Okay, here is my first shot at an "official" watch review, from an admittedly amateur watch enthusiast. I have posted some side-by-side photos at the end of the review for your viewing pleasure/disdain. I apologize that they are a little dark...I took them this evening in my den with indirect fluorescent lighting. (Also, feel free to let me know if you find any errors or omissions in my review.)
For this review, I am actually comparing two similar and very popular diver's watches: a classic Seiko SKX173 and the ubiquitous Invicta 8926. The reason I have chosen these two is because: a) they are similar in appearance, and b) I happen to have both of them. :D Both pieces have black faces with white luminous markers, black rotating bezels, and are on silver, stainless steel bands. The Seiko has a day/date display at 3 o'clock, while the Invicta has date only, also at 3 o'clock.
Not much else can be said that hasn't already been said about the 7S26 movement from Seiko and the Miyota 21J automatic movements. Both are solid if unspectacular. Both are 21 jewels and 21,600 BPH. The Miyota is outsourced by Invicta and made in Japan, while the Seiko 7S26A/B is made in-house by Seiko in Malaysia and Singapore. The Miyota winds unidirectionally, while the Seiko winds bidirectionally. (Thanks to Angelis for those clarifications.)
My initial guess is that the Miyota may be a smidge more accurate, but the 7S26 is not terrible by any stretch. Expect a little faster time for the Seiko in the beginning, which should settle down over time. Both can be regulated if you wish.
Both cases feel solid. The Seiko seems to have a bit more heft to it, but the Invicta has a very solid feel to it, as well. The case diameter of the Seiko is approximately 43mm at 10 and 4, while the Invicita is only 40 mm. Likewise, the Seiko case is slightly thicker at 13.1mm versus 12.6mm for the Invicta. The lugs on the 8926 seem a tad bit longer than the shorter, heavier lugs on the Seiko. Both cases taper nicely to the bracelets, a 20mm for the Invicta and a 22mm for the Seiko. Neither case seems out of proportion or symmetry with the overall piece. The crown placements are 3:00 and 3:45 for the Invicta and Seiko, respectively. The crown and guards seem quite prominent on the Invicta, something to consider if you are concerned with wrist-digging. Both crowns are of the screw-in design, with the first click-out position used for day/date setting and the second for time-setting. Invicta has also engraved the name "INVICTA" on the left side of the case...a nice touch for some and an annoyance to others. I personally like it, since it does not jump out at the casual observer, but it's there to enjoy if you wish. One important difference: the Invicta has a see-through (presentation) case-back/crystal (screw-in), whereas the Seiko has the solid steel, screw-in type caseback. So you can actually observe the Miyota engine at work, while you have to imagine what it's like on the Seiko. ;)
Both timepieces have mineral-crystal glass on them. While not as high-end as its sapphire cousin, the mineral-crystals should serve very well under normal abuse. It is more resistant to cracking, but less resistant to scratching than sapphire. The Invicta crystal has a cyclops-magnifier of its date window, but it is of dubious usefulness as it doesn't seem to do much magnifying. In addition, the glass on the Invicta sits *slightly* above the level of the bezel, while the Seiko crystal sits below the bezel level. This may protect it more, depending on how you use your watch.
Both bracelets are silver colored stainless steel. As mentioned earlier, the Seiko strap is 22mm at the case while the Invicta is 20mm. They both taper down to 18mm at the clasp. The Invicta band has brushed surfaces on the end links with polished edges. The center link is also highly polished. The Seiko band has an all-brushed surface with polished edges. Both are double-locking butterfly type clasps with their respective names and/or logos stamped into them. I should note that on my particular 8926, the first "clip" of the clasp is really hard to pop up for me, but it may just be my particular item and not a characteristic of the entire line. The Seiko bracelet links have screw-in type pins, while the Invicta pins are the push-out or pop-out kind. The Seiko bracelet and clasp feel a bit more substantial, but not by much, and it could be just perception.
Both bezels are rotating, 120-click bezels. They are both painted/coated with black finish, and both have index marks at each minute. Also, they both have diamond-shaped markers at the 0-minute position with a luminous dot in the center. The Invicta omits the number "10" on the bezel and instead uses more prominent index marks for the first 15 minutes. The Seiko uses uniform marks all the way around and includes all 10-minute interval numbers. The feel of the clicking on both bezels is similar, and they both feel quite solid. The Seiko bezel is a little easier to grasp and turn, since it has a coin-edge as opposed to the scalloped edge on the Invicta bezel.
Both faces are black with white, luminous markers. The Seiko markers are rectangular in shape, while the Invicta markers are round at all but the 6, 9 and 12 positions. There is no 3 o'clock marker on either (because of day/date windows). The Invicta minute hand is solid with illumination, and straight in shape with metal outline trim. The hour hand has a prominent round marker on it, also with illumination. The second hand also has a small round marker close to the tip with lume. The Seiko hands are somewhat "fatter", and the minute hand has a prominent "arrow-head" on it. The hour hand is mostly straight, with a silver skinny tip. Like the Invicta, the Seiko second hand has a round marker close to the end, with lume. There is a black inner index ring with markers inside the Seiko case, while the Invicta has a brushed steel inner wall. Seiko's LumiBrite technology is second to none...it shines better than anything else out there. Invicta's Tritnite is okay, but it can't hold a candle (pun intended) to Seiko's LumiBrite.
I personally like both of these timepieces, and both will continue to get plenty of wrist-time. The Seiko is a little bigger and a little heavier, but not by much. The 8926 weighed in at 150.9 grams while the Seiko tipped the scales at 158.4 grams. Not a huge difference (7.5 grams or barely a quarter ounce). As a wider watch, the Seiko has more of a wrist presence on my 8.5" wrist, but at only 40mm, I found that the Invicta holds it own pretty well, too. Even at 40mm, it didn't get swallowed up by my burly, beefy, Brobdingnagian bones!
I was able to pick up the Seiko used for around $150, while the Invicta was around $90. Careful and deliberate shopping will probably put you in that vicinity, so you can expect to pay approximately 2x as much for the Seiko as the Invicta.
Overall, I have to say I absolutely adore the Seiko SKX173, but I am an unapologetic Seiko lover anyway. The Seiko history is undeniably rich and powerful, while Invicta's history has been spotty and inconsistent. It would be unfair to even think about putting the Invicta name on the same level as Seiko. However, I am impressed with the little Invicta 8926 so far. Time will tell if it holds up as well as I expect my Seiko to hold up. Stay tuned, and I hope my pictures aren't too terribly dark or unclear.
I also welcome any comments and feedback as to my review. I am always open to constructive criticism. Happy timekeeping, all!