26 March 2019

Talking Watches: The Seiko SKX013

A noticeable absence on this blog has been talking about watches, because I have honestly only gotten into watches within the past two years. I have worn a watch daily since I was around fifteen years old, however, until recently, never really thought about them as much more than a functional tool. Well, I say that, but I have always had a clear preference for clean analogue styles. In all the years since I began wearing a watch on a daily basis, I think that I have owned a total of two digital watches (both Casio). There has always been something about the simplicity of an analogue watch that I enjoy, and the fact that for me it seems somehow less obtrusive and more elegant than a digital display. Additionally, although there have been more adventurous designs, such as some Swatch and Mr Jones watches, that I have loved the look of, the lack of numeral markers, or too busy a dial, have meant that I struggle to get an accurate reading, which rather defeats the purpose for me. I realise that a lot of people consider their watches as nothing more than jewellery (after all, we all carry phones that tell the time far more accurately), but I like the idea of a beauty informed by such essential and simple function.

There has always been something magical about telling the time for me, which is difficult to describe without sounding a little bit insane. But sod that, I will try anyway. Here I have a tool on my wrist which measures time - one the most important concepts and metrics we have to identify, situate and consider our lived experiences, sense of identity and relationship with others and the world around us. Three moving hands and a dozen numbers, and somehow I can use those to gain an understanding of when I am, when I have been, and when I am going to be. There is something truly beautiful in that. An hour is an hour, but we have all experienced an hour that seemed like it would never end, and an hour that passed by so fast we wished we could have another four or five. Apparently time does actually move slower for children and faster for the elderly. It has to do with the way that the brain processes novel experiences. While you are learning new things, your brain apparently perceives time as slower, versus speeding it up when you are in autopilot mode. Consider commuting to a new job for the first time - that first half hour journey seems to take forever, but within a month it seems to go by in a blink of the eye (unless of course there is something out of the ordinary like a cancelled train).

My parents were kind enough to offer me buy me a watch for my birthday at the start of last year. Having researched for a few months previously to find something that felt right for me, I ended up choosing the Seiko SKX013 (the baby brother of the venerable SKX007). It is the first automatic watch I have ever owned, and having dived deep into the "watch world", I was fascinated by the beauty of all these different mechanical movements and complications, and so wanted a piece of that rich history. I am still a total novice when it comes to watches, but the SKX series seems to be where many collectors start, because they are just so well designed and functional. There is a wealth of information about watches online (a bit too much snobbish stuff, but I guess that is the same with fashion at large), and it really was that feeling of finding a new passion. I have never really thought of watches having character before, but I really like the character of this watch. It was the first time I have put on a watch and rather than seeing it purely as a functional tool, I saw it is as a beautiful object. I have owned and worn the watch for over a year now (and added a second watch to my collection for my birthday earlier this year), and it still makes me smile.

Seiko SKX013
Movement Type: Automatic
Movement Caliber: Seiko 7s26
Case Diameter: 37mm
Lug-to-lug: 43mm
Lug Width: 20mm

Despite the fact that I have never learnt how to swim, I love the style of dive watches. I suppose it is because they value legibility so highly, and tend to have a bit of a chunkier style that makes them easy to operate (...the more I think about it, am I just a grandpa when it comes to watches?). The SKX has a dial that is really easy to read, with large amounts of Seiko's proprietary lume, which is surprisingly bright and will last for hours. I chose the SKX013 over its older brother, the SKX007, because I have super small wrists. Although given the compact lug-to-lug measurement of both, most people can probably get away with wearing either. Apart from the size difference the only noticeable visual difference is that the second hand has an arrowhead lume pip halfway down the stalk. The SKX007 has the second hand lume on the counterbalance. That has never made all that much sense to me, because in the dark you are essentially looking at it backwards, but I suppose having a ball of lume sweeping around the indices might make it a touch confusing to read in lower light. For those of you who like a little bit colour, you can get a Pepsi bezel version, the SKX009, which is otherwise identical to the SKX007.

Speaking of the bezel - a rotating dive time bezel is something I never knew I wanted until I had one. I literally use it multiple times per day, which I really did not expect, but having the bezel right there makes it so easy. I think that it is the immediacy of it that makes me time things so much more readily. I mostly use it when cooking, because you can roughly time things on the fly. I find that with digital watches I never used the stopwatch feature, because you have to press buttons to get into another screen, but then have to press again to get back to the actual time. I do not like extra steps, preferring to see the time and the timer in one go, which is also why I do not set timers on my phone (especially not when cooking, because I prefer not to touch my phone then). With a dive bezel you can set your time in one twist, and see at a glance how much time has passed. I can most certainly understand why chefs seem to love dive watches (aside from the rugged nature of them), because that ability to time things so easily really is lovely.

The bracelet is apparently not all that popular, because it is not rigid, but I think that its flexibility makes it all the more comfortable to wear. I actually wear mine a little loose, because I do not like anything too constrictive, and find that it wears nicely with no pinching or tugging of arm hairs. I tried putting it on a Nato strap, but did not particularly like the top heavy feeling of that. But getting back to the comfort, the shape of the case is nice and compact, so it hugs the wrist, and I like the crown being shifted down to the four o'clock position, preventing it from digging uncomfortably into the back of your hand. It is a screw down crown, with the first position allowing you to change the day and date, while the second position is for the time. The movement in my watch runs at about -7 seconds per day, which is well within the stated tolerance, and suits me fine as I tend to set my watch a few minutes fast. Apparently you can strike lucky with the 7s26 and find ones that run within +/- 3 seconds, which is pretty amazing given the price, and not to mention the fact that they seem to run well for years between servicing. In general there is something quite nice about having an automatic movement - it feels like there is beating heart in the watch, as opposed to the comparative sterility of a quartz movement and cell battery. A quick shake of the watch from side to side and it starts ticking away nicely (well, sweeping, it is an automatic after all).

Overall, the nicest watch I have ever owned. It appears to have quite the cult following online, and I can most certainly see why.


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