Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Review: Seiko SKX781 "Orange Monster" Automatic Watch

I have always had a weakness for nice watches I dont know why maybe its the technical aspect of watches while at the same time having great asthetical appeal.

I guess my first proper watch was when my Dad gave me his  Bulova Accutron 218 Tuning Fork .The watch although cutting edge for its time proved not very reliable.

Unfortunately he didn't give me the solid gold bracelet with it ,but he still has the same braclet from all those years ago on his current watch which is pretty cool.

I just regret that for my 21st birthday i didnt buy a Rolex Submariner from memory it  ran about £895 and even today a well looked after second hand Submariner can command upwards of £2500 and new ones retailing at around £4200.

Anyway back to the subject at hand being much older and apparently wiser now its my 40th and what better way for a bloke to mark this occasion but with a new watch.

I have had a few nice Quartz watches one of them being an Omega Seamaster which I still own today.
To be honest I just don't see the value in expensive quartz movements unless they have a specific role where electrical power is needed such as the Tissot T-Touch whose hands literally turn into an analogue compass or altimeter.

So this time I though it had to be an automatic movement In my favourite style the driver.
Here enters the Seiko SKX781 nicknamed the "ORANGE MONSTER"

Supplied by: Seiko
Price : £180 (RRP: £400)

The SKX781 arrived in quite unassuming packaging ,a simple but adequate cardboard presentation case.


  • Type: Divers
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Calibre: 7S26 (21 Jewels) self-winding automatic movement
  • Crystal: Convex hardlex that minimises reflection
  • Dial: Orange
  • Bezel: Thick solid unidirectional bezel 
  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Case diameter: 42mm
  • Case thickness: 13mm
  • Water resistance: 200 meters / 660 feet. Great for divers.
  • Bracelet width: 20mm
  • Bracelet/Strap: Solid stainless steel link bracelet, Easy adjust 3 fold locking clasp

About Seiko

In 1877, at the age of 18, Kintaro Hattori set up business repairing the Western-style clocks that were becoming increasingly popular in Japan. By 1892, Hattori was manufacturing his own clocks in a factory he called Seikosha, from the words "Seiko" meaning "exquisite," "success," or "miniature," and "sha" meaning "house." The company grew and prospered, producing its first wristwatch in 1913 and launching the Seiko brand in 1924. Technological innovation has always been a driving force in the company's history. Key milestones include Seiko's introduction of the world's first quartz watch in 1969, and its successful launch, in 1988, of the Kinetic, the world's first battery-free watch with quartz accuracy. Today, the Seiko brand continues to stand for state-of-the-art technology, as well as superior quality and refined design.

The  SKX781  has a really smooth and refined moving bezel and the 120 clicks are aligned well. 

The Seiko has a bezel guards from 10:30 - 1:30 and 4:00 - 7:30 to protect the bezel and the large screw down crown, which is like all Seiko's proper divers at the 4 o'clock position.

The colour orange is not just for show it actually has benefits while diving apparently with the limited spectrum of light orange shows up really well deep underwater.  

The chunky case back of the SKX781 is of the normal screw down type with the Tsunami image which signifies its divers heritage, serial number and movement number.

Hokusai's The Great Wave (Tsunami) off Kanagawa

The wonderful bracelet really screams quality with its alternate brushed and chrome accent finishes. All the Seiko's links are removable in the traditional fashion right up to the lugs, these are solid links by the way not folded ! 

The bracelet itself has a fair amount of weight to it which helps stabilize the weight of the hefty case .After adjustment it felt very comfy and the weight of the entire watch was not apparent.The bracelet is attached to the case by a very large spring bar at either side ,external holes at both sides of the case lugs allows easy removal of the bracelet should you prefer to use a rubber strap when diving.

"K" Ending variant comes with Rubber divers strap and is also slightly cheaper.

The clasp mechanism is of equal merit to the bracelet sporting a very secure locking pin which requires you to push  two opposing buttons to release it from its grasp which is then all locked down by the swing over clasp sporting the Seiko branding.

There is also nifty hidden two link wet suit extension in the opposite side of the bracelet

The dials luminous substance which is "Lumbrite" is extremely active. The markers are Seperate heavily coated metal inserts . Even after numerous hours they still glow really brightly you can often see it brightly lit walking from the sunny outside indoors to a dull room. It really is like a beacon, Lumbrite is a newer material that lasts longer and is brighter than other luminous materials previously used for watches, it does not contain radioactive materials, making it much safer than the older products.

Heres the Seiko blurp for Lumbrite:

LumiBrite is a newly developed luminous paint that is completely harmless to human beings and
the natural environment, containing no noxious materials such as radioactive substances.
LumiBrite absorbs the energy of sunlight or artificial light in a short time and stores it to emit
light in the dark. For example, if exposed to a light of more than 500 lux for approximately 10
minutes, LumiBrite can emit light for 5 to 8 hours.
Please note, however, that, as LumiBrite emits the light it stores, the luminance level of the light
decreases gradually over time. The duration of the emitted light may also differ slightly depending
on such factors as the brightness of the place where the watch is exposed to light and the distance
from the light source to the watch.
When you make a dive in dark water, LumiBrite may not emit light unless it has absorbed and
stored light sufficiently
Before diving, therefore, be sure to expose the watch to light under the conditions specified
above, so that it fully absorbs and stores light energy. Otherwise, use the watch together with an
underwater flashlight.
< Reference data on luminance >
(A) Sunlight
[Fine weather]: 100,000 lux [Cloudy weather]: 10,000 lux
(B) Indoor (Window side during daytime)
[Fine weather]: more than 3,000 lux [Cloudy weather]: 1,000 to 3,000 lux
[Rainy weather]: less than 1,000 lux
(C) Lighting apparatus (40-watt daylight fluorescent light)
[Distance to the watch: 1 m]: 1,000 lux
[Distance to the watch: 3 m]: 500 lux (average room luminance)
[Distance to the watch: 4 m]: 250 lux

The Movement

As with all things mechanical there is some run in time giving it time to settle in to its true accuracy .The 7S26 movement seemed to be accurate to around 6 seconds per week this can vary due to temperature i thought this was pretty amazing at this price.The 7S26 with its 21 jewels has a tick rate of 21600 BPH which shows as a sweeping motion rather than a tick, but it is apparently not know for its precision but rather its robustness and longevity. To be honest i had no real requirements for accuracy even the best Rolex automatic will never be as accurate as a £4.99 quartz but i was pretty pleased .The 7S26 has a self winding mechanism  with no option for manual winding other than shaking/rotating the watch which emits a satisfying tiny zip like noise as it winds.

                                                                                                     Picture courtesy of  John Davis

Dive Watch Size Comparisons 

Omega Seamaster 200m, Seiko SKX781, Citizen Titanium Promaster 300m BJ8041-09E


There is nothing to dislike about the "Monster" its got everything for the city slicker to the mariner,looks Just as good on a wet suit as a gentleman's suit .If orange isn't your thing there is always a more understated black dial on offer.

It feels just as good quality as my £1000 Omega Seamaster in every way without the hefty price tag, the bracelet alone must be worth the asking price of the entire watch.

Its a Rock solid watch that could survive being hit by rocks.

For around £180 street price or even at the RRP of £400  the Seiko SKX781  exceeds your expectations above and below the tide mark in every way.

I have never been that impressed with some of the styling and build of some of the European Citizen or Seiko's but these are not built for the Europeans there essentially imports from the Japanese/Asian market and in a league of their own.

Its now wetted (no pun intended) my appetite for larger more rugged divers watches like the Citizen AutoZilla 1000m divers watch or maybe a Black Monster.......

"MMMM...The Citizen AutoZilla!"