Almost three years ago to the day, Jack wrote a Value Proposition story about what might be the value watch to end all value watches: the Seiko SKX007 diver. For well under $200, you get a tough-as-nails dive watch with classic styling and some real history. There’s nothing to argue with, really. Unless you’re me, of course.
I’ve always loved the SKX007, I really have. But, I’ve never been able to wear one. At 42mm across, it’s just too damn big for my Lilliputian wrist, both looking and feeling out of place. Until recently, I thought it was a lost cause, assuming that I would have to wander the Earth without a bang-for-your-buck Seiko diver at my side. Luckily, thanks to a tip from my colleague James Stacey, my prayers were answered and a solution was found: Meet the Seiko SKX013, the mini badass Seiko diver.
At first glance, without a wrist for scale, you might not even realize that you’re not looking at the SKX007. The SKX013 really is a dead-ringer for its big brother, in most respects. However, the watch has a smaller case that measures 37mm across and 11.5mm top to bottom. This makes it a full 5mm smaller in diameter and 1.5mm thinner. That’s a serious difference right there.
As you look closer, you will notice a few difference between the watches. The proportions aren’t exactly the same, since the same movement is used in both (the automatic caliber 7S26). If I’m being honest with myself, the SKX007’s proportions are better than those of the SKX013. The smaller size means that it reads as thicker and you also lose some of the negative space on the dial. The day/date displays even cut into the rehaut a little – if this were a $5,000 watch that would drive me crazy, but here I’m willing to accept it as a compromise.
What is exactly the same between the two watches is the build quality. The SKX013 is water resistant to 200 meters, the screw-down crown at four o’clock has the hefty crown guards on either side, the crystal is Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex material, and the bezel has deep, even clicks. I threw this model on a NATO during the last weekends of summer and it held up without a single mark through trips to the beach and the park, exactly as you’d expect.
Now, the watch Jack showed you years ago was mounted on one of Seiko’s famous Jubilee-style bracelets. They’re a bit chintzy, but that’s actually why many people love them. I probably would have gotten my SKX013 on a similar bracelet, but, to be honest, the 013 is a little harder to find in stock in the U.S. than is the 007, so I had the choice of getting the watch without the bracelet or waiting a month. My impatience got the best of me and I purchased the watch on a rubber dive strap instead. I of course ordered it via Amazon, which is a veritable treasure trove of inexpensive Seiko watches that can be on your doorstep in under 48 hours. The SKX013 is also a tad more expensive than the SKX007, though that’s relative. I paid $256 for mine, and they seem to trade for anywhere between $225 and $275.
The dive strap was, shall we say, not for me. It was stiff, kind of bulky, and just didn’t feel great on the wrist. I’ve been alternating wearing the watch on a simple grey NATO, which is probably the way to go 99% of the time, and a black stitched calfskin strap from the HODINKEE Shop that cost more than the watch itself. It probably negates the value proposition here a bit, but it looks damn good.
At 13mm, the SKX013 isn’t necessarily what I’d describe as a thick watch, but it’s not slim either. It sits nice and low to the wrist, and there are no comfort issues, but as the weather has started to cool off, I do find it snags on sweater and jacket sleeves a bit more than I wish it did. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but rather just something to be aware of if you’re going to make this a part of your collection.
I bought the SKX013 mostly as an experiment, to see if I would actually enjoy wearing one of those Seiko diver’s I’d so long admired from afar. I’m happy to report that I do, and I have been – this thing has gotten way more wrist time than expected and is now a regular part of my warm-weather watch rotation. As Jack originally remarked of this watch’s big brother, the SKX013 “ultimately manages to be so appealing on its own merits that the almost incredulity-inducing price is the least important aspect of the watch.” Well said, Jack. Well said.