Standing on the shoulders of giants: A short glimpse at the history of the SKX007/009

Today I will talk about the history of the famous SKX007/009 and II will show you four of their predecessors from my collection: The 7548, 7C43 (two pieces) and the 7002. Today Seiko’s references begin with letters followed by numbers but back in the 70s Seiko uses a different system. First comes the four numbers of the movement followed by four numbers of the special model. So we are talking in this article about four different movements including the 7S26. The case of all watches look the same, but they aren’t. We will find some very sophisticated case constructions.

Let’s begin with the 7548. This watch is the first diving watch ever with the case design today we identify with a SKX007/009. But it’s a quartz watch! In fact it’s the first diving watch with a quartz movement. Released 1978, a time where quartz movements were state-of-the-art, the 7548 shares many parts with the mechanical 6309 movement which was used in the Turtle. You can exchange parts between this movements. In fact, the 7548 is a 6309 with a quartz section. It’s a high reliable movement, containing almost no plastic parts, seven juwels and a trimming screw to adjust the speed. A high end movement in it’s time and until today one of the best quartz movements ever. The case had a water resistance of 150m, the dial spells “WATER150mResist” on JDM and “SQ DIVERS 150m” on international references. There are the typical black and Pepsi versions, an orange version and even an extremely rare green version. The 7548 were produced until 1985.

7548 movement (picture by ajiba54)

My watch is a 7548-7000 international version with a German/English day-wheel. Production date was 1980.

Second watch I will talk about is the 7C43. The 7C43 is a quartz movement too and the direct successor of the 7548. It has seven juwels (7548: five jewels) and is adjustable, but contains more plastic parts. The trimmer of the 7C43 is different from the 7548, it doesn’t have a trimmer screw and can only be used once for a change of +/- 0,2 sec/day. It’s also a high torque movement with an advanced power use, so the battery will last at least three years. The successor of this movement is the even more famous 7C46 used in the professional Tunas until today. The movements are more or less the same but the 7C46 contains a larger battery lasting at least five years.

The major change to the 7548 is the construction of the case. There are many (some say 15) changes in this case such as the powerful glass screwing ring structure, the improved anti-magnetism shield and the twin side shield crown structure. So this watch bears the signature “Professional” with a meaning. It’s much more of a highly valued Professional Tuna than todays Solar Tunas, which have the same look but not the same technique as a Professional Tuna. The 7C43 had a different look but almost the same technique. I think this is the best SKX-like watch Seiko ever made.

Another difference between the 7548 and the 7C43 are the white hands of the 7C43 instead of the usual silver hands of all other watches shown here. It’s my favorite watch in this article and the only one of which I own two pieces: A black 7C43-7010 JDM from 1990 with Kanji-/English-day wheel and a Pepsi 7C43-700A from 1987 with German-/English day wheel. Like all international versions, the Pepsi has the “SQ”-sign on the dial. The 7C43 was produced from 1985 to 1991.

7C43-7010 JDM
7C43, on left upper corner magnetic shield (picture by ajiba54)

There was a transitional version 7548-7010 with some aspects of the 7C43 case (200m water resistance and screwing ring structure) but the 7548 movement. This is the watch Brian May from supergroup Queen wears.

Next watch we are talking about is the 7002 with a mechanical movement. It’s not really the first mechanical SKX-like watch. There was an earlier version of the Turtle, the 6309-7290, released 1982, nicknamed “slim case” because the usual 6309 has the typical Turtle-shaped case. I don’t own a slim case Turtle, but my friend @ajiba54 does. So here is a wristshot of this watch from him.

6309-7290 Turtle slim case (picture by ajiba54)

Have a look at the 12 o’clock index and the look at the 12 o’clock index on the 7002 – they are identical and very different from all other watches in this article. So the 7002 is more a successor of the slim case Turtle than of the 7C43. The 7002 appeared in 1988 and was produced simultaneously to the 7C43. The case is a much simpler design and so water resistance dropped to 150m. The movement itself is the successor of the 6309, but if you compare this movements you will find much more plastic parts and less expensive finishing in the 7002. The 7002 is a 17-jewel, non-hacking and non-handwinding movement, very reliable but sometimes not very accurate. BpH was the Seiko typical 21.600.

The watch was manufactured in many different versions, the later references evolved to a 200m water resistance. Unlike all other watches shown here the 7002 has no day-wheel. A second difference to all other watches are the rectangular hour markers instead of the typical round ones. The indices have a light green color (sometimes faded to a light grey) which is also typical for the 7002. You can recognize the JDM from the international versions by the “17 Jewels” on the dial. Mine is a 7002-700J Pepsi JDM from 1989. The 7002 was produced from 1988 until 1996.

7002 movement (picture by ajiba54)

Last watch is the icon SKX007/009 itself, released 1996 as the direct successor of the 7002 and produced for more than 20 years. This watch also came in many different versions, but that’s a story of it’s own. We will focus on the SKX007/009 which for many collectors is “the” Seiko diver. An obvious reason is the long production time, but that’s not the only thing. With its dimension of 42x46mm it fits on every wrist, its very affordable and one of the best-selling watches of all times. In fact it’s one of only two classic affordable dive watches (the other one is the Citizen Promaster) widely used for diving before the time of the diving computers. Of cource this was not the major use of this watch. Most people just wanted a reliable good looking watch for a few bucks. A real no-nonsense diving watch for every purpose.

The 7S26 is the successor of the 7002. It had four more jewels (21) but still no hacking or handwinding feature. Reliable, simple, affordable, a workhorse as one can be.

The references changed with the SKX from the 8-digit-numbers to the mix of literals and numbers all Seikos have today. There are still JDM and international versions, the JDM version with the number of jewels on the dial like the 7002. The references of the JDM versions do have a “J” at the end of the reference number, the international version a “K”. My watch is the SKX009K from 2018.

7S26 movement (picture by ajiba54)

So what’s my conclusion if you like to buy one of this watches? Some hardcore collectors like me own every one of this four watches. If you are interested in vintages and technology look for a 7C43 while they are still affordable. Of all four watches the 7C43 Professional is in my opinion the best one. It sure has the best case construction and a pretty good movement. Don’t thrill up your nose because it’s quartz – the 7C43 (and the 7548 too) are much better movements than our todays cheap quartz movements (even from Seiko) and really worth collecting. I would value them higher than simple mechanical movements like the 7002 or the 7S26. Another good thing is: the 7C43 usually aren’t modded. Modding and AM parts are not widely available. So you have a good chance to get an all-original piece. Same counts for the 7548 which is my #2 in this ranking.

The 7002 seems to be available in unlimited pieces all over the world until today. The big problem is that only 5% are all-original. This was a very popular and very affordable watch especially in Asia and many watchmakers replaced the worn-out original parts with AM parts (bezel, dial and hands). Without knowledge or an expert at hand you will probably buy a watch with AM parts – which has no value for collectors.

The SKX007/009 is discontinued but there are still brand-new pieces out there. Only the SKX009 with Jubilee seems getting very rare. It’s one of the easiest entries in every watch collection. A true icon and still affordable. Of course the budget prices below 200 USD are over. In five years you will regret not buying one in 2020, I am sure. If you are not interested in history and collecting and just want to buy a cool looking watch, look for the new Seiko 5 Sports (“5KX”, my entry: The serious collector is looking for a 7C43 if he doesn’t own one already.