Another under-appreciated Seiko Diver – Seiko Starfish/Shuriken SKZ279K1

Readers of this blog would know that divers are not my cup of tea, as evidenced by the mere number of articles tagged with the “dive watch” label here in this blog, which is a grand total of 4!

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So I thought it’ll be a good time to throw in yet another diver watch review here to spice things up a little. I did not want to go for the divers that half the world is harkening over, (yes I’m looking at the turtle and samurai re-releases, and also the baby tunas). Those ain’t “edgy” enough for me for the lack of a better term.

There had to be something a little bit more “unique” out there, something a little more “different” from the usual Seiko divers. After a serendipitous sighting of a long discontinued watch on my favourite Seiko blog (Yeomanseiko), and an equally coincidental sighting of the same watch on sale, I had it in my hands. This was one of the rare cases where I did not have to search long for a long discontinued watch.

The watch had a fairly unique nickname. It was called the “Starfish”, just like a certain toy that my wife has an over-the-top irrational liking for. At last count, there are 3 different iterations of it on my bed.

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It was also called the “shuriken”. I prefer this nickname more, as it gives the watch a slightly “dangerous” connotation, worthy to be worn by a man such as myself.

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By now if it’s not apparent why it has such a nickname, one should consider the UNIQUE shape of the bezel. Without a doubt, with such a polarising design, it probably did not gain much traction with watch collectors, thus adding to its scarcity. Well, I’m am always up for a challenge when it comes to hunting rare, unpopular watches!

There were quite a few different variants of the Seiko Shuriken.

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Photo credit: Yeoman SKZ283

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Photo credit: Yeoman SKZ281 (left) SKZ286 (right)

They were introduced in 2010, and discontinued shortly after. They definitely do not have the longevity of the popular SKX nor did they receive a re-interpretation like the Monsters.

As mentioned early, all the stars were aligning for me and I found a NOS version of the dressiest of the range, the white dial, stainless steel SKZ279 with full box and papers.

I use the term “dressy” fairly loosely here because, with a diameter of 43mm (excluding) crown and a thickness of 15mm, it will never fit under a work shirt sleeve.

Dial

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This baby comes with shiny, glossy luminous paint on its hour markers. This is the first time I’ve encountered such “dressy” lume from Seiko. Also note that all the hour markers are individually framed with a dark blue line. The lume is off-white as compared to the stark white dial.

To enhance contrast, the hands, which are likely the same ones found on the monsters, have a more matt lume paint applied. Other than the area set aside for the lume, the hands are entirely black all the way to the pivot point. Only the second hand is lumed at the triangular tip. The second hand adds some sporty vibe by being painted a glossy orange all over.

The “Seiko” branding and the “Automatic” and “Diver’s 200m” text are all printed neatly on the dial with no bleeding. This also applies to the minuscule “7S36” and the case number printed on either side of the 6 o’clock marker.

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Interestingly, Seiko chose to go with a black disk with white day and date, although I would have imagined the inverse colour combination would have worked better in this case. The day and day window is not framed, but it is showcased by a cut-out on the multi-layered dial.

I use the term sandwich dial loosely here because in the conventional usage of the word “sandwich dial”, it means that there is a layer of lume underneath the top dial, with cutouts on the top dial to let the lume shine through (i.e. Panerai). However, in Seiko’s case, there are literally cutouts on the top dial which allows the circular brushed stainless steel disc below to peek through. There’s a chink in Seiko’s armour here, look closely at the edges of the cutout portion in the bottom left quadrant of the photo above and you’ll notice some black spots. I’m not certain if this is residual from the machining process or if Seiko missed out on cleaning it away before assembly.

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The lume is per Seiko’s usual diver standard, but not as strong as that found on the Monsters (but then again, what does?).

A fairly narrow minute marked chapter ring completes the dial.

Case

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In contrast to the curvy case of the MM300 and the angular case of the Shogun/Samurai, I find the case of the Shuriken to be fairly uninspiring, will ill-defined edges and stubby lugs that make it less appealing than it deserves. Perhaps, it might be Seiko’s way of differentiating it from its other cousins.

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Note the circular brushing on the bezel. Please excuse the dust spots. 

The top of the bezel has circular brushing all around with large numerals on the timing bezel, without the customary 0-15mins differentiation markings of most other divers.

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Note the drilled through lug and the brushing on it

Similar to the bezel, the circular brushing continues on the case itself (beneath the bezel) and also on the lugs.

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The sides of the case transit sharply to a high polished surface. There is certainly no zaratsu polishing here, nor should we expect any given its low price point. The high polish is mirrored on the sides of the bezel as well.

 

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Unsigned crown. Once again, please excuse the dust. 

 

The crown is unsigned and grooved to aid in unwinding it. The crown guards are similar to the Seiko turtle’s being an integrated side of the case rather than a distinctive part itself.

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The lump pip on the bezel is well-recessed and well protected. The printing on the bezel is also neat and in line with its price point.

Given the uniqueness of the bezel shape, this necessarily translates to a superb grip and turning action. In fact, the bezel action is probably the best I’ve handled so far, far surpassing many of its peers at a higher price point. I’m curious why Seiko did not use the same ratcheting mechanism for the other Seiko divers that cost much more.

Caseback

The outstanding brushing continues on the back where the circular brushing is found on the main case while the case back has vertical sunburst brushing originating from the middle. This is probably one of the nicest Seiko caseback I have encountered, in terms of brushing patterns. The usual Seiko wave motif is found on the case back, properly confirming this watch’s status as a diver’s watch.

I left the blue sticker there as I got the watch in a NOS status. To prevent scratches on the case back, I removed the original bracelet and used a NATO strap on it instead.

Bracelet

The bracelet is 20mm at the lugs but its otherwise similar to the bracelet that comes with the Monsters. All links are solid with the end links being straight solid end links. We can find the usual stamped, double locking clasp with the diver’s extension here as well.

 

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Photo credit from the Internet

 

This is the first time that I see Seiko providing a straight end link, however, given the narrow lug clearance, there are no unsightly lug gaps once the bracelet is attached. This also means that I have the happy “problem” of being able to use this bracelet for other watches with 20mm lugs.

Conclusion

At at the end of the day, this is not a pretty Seiko watch in the conventional sense of the word. However, it is something that is unique and attention grabbing in its own right. After all, I always consider it my duty to bring rare, unique, unconventional watches to the attention of my readers, and with this Starfish/Shuriken diver, I trust that I have done my part well here.

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