2019 just flew past and I only wrote a grand total of 5 articles last year! I need to buck up for this year.
I guess the number of articles have dwindled somewhat as I have gradually been losing interest in Seiko as the value proposition of their new offerings steadily decrease with hardly any genuine innovation in terms of movement architecture (I don’t count an increase in the power reserve to be particularly innovative, I’m thinking more in terms of a brand new movement, like the heydays of the 1960s and 1970s and the 6L is hardly a new movement) and the ever increasing tendency for Seiko to release new colorways of the same old popular models.
As such, today I should talk about a little known Seiko diver that came out in the 2007 – 2009 period with its own quirky little design. The SKZ family of divers came out for a really short period of time and can be considered to be an early part of the Tuna family given its protective plastic casing. However, it was nicknamed the Frankenmonster after Frankenstein due to the huge screws that hold the casing to the watch body, similar to the screws holding Frankenstein together.
The SKZ divers consisted of a fair range of models including the orange (SKZ249), yellow (SKZ251), blue (SKZ245) and black dial (SKZ253)and an all black model (SKZ 255, not pictured above but can be seen below). Note all pictures below are from the same wristsushi link above except for the all black model which is from Yeoman.
I was not actively looking for these babies, but was rather looking out for a generation 1 Orange/Black monster when one Frankenmonster came across my way and I decided to give it a go.
The watch is enormous being around 50mm in diameter, but it wears well because the lug to lug is manageable at 45mm. The dial diameter is only 30mm across, so the bulk is really contributed by the bezel and the cage.
The dial is multi-layered, with a sloping minute chapter ring, leading down to a ring where the lume are applied at each 5 minute marker mark, and then finally steps down to the Tapisserie dial itself, which is reflective and consists of many small squares/pyramids repeating itself. This is similar to the dial pattern used by Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches and as far as I am aware, the only Seiko watch range with this dial pattern. The tapisserie pattern however, seems shallower and less obvious compared to the Royal Oak’s.
You can see the red tipped seconds hand reflected in the Tapisserie dial at the nine o’clock position. The hour and minute hands are normal sword designs with a silver border and black centers with no counterweight. The Day and Date wheel are in the usual 3 o’clock position in a cutout, but unframed window.
All the dial markings are printed very neatly with no sign of bleeding despite them being printed on an uneven dial.
The Franken easily has the largest crown of all my Seiko watches. Ironically, it comes with a signed superman “5” logo, despite Seiko regularly omitting signed crowns on their higher end dive watches like the Sumo. The large crown, thankfully, resides at the 4 o’clock position and prevents it from digging into one’s wrist.
The bezel is PVDed black with a high ridged side to assist gripping. The typical cardinal markers and minute markers are painted in white with longer dash marks for 1-20 minutes, and dots for the remaining minutes.
Unlike a watch of its price, Seiko did actually provided it with some sort of finishing. The lugs are are vertically brushed on the top and front while being highly polished on the side and radially polished on the underside.
The caseback has the usual Tsunami logo for a Seiko dive watch and the other typical markings including a line of text that says “ST. STEEL+PLASTICS”. This represents that the cage is made out of plastic, rather than ceramic, metal or rubber, which some of the latter models have.
Unfortunately this also means that the plastic parts do not last long and will eventually break down over prolonged use, especially if it was exposed to the elements. See the pictures above and this link from Yeoman for an example of another Seiko with a similar plastic cage.
Lume, as usual, is awesome. Not as good as the generation 1 monsters, but way better than anything the Swiss can come up with.
To conclude, in my humble opinion these are a cut above the iconic generation 1 monsters in quality of construction, while retaining a very unique design all of its own. However, the usage of a plastic cage is its Achilles heel as this simply means that there will be fewer and fewer models surviving intact as time passes.
Perhaps its a sign that I’m growing long in the tooth, as I turn nostalgic and seek out all these gems from when I first started collecting Seikos and turn up my nose at Seiko’s overpriced offerings these days.