Seiko Kinetic SKA013P diver review

SKA013P

Watch History

 

  • Date acquired: December 20th 2004
  • Production Date: July 2002
  • Source: Emotus Time Culture, Suria KLCC
  • Price paid: MYR700 (USD212)
  • Status: Discontinued in some markets

    Background

    This watch happens to be my first Seiko Kinetic and it took me over a year to decide whether I wanted to try one for curiosity’s sake. Coming from a long-running background of owning quartz and automatic Seikos, I had to do much research  on Kinetic watches before contemplating this revolutionary hybrid  movement.

    Prior to my purchase of this timepiece, I wasn’t particularly convinced if a Kinetic would make a wise "investment". It was probably due advice from one of the watch dealers that I had spoken to, who said that he had heard of Kinetic owner complaints through his network of Seiko watch dealers. Due to this, he pointed out that he sold only quartz or automatic watches in his store, never Kinetics.

    I had to find out why he wasn’t keen on selling Kinetics so I turned to the good old Internet for more information. It turned out that there were articles from dissatisfied Kinetic owners who highlighted the problems that plagued their watches.

    Well, there was some truth in this as far as the early Kinetic watches were concerned. Seiko had since corrected their teething problems and their Kinetic models constitute their bread-and-butter, mid-priced watches.

    I remember looking at a nice Pepsi bezeled, SKA051P Kinetic diver at a watch store at the Pertama Complex in Kuala Lumpur some years ago. It was about closing time and my friend and I asked to take a peek at the watch. At the time I wasn’t particularly convinced if Kinetics were my cup of tea but the persuasive sales assistant did throw in a one-time offer of RM500 (USD151) for the watch.

    Well, the watch was soon forgotten and I focused on other models that interested me.

    It wasn’t until sometime in July 2004 when I visited an upscale watch store called Emotus Time Culture in the prestigious Suria KLCC shopping mall and I saw the SKA051P and its black counterpart, the SKA013P. They were both NOS models and they were also barely ticking in the display case. Watch store owners usually don’t bother keeping their unsold Kinetic models running as it’s an arduous task to shake all the watches to recharge their internal storage unit.

    I took a sudden interest in these two and spent an hour mulling over which model I should get. My colleague said the black SKA013P is both striking and sedate-looking at the same time (now how does that go?) and it would be a worthy timepiece to wear to the office and for leisure. The Pepsi bezeled SKA051P, well – it looked a bit flashier. 🙂

     

    SKA013 SKA051P

    The SKA013P (left) and the SKA051P (right). Images from Wayne’s Watch World

     

    In the meantime, I conducted my own research on the Internet and found some references to the SKA013P, particularly from the SCWF archives. A few owners had sold their SKA013Ps, citing the squarish lugs as their reasons for not liking the model. I thought they had a valid point as most Seiko divers has traditional rounded lugs instead of wedged ones.

    Times have changed and so did Seiko’s watch styling. These days it’s not uncommon to find Seiko watches with square lugs, so it’s not a big deal now.

     

    Model Lineup

    The SKA013P is based on the 5M62-0A10 Kinetic models, and the movement itself  is a robust and reliable movement since its introduction. Seiko is pretty confident with the 5M62 caliber and continues to make new models with this caliber to this day.

    In my course of research, I discovered that there were other models of varying colors other than the  more common black SKA013P and the blue dialed SKA051P.

     

    SKA013P (black) SKA051P (Pepsi) SKA011P (blue bezel) SKA014P (gold accented) SKA009P (white)

    Stock photos of the complete lineup of the 5M62-0A10 models. Top row: SKA013P, SKA051P, SKA011P.

    Bottom row: SKA014P and SKA009P

     

    Of all the models listed above, the SKA013P and SKA015P are probably the most in abundance. The rarer ones were the discontinued SKA011P (with blue bezel), the SKA014P (blue with gold accent) and perhaps the rarest of all is the white dialed SKA009P.

    The white SKA009P is so rare that a well known SCWF member, Thomas, actually posted numerous want ads in the Seiko & Citizen Trading Forum. He had run out of resources and all the known online sellers told him the SKA009P was no longer in stock. Thomas eventually got his wish fulfilled after several months of waiting but I’m not about to let in on how he managed to acquire one. 🙂

     

     

    IMG_5869_James_Tan (Small)

    Above: A nice pair of SKA051P and SKA013P Kinetic divers. Photo by James Tan

     

    Seiko’s naming convention is usually predictable but not always. For instance the black one is the SKA013P and going by this, the next model in line should logically be the SKA015P but it’s not. In fact, some sellers get confused and mistaken it as the SKA015P.

    I don’t know why Seiko didn’t label the Pepsi-bezeled model as the SKA015P but instead, the SKA051P. Maybe someone in the Seiko marketing department made a typo and hence, it became the SKA051P instead. I wasn’t particularly convinced until I looked it up and sure enough, the correct reference number is SKA051P.

    Of course, stock Seiko catalog photos are usually one-dimensional and unflattering. The actual watches look a lot prettier in actual photos and look best in real life. Here are nice some examples which I have mined from the forum:

     

     

    SKA013P SKA051P

    SKA014P SKA009P

    Clockwise from top: SKA013P, SKA051P, SKA009P and SKA014P. Photographic images courtesy of SCWF members -  James Tan, Badern and Thomas Haller

     

     

    Look and feel

    The SKA013P has a distinct classic and sporty aesthetics, with some design influences from the modern, classic Seiko divers such as the SKX173 automatic diver and perhaps, to a small extent – the grail of Seiko automatic divers – the SBDX001 Marine Master.

    The dial itself is a sight to behold – it’s color is true jet black with a semi-iridescent finish, unlike the SKX007 diver, which is more accurately described as having a very dark charcoal grey dial. This one is really black and no doubt about it. The luminous rectangular index markers are metal-framed, which gives the SKA013P an extra touch of finesse.

    The case has finely polished sides and is matte brushed on the topside of the lugs with an equally plain matte caseback. Nothing fancy with the caseback design though – no Seiko "wave" logo either.

    In my photo below, you can see the reflection of the second hand on the dial.

     

    SKA013P dial

    This picture shows the semi-reflective nature of the wonderfully jet-black dial

     

    I really like the the design of the watch hands – they match the rectangular markers and Seiko did a pretty good job choosing these gladiator sword-like hands. The jet black dial contrasts nicely with white hands and telling the time is effortless even in poor lighting. The center sweep hand is also lumed at the tip and in my watch, hits the index markers accurately about 97% across the dial.

    The SKA013P is a comfortable to wear and the solid linked bracelet is an interesting combination of brushed pieces with a hint of polished strips flanking the center links. The bracelet is medium weighted and doesn’t snag on your wrist hair. One thing that’s sorely missed is the dual push-button clasp that many Seiko enthusiasts prefer. This one comes with a simple, single safety catch flip.

     

     

    SKA013P

    Side profile of the SKA013P. Note the framed index markers and the solid linked bracelet

     

    The uni-directional turning bezel is a smooth action affair, with positive 120 clicks. The bezel is quite thick with vertically knurled edges for easy grip. I would have liked the bezel to be slightly stiffer but maybe it’s just my watch. The 12 o’clock marker is thankfully lumed as with traditional Seiko divers.

    In the lume department, the SKA013P’s dial and hands’ luminosity is slightly above average. Obviously it won’t beat the Monster, Knight or the Sawtooth but telling the time in the dark isn’t too difficult and the lume lasts well into the night.

     

    SKA013P_1575 (Medium)

    Above: A time exposure photograph of my SKA013P showing the luminous properties of the watch

     

    The SKA013P is rated to 100m water resistance and is not an ISO certified diver. That should be fine for swimming pool excursions and shallow snorkeling activities. It’s more accurately described as a sports watch with diver-style looks, like the Seiko SKX031K Submariner. The non-locking crown is closely flanked by a pair of non-obtrusive crown guards. In case you’re wondering what the button at the 2 o’clock position is for, it’s the Power Reserve (PR) indicator button, which I’ll explain next.

     

     

    Power Reserve

    The PR button is standard with all Seiko Kinetics with the 5M-series caliber. It’s not a very accurate means of gauging the reserve power of its internal rechargeable lithium ion cell (not to be confused with a capacitor). Seiko’s recommended procedure to check the remaining power is to wait for the second hand to point to 12 o’clock and push the PR button.

    The reserve power is measured by the how far the watch’s second hand moves in an arc. Depending on the amount of remaining power, the second hand will swing to the 5, 10, 20 and 30 second mark. If the watch has between 75%-100% worth of power, the second will swing 180 degrees to the 30-second marker.

    The second hand will freeze momentarily until the time catches up and the hand will resume its normal timekeeping. You can only press the PR button twice until second hand starts ticking

    At full charge, the internal storage cell will power the SKA013P for six months. The diagram below clearly illustrates how to read the watch’s power reserve.

     

    Power Reserve Table

     

     

     

    Dimensions

    Here are my measurements of the Seiko SKA013P:

    • Diameter: 41mm (without crown), 42.5mm (with crown)
    • Lug-to-lug: 51mm
    • Thickness: 12mm
    • Lug width: 20mm
    • Bracelet width: 22mm, tapering to 18mm at clasp

     

    Here are some wrist shots of my watch:

     

    SKA013P_3155 (Medium) SKA013P_2925 (Medium)

    SKA013P_3157 (Medium) SKA013P_3153 (Medium)

     

    Specifications

    • Caliber: 5M62A, 6 jewels
    • Caseback type: 5M62-0A10
    • Movement: Kinetic
    • Loss/gain: Less than 15 sec/month
    • Duration of charge: Approximately 6 months
    • Battery type: Maxell TC920S rechargeable lithium ion
    • Calendar: Date only 
    • Construction: Stainless steel
    • Crystal: Hardlex glass, flat profile
    • Crown: Non-screw in type
    • Bezel: Unidirectional, 120-click graduations 
    • W.R. rating: 100m
    • Luminous material: LumiBrite™
    • Movement Japan, cased in Singapore

     

    Conclusion

    The SKA013P makes a fine candidate as your first Kinetic watch if you happen to like the diver’s style look. What Seiko needs is an automatic counterpart to this fine looking watch, as what they have done to the SMY089P Black Knight (it’s offered in quartz version too).

    This watch is likely to be discontinued in Asia but has recently appeared for the North American market under the SKA299 model designation. Both the SKA013P and the SKA299 are essentially similar watches.

    Seiko USA usually gives a different number to distinguish the model from parallel imports from Asia. In addition, Seiko USA also has its own price structure (it’s usually higher than the rest of the world) but in return offers a 3-year limited warranty. As far as I know, only watches sold through Seiko USA’s authorized dealers (not parallel imports) are given a three-year warranty. For other parts of the world, you get only a 1-year guarantee.

     

    What I liked:

    • High quality jet black dial with framed rectangular indices
    • Well finished, solid linked Oyster-like bracelet
    • Smooth action bezel with attractive pronounced 15-minute markings
    • Sporty and elegant styling, suitable for formal and casual wear
    • Easy-to-read date calendar
    • Kinetic 5M62 movement
    • Satisfactory lume
    • Reasonably priced

     

    What I didn’t care for:

    • Simple flick lock on bracelet clasp
    • Bezel could have been slightly stiffer
    • Lack of a screw-in crown
    • Plain caseback
    • 20mm lugs
    • Kinetics need constant wearing to prevent depletion of charge

     

    Quartzimodo’s Rating

      Price:  3-half-star
      Looks:  4-star
      Build quality:  4-star
      Features:   3-half-star  
      Value for money:  4-star
      Overall:  4-star

     

     

     

     

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    Comments

    Great review, as usual, Quartzimodo.

    I have one, and it has been worn at least half of every day since two months into 2001 and is still going strong.

    I absolutely love it and had just about managed to get the other colours out of my head, but now I’ll have to re-arrange my wish list yet again! 😉

    Thanks for the comments, Peter! I didn’t know you had an SKA013P too! I know that Badern, James Tan and Thomas Haller have this under-rated model.

    My SKA013P’s charge is getting really low due to neglect and I think you have a good idea there, wearing the watch for half a day every day. The thought of buying a Kinetic charger did cross my mind but I’m not sure if it’s worth it as I only have three Kinetics.

    It took me three trips to the watch store before I made up my mind to buy this watch and never regretted the purchase! 😉

    Quartzimodo

    Great review, very well done. As a rather big fan of Kinetic Divers, I feel that these watches are to often ignored. I own two of the styles, a 51P as well as the 14P and both get quite a bit of wrist time. I’ve also collected a number of other Kinetic Divers from the currently popular SKA series (all 3 BFK’s and all the Boss series)to the smaller sports 150’s and some other 200’s. all are superbly crafted and a lot of fun to wear.

    Again, from another Kinetic lover, thanks for the great review!

    Hi George,

    Thanks for your comments. IMO, the SKA-series watches make great “starter kit” Kinetics as they are both affordable and classy looking.

    They were also underrated when they first came out a few years ago (the SKA013P for example, was one of the first to have squarish lugs) and I observed that the owners who sold them off did not see the positive qualities of this watch.

    If you have the older Sports 150s then you have the 5M23 based Kinetics – those are rare as hens’ teeth. 🙂

    cheers!

    Quartzimodo

    Hi Quartzimodo, I actually have 14 Kinetic Divers as of last count, two being the fairly rare Pipin Fin Divers, one with beautiful tropic water blue dial and the other the more normal black dial which is currently in for restoration with Bob Thayer. Also happen to be wearing a Sport 150 Kinetic today, which has been retrofitted with the li-ion battery in place of the old (dying) capacitor, and yes it and its mate 150 are both the old 5M23 version, I also have an odd 50m diver I got from a friend (has a 24 hour beze) which is also the 5M23, weith see-through back. I’m still on the lookout for a yellow dialed Pipin Fin Diver and the elusive Grey/silver dialed version. Great watches those Kinetics!!

    Cheers!

    Wow George,

    You’re currently the Kinetic King @ SCWF, my friend! With that many Kinetics I’m sure you have the YT02A Kinetic charger. 🙂

    I would have preferred the elusive blue 5M45 Stingray diver over the Pipin (yellow isn’t my favorite color) and they’re both hard to find and expensive.

    My watchmaker has one 5M45 Pipin (gold plated and Titanium) for sale, no takers so far. I was thinking of advertising it in the SCTF.

    cheers,

    Q.

    Hi Q, well I guess I just got intrigued by the Kinetic divers and didn’t know when to stop! Which Ti does your watchmaker have? I’m also looking for the “Grey Ghost” Kinetic diver, which is one of the Ti series.

    The true Pipin divers are all fairly rare and I’ve seen one NOS go into the thousand $+ range. It was complete with box, papers, both straps, compass etc. Would sure love to be able to gte one like that – but way out of my price range! I’m wearing my blue dial Pipin Fin Diver today, just love the way light plays on the dial.

    Again, my thanks for your great review, very well done!

    Cheers, and best wishes,

    George

    […] is certainly no hair puller. Thankfully Seiko didn’t skimp on the clasp (like they did with the SKA013P Kinetic  and SKX007 diver bracelets) and it’s the kind that everyone likes – the triple […]

    great enlightening review,
    i have seen the black one at a pawnshop in bkk,
    it even had the day displayed next to the date. it is a kinetic just like the one on this pages, no mention of seiko 5,
    do you know of any models like this?
    they also had the blue pepsi one too, !!!!
    greetz
    frisse82

    Hi Frisse,

    If the Kinetic Seiko diver you had seen in Bangkok had a day window it has to be either a SMY or a SKJ-series watch. I’m not sure what you meant by “no mention of Seiko 5” but I think you’re confused between Kinetics and automatics. Seiko 5s (including the Seiko 5 divers) are automatic watches, not Kinetic.

    regards,

    Quartzimodo

    Congratulations on your excellent coverage of the Seiko kinetic system.
    I have tried to find the expected battery lifespan of movements with the Maxell 920 cell (I personally have a SKA347 with the 5M62 Calibre) but have not found a definitive answer. According to a Wikipedia article (no references) the Li battery retains 80% capacity at 20 years. Another source states 10 years…so whats the correct figure???

    Mahmud.

    Hi Mahmud,

    Excellent question.

    All LiOn rechargeable batteries have a self-discharge rate between 4-6 percent monthly when not used and stored at room temperature. Lithium-ion batteries are not to be confused with lithium batteries, which are the disposable type. Lithium batteries indeed have a very long shelf life (i.e., when not used in a device) of 10 years and above, compared to alkalines, which have a mean storage life of 5 years.

    The Lithium-ion cell in your watch is unfortunately not infallible to aging, as with the LiOn batteries found in your digital camera, cellphone, PDA or laptop. It is difficult to predict the service life – again, not to be confused with storage or shelf life of the model 920 cell (Panasonic and Renata also manufacture the same rechargeable LiOn cells, not just Maxell) as there are so many variables involved.

    The problem is that all rechargeable batteries, whether Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or lithium ion start to deteriorate when they leave the production lines. By the time they are finally purchased by you and used, anything between several weeks to several months would have passed. You won’t know how old the “new” rechargeable batteries are at the watchmaker’s or convenience store unless you can decipher the manufacturing code on the blister packaging.

    People often buy spare LiOn batteries for their digicams and cellphones if they are heavy users. I’m an avid photographer myself and I ensure that all my digital cameras have at least one backup battery, or one spare set of batteries. However, laptop owners seldom get spare LiOn batteries for their laptops because most of them have easy access to AC power sources. Laptop batteries are also rather expensive and they’re bulky and heavy to carry along.

    For Kinetic watches, it doesn’t make sense to buy spare LiOn cells because the watch is constantly recharging the cell as you wear it. That day will come when you’ll eventually have to replace the LiOn cell in your watch, but whether it will be three or eight years later nobody knows for sure. 🙁

    cheers,

    Quartzimodo

    Citizen claims (on their web site) that the battery used in their current Eco-Drive models is expected to have 80% of the charge capacity left in 20 years. Even if the Seiko Kinetics manage to have 50% capacity in 20 years, that is long enough; probably the mechanical parts have worn out before that time.
    Of course, it might be that Citizen uses newer or more advanced technology.

    Citizen documentation:
    “Life of Power Cell. Expected life is approximately 18-20 years.”

    Hi Johan,

    “18 to 20 years” is a pretty tall order for any rechargeable lithium ion cell – assuming that’s what Citizen uses for its Eco Drives. I’ve read discussions about the life span of the Eco Drive. What was generally agreed was it’s the solar cells that are able survive up to 20 years. That made more sense to me. Today’s battery technology has not reached the point where rechargeable LiOn battery can go up to 10 years, let alone two decades.

    Granted, high drain devices like laptops, cellphones and digital cameras don’t have LiOn batteries that keep 100% charge after just 2 years. AFAIK all rechargeable batteries start aging as they leave the factory. Perhaps Citizen defined the solar panels as “power cells” as they are in fact, power generating cells. Nobody has owned a Citizen Eco Drive for more than 15 years to testify.

    Solar powered watches are much more efficient in keeping their LiOn cells charged compared to Kinetics. It takes a LOT of effort to fully charge a Seiko Kinetic, especially those that are worn sparingly. My oldest Eco Drive is a Citizen 4×4, manufactured in 2000. That makes the built-in cell ten years but I have no way of telling how much wear and tear the cell has undergone. There is no power indicating mechanism in the watch (unlike Seiko’s 3M and 5M-caliber Kinetics) therefore time will tell when my Citizen 4×4 quits working.

    My E210 caliber Citizen chronographs have real time power gauges and they’re both four years old. It’s easy to tell when it’s time to top off the charge. All my Kinetics have stopped working at some point and I won’t bother with replacing their LiOn cells until they refuse to run at all.

    Quartzimodo

    My wife and I each have a Seiko Kinetic watch purchased in 1994. Mine is a 5M542-0A30 and goes perfectly. I had a capacitor problem several years ago which Seiko replaced without charge and since then it has only been off my wrist at night. My wife’s watch is a 3M22-0B00 and it has had the capacitor replaced once and now has failed again. I have charged it up with my estimate of 20,000 shakes and it shows full charge but only goes for 3 or 4 hours. Is it possible to fit a Lithium ion battery to this watch? Is that the best option or should we try another capacitor? If a battery can be fitted, what is the name of such a battery?

    Hi John,

    I suppose it’s possible to replace the capacitor in your wife’s Kinetic to that of the Maxell TC-920S rechargeable lithium ion. You said that her watch has had its capacitor replaced, but there’s also a chance that the capacitor was from old stock, probably suffering from internal leakage right from the beginning. Then again, her watch may have a faulty charging circuit which prevents the capacitor from being charged to its maximum capacity. If this is so, switching to the rechargeable LiOn cell will not help.

    Think of this like a car with a faulty alternator. No matter how many times you replace the car battery, it will never be fully charged. Therefore, have your wife’s Kinetic inspected at an authorized Seiko service center first. There’s also the probable issue of the 3M22’s charging circuit being unable to produce enough power to fully charge the LiOn cell as it was originally designed to charge a low capacity capacitor. Returning to the car analogy, it’s like upsizing a car battery to a large capacity 120AH battery when the alternator is rated to just 35 Amps.

    hope this helps,

    Quartzimodo Admin.

    Thanks very much. Most helpful advice. I’ll get it checked out.

    Hello, anyone own or seen a Seiko Ventura style kinetic watch? I recently bought one on Ebay. The watch triangular shape looks just like the Hamilton Ventura, quite nice. It’s a 5M62, 100m waterproof. I searched the internet for this watch and only seen it on ebay. Seiko’s webpage does not list this model. It looks authentic though.

    I sought your advise on 9 July 2010. I had my wife’s capacitor replaced and the watch is going OK. Mine suddenly started losing time and was not holding the charge so I am having it repaired. With the two watches and us not being so active now I have decided to purchase a Kinetic Charger from the UK. Have you any advice on how long I should charge the watches and how often? Thanks

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