For my first post, I shall start off with a watch that is well known to most if not all WIS, the Seiko Orange Monster (SKX 781). A well known review can be found at thepurists.com website here.
Alright, hands up all of the OM owners who actually gone diving with it! And I do not mean desk diving… (tons of hands rises). Alright, now hands up all the OM owners who have gone (wait for it), hiking with it? (all hands remain lowered)…
Yes that’s exactly what I thought. I never went diving with my OM, but I have climbed one of the highest peaks in South East Asia with it. Mount Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia to be exact.
Mt Kota Kinabalu (“KK” from here onwards) lies about 4095m above sea level in the state of Sabah in East Malaysia. In April 2010, my friends and I decide to mount the highest peak in Malaysia. Considering that it was my first hiking trip, I paid special attention to my equipment:
Hiking Boots – Check. North Face.
Backpack – Check. Deuter.
Clothing – Check. Goretex jacket plus some warm clothing.
Torchlight – Check. Maglite.
Gloves – Check. No brand.
Watch – Check. Timex.
Wait a minute! My Timex might serve its function of being a timing partner well when I’m running and swimming, but climbing a mountain? Hmm..i have my doubts about bringing a quartz plastic watch out in the wild (although I need to clarify that while serving my time in the army, I usually wear a g-shock, but that’s a post for another time).
In my time of need, I turned to my daily beater (at that point in time), my Seiko Orange Monster. Durable 7s26 movement, industry-leading lume, stainless steel case, ISO rated for diving (which also meant it meet shock resistance and antimagnetic specifications). I gathered my OM was patiently ticking away under my sleeve at work all this time while waiting for me to go on this very type of adventure.
At that time, my OM was my very first automatic watch, and needless to say my most expensive watch at that moment. I did felt a bit reluctant in exposing it to the wilderness, but something told me it would make it up and back.
Changed it to the Seiko Z22 strap, and it was all ready to go. Needless to say, it survived the trip better than I thought! There was no way to baby the watch on such a trip and it had a few more bumps and scratches after that. As many people will note, such ‘war scars’ only serves to enhance its ‘tool watch’ appeal. The great Lume was also very helpful during the night portion of the climb up to the summit which is usually done at 3am, so that all the climbers can catch the sun rise at 7 am!
Along the way up KK, we can see marker posts to indicate the horizontal distance and the equivalent height above sea level. I made it a point to take a photo of my OM at each marker posts. On the left, the OM is still functioning well at 3137m above sea level!
My respect for Seiko diving watches grew in heaps after my hiking trip. Affordable, durable and easily replaceable. These are just some words that comes to mind if I’m ever pressed to describe the attributes of the OM.
Alas, for various reasons, I sold my OM to get a Black Monster (SKX779), but I eventually sold off my BM as well. I sold my OM to a nice gentleman who is taking his advanced diving certification, and I am glad that my OM will be used for its intended purpose. My BM is sold to another gentleman who will be using it to do some modifications. Sounds interesting, I wonder what the outcome will be like.
Anyway, from various blogs, I understood that the new monsters, powered by a new movement, 4R36, had been launched here in Singapore. Looks like the SKX monsters, together with the 7S26 movements, might have reached the end of their shelf life. The SKX monsters were launched in 2000, and to date have serve the community faithfully for well over 10 years .
So for all Seiko/dive watch lovers out there, if you do not already have the original SKX monsters, now might be a good time to get one! They will be a classic alongside the SKX 007 divers!