Seiko SKX779K Black Monster review
- Date acquired: Sep 12 2003
- Production date: Jan 2003
- Source: Spark Time Trading, Pertama Complex
- Price paid: MYR480 (USD143)
- Status: In production
The SKX779K, or affectionately known as the “Black Monster" by Seiko watch collectors around the world is a total departure from the classic Seiko diver lineage inherited by the 7s26-0020 or the SKX007K model and its siblings. It was first introduced in 2000 but I only caught sight of the watch in 2003 when my watch collecting hobby started.
The SKX779K was my first automatic watch since 1976 and it’s also my first Seiko diver’s watch. Powered by the tried-and-proven 7s26 caliber, it has gained popularity amongst Japanese dive watch enthusiasts and enjoys brisk sales to this day.
The Black Monster or “BM" for short, triggered my love for divers and mechanical watches. When I bought it, I had no idea that I would soon be collecting diver’s watches even though I seldom go to the sea for a swim and let alone, scuba dive.
What attracted me in the first place was the extraordinary lume that the BM uses. Up until the arrival of this watch, the timepiece with the brightest lume I had was my Seiko SDWF81P “Flightmaster" chronograph. I first read about this watch on John Davis’ excellent SKX779 review of his BM and the more I read it, the more intrigued I became about this dive watch.
This was the exact picture that led me in desperate search for the Black Monster. Really!
Timefactors.com gave pretty much attention to the SKX779K and heralded it as a watch with the brightest lume they’ve ever seen. (I thought that’ was a great unique selling point!)
I looked for more photos of this watch and found one that really looked delicious to me (it’s not that I’m able to devour horologic items).
These excellent photos found in the Seiko Diver’s Reference by Kevin Chan really nailed it in for me and I was captivated. I just had to find this elusive Black Monster!
I finally managed to locate a SKX779K in a small watch store specializing in dive watches, Spark Trading Sdn Bhd at the Pertama Complex mall that I sometimes hang out during lunchtime.
The sales attendant told me that the Monsters were not officially sold in Malaysia and he obtained his stock through a gray market supplier from Singapore. It didn’t come with the official warranty. Instead, he gave me a 1 year warranty from his store – if anything happened to it he would be happy to exchange it for a new one.
Look and feel
The Monster’s moniker suited this watch. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it design. Purists shunned the BM, saying that it was such an abomination of the Seiko diver’s line. Others welcomed it with open arms and didn’t give much forethought before buying one (or more!)
The scalloped bezel design and case combination was something I had not seen before in a watch. An interesting moment is when the sword-like hands hour and minute hands line up together on the dial. It resembles a rocket ship to many Monster aficionados. The watch itself, on rubber strap is quite light on the wrist.
The caseback is a mixed affair of polished and matte surfaces. Seiko’s famous “tsunami wave" symbol is etched in the middle of the caseback. The screw-in crown is easy to handle, not fiddly at all and screws in quite effortlessly.
I would rate the dial as top notch and the chapter ring is perfect. It’s a bold watch and it’s not something that you see on anyone’s wrist everyday. The bezel is smooth turning and has 120 fine graduations or clicks, with each click representing half a minute.
Probably the highlight of the Monster is the ultra sensitive LumiBrite, the non-radioactive luminous compound developed in conjunction with the Nemoto Corp of Japan. The name LumiBrite itself is patented by Seiko. It doesn’t take much light to excite the BM’s lume and will readily glow for 8 to 10 hours in the dark.
I measured the BM’s dimensions as follows:
- Diameter: 42mm (without crown), 47mm (with crown)
- Lug-to-lug: 48mm
- Thickness: 14mm
- Lug width: 20mm
I later found out by accident, that the ultraviolet (UV) light emitting diode in a cigarette lighter that I had, was the best thing to energize the lume. The LED was meant to check paper money for forged notes but I found a new use for it! With a standard flashlight it would take about 10 to 15 seconds to excite the watch’s lume. With moderately strong UV illumination you need no more than 5 seconds to fully charge the lume! Later on I bought a LED Lenser V8 UV key chain torch just for this purpose.
The LED Lenser wasn’t powerful enough for me and in the end I got myself the superb Inova X-5 five-LED, ultraviolet torch.
I grew fond of my SKX779K that I often wore it to bed. It was the first automatic watch I’ve had in a long time and I grew to appreciate the smooth sweep of the second hand. The 7s26 movement is fully automatic and there’s nothing that you need to do but to shake the watch a couple of times to get it going.
Setting the time is a breeze but I learned that I have to remember never to set the calendar between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. This is because the calendar change takes place during this period. The mechanism that turns the day and date discs can get misaligned or damaged if I were to manipulate the calendar within this “prohibited zone". (This applies to all analog watches with day/date, whether they are mechanical or quartz).
The watch runs fast out of the box, probably around +20 secs/day. All 7s-caliber Seikos are made this way, probably Seiko thinks it’s better to show up early for an appointment than to be late. From the customer service point of view, perhaps a slow running watch means a defective watch to those accustomed to accurate quartz watches. New 7s-caliber Seikos should ideally be run-in for two or three months before the movement settles in and give you better accuracy.
Some Monster owners have successfully regulated their watches and gotten them to run as good as +5 sec/day or better. Your mileage may vary. Mechanical watches don’t behave like quartz; they tend to run fast off wrist and lose time when worn. Gravity also affects the watch escapement, you’ll find that placing your watch face up, face down, crown up, crown down, etc will yield varying gains in time.
It may also interest you that shaking any mechanical watch violently will cause the movement to speed up, so you may want to be easy with your walking stride. If you wear a mechanical watch that’s fully unwound (the watch had stopped), it’s better to give the watch a good shake for a minute or two before setting the time and wearing it.
Some people like the BM on its high quality 20mm bracelet, others prefer rubber. I had my watch on its original rubber strap until it broke while I was in Saudi Arabia last year, perhaps from the arid dry heat and also the fact the strap was already 4 years old by then.
Since I don’t really like rubber straps, I made a switch to a nice 22mm Morellato Cordura Lorica leather strap. It’s no problem squeezing into the 20mm lugs and the wider band feels better on the wrist than a 20mm one.
Shots of my SKX779K Black Monster on a 6.5″ wrist circumference
- Caliber: 7s26A, 21 jewels
- Caseback type: 7s26-0350
- Movement: Automatic, non-hacking
- Beat rate: 21,600 bph (6 beats/sec)
- Loss/gain: Less than 40 sec/day
- Power reserve: About 42 hours
- Calendar: Day/date, dual language
- Construction: Stainless steel
- Crystal: Hardlex glass, domed profile
- Bezel: Unidirectional, 120 graduations
- W.R. rating: 200m, ISO certified
- Luminous material: LumiBrite™
- Movement Singapore, cased in China
The Black Monster still remains as one of my favorite watches to this day. Early Monsters came with the English/Spanish day language while those made from 2004 onwards have English/Roman instead.
Would I buy the SKX779K again? Definitely. It’s a unique tool-like watch and is a well known representative of Seiko’s contemporary diver designs. I liked it a lot that not too long afterwards I bought its other cousin, the SKX781K – the Orange Monster (OM). In my opinion, the BM due to its higher contrast, is easier to read in failing light than the OM.
The best deals you can get are probably from the eBay sellers based in Singapore, namely Pokemonyu and Premierworld. The Seikos sold by these two sellers are the gray market type, without official Seiko warranties or papers. However, the watches sold as are genuine as the ones sold by an authorized Seiko dealer except that you can get them cheaper.
If you prefer a warranty with the watch, other reputable online sellers from the Far East that you can get the Monster from include Wayne’s Watch World, Chronograph.com and Skywatches.
The Black Monster’s popularity caught Seiko by surprise and apart from the Orange Monster (SKX781K), the company had also introduced the:
- Limited Edition Yellow Monster with sapphire crystal (SKZ203K), 300 pieces
- Limited production run Blue Monster (SKZ213K)
- Limited Edition Red Monster (SKZ243K), 1313 pieces
- Japan market, PVD “Orange Monster" (SZEN001)
- Japan market, PVD “Black Monster (SZEN002)
What I liked:
- Tough case, durable 7s26 automatic movement
- Very bright and long lasting lume
- Easy-to-grip knurled screw-in crown
- Good looks (very subjective)
What I didn’t care for:
- Watch still runs a bit fast after 4 years
- Bezel triangle doesn’t align perfectly at 12 o’clock
- The stainless steel bracelet (just my opinion)
- The original Z-20 rubber strap
|Value for money:|
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Thanks, Jéjé! 🙂
I have a good friend in Australia whose first diver was the limited production, blue SKZ213K and that pretty much started an unstoppable and expensive watch collecting hobby! The Monsters are destined to become classics in the future and I think they were the first Seiko diver models that deviated from the classic 6105/6309/7002 line heritage to gain a widespread acceptance amongst collectors.
Heck, when I first saw them I thought they were pretty ugly too! Now I can’t bear the thought of selling mine! 🙂
Hello from Kaohsiung(TW),after discovering your time blog, i found it very addictive, before i never pay attention about Japan watch, (usualy Swiss), i fall in love for them.My first one was ,,Nighthawk,,i like it ,however i like more Seiko, so i bought Black monster and Seiko 5 Atlas (Yellow hands), very very pretty,here in Kaohsiung i found a smale shop where i become friend with the owner(After reading,and rereading your reviews)i share my new knowledge with him,and i can say he was impress(thanks your review).,my next one i feel very much for (white knight) or something more like (Seiko Prospex SBDC001)which they selling here in Kaohsiung.
Many thanks for your great reviews.
Mike from Kaohsiung.
Thanks for your kind comments about my blog. 🙂
Not many watch enthusiasts give Seikos, Citizens and Orients a serious look due to influence from the media and lack of promotion by the manufacturers. You’ll see that the Swiss ETA Group spends a lot of money on big name celebrity endorsements, high budget advertising and sponsorships. Seiko has many high scale models like their Grand Seiko range which gives one a lot of watch for the money but very few people know this.
Many Seiko owners are clueless about the Seikos that they buy – often than not they’ll cite reasons like “I happen to like this model, that’s why I bought it”, “It was affordable to me”, “Seiko is a reliable brand”, etc. When I tell them that there are Credors and Grand Seikos that cost more than some Omegas and Rolex watches, they usually go, “I didn’t know that!” 🙂
Get the SKXA47K White Knight in Taiwan while you still can, because these models are already out of production. The SBDC001 is still considered “new” in the market and would probably be phased out a few years from now. The problem is that Seiko watch prices are on the rise and the latest batches are no longer as cheap as they used to be.
If I’m not mistaken, Taiwan is currently the largest market for Japanese Domestic Model (JDM) Seikos, outside of Japan. Seiko Malaysia did import a couple of Prospex models from the very late 1990s to the early 2000s, but stopped doing so due to lack of demand. What we have here are the more best-selling models like the Seiko 5 family, 7s26 automatic divers, generic models and those from the Arctura, Premier, Criteria, Sportura and the new-and-expensive Velatura range.
Enjoyed reading your review and found it most tempting to reread and savour the images.
My black monster arrived yesterday; leaving a first and lasting impression I would like to share with you:
In the manor a child makes ”mud cakes or pies” from salt water sea sand – cupped hands at 90 degrees – this watch was concieved.
The VENUS of MUD.
The top right hand leaving it’s impression on the bezel and digging into the body leaving 5 finger recesses. While the left hand slightly cupped underneath forms the bezel guards with finger tips and pillowed palm.
A prodtruding crown – but a small escargot caught up in the making.
The movement, but the heart of the tides caught inbetween.
This watch is quite rare in it’s sculpting and worthy of praise for the it’s rough yet fine details. It’s unique design and price appeal render it irristable.
So, be it a Black Monster or The Venus of Mud – which
ever the title, it’s inspiring to watch.
Thanks Quartzimodo A. for reasurring me on the title
“Venus of Mud” was not sure it would be well received.
After wearing the watch for three weeks now, I wanted to
share a short list of impressions regarding the watches attributes:
– incredible “full moon light” lume – never a dark moment
– VoM gracefully gains 4-5 sec. in 24hrs 😉 (found the
right position on the night table – standing like an
opera singer on stage)
– the eye never seems to grow bored with it’s presence and
immediately notices its absence (I might become jealous)
– the hands fill the dial up nicely and evenly; they have
a way of moving and interacting which is full
of character and muse.
– it is designed like an amphibious Brinks truck; (and) it
draws attention like one, too.
– I have owned a seiko “samurai” and a “skx007j” (which I
both sold)and this one is a real(time)keeper – it has
horrifying charm and a provocative aura; the others just
did not project enough character beyond their design.
end of list (for now @least)
Check out the stores at Pertama Complex, Kuala Lumpur. I bought mine at a small store named Spark Time Trading. You cannot get one at the same price as I did as that was six years ago. Prices of Seiko watches have gone up considerably since then due to rising raw material and labor costs, among other factors like the stronger Japanese Yen.
Good luck with your purchase!
Actually, the BM is not as large as you might think – especially compared to oversized fashion watches like Nautica and Guess. You might be apprehensive with its appearance at first but you’ll get used to wearing it in no time. The nickname “Monster” not necessarily stems from the dimensions of the watch, people described it as “heavy duty and monstrous looking” (hence the nickname). There are newer Seiko divers that are even larger than the BM. You might find it comforting to know that trendy young women wear watches that are even bigger than the BM and I don’t think many of them have six inch wrists.
It’s been nine years since the first BM watches were produced and Seiko is still making these watches today! 🙂
The limited edition Monsters were sold exclusively in Thailand. A few of them were snapped up by resellers who sold them for a fat profit while the rest went to die hard collectors. There were 300 pieces for the Yellow Monster 1313 pieces for the Red Monster and as for the Blue Monster, the exact number of pieces circulated unknown. The Blue Monster was a limited release model that ran for 2 years, rather than a limited edition.
I’ve seen YMs sold for USD1K on eBay some years ago. It’s not worth that amount, IMO. Try placing WTB ads in the various Japanese watch sales forums.
good luck! 🙂
I recently bought a Seiko Black Monster and had it sized at the neighborhood jewelers. WHAT A MONSTER OF A PRODUCT! I just ordered an Orange Monster to go with it. Beautiful rugged design with good size and weight. I was surprised that it’s not much bigger and heavier than my Cartier Pasha GMT that sports a retail price of $5400.00 ( seen it on sale for $4228.00 ). My Cartier is advertised at 330′ water resistent but I don’t dare take a chance even washing my hands with it at that price. What more can I say? The movements and design may be a little finer but the difference is astronomical and I won’t worry about swimming or taking a shower with either of my Monters. I think the Cartier is going in the safe deposit box and my OM amd BM are going to get a lot of action. For anybody worried abouit the size or design of the watch – Don’t! I have a 7″ wrist and it’s a perfect size. The design is also very high quality. Very good looking case and SS bracelet make this watch a super score. It can be proudly worn anywhere in my opinion. This is especially true for the price. I’m not even Happy shopping!
Thanks for sharing your personal review of the Black Monster. Apart from the quintessential, evergreen Seiko SKX007K diver I think the SKX779K and 781K (Orange Monster) will be around for a very long time. Eleven years on (the BM debuted in the year 2000), who would have thought Seiko would still be selling this awesome timepiece! It’s a shame that Seiko recently changed the caseback design to an all-shiny finish though. The earlier generation of the Monsters had that nice matte, “Tsunami” logo in the middle. I guess Seiko has been on a cost cutting move lately.
You did the right thing. Keeping high end watches like your Cartier Pasha GMT away from water as much as possible (especially from seawater and chlorinated swimming pools) should prolong its finish and rubber O-ring seals, even if the watch is water resistant.
Enjoy your BM in good health!
I enjoyed reading your writings on BM. I bought mine today from prtama complex (pertama jam), with price of rm600 plus plus. Definitely its a worth investment n a good time keeper. My next will be skx009 as well as skz series. I managed to find land monster snm035 in australia selling for aud520 (rm1600). Is it a worth buy?
I’m familiar with the store you got your Black Monster diver from. I’ve been frequenting it since 2003 and have recommended it to friends and strangers alike. You got a good deal for the BM, considering that Seiko has raised prices of its products several times since 2004. As for the SMN035 Landmonster, I think you’ll be overpaying for it. This is a North American market model and it’s cheaper to find one from a U.S. based seller. Look for the SNM035 on Amazon.com and eBay. I would rather spend RM1.6k on a 6R15 based watch like the Seiko Spirit series or the SBDC-series, “Sumo” divers. But that’s just my opinion. 🙂
Hi Quartzimodo. 🙂
I just wanted to say thank you for your entertaining and informative site. I stumbled across it by accident while I was searching to find out whether a recent Seiko 5 purchase was a fake. Since then, I’ve been reading and enjoying all your articles.
The trouble is, my addiction got the better of me this morning and I pulled the trigger on an Orange Monster to add to my growing collection. Should arrive by tomorrow… 😉
Great site, and many thanks for sharing.
Congrats on joining the Seiko Monster Club! This watch was well, kind of ridiculed by purist collectors when it first entered the market in 2000 and got off on a slow start. It wasn’t until several years later the Monster was inducted into the WIS Hall of Fame and what do you know, 11 years on Seiko is still producing it. 🙂
Watch collection is an expensive addiction. I’ve known fellow collectors to have spent a small fortune on high end Japanese brand watches and those whose arsenals consist more than a hundred timepieces. Some had reached their collecting peak and it’s all downhill from there; they either start selling off their collection or just moved on to other interests.
Wear that SKX781K in good health! 🙂
Just wanted to add that my experience with the accuracy of the orange monster seems to be much better than average. I’ve been tracking it for 10 days now, and the total variance for the entire period is +5/sec. That’s only a +.5/sec/day variance. Pretty amazing for a $150 automatic. That’s straight out of the box with no regulating. The greatest one-day swing that I recorded was +5/sec, but then it would lose a second a day for a couple of days and always hovered around the same point. Very happy with the watch.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your SKX781K Orange Monster. However, in the real world it’s a case of “YMMV” or “Your Mileage May Vary”. I wouldn’t openly write a post declaring that Orange Monsters are more accurate than other variants of the Monster divers without as so much as conducting a scientific sampling survey. So far nobody has actually done a controlled study of OM divers and compile statistics of their accuracy performance. You need to take at least a dozen sample OMs from a certain batch and measure their accuracy individually.
Some people receive brand new Seiko Monsters (regardless of its dial color – it need not even be a Monster in the first place) that happen to be accurate straight from the factory, while others complain that their watches run too fast, too slow, etc. It so happens that you were indeed lucky to own an OM that was fitted with an accurately 7s26B movement. 🙂 Mechanical watches are not like computer processors where if a CPU model is designed to run at 2.66GHz, by sheer coincidence you will get one that will run at 2.8GHz without any overclocking.
thanks for sharing your story!
Oh I completely understand that I was lucky. That’s why I said that mine seems to be much better than average. I’ve read the posts about +30/sec a day swings on many automatics. My Vostok Amphibia has been pretty good as well, running about +8/sec a day consistently. People just should not expect quartz accuracy from a mechanical watch. It’s more about the elegance of the inner workings of a mechanical watch that does it for me. Thanks.
I just visited Pertama Complex to look for these monsters. All of the shops I visitted including your regulars only have the BM with the rubber strap, and none have the OM at all.
When you told Bryan that he got a good deal at RM600++, would that be with the rubber or steel bracelet? Could you give an idea what the price difference would be between the two strap options?
Buying the monster for my son with 8″ wrist and I might just go for the older skx007 for my 6″ wrist 😉
Prices of Seiko watches have increased between 20-45%, depending on the model since 2003 when I first got into watch collecting. I remember my former colleagues getting the SKX779K on bracelet at Pertama Complex for RM545 thereabouts, therefore anything below RM700 for the Monster on bracelet today would be considered a fair price.
Despite its “Monster” namesake, this watch isn’t really big by today’s standards. I often spot young women wearing chronographs that are bigger than the SKX007K diver. And trendy youths with oversized Fossil fashion timepieces that are as large as some traveller’s alarm clocks! 🙂
If you’ve become used to wearing smallish 39mm diameter dress watches, the 42mm SKX007K will immediately feel heavy and chunky on your wrist. You’ll soon get used to the size and weight; it’s a matter of adapting to change.
Congratulations on owning the Black Monster. It’s a good watch and treated with care, it should last for several decades. Last year I visited the Mustafa department store (the biggest one) and I was amazed to see the amount of watches for sale, both grey market and official warranty versions.
If you’ve bought a BM prior to 2008, you’ll get the original version with the matte, Tsunami wave logo on the caseback instead of the all polished caseback finish. Many people think the earlier versions are better, at least from the aesthetic point of view. It’s my personal belief that Seiko’s trying to keep their production costs down, as it’s cheaper to stamp all-polished casebacks.
Yes, I haven’t updated my blog for years. I’ve moved on to other hobbies like photography and I don’t collect watches anymore. I don’t know if people would be interested in reading about models that have been long discontinued.
Thanks for the comments! Actually I stopped following the developments of the Seiko Monster for a while although I’ve seen the 4R36 based Monster in real life. 🙂
I don’t do reviews anymore as I’ve moved on to other hobbies. Besides, I would have to own the actual third generation Monster in order to write my own review. If you ask my opinion, the latest SRPxxx Monsters are overpriced for what they are. Except for the movement and the dial, the new model is pretty much the same as the original 7s26A equipped Monsters. Seiko is asking you to pay extra to have the Prospex “X” logo on the dial and it’s the same marketing strategy which the company did to the old 7C46 SBBN007 300m “Tuna”. 🙁
The SBDC001/003/005 Sumo watches are worth buying as their case and styling are totally unique. They were the first 6R15 caliber divers and the 6R15 movement itself is a big jump over the fully automatic 7s26 caliber. The 4R36 falls somewhere in between the 6R15 and the non-hacking/hand winding 4R15. It (the 4R36) is a pretty good movement but you have to decide whether it’s worth the price when the watch looks almost like the original SKX779K Black Monster. 🙂
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