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"Monster" value for money!
on 19 January 2012
The Seiko SKX781 (or "Orange Monster") has been around, along with its stable mate the SKX779 (Black Monster), for about ten years now, and in that time has become something of legend among certain circles. It is intended as an affordable automatic diver's watch, and internet research will demonstrate that it regularly appears in "top ten diver's watches for less than £250" listings.
What's the attraction then? - Let's start by saying that this is quite a big and heavy lump of stainless steel to carry on your wrist. Build quality is generally agreed to be good, and you certainly get the impression that this watch will be with you for a few years to come. The aesthetics are slightly different from the myriad of "Rolex Submariner lookalikes" available in this price range - Whilst the "black monster" is probably the more conventional of the two in it's appearance, the "Orange monster" is rarer in the European market and slightly harder (although not difficult) to track down. I understand that the orange face provides better visibility if you are using it underwater, if I'm honest I haven't been diving for a few years now, either way the orange certainly stands out from the crowd.
The uni direction lapsed time bezel is unusual in that it sits within the casing of the watch. It has a brushed finish with markings etched into it, and deep knurls to assist easy rotation when wet or wearing gloves. As with other Seikos I own, the bezel has a firm positive movement with 120 clicks per full rotation.
The heart of the watch is the "Seiko 7S26" 21 jewel automatic movement used in a few other similar models. It's a tried and tested movement, and whilst not as refined as those used in Swiss watches for ten or twenty times the price, its a rugged and reliable, if slightly bulky movement which is generally good for +/- 15 to 30 seconds a day. On this note, an automatic movement will never be as accurate as an electronic quartz one, but they are often favoured for diver's watches as the lack of need to replace any battery means that you don't have to constantly pay to have the seals renewed each time. Personally I prefer them anyway - there's something about an entirely mechanical set up in the same way that steam trains and classic cars appeal to many. The only downside of course is that because the power is provided by the motion of a small rotor inside the watch, which uses the motion of the wearer's wrist to wind itself up, if you don't wear it - it will stop. Typically, and in common with most automatics, this watch will give around a 40 hour power reserve from "full".
The watch is available on a bracelet or a rubber strap. Personally I'd pay the extra for the bracelet every time. It really is a good one, which receives acclaim in most reviews of this watch. It's comfortable, quiet, and compares very favourably with the bracelet on a couple of Omega watches I have, that cost several times the price.
Possibly the most striking feature of this watch is the lume. The markings are Seiko's "lumibrite", and the quality is outstanding. It is another feature which most reviewers are very impressed with, and easily the best of any watch I own (and there's a few). I think I can say with a degree of certainty that you will not find better lume at anywhere near this price range anywhere else... and possibly not at all!
In summary : A awful lot of watch for the money. A bit unconventional in many ways, and possibly not to everyone's taste in appearance... but it looks far better in the flesh than in photos I think. It is really well built, represents great value for money, is a bit of a legend in certain circles, and I would recommend it as a worthwhile investment for anyone wanting to spend less than £250 on quality automatic diver that should last them many years to come.