My Road to Seiko

In my school years, I wore a manual wind Roamer watch that my parents gave me. But when I started working, I bought my first Omega.

The watch I bought was an Omega Geneve Chronostop Drivers watch. Note a driver, not a diver. The watch had the 12 where most watches had the 3. The idea was that you wore the watch under wrist so as to be able to see clearly while your hand was on the steering wheel.

 I bought it with my very first paycheck. It cost me R65 out of my R99 monthly salary in 1968. The following month I paid almost as much again for the mesh bracelet to replace the Corfram one the watch came with. I wore this watch for many years and it kept perfect time.
At this stage I gave no consideration to anything from Japan having had many poorly made Japanese tin toys in my childhood. Jap scrap we used to call them.

In the early 1990's I 'celebrated' a heart bypass operation with a brand new Omega Seamaster Multfunction watch. The Geneve was relegated to the safe. I also bought my wife an Omega Constellation, the so-called Cindy Crawford watch. So an all Omega family. Not a Seiko in sight.

In recent years with the advent of Facebook and YouTube, my interest in horology increased and I bought a few grail watches such as the Rolex GMT Master, Speedmaster MOTM and a Seamaster 2254. I even started modding Vostok Amphibias. But still no Seikos.

I was following TGV on YouTube and noticed his love for the 'Flighty' and SKXes. Thought that perhaps I should now look at Seiko as well. The problem is that it is extremely difficult to buy a mechanical Seiko in South Africa. Quartz and Eco drive watches are plenty, but very few automatics. One saleslady told me it was because they could not service automatics. I could of course buy online, but I wanted to touch and feel first. I took a chance on a Seiko Flightmaster SND253 when it came up on a local auction site. But I was not happy with the build quality and lack of substance. So I sold it at a loss. Again no Seiko.

One day I walked past a local jewellery store and amazingly saw an SKX007 in the window. So I promptly went in and tried it on. As everyone warned, the bracelet was cheap and rattly. I also did not like the bezel much having spent a lot of time on Rolex and Vostok bezel upgrades. But the biggest problem was the price. The Seiko importers charge full retail plus some more, asking around $692 for the SKX007K2! The dealer offered it to me for $554.

Some months later I saw a SRPA21 PADI in a shop. Of course I has to try it on. What a difference! Nice weight and feel. Excellent bracelet similar to the Omega ones on my Speedmaster and Seamaster. Manual wind and hacking too. Liked the Pepsi bezel too. I was very tempted, but again the price was a problem at $654 after discounts.

Now I wanted a Seiko. But I would have to import it. I got one from a seller on eBay and paid just over half the local asking price including shipping and duties. Just love the watch. No problems with chapter and bezel alignment. Also keeps excellent time at around minus 1 second per day.
 I recently also imported an SKX007 at a reasonable price. Thought that I could always resell it if I really did not like it. But I actually do like it. Yes the bracelet is a bit rattly, but it is comfortable and looks great on the wrist. I have a Strapcode Super Jubilee on the way, but might just keep the 007 on the original bracelet.

The Turtle and the SKX are similar but also very different. The Turtle has a more modern movement which allows hacking and manual wind. The feel when using the crown is also more precise. The Turtle is very accurate whereas the SKX is running at about plus 12 seconds a day. I will have it regulated in a few weeks after it has run in a bit.

Apart from the obvious difference in design and size, the cases are very similar in quality. Apart from colour and design differences, the bezel, insert, hands and crystal are similar as well. The markers on the Turtle dial are raised a bit and are more pleasing. The lume seems identical.

The bracelets are totally different though. The SKX has a tinny Jubilee bracelet with open end links. It is widely criticized, but is actually not too bad in everyday use. It is light and very comfortable. The Turtle bracelet looks like the Omega bracelets on my Speedmaster and Seamaster. A much better made and finished item. The clasp has a diver's extension which gets in the way though. It is much better made than the clasp on the SKX. The Turtle bracelet also has solid end links. Unfortunately it uses pins and collars which are difficult to work with. I am quite happy with the Turtle bracelet and have no immediate need to replace it.

If I had to choose between the Turtle and the SKX, I would keep the Turtle because of the more modern movement and the bracelet. Also I love the PADI look. In an ideal world, I would like the Turtle to have the SKX case. But then it would not be a Turtle, would it?

So now I am also in the Seiko camp and looking at other models. I love the new Marine Master 300. But it is quite pricey. I suspect my next purchase will be the new Samurai SRPB49, but I will have to sell some watches before I start buying any more ......😆


YouOnliner said…
Try Orient. They make some nice things too like the M-Force.
John Kennekam said…
I had a look at the M-Force. The styling is a bit OTT for me. But I do like the looks of the Mako and Ray models.
Many thanks for the steer.

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