I'm a long time lurker. This is my first post on this very informative forum and my first contribution is the story about me and my Seiko Automatic SKX173.
I have always loved having a good watch and I can become a bit attached to it if everything turns out right. By saying ‘a good watch’ I mean a solid, thrustworty watch that has good legibility. I have an active lifestyle and occupation and I’m not so fond of fancy chronograph dress-watches with hands pointing everywhere. When I need to look at my watch I want to see what time it is (or date) without having to spend time interpreting the information. My first REAL watch was a digital watch from Casio which I bought for some of the money I earned from my first summer job as a spotty teenager. I was in tears when it was beyond repair 15 years after I bought it and I still miss it.
The story of my Seiko started in the summer of 2005 when I was at a cruiseship in the Caribbean. I had no plans for buying a watch but one evening I went past one of the shops in the ship. On a table some wathes were displayed and amongst them a Seiko SKX173 (made in Singapore in November 2004) with black rubber straps. It looked amazing and I could almost hear it whispering my name. I knew Seiko made good watches and the design was excellent: a clean dial, nice hands, solid case and waterproof. The black rubber straps also gave the watch a nice sporty appearance and the crown at 4 o’clock made it different from the rest. I was given a 25% discount as well, which made it an absolute bargain to me compared to prizes back home in Norway. I had never had an automatic watch before but had no hesitation buying my first.
Using the watch in daily life was ok. The appearance and legibility was brilliant, but the rubber straps were only so-so. The rubber straps were of the type with straight groves on the top and looked great, but they were a bitt stiff and not so comfortable to wear. They got a bit better after some use, but could’t compare to my old Casio (which had a SS bracelet). On a more serious note the watch was a bit inaccurate, meaning that it lost more than two minutes from Monday to Friday. I started getting a bit annoyed of having to set the time on my watch a couple of times a week to keep it within my wanted tolerances.
After three years the strap broke and I started looking for a new one, and after some browsing on Amazon I ordered new black rubber straps. I was a bit in doubt but bought them because they gave the watch a nice appearance. This time I ordered straps with wave-pattern groves hoping that they were more comfortable, but I was shocked to discover that they were even worse than the old ones. Some of the groves was rubbing against a knuckle in my wrist and made wear directly uncomfortable. I could adress it by loosening it up but then I had the watch rotating around my arm. The experience with the new straps combined with the inaccuracy made me put the watch away in a drawer, and on my wrist I put on my cheap (but o-so comfortable and accurate) Citizen quarts.
The story could have ended there, but I wasn’t completely happy with my Citizen. Yes, it was comfortable and accurate (extremely accurate!), but it lacked the appearance compared to the Seiko. The lume was also poor in compairsome. I then decided to start looking for a new watch – a REALLY fine and good watch that would last for many, many years. I started looking around on the internet for information and one night I stumbled across this forum. What I read here about the 7s26 made me open the drawer again and pick out the Seiko hoping to breathe new life into it. I read a lot about the 7s26 movement, resting positions, adjustments etc etc and decided to give it one last chance. The first thing I did was to hand it in to an AD, asking them to send it to Seiko for an overhaul. I also told them that the watch was slowing down and after waiting five weeks the watch was returned to me. Nobody knows what had been done to the watch as the AD had lost the papers from Seiko (incredible…) but I only paid 30 dollars for whatever service had been done. I set the time on the watch and waited with anticipation… and the watch only slowed down five seconds a day. After seeing that the accuracy was much better I ordered a new strap, but now a Seiko SS bracelet jubilee style after reading that it was a very comfortable bracelet. It was also the cheapest one I could find…
I also started experimenting with resting position during night and discovered things that really made me raise my eyebrows. I put the watch in different positions overnight (note: the same position on several consecutive nights) and measured the difference both while resting and on my wrist. I tried dial up, dial down, crown up and crown down. A real scientist will probably shoot me down on my little test, but the data were as follows (seconds per night):
Resting dial down:Average: -3.3Max difference: -6Minimum difference: -1Resting dial up:Average: -3Max difference: -7Minimum difference: -2Resting crown down:Average: +9.9Max difference: +22Minimum difference: +6Resting crown up:Average: +8Max difference: +14Minimum difference: +3On wrist during daytime: Average: +2
What I also noticed was that if I changed resting position it would take a day or two before the watch showed the full effect of the change and became stable. What is clear is that how the watch is rested during the night (no, I don’t sleep with my watch on) is really affecting the performance of the watch and the accuracy. The last I set the time on my Seiko was in mid-January and was then 52 seconds fast. I can adjust this by resting it dial/crown up/down. The overhaul at Seiko must also have been for the better for the watch and I’m really, really glad I did it.
Lessons learned? I have to say that my Seiko has a personality of its own and respond to how I treat it. Getting to know the watch was fundamental to me. It’s also important to never give up - an automatic watch could be temperamental but might reveal its secret if you’re patient. To have a watch with personality also has its charm and I find it much more interesting than an ordinary quarts. A quarts might be more accurate and measures time in an excellent manner – my Seiko lives a life on its own. If you’re not happy with the accuracy then try having it adjusted, but I would never allow anyone else than a pro do that to my watch.
It is also a very, very solid watch. I have an active lifestyle and the watch has taken some knocks without stuttering and any sign of damage. I was surprised to discover after four years that it doesn’t have a sapphire crystal, but a Hardlex crystal. The Hardlex show absolutely no signs of wear or any scratches. The case is also very solid and only a few tiny, tiny hairscratches are visible. I actually saw a three year old Rolex Milgauss this week that showed considerable more wear than my Seiko. It you consider getting an SKX173 then there are some points worth considering. The pros (in my opinion) is a very good legibility, good lume and the already mentioned solidity of the watch. It is also affordable and gives lots of ticks for the bucks. When it comes to fit and finish it’s not quite up Rolex standard, but then the pricetag is very, very different as well. The movement can be a bit temperamental but is also capable of superb accuracy if you know how to treat it. On the negative side (once again my opinion) I’ve noticed that the upper crown guard sometimes bites the back of my hand but it’s not a big problem, though. The rubber straps were poor and this watch deserves something better than that.
My project of getting a REALLY fine watch lives on. I originally wanted a Tag Heuer quarts, but after my experience with my Seiko automatic I’ve set my sight on a Omega Planet Ocean, Speedmaster or a Panerai. Only time and money available will tell which one I’ll end up with. The new Rolex Submariner unfortunately looks too expensive to me but then there’s the Explorer… and Explorer II…. I will never get rid of my Seiko though as I now have become very fond of it. I miss the black colour a bit from the original rubber strap and might buy it a black leather strap in the future - you need to take proper care of a good friend! All in all I would say that the SKX173 has turned out to be a very good watch and a great buy. I would buy a new one in a flash if I lost mine tomorrow. Or a Marinemaster – I think they look brilliant too…
I was at at Rolex-dealer a couple of months ago to look at a watch. While I was there the assistant looked at my wrist with amazement and asked me if I had been able to attach a Rolex jubilee bracelet to my Seiko. I showed him my watch and the “SEIKO” mark at the safety clasp. He was really surprised about the quality of the bracelet and how nice it looked. His amazement was further enhanced when I told him what I paid for the bracelet.
It’s now the 1st of May and I haven’t corrected the time on my Seiko since mid-January. It was then +52 and it’s now +9. It has thus slowed down only 43 seconds in 3½ month. I have left it dial up since my little experiment and it seems to have stabilized after I started using it again in January. I can live with accuracy like that!