. If you’re going for a dressy look, go with the metal band, and if you’re looking to actually use the bezel and dive with this, the rubber band is best. At under $200, you’re not going to find a better and more respected diver or just plain watch in the market. Do yourself a favor and find a watch band that fits your style.