- Date acquired: Dec 26 2003
- Production date: 2003
- Source: Spark Time Trading, Pertama Complex
- Price paid: MYR480 (USD143)
Status: In production
The SKX781K or fondly known as the "Orange Monster" amongst Seiko fans, was one of the watches that I found simply irresistible. Barely three months after owning the SKX779K Black Monster in late 2003, I finally saw one in person at a Mid Valley Mega Mall watch store. Monsters were not formally introduced in Malaysia at the time and I’m sure the one I saw was a grey market Seiko, most probably brought in from Singapore.
It sure was a very sharp looking diver’s watch and it looked very attractive hanging on a wooden toolkit-like board serving as the watch display. I was wearing my Black Monster at the time and couldn’t help comparing the Orange Monster (OM) with my beloved timepiece. Just sixty seconds into ogling at this tangerine beauty, I knew this watch was going to join my growing Seiko collection! 🙂
The SKX781K is more than just a dial color variation – its cosmetic differences from the Black Monster were more than enough to persuade me to buy one. For one thing, the SKX781K sported black framed hands, which Seiko conveniently ported from their discontinued SLR003P Perpetual Calendar (8F35) diver’s watch.
For the North American market, the OM is also known as the SKXA45 to distinguish it from parallel imports from the Far East. The difference between the SKXA45 and SKX781K is in the tiny dial identifier markings. To comply with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s labeling laws, the SKXA45 has the additional text "Mov’t Singapore" and recently, "Mov’t Malaysia".
Price wise, the SKXA45 is sold at slightly higher prices than the international market SKX781K. This probably due to the fact that Seiko USA has a different pricing policy and their inclusion of a 3-year warranty on its products. Warranty is not exactly free – therefore you can expect to pay some premium over the standard 1-year warranty for Seikos sold elsewhere in the world.
I’m not sure when the SKX781K first appeared into the market (the SKX779K Black Monster reportedly came out in 2000) – it could have been released simultaneously with the BM or a bit later.
The other discerning feature is the use of a white background calendar, with the Saturday day of week in bright blue. I felt it was rather special as I hadn’t owned a Seiko with a white calendar display before.
The SLR003P Perpetual Calendar (left) from where the SKX781K got its hands from. It is generally believed that the Monsters evolved from the SLR001/003 models.
At the time I felt that orange was a rather unorthodox color for a watch. All my timepieces have black, blue or white dials. An orange watch? Oh, why not…
I decided to revisit the same watch store where I got my Black Monster (BM) from as its prices were significantly cheaper than the one where I saw the SKX781K. Seeing that I was going to be a potential repeat customer, the sales assistant readily agreed to sell me one for the same price I got the BM.
My watch came with the Seiko Z-20 curved vent rubber strap as there was no bracelet option available. I liked how the bright orange dial contrasted with the black rubber strap, with a good dose of chromed stainless steel in between.
Some folks like matching orange straps to go with the dial but I prefer contrast than uniformity. I personally feel that orange straps would make the watch look cheesy like like a toy watch.
Here’s any early photo of my OM next to my BM:
Here’s a tip for keeping your rubber dive strap looking like new. If you’re one of those who like to shower wearing divers on rubber, you’ll notice that soap will gradually make the rubber lose its luster and shine. Moreover, over time the dried soap suds will leave residue and you’ll get ugly white splotches on the rubber surface. It may even accumulate between the narrow bezel marking grooves.
I discovered that the same stuff that keeps automobile dashboard and tires shiny and new does the trick. That’s right folks – silicone spray. A light application of silicone spray will not only restore your rubber strap to its original state but makes it shiny and helps to keep it supple. I’ve also used silicone spray on my car’s radiator hose for years and I’ve never got a case of cracked hoses. 🙂
Be sure to allow the silicone to dry thoroughly before wearing your watch – you don’t want the stuff to wipe off your skin and possibly get contact dermatitis or an allergic reaction. I’ve only used the silicone spray meant for DIY automobile detailing and not the heavy duty type, therefore I dare not advocate the use of the ones for industrial purposes.
When sprayed on the Monster’s bezel, the silicone also enhances the black enamel paint and masks any soap residue that settles between the bezel markings. Wipe off the excess spray from the watch crystal. Make sure not to allow the silicone spray to get between the bezel or the protective shroud. Silicone is a dust attractant and dust will invariably stick to any surface that’s been treated with the stuff.
A little film of silicone on the crystal may help to protect the glass from accidental scratches although I wouldn’t want to test my theory with any of my watches. 🙂
Look and feel
The Orange Monster wears and feels the same as my similarly configured SKX779K. I’ve had both watches on the stock Z-20 rubber and now wear them on 22mm Morellato Cordura Lorica straps. You probably can’t force a 22mm rubber strap into the Monster but the Cordura strap can easily be coaxed into the watch’s 20mm lugs.
I’ve tried a 20mm Cordura on my OM before and rejected it. It’s too thin and wimpy looking for the Monster. The original Z-20 rubber strap flares out before tapering to the buckle – that’s why it looks and wears better than any 20mm leather or nylon strap.
The OM looks good with its original bracelet, rubber strap or countless varieties of aftermarket leather or nylon straps.
The SKX781K is fitted with a slightly domed Hardlex crystal. Some sources say that domed crystals help reduce reflections when worn underwater and also lessens accidental scratches. A very mild curvature also means that the watch face is as easy to view from tilted angles a with completely flat crystals.
Like its black sibling, the lume on the SKX781K’s dial and hands is excellent. It glows very easily in moderate ambient light – there’s no need to expose it to direct sunlight. At night, I use my Inova X5 ultraviolet LED torch to excite the lume and the dial will glow for hours into the night.
The OM’s lume is just as sensitive and bright as its Black Monster cousin.
The SKX781K’s dimensions are the same as any Monster and are as follows:
- Diameter: 42mm (w/o crown), 47mm (w/ crown)
- Lug-to-lug: 48mm
- Thickness: 14mm
- Lug width: 20mm
Customizing the OM
If you’re one of those who like to modify their watches, you’ll be glad to know that the Orange Monster is quite customizable. Although I’ve seen more photos of the Black Monster being modded, the OM can handle anything from subtle modifications to radical makeovers.
Two examples of subtle mods to the OM: Index frames highlighted in orange to match the dial (left). The chapter ring is substituted with that from from the Black Monster (right).
Radical mod galore: A nicely done OM with a Seiko 5 Sports SNZ389J dial (left) and a custom bead blasted SKX781K (right).
- Caliber: 7s26A, 21 jewels
- Caseback type: 7s26-0350
- Movement: Automatic, non-hacking
- Beat rate: 21,600 bph (6 beats/sec)
- Loss/gain: Less than 40 sec/day
- Power reserve: About 42 hours
- Calendar: Day/date, dual language
- Construction: Stainless steel
- Crystal: Hardlex glass, domed profile
- Bezel: Unidirectional, 120 graduations
- W.R. rating: 200m, ISO certified
- Luminous material: LumiBrite™
- Movement Singapore or Malaysia, cased in China
Some additional photos of my SKX781K:
This is one watch that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t sell. While it’s certainly easily replaceable, I just prefer the earlier Monster batches with the English/Spanish date display like mine.
While the Monster is a fresh and bold diver with no design influences from Seiko’s vintage line divers like the SKX007 and its predecessors, I predict that decades from now, the Monster will become a classic in its own right.
If you’re planning to buy an affordable orange colored Seiko diver’s watch, the SKX781K would be a pretty good choice. It’s priced lower than the orange SKX011J, the quartz SHC059P Sawtooth and well below the new SKZ249K.
Highly recommended. 🙂
What I liked:
- Tough case, durable 7s26 automatic movement
- High contrast orange face
- Very bright and long lasting lume
- Smooth turning bezel
- Easy-to-grip knurled screw-in crown
- Good looks (very subjective)
What I didn’t care for:
- Watch still runs a bit fast after 4 years
- Scalloped bezel easily accumulates grit and dust underneath it
- The stainless steel bracelet (just my opinion)
- The original Z-20 rubber strap
|Value for money:|