Head to Head: SKX vs 5KX (aka. SRPD, Seiko 5 Sports)
Above: SKX007 (left), 5KX/SRPD(right) (Source: /u/WatchClicker on Reddit)
If you're an avid Seiko fan, you already know that the SKX007/SKX009 and SPRD series (also known as the 5KX or Seiko 5 Sports) are two of the best affordable dive timepieces in the market. In addition to their timeless, clean and simple design, as well as its cheap (relatively) and cheerful price tag, both of these watches offer solid features that make them a perennial favorite.
SKX fans would be relieved to know that in spite of Seiko phasing out the SKX007/SKX009, the SPRD counterpart is a solid alternative in terms of form and function. There are, however, some fundamental differences between the SKX and the SRPD/5KX that cannot be ignored.
Naturally, many members of the watch community have been debating which is the better Seiko dive watch. After all, the SRPD/5KX has really big boots to fill with the SKX007's departure.
Today we’re going to take a look at some of the key differences between the two, the pros and cons of each, and how the SRPD the SKX measure up in a head-to-head competition.
Let's start off with something positive. The new movement may be considered one of the biggest upgrades in the new Seiko 5 Divers.
Above: A peek into the heart of the 5KX (Source: wornandwound.com)
The SKX007 features a workhorse 7S26 movement which is known to be one of Seiko’s entry-level movements. As anyone who has owned an older Seiko 5 or SKX can attest, the movements were extremely reliable and bulletproof, but not exactly known for their accuracy. Their longevity is unparalleled, though - these movements are known for trucking on for 10 or more years, without even needing a watch service. That said, the 7S26 movement found in the SKX007 is dated, and was definitely due for a refresh.
Where the new SRPD Seiko 5 has most obviously leveled up, is in the use of the modern Seiko automatic caliber 4R36. It’s in many ways similar to the 7S26 from its predecessor, with the added benefit of hacking and hand-winding.
Hacking is the feature of stopping the second hand when you pull out the crown to set the time, therefore being able to set the time more accurately.
Hand-winding is the ability to manually power the automatic movement in your watch by winding it up via the crown, with your hand. Pretty self-explanatory!
These features may seem silly and frivolous to non-watch people, but watch lovers have been desiring such upgrades to the SKX for years.
In fact, many even mod their SKX007 to include an NH36 movement (which is very similar to the 4R36 in the new 5KX), which has hacking and hand-winding features out of the box. We sell this upgraded movement if you'd like to attempt a similar project to beef up the movement in your SKX007.
One of the biggest "downgrades" going from the Seiko SKX to the new Seiko 5 divers is its water resistance rating.
Above: SKX007 in water - don't worry, the 5KX will be able to handle this as well. We just like this photo! (Source: /u/cadencio05 on Reddit)
The SKX007 is rated to 200m water resistance, and is also ISO certified, which is a huge deal for an affordable dive watch. The ISO certification means it hits the mark of a certain set of standards in terms of qualities like magnetic resistance, legibility, shock resistance and more. A watch that has this certification means that it is suitable to wear as a professional dive watch.
The SRPD Seiko 5s, on the other hand, are not ISO certified. SRPD Seiko 5 watches have a water resistance rating of 100m, which is appropriate for swimming, but cannot tolerate dives at depths deeper than 100m. It is NOT an ISO certified watch, meaning that there are much looser standards for this watch in regards to the previously mentioned qualifications like shock resistance, magnetic resistance, etc. Overall, this means the SRPD Seiko 5 diver won’t be quite as rugged and tough as the SKX is.
Let's be honest, though. How many of us are regularly going for dive sessions, anyway? The SRPD is more of a dive-style watch, if we're being objective, and given that context it does a fantastic job.
However, for the more hardcore dive watch collectors, the ISO certification on the SKX gives a sense of protection to the owners of the watch, and a sense of assurance knowing that you could go diving with it, IF you wanted to.
The winner here is... It really depends. Are you a hardcore dive watch guy? Go for the SKX007, or build your own custom SKX007-inspired watch with one of our 200 meter SKX007 compatible cases. Are you just after the styling and looks of a dive watch, but don't necessarily need that ISO certification? The SRPD/5KX series is a great choice.
Screw Down Crown
One feature that the SRPD Seiko 5 has omitted is the screw-down crown that the outgoing SKX currently has.
A screw-down crown screws the crown of the watch down to the case. This design, together with gaskets in the crown, prevents water from breaching the case. The design also allows the watch to be more hard-wearing and sturdy, as it prevents the crown from being actuated in the case of any impacts or hard drops. The lack of a screw-down crown on the SRPD Seiko 5 is also one of the reasons we see the water resistance rating being halved.
Above: The SKX007 is beautiful from all angles. (Source: divewatchesblog.com)
However, to most "non-watch" people, a screw down crown might be seen as more of a hassle than anything else. So once again, it comes down to a very fundamental question - What do you want out of your watch?
Let's talk about size!
The SKX and SRPD Seiko 5 have pretty much the same exact dimensions. They both have a diameter of approximately 42.5mm and a lug width of 22mm. They also feature the crown at the same 4 o' clock position on both cases.
To the average observer, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the SKX and the 5KX cases unless you know exactly what to look out for.
Variety in Design
When it comes to variety, the SRPD wins hand down. No contest here.
Above: SKX007 (left), SKX009 (right) (Source: twentytwoten.com)
The SKX that we know and love comes in 2 variants - the SKX007 (Black bezel insert, black dial) and the SKX009 (Pepsi bezel insert, dark blue dial). It's a classic, and the SKX will always hold a very special place in many of our hearts. You don't have much choice when it comes to design here, though.
Above: Just a few options from the new SRPD/5KX collection (Source: watchesbysjx.com)
The new SRPD Seiko 5, on the other hand, launched with 27 different colorways from 5 core styles: Sports, Suits, Specialist, Street and Sense. Each of these styles are designed to cater to different demographics, tastes and preferences. Also, fun fact- all the style names start with an "S", and there are 5 of them!
It's clear that Seiko set out to ensure that the new Seiko 5 Sports collection has something for everyone, and we think they did a fantastic job of that.
Watch Modification Parts - "Moddability"
The SKX007 is well-known for being one of the most modified watches out there. There are a wide variety of Seiko mod parts out there that are compatible with the SKX007. Some popular upgrades for the SKX007 are sapphire crystal swaps, or ceramic bezel inserts, just to name a couple.
Good news - the 5KX will be compatible with most of the SKX007-specific parts! We wrote another blog post on the topic of 5KX/SRPD/Seiko 5 Sports and SKX007 modification parts compatibility here, so do check this out if you'd like a breakdown of what parts are and aren't compatible with the new 5KX/SRPD.
The Verdict: It Depends.
If you read all the way here, you might be disappointed to see that we didn't have enough conviction to take a stand here. There's a good reason for that, though - these watches may look similar on the surface, but they're actually two very different watches, that are designed and marketed to different demographics.
The SKX007 will always have it's die-hard fans, and we completely understand. It's a cult classic, and it'll always be one of the best affordable dive watches on the market. I personally firmly believe that no watch collection is complete if it's missing an SKX007.
The 5KX (SRPD, Seiko 5 Sports, whatever you'd like to call it) is the new kid on the block, and Seiko is obviously targeting the next generation of watch lovers with its wide variety of styles and colours.
So it all comes down to this - what kind of watch buyer are you? After reading this article, you'll hopefully able to answer for yourself where your preference lies.
Update: We published a new comparison article that includes the SRPE line. Check it out here.