Seiko 5KX – Thumbs up or down?

This year few moves from Seiko made a bigger wave in the scene than the end of the SKX and release of the new Diver style Seiko 5 Sports, quickly nicknamed 5KX.

Since I am one member of this scene, owner of a SKX (and some of it’s predecessors) and since a few weeks also owner of two new 5KX, I think I share my thoughts on this ‘case’.

Normally it’s a good idea to look at history first, for this will often clear some facts: neither is the SKX the first watch with this case design nor the best (in my opinion). That famous watch didn’t pop out of nowhere. In fact, the first watch with the SKX design was released in 1978. The reference was the 7548 and you wouldn’t believe it – it was a quartz watch. Today many collectors hull up their nose when it comes to quartz, but the 7548 movement was far better than our standard cheap quartz movement today (which power 99,9% of todays quartz watches). It was adjustable, had 5 jewels, contains no plastic parts, built to last. One of his successors, the 7C46 is still used in one of Seikos best dive watches, the Tuna family. The 7548 was a great success in his time, laid the base for future SKX-style watches.

Seiko 7548 from 1980

Successors of this watch were for example the famous 200m Professionell (also a quartz watch), the 7002 as a automatic watch and, in the late 90s, the most famous of all, the SKX. If you ask an expert which of this watches is the best, he will probably name the 200m Professionell.

The SKX was sold for many, many years (more than 20!) and became an icon for watch collectors, even if they are not especially Seiko fans. The downsides they gladly accept – the screwed down crown is in my eyes not very good and it’s almost impossible to fix the crown with the first attempt. Neither the second. The movement 7S26 was a reliable workhorse, but without hacking and handwinding very oldfashioned. To start the movement, one has to do the Seiko shuffle…a little bit weird.

Around the year 2015 something changed in Seiko’s portfolio, the Prospex X (or better P/S for professionell specifications) appeared and soon became an object of many bad comments from the fans. But Seiko continued (as always) and started new lines (for example the New Turtle) or prospexed old lines (for example the Sumo). The Turtle today is one of Seikos best selling watches. Turtle and Samurai became the entry level of the Prospex line of real divers.

Real divers? There was this old SKX left in the portfolio, loved by the fans, old fashioned, 20 years old. And now, with a bang (for many; others had awaited this years ago) Seiko discontinued the SKX. Take this, watch aficionado!

In my eyes, Seiko had three options:

  • “Prospexing” the SKX with a 4R36 as a direct competitor to Turtle/Samurai. The fans would have growled in anger because of the X on this icon!
  • Upgrade the SKX as a competitor to the Sumo with a 6R Movement. The fans would have growled in anger because of the remarkable higher price point!
  • End the SKX line for now and release the case design in a lower line like the Seiko 5, making it no competitor for any other diver. The fans would have growled in anger because of the downgrade (even it was not intended to make this watch the SKX successor)!

See something?

As we all know, option 3 was chosen. The handsome design came to the Seiko 5 line and the fans yelled “downgrade”. But that’s not right, it’s no downgrade, it’s a complete new watch with all features typical for a Seiko 5: movement 4R36, 100m WR, see-through bottom. The SKX is history. Some say “for now” and maybe in the future Seiko will bring option 2 to life…

Let’s have a closer look at the new Seiko 5 Sports now. I bought two of this new watch line in the last weeks, the orange SRPD59 and the crème SRPD67. The finishing of the watches is remarkable for this price point. I have heard many comments about misalignments, and yes, this happens, but my watches are perfect. I bought the two of them by two different authorized dealers (the Creme ist not available in Germany).
The 100m WR allows swimming and even snorkelling with this watches, but not real scuba diving – well I think very few of us are scuba divers and they use diving computers. So it’s more something that happens in your head. Then there is one thing I really don’t miss: the screwed down crown, as I mentioned before. The normal crown is much more convenient to my opinion. The screwed down crown of the SKX wasn’t really comfortable, in other price ranges Seiko can do this a lot better.

Let’s come to the bracelets. The Orange came with a new Oyster which has one thing in common with the famous SKX Jubilees: It rattles like a snake, at least my piece. So you have one familiar thing more…Otherwise it’s a reliable bracelet, absolute ok at this price point. The Crème came with a Mesh/Milanaise, which lifts the price about 70 Euros. I don’t know why. I would prefer the Oyster every time and I don’t like this bracelet, especially it’s clasp. Ok, truth to tell, I don’t like any Milanaise, so I am biased. I removed this and put on a GL831 from Uncle Seiko, which in my eyes is a perfect match. It’s easy to replace the bracelet because the 5KX has drilled lugs – which the SKX lacks.

They use the well known 4R36 and my watches are real good when it comes to accuracy. The Orange gains 5 sec/24h, the Crème gains 2 sec/24h, excellent for this movement.

With so many different colors of the new 5KX I think everyone will find his favourite and I highly recommend this watches. They are an eyecatcher for small money!

So for me: Thumbs up!

  SKX Seiko 5 Sports aka 5KX
Movement 7S26, no hacking, no handwinding 4R36, hacking and handwinding
Case 42mm, screwed down crown 42mm, drilled lugs, no screwed down crown
Water resistance 200m 100m
Glass Hardlex Hardlex
Bottom Screwed down, massive See-through
Price (Euro) 299 259-329
SRPD59 Orange
SRPD67 Creme
Processed With Darkroom

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