Spent the extra money to purchase the "made in Japan" version and, based on SKX007 reviews of those made in other countries, I am glad that I did. This is a fairly accurate timepiece, consistently losing only a few seconds a day (non-quartz timepieces, as an "automatic" is, inherently tend to either lose or gain time). Be warned however, you may be purchasing a "grey market" item.
To clear the air first...... What is a "grey market" item? Quite simply, it only means that the item was not intended to be sold in your market (the US in my case). It DOES NOT mean the item is fake or in any way defective. Grey market items are often exactly the same items, just they were shipped to be sold in some other country. This may affect the warranty of the item you purchase. This may mean that a minor feature differs slightly (my "second language" for the date on my Seiko watch was Arabic instead of Spanish) than the one sold in your market. It may also mean, as was my case, that you end up owing import duty fees because your item was shipped to you from another country. That is it. That is what "grey market" really means, regardless of what you may hear/read someplace else.......
As for my review of the timepiece itself, please note that this purchase was intended to be my "work" watch, for when I am working around the house, doing yard work, or working in my woodworking shop. I do not dive and I have another timepiece that I use for my water sport activities. Anyway, after 2+ months of regular wear, I am quite pleased and have to admit that I am pretty impressed. I am impressed with the accuracy of this timepiece and I am impressed with the ruggedness. The SKX007J is losing between 1-2 minutes per week, certainly not bad for an self-winding timepiece, especially at this price point! It has also surprised be with how durable it has been (knock on wood). The watch has taken blows that I would have expected to scratch the crystal, scratch the bezel, or knock off the "pearl". So far, none of these things have happened. :)
As for how this timepiece performs as a dive watch, all I can do is compare its features/performance to my other dive watch. Although I do not dive, my other dive watch also leads a "working" life as it is my timepiece I use when kayaking. In the sake of fairness, I must disclose that my "other" dive watch is a Swiss timepiece that comes in around that $1,200-$1,500 price point (retail). Please keep in mind that this is not a true "apples-to-apples" comparison, although I think the Seiko does come out of this quite well. In the area of important "dive" features, here is how the Seiko compares to its unnamed Swiss counterpart:
- The crown is offset to the 4 o'clock position. This is easier on the wrist, easier to set, and does not get caught on things as often.
- The "lume" (luminescence of the hands and key markers) is really good, much better that the Swiss model I am comparing against as the minute markers (marking the face, every 5 minutes) are hard to "charge" and do not glow for very long. The Seiko does a great job in this area. Give them a good charge and the markers will glow for hours.
- The accuracy is good although I would honestly prefer to gain 1-2 minutes per week than to lose 1-2 minutes. Still, lots of sub-$500 automatics will vary by much more than this, often 5-10 minutes per week (or more)
(NOT AS GOOD)
- The bezel has "positive" clicks at what feels like every 1/2 minute. However, the clicks are not as firm as I would like and the bezel does rotate more easily than I like. Fortunately I am not timing anything critical, but I do use the bezel (on both watches) quite often.
- The bezel (again) is very easy to read when you have a well-lit environment. However, other than the "pearl", there are no markings that can be read or felt in a low-light environment.
- This is simply a price-point difference but the movement on the Seiko is nowhere near as smooth as those on either my Swiss timepieces or those in my old (manual) mechanical timepieces. It is not as rough and rigid of a second hand movement as what you would see on a quartz watch, but there is not the smoothness you see on more expensive movements.
- Not uncommon for Japanese movements, you can not "hack" this timepiece. Now, when you are talking about timepieces which gain or lose a few seconds a day, as almost every "automatic" does, this is a petty thing to quibble about. Unless your commando unit is about to launch a synchronized attack against enemy headquarters, you do not really need this. It is nice though when you want to measure the accuracy of your timepiece against an atomic clock.
- Lume on second hand is on opposite end. Honestly, so long as you can see one end of the second hand in low-light situations, it does not really matter which end you are looking at....... but the lume dot on the "other" end is a little weird though.
Well, that is it. I like this watch. I would buy it again. I would recommend it to others. It, in some ways, is not as nice as more expensive dive watches. In other (important) ways, this watch has design features that are missing on many "dive" watches costing several hundreds or even thousands of dollars more. And then lastly, be aware of the possible "grey market" issues. The duty fees can be an annoying pain in the _____ and it will probably mean you have no manufacturer warranty.