How to Spot a Knockoff or Fake Seiko: Pay Attention to These 9 Things
1: Look at the (case) numbers
2: Examine the little things
3: What color is the "DIVER'S" text on the dial?
4: Check the serial number
5: Wacky bezel insert font + lume pip
6: No meatball on seconds hand
7: Scrappy dial workmanship
8: Poor case construction, shoddy finishing
9: Buy the seller
For more details, keep on reading!
Above: Genuine SKX007s - like the one pictured - are skyrocketing in price, and replica/fake SKX007s are becoming more rampant (Source: Hodinkee)
Seiko's SKX diver watch is one of the most iconic Japanese timepieces ever produced. For decades it was a benchmark for affordable quality for anyone that wanted a tough watch that would work for years without any major issues.
Sadly, the SKX007 (and the SKX009) is now a part of history – as Seiko has discontinued the production of the SKX diver. While Seiko did introduce a Seiko 5 (Read more about the SRPD Seiko 5 Sports diver here) to help and fill the gap left behind by the SKX, many people still yearned for the original, and this has led to a thriving market for fake SKXs.
The SKX is an incredible watch. However, it isn't especially difficult to reproduce. As an entry level dive watch, it was mass produced, and used common materials. At namokiMODS we make aftermarket parts for the SKX, and we make sure that all our products are at least as good as OEM (if not better…).
Unfortunately, many of the fake SKXs that are being passed off as New Old Stock (NOS) are simply sub-standard copies that aren't worth your time. Here are 10 things to look for if you are thinking about buying a NOS SKX – so you don't end up with an expensive mistake in your mailbox.
1: Look at the Numbers
The SKX was covered in factory markings, and you need to pay attention to what is written on any SKX you are considering as a purchase. Many of the knock-off SKXs that are floating around feature a 7S26-7039 case number.
Above: Check the caseback for an easy tell-tale sign if you suspect that you just bought a knock-off SKX007. Note the case code number next to the "Seiko" engraving (Source: Quora)
Of course, Seiko never made a 7039 with the 7S26 movement. Another tell is a 5 etched on the crystal of the watch. The SKX was never a part of the Seiko 5 line, and never used a crystal that was manufactured for the 5s.
Like many fake goods out there, getting the fonts used in printing the dials correct is difficult. This is great news for you, as you can easily compare the fonts on the SKX you are considering with original Seiko SKX007 photos on the internet.
If the fonts don't match, or something feels a little off – forget about it being a real SKX. Keep on looking!
And here is a much more detailed article about what information you can glean from an SKX's caseback.
2: Examine the Little Things
In addition to a careful check of the dial fonts, it is also a good idea to look at how the text on the dial lines up with other elements.
For example, the line that comes off the top of the 6 o'clock marker should be below the “S” in DIVER'S 200m – in some cases it is actually below the “R”, which is solid evidence that the dial in question wasn't made by Seiko.
Above: See how that the vertical line on the 6 o'clock marker is close to the left of the "S" in "DIVER'S 200m"? This is how it should look. If the alignment on your dial looks different, you might have a Feiko on your hands. (Source: Quora)
Also, the font should be bold. Many fakes use a standard font, which is incorrect. You can look at the word “Automatic” as well, as it should be ever so slightly wider than the word Seiko – on some fakes it is the same width, so be careful to look at all these elements when buying a SKX.
Above: Note the difference in font weight - the original should have a thicker font-weight (ie. bolder font) (Source: LegitCheck)
3: What Color is “DIVER'S”?
A real SXK will have the "DIVER'S" text written in red or orange script. Many fakes have this text printed in white. All these little details may seem a little obscure, which is probably why the replica producers have overlooked them.
4: Check the Serial Number
Above: On your caseback, you'll find the serial number, as well as some other useful identifiers of the watch you have (Source: Millenary Watches)
Unlike Seiko (or most other legit manufacturers), whoever is making bogus SXKs seems to be reusing the same serial numbers over and over again. While this “tell” isn't going to be as reliable as some of the others on this list, do make sure that the SKX you are considering DOES NOT have one of these serial numbers:
It seems like one of the manufacturers of fake SKXs is using the 9964XX series, with the last two numbers applied at random. So any SKX with 9964-- should probably be overlooked as a potential purchase.
This isn't an exhaustive list of the fake serial numbers, and there are likely more out there. Some higher end factories may end up going over to individual serial numbers, especially if NOS SKX prices keep going up the way they currently are.
5: Wacky Bezel Insert Font + Lume Pip
Anyone who knows the SKX knows that the bezel is a pretty easy swap. Some SKX fakes will have a “10” that has a line on the “1”. Genuine Seiko SKX bezels have a straight line for the “1” in the “10”, so if you see anything besides this, the bezel isn't OEM.
The lume pip at the 12 o'clock position is another thing to check on an SKX bezel insert.
Above: Easy tell - fakes have a raised lume pip like the one above. The real deal has a recessed bezel insert. (Source: Pinterest)
While it is more difficult to describe, many fake SXK bezels have a lume pip that is either too big or too small, or is way out of alignment. The genuine SKX007 has a recessed lume pip -- it should NOT stick out from the bezel insert at all. See below for how your lume pip should look on a genuine SKX.
Above: A legit SKX007 will have its bezel insert's lume pip recessed (Source: Dive Watches Blog)
If you are looking at a 009, which has a bicolor bezel, the red and blue sections should split the “20” on the bezel in half. If the "split" lies on either side of the two numerals, instead of right between the "2" and "0", chances are it wasn't made by Seiko.
Above: Note the transition from red to blue on a genuine SKX009 bezel insert, and how the split happens precisely between the "2" and "0" of the "20" marker on the bezel insert. (Source: Instagram)
As mentioned above, it is very simple to swap a SKX bezel. This means that a bad actor could put a genuine SKX bezel on a fake SKX, so this isn't as reliable of a way to check for authenticity as some of the others on this list.
6: No Meatball
It might seem silly, but many of the fake SKXs out there are using a second hand that would look more at home on a Samurai, or a special edition Turtle.
Above: A legit SKX seconds hand will feature this. No lume meatball, no deal. (Source: namokiMODS)
You may or may not love the stock SKX second hand with the iconic “meatball” (the ball of lume at the end of the , but they all had them. If you see anything besides the meatball second hand – it isn't OEM.
7: Scrappy Dial Worksmanship
A SKX dial isn't especially complex, but Seiko did do great work on making the lume shine like the sun. Many fake SKX dials miss the mark when it comes to the lume, and some even have splotchy lume application – especially near the border of the markers.
If you are buying the SKX online, it might be difficult to examine the lume in detail. What is possible to see is the correct dial code under the 6 o'clock market, which should be on every dial that Seiko ever made.
8: Poor Case Construction, Shoddy Finishing
The SKX's case is well made – and many of the fake versions that are being sold simply aren't up to Seiko's standards. You may be able to spot these differences online, but in person, any flaws in the case should be enough to make you pass on buying what is being sold as a NOS SKX.
Additionally, Seiko used metal for every part of the bezel, including the click spring. If the SKX you are looking at feels plastic-y, or the action on the bezel seems off, it is probably a fake. That said, many of the fakes use metal parts for the entire bezel assembly, so don't use this tell as a deciding factor in your purchase.
9: Buy the seller
At the end of the day, this is probably one of the easiest ways to ensure that you're not buying a knockoff. Buy from a reputable and established source, and chances of you buying a replica are greatly diminished.
It may seem like common sense, but with the way SKX007 prices are going, it's very easy to get tempted by bargain basement prices.
You Get What You Pay For!
The Seiko SKX007 is an amazing model, but it is no longer a budget watch. NOS models from reliable dealers are likely to cost as much as $400 USD, which is a bit of a stretch for a watch that neither hacks, handwinds, or uses modern materials like sapphire glass.
If you are paying for a NOS SKX – make sure you are getting a 100% authentic product. There are loads of SKX parts floating around out there, and many companies, like us, make high-quality aftermarket cases, bezels, and all the other components to build SKX-style watches. While this is great because you can modify your watch however which way you want to, that also means that there are a lot of "frankenstein-ed" SKXs on the market. Hopefully with this guide, you're better informed on what to look out for.
If you are interested in learning more about the components that we manufacture at namokiMODS, please click here to explore all the options we offer. In many cases, our parts are of equal quality (some might even say superior 😉) to OEM, and we have many different kinds of cases, bezels, and other options to choose from! It might even be more cost-effective to build your own custom watch instead of buying an SKX007. This would give you complete creative freedom over how your watch looks and feels. If you want to learn how to build your very own watch from scratch, check out our checklist for building a full watch.
As always, happy modding modfam!
Peter Goulding said:
Just bought a ‘fake’ a 7S26-7039 with the first serial number in your list.
Seiko Fan said:
Thank you for a terrific site. Just so some folks don’t get confused, there are some differences between the SKX007 and smaller SKX013.
-Authentic SKX013 has NO MEATBALL on the end of the minute hand.
-Authentic SKX013 has, on the bezel insert a “10” that has “1” like this. On the SKX007 that “1” looks like a straight line.
-Authentic SKX013 has a cutout in the Chapter Ring at the 3 o’clock position. The 007 does not.
Otherwise all the other points mentioned in this article hold for both the 013 and 007.
Regarding ‘meatball’ second hands. Lots of SKXs have the ‘lollipop’ style with the lume on the distal end. I personally own both an SKX173 and SKXA35, bought new in USA from authorized dealers, and both have that feature.