Seiko SKXA35 Diver’s 200m review
- Date acquired: July 31 2007
- Production date: March 2007
- Source: Seiko Company Store, Seattle USA
- Price paid: USD140 (w/o shipping)
- Status: In production
This yellow faced Seiko divers’ watch actually took quite some time for me to decide. Yellow is not my favorite color in a watch (orange is more acceptable) and I think most yellow dials are hard to read. It’s neither white nor orange. It’s probably an in-between hue. Perhaps the most positive point of a yellow colored watch is that it’s very unique and striking on the wrist.
It’s not a popular color for a watch and that’s probably why one seldom sees yellow dialed watches in the stores or on people’s wrists. I was considering the black SKX173 7s26 diver but I already own two SKX007J divers. The SKX173, apart from its rectangular index markers and the lumed ball on the tip of the sweep second hand, didn’t offer much difference from the classic SKX007 divers.
What made me eventually choose the SKXA35?
Well, after getting my orange dialed SKX011J, I was considering a 7s26-002x diver that wasn’t available in SE Asia. That left me with either the black dialed SKX173 or the citrus hued SKXA35. Most of my watches are black anyway and I thought if I could choose only one, it would be a model that is more special of the two.
Since I didn’t have any yellow colored watch in my collection, I thought the SKXA35 would be the best choice. The trouble is that I could only purchase brand new this from the USA or a used one from owners who are scattered across the globe. If they’re willing to part with theirs, in the first place. 😉
I had collected lots of photos of the SKXA35 and thought finally it’s time to get one. The problem is the finding source at the price that I wanted. The SKXA35 and its black sibling, the SKX173 are in fact, native to the North American market and perhaps Canada. Neither model is sold anywhere else in the world. You can’t find this watch from the well known grey market sellers based in Singapore, such as Pokemonyu and Premierworld.
These two Seiko divers are unique only to North America – the SKXA35 (left) and the SKX173 (right)
I browsed for the SKXA35 and found out that this watch’s retail price was not less than USD200 in the U.S. That’s pretty pricey for me, considering that it’s just another variation of the classic 7s26 diver – and on rubber strap too.
Seiko USA is the official distributor for the SKXA35 and SKX173 divers and it has its own pricing policy. Of course, every Seiko watch sold through Seiko USA’s authorized dealers come with a standard 3-year warranty, which is not offered elsewhere in the world – not even by Seiko Japan!
Warranty is usually an expense to the manufacturer therefore the total price of this watch includes the cost of the 3-year warranty. Which probably explains the high retail price and also perhaps the fact that the United States enjoys one of the highest income per capita in the world.
Some things that I’ve learned about North American market Seiko diver models are:
They don’t have an alphabet suffix in their reference numbers, e.g. "K" as in SKX009K or "J" as in SKX007J
The caseback code ends with an "8" or "9" instead of the usual "0"
They come with a standard 3-year warranty from Seiko USA
They are priced higher than comparable Seiko models sold in SE Asia
They have the country of manufacture stamped on the dial and caseback (as per FTC regulations)
The SKXA35 doesn’t have a "K" or "J" in its model number simply because there’s only one regional market for it – North America and nowhere else. It’s not like for instance, the SKX007 which are available in "K" and "J" versions – "K" for the world market and "J" specifically for the Arabic speaking, Middle East countries. Therefore technically there’s no such thing as an "SKXA35K" – it’s just SKXA35.
The U.S.’ Federal Trade Commission also has very strict labeling requirements for imported goods which explains that on every SKXA35 (or SKX173 for that matter), you’ll see the "Mov’t Singapore" or "Mov’t Malaysia" on the dial and caseback.
A caseback shot of my SKXA35. Note the stamped marking "Movement Malaysia"
In contrast, you will not see the country label on "K" versions of 7s-caliber divers like the SKX007K(including Seiko 5s). There’s just the caliber and the dial code and nothing else. Similarly, on reverse side of the watch, the caseback has no mention of the country of manufacture.
Of worthy mention is the caseback number of the SKXA35 and SKX173. Here’s how to decipher the codes for the 7s26-002x divers:
|Caseback code (last digit)||Where the movement assembly is made||Where the watch is cased (final assembly)||Example Seiko models|
|0||Malaysia or Singapore||China||SKX007K|
Contrary to popular belief, the SKXA35 and SKX173s are not made in Singapore or Malaysia. Only their automatic movements are assembled in these two neighboring South East Asian countries. The completed movements are then shipped to Seiko’s plant in Hong Kong (China) for the final assembly and encasement.
The indicated country on the dial and watch caseback (e.g. "Mov’t Singapore") just denotes the country where the movement was made, not where the watch was cased and shipped from.
Seiko had been producing 7s-caliber movements at its Singapore production facility since the mid 1980s. It wasn’t until late 2006 when it shifted production to Malaysia, presumably to reduce labor costs. The good news is that Malaysia-made movements are of the 7s26B variant, which is reputed to be slightly more accurate than its long-running predecessor, the 7s26A.
Look and feel
The SKXA35 wears and feels like any other 7s26-002x divers that I own. That’s hardly surprising as it’s of the same weight and form factor as the rest of the bunch – SKX007, SKX009, SKXA55, SKX011J, etc.
Like all SKXA35s, mine came with a straight vent, 22mm rubber band. The flat vent strap is somewhat softer and more comfortable than the curved Z-22 model that is fitted to SKX007s. In fact, many Seiko 7s26-002x prefer the flat vent strap to the curved one.
The Seiko presentation box and its precious content when I received it directly from Seattle.
The SKXA35 comes in a hard cardboard presentation box, which is not the kind that you get in SE Asia. I think this box type is unique to Seikos sold in the U.S. In Asia excluding Japan, Seiko waches (other than Seiko 5s) usually come with the see-through plastic eggshell shaped storage box.
The cardboard box comes with a luxurious watch pillow, perfect for taking photos of your Seiko. Unfortunately it’s rather large and takes up more space in my drawer than the plastic version.
For those who love Seiko trivia, the cardboard box is code-named ECMA9J while the polystyrene box has the reference code ECM62H/J.
This is one of the very few wrist shots of my SKXA35 on its factory rubber strap.
I’m strictly a "desk diver" and therefore I feel a diver’s watch looks better on a bracelet or an aftermarket leather strap than rubber. Of course, if I decide to try a hand at scuba diving, I’ll replace my SKXA35 with its factory rubber strap. 🙂
The luminous material of the SKXA35 is on par with my other 7s26-0020 divers. Due to the bright yellow dial, when the lume is fully charged the dial appears brighter than my SKX007J. It won’t beat the fierce glow of the Monster or Sawtooth but the lume is bright enough to partially illuminate the dial in total darkness.
I also like the the fact that the lumed ball is at the tip of the sweep second hand like my 7002-700A and 6309-7040 divers.
A borrowed lume photo of an SKXA35 showing its brightly lit dial and hands
Customizing the SKXA35
There’s always room for improvement for this affectionately nicknamed "Bumble Bee" diver. Some owners aren’t content with its original looks and went ahead to modify their SKXA35s. Here are a few interesting examples. Some mods are subtle and some are pretty radical. 🙂
(All photos belong to their respective copyright owners).
The measurements of the SKXA35 are as follows:
- Diameter: 42 mm (w/o crown), 45 mm (w/crown)
- Lug-to-lug: 45.5 mm
- Thickness: 12.7 mm
- Lug width: 22 mm
- Caliber: 7s26B, 21 jewels (7s26B from Oct 2006 onwards)
- Caseback type: 7s26-0028
- 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 (Eng/Spanish)
- Crown: Screw-in type
- Construction: Stainless steel
- Crystal: Hardlex glass, flat profile
- Bezel: Unidirectional, 120 graduations
- W.R. rating: 200m, ISO certified
- Luminous material: LumiBrite™
- Movement Malaysia, cased in China
As usual, here are some wrist shots of my watch. The strap used is a 22mm brown Morellato leather strap. I colored the originally white stitching with a phosphorescent yellow highlighter to match the yellow dial. What do you know? It glows when ultraviolet light illuminates the strap stitching! 🙂
I would like to thank two special individuals from the Seiko & Citizen Watch Forum who helped me acquire the SKXA35:
- Russ Murray, whose endless postings of his SKXA35 pictures prompted me to decide to get one. 🙂
- Doug Jacobs of Seattle, WA who selflessly went through the trouble to buy this beautiful diver for me from the Seiko Company Store, carefully packed and shipped the watch to me. Oh, he got one for himself too! 🙂
This watch is an acquired taste for me. I don’t wear it often enough but I do make a point to strap on my SKXA35 when I have a yellow T-shirt on. It’s a very unique watch and I get a kick showing this citrus diver to the local Seiko store owners who have never seen an SKXA35 before.
The most interesting part is when my watchmaker inspected my watch a jeweler’s loupe and he couldn’t believe when he saw the "Mov’t Malaysia" markings on the dial. It’s not surprising that most Seiko authorized dealers never bother to learn more about the watches that they sell. I guess for them daily sales comes first, knowledge of their Seiko watches is an optional thing.
My SKXA35 will definitely be a permanent part of my collection and I wouldn’t be selling this one for sure. 🙂
What I liked:
- Funky yellow dialed diver which is not sold in SE Asia or any other part of the world
- Decent luminous dial and hands
- Smooth action bezel with distinctive clicks
- Looks good in various strap options
- Availability of aftermarket custom parts
What I didn’t care for:
- Crown is a bit difficult to screw-in
- Low contrast dial makes time telling a bit difficult in poor lighting
- Needs black framed hands instead of the chromed look for better contrast
- Black background calendar would be a better option
- Standard lume as with the other 7s26-002x divers
- No bracelet option available, must be purchased separately
- Expensive retail price
|Value for money:|
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Wow! The Wombat himself has finally made it into Quartzimodo’s Time Journal! Quick, head for the hills! Run for your lives!
Wombie: “What did I say?” 🙂
Just kidding, marn. I remember you mentioned to me you had one of the Citizen Wingman quartz watches. There’s one with a yellow factory strap and the dial has cool aircraft-like subdials.
I expected to find some quaint watch store in KK (last April) with new old stock Seikos but I couldn’t find any. But at least the girls there are prettier and more friendly. 🙂
My first encounter with this watch was on a New York City subway a couple of weeks ago. A well-dressed Asian fellow was wearing it, and I was really mesmerized! It was easily the most striking watch I had seen in a long while. Now, I would advise against approaching strangers on the subway and asking them about their watches! — so I, myself, didn’t ask about his. But, because the SKXA35 is so large, it was easy to read “Seiko” on the dial. I did some Internet searching when I got home, and I found it, obviously. What surprised me after a bit of research, though, is that the A35 is technically “Made in China.” I had no idea that Seikos are not all made in Japan (anymore?). Anyway, I haven’t owned one in about 25 years… While intellectually I understand that there may well be no difference between Japanese-made and Chinese-made Seikos, my gut feeling told me — pretty strongly — not to buy a Chinese watch. Perhaps the feeling comes from the countless fake (Chinese-made) watches available on almost any touristy corner in New York? Maybe it comes from Wal-Mart??? I truly don’t mean to be xenophobic, here; but, as an American who rarely has the option of buying anything *but* a Chinese-made product, I’ll jump at the chance to buy European or Japanese any time I can. (Let’s leave American-made out of this — there really is no such thing anymore…) Japanese products — particularly cars — have gained such a reputation for quality among Americans over the last few decades that many have taken on a “luxury” aura. (Perhaps this isn’t so true in the rest of the world…) In any case, I think that Seiko went badly wrong from a marketing standpoint in having the A35 and 173 cased in China. These are watches destined for North America and nowhere else, right??? Honestly, I think that if you surveyed Americans, an overwhelming majority would hesitate (and likely walk away) before buying a Chinese-made watch in this price range — and would certainly prefer Japanese-made. I know that I would have bought an A35 if I could have found one with a “J” suffix. Perhaps you can lend some insight or a different perspective, here?
Rest assured, Seiko has a high quality assurance and failure rates are quite low with their products regardless of where they were made. Of course, the Japan made, Japan market models are made to even higher tolerances and more stringent manufacturing quality control – but these are Seiko watches that are out of financial reach of most people.
Don’t confuse Seiko watches that are made in China with lesser known watch brands from China – they are entirely separate issues! 🙂
As we speak, virtually all electronic products – from PDAs, laptops, low end LCD and plasma TVs, GPS units, MP3 players and cellphones are made in China. Production costs in China are lower than other Far East countries. For example, all Sony Ericsson cellphones are made in China. The last Ericsson phone that was made in Sweden was in the mid 1990s. Palm, which used to manufacture their PDA products in the U.S. have long switched to making them in China since their old Palm m515 back in mid 2002.
Chinese made products have gone a long way since their predominantly Communist era. They’ve already developed their own cars (like the Cherry) which I believe will soon rival marques like Kia and Hyundai from South Korea. Just like in the 1950s and 60s when people made fun of anything made in Japan (and later Taiwan and Korea) products made in China are gaining trust and respect from the rest of the world.
If you’re using a recent model laptop, look underneath the unit. Whether your brand is a Lenovo (formerly IBM), ASUS, DELL, Gateway. Toshiba, etc – chances are that it’s made in China. Apple iPods and iPhones are not likely to be made in America anymore. Microsoft hardware like keyboards and mice are now all made in China. Only high end model products from Sony, Canon and Nikon for example, are made in Japan. Many international companies have outsourced their products to China to lower production costs.
Apart from my watch hobby, I also play the electric guitar and bass. I happen to own a China-made “Essex” brand Fender Jazz Bass copy and it costs a fraction of what a China-made Squier (by Fender) bass or Mexico-assembled Fender would have cost me. For a bass guitar that only set me back USD180, I was amazed by the feel and playability of the Essex Jazz Bass. The body was made from alder wood, which is usually reserved for expensive U.S. made Fenders. Only its pickups didn’t match the quality that of a true Fender product and I upgraded them to DiMarzio pickups, a renowned American guitar pickup brand.
Even Fenders outsourced to its factory in Mexico generally use cheaper poplar wood (instead of alder) and I was amazed for a China-made bass, the Essex Jazz Bass sounded and handled almost like an American made Fender Jazz Bass. 🙂
BTW, there are no SKXA35 watches made in Japan. Only the individual components like movement parts that make up the watch come from Japan. If the A35 were a Japan market Seiko (like a Prospex sub-range), it would be priced a lot higher – making it less affordable.
hi there recently i have puchased a dive watch skx011j 7s26-200 and it has a case back number which is ending in ”6”??, is that possible? contrary to your table for deciphering the skx011j which supposed to be ”0” for japan made with orange dial, im just worried that i have bought a fake one since the retailer confirms that they are selling genuine please help me.
I apologize for the late reply as I missed this comment of yours and only spotted it now.
Sometimes the engraving on some Seiko watches can be obscure due to machining tolerances, therefore a zero can appear like the number “6”.
You didn’t mention where you purchased your SKX011J diver from, therefore I cannot comment whether your seller is dealing with fakes.
Interesting mix of themes in the post and comments.
Do you know that the requirement to place the country of origin on watch faces was initially required in the U.S. because Swiss watchmakers were flooding the U.S. with cheap pocket watches. Of course, they were cheap, but also high quality. Eventually, the “Swiss Made” label became a selling point instead of a detriment.
Jim’s comment neatly joins this theme regarding countries of origin. Jim notes a perceived quality difference between Japanese and Chinese goods – based on your reassurnaces to Jim- you don’t understand the feeling/emotion that is pervasive in the US and that Jim is expressing.
You list all the products made in China to dispel his concern, but Jim already noted that everything in the US is made in China.
While some of it remains high quality despite it’s origin, much of it reflects the manufacturer’s obsession with low cost above all else, which often leads to consumers being disappointed with their purchases. This obsession with low cost is generally more to blame than is the country where the product is assembled because it often leads to the use of inferior materials and flimsy construction as well.
So now full circle. Which would you like to see on your expensive watch: “Swiss Made” or “Made in China”.
I have a watch here not a real collector, but it has a case back with this : ST.steel 6309-7290 [f1] Seiko Water Resistant A (SUWA Marks) Green Dial / all whitesh letters… SEIKO AUTOMATIC / WATER150RESISTANT [center]. @ 6:00 o’clock it has this written ( 6309-735MR <(small suwa). My email is: ([email protected] ).
Coul you reply back with some points. Was told its a SKXA35, but It runs great and had it overhalled and cleaned and it works fine.
Thanks for dropping a comment. 🙂 There is only ONE and ONLY SKXA35 model that Seiko makes – and it’s the very one depicted in this review. No exceptions. All SKXA35 divers must have a caseback code of either 7s26-0028 or 7s26-0029 and the fine print on the dial also must have the words “Mov’t Singapore” or “Mov’t Malaysia”. No SKXA35 comes from the Suwa factory in Japan; they are all assembled by Seiko Hong Kong.
What you have is a second generation 6309 diver with a slim case with the winding crown positioned at exactly 4 o’clock, instead of 3:45 as with many 7s26 diver’s watches. Only three 6309-729x models were made; all-black dial/bezel, dark blue/Pepsi bezel and the extremely rare orange dial/black bezel, 6309-729B. If your watch’s dial comes in ANY other color like red, purple, yellow or green it’s NOT an original Seiko dial, but an aftermarket one. Seiko never released 6309-729x watches with those colors. 🙂
The reason behind this is that the material used for the 6309-729x dials were of rather poor quality compared to the cushioned cased, 6309-704x divers. While you can still find 6309-7040/49 divers with original dials in fairly good condition, most 6309-729x dials faded too easily. Since original Seiko replacement dials for the 6309-729x divers have long dried up, the only recourse for the sellers is to replace the worn out dials with aftermarket ones, often made by small, cottage industries in either China or the Philippines. These aftermarket dials don’t have the exact font which Seiko used and their luminous index markers are usually not bright.
Some people don’t mind the funky “new look” dials but generally serious Seiko collectors avoid such watches like the plague. However, it turned out that some Seiko 6309 collectors would rather use custom made dials and hands (available from Dagaz Watches or Harold Ng.) IMO, a custom dial looks better than an aftermarket “Seiko” dial. 🙂
Aloha Quartzimodo :
OK,I had it re-checked by another jeweler and he said the one I took in is a original(6309-7290)Slim Case. But the (original Dial) was changed, (Original hands and Movement still there). /===/ The other one was the “Malaysia”, (7s26-0080)intact, what is this watchs Type or Model Sir ? It has a Black Dial saying: SEIKO 12:oo o’clock
Between 8:00&7:00(Mov’t) 7:00&6:00(Malaysia), “No SUWA”,
Above 6:00 – (all capital)Red- …DIVER’S 200m
Note: Rear-7S26-0080 /[A0] Movement Malaysia
Is this a -SKXA35 watch Sir ? / Oh all markers are retangular, except -12:00 o’clock, and has Date/Day //Non-Pepsi. // I also have a SKX173 Box-Papers/Card/Instr.Bklt/No Tag….. Totally all brand new. Thank you Sir for your time.
As I’ve mentioned before, an SKXA35 diver’s watch should look exactly like in the photos in my review above (yellow dial). The SKX173 on the other hand, comes with a black dial. Both models should have the caseback numbers consisting of either 7s26-0028 or 7s26-0029.
The “7s26-0080” is NOT a diver’s watch, but belongs to a certain style of the Seiko 5 dress models. One of the 7s26-0080 Seiko 5s happen to be a SKX137K (which is not to be confused with the SKX173).
I have a fake Omega that look just like that yellow one, although officially Omega does not have a yellow dial watch.
In the late 80s, Dunhill did released a yellow dial watch, called the Black Moon. I have seen the genuine item once but can never find any replicas for it.