This yellow faced Seiko divers’ watch actually took quite some time for me to decide. Yellow is not my favorite color in a watch (orange is more acceptable) and I think most yellow dials are hard to read. It’s neither white nor orange. It’s probably an in-between hue. Perhaps the most positive point of a yellow colored watch is that it’s very unique and striking on the wrist.
It’s not a popular color for a watch and that’s probably why one seldom sees yellow dialed watches in the stores or on people’s wrists. I was considering the black SKX173 7s26 diver but I already own two SKX007J divers. The SKX173, apart from its rectangular index markers and the lumed ball on the tip of the sweep second hand, didn’t offer much difference from the classic SKX007 divers.
What made me eventually choose the SKXA35?
Well, after getting my orange dialed SKX011J, I was considering a 7s26-002x diver that wasn’t available in SE Asia. That left me with either the black dialed SKX173 or the citrus hued SKXA35. Most of my watches are black anyway and I thought if I could choose only one, it would be a model that is more special of the two.
Since I didn’t have any yellow colored watch in my collection, I thought the SKXA35 would be the best choice. The trouble is that I could only purchase brand new this from the USA or a used one from owners who are scattered across the globe. If they’re willing to part with theirs, in the first place. 😉
I had collected lots of photos of the SKXA35 and thought finally it’s time to get one. The problem is the finding source at the price that I wanted. The SKXA35 and its black sibling, the SKX173 are in fact, native to the North American market and perhaps Canada. Neither model is sold anywhere else in the world. You can’t find this watch from the well known grey market sellers based in Singapore, such as Pokemonyu and Premierworld.
These two Seiko divers are unique only to North America – the SKXA35 (left) and the SKX173 (right)
I browsed for the SKXA35 and found out that this watch’s retail price was not less than USD200 in the U.S. That’s pretty pricey for me, considering that it’s just another variation of the classic 7s26 diver – and on rubber strap too.
Seiko USA is the official distributor for the SKXA35 and SKX173 divers and it has its own pricing policy. Of course, every Seiko watch sold through Seiko USA’s authorized dealers come with a standard 3-year warranty, which is not offered elsewhere in the world – not even by Seiko Japan!
Warranty is usually an expense to the manufacturer therefore the total price of this watch includes the cost of the 3-year warranty. Which probably explains the high retail price and also perhaps the fact that the United States enjoys one of the highest income per capita in the world.
Some things that I’ve learned about North American market Seiko diver models are:
They don’t have an alphabet suffix in their reference numbers, e.g. "K" as in SKX009K or "J" as in SKX007J
The caseback code ends with an "8" or "9" instead of the usual "0"
They come with a standard 3-year warranty from Seiko USA
They are priced higher than comparable Seiko models sold in SE Asia
They have the country of manufacture stamped on the dial and caseback (as per FTC regulations)
The SKXA35 doesn’t have a "K" or "J" in its model number simply because there’s only one regional market for it – North America and nowhere else. It’s not like for instance, the SKX007 which are available in "K" and "J" versions – "K" for the world market and "J" specifically for the Arabic speaking, Middle East countries. Therefore technically there’s no such thing as an "SKXA35K" – it’s just SKXA35.
The U.S.’ Federal Trade Commission also has very strict labeling requirements for imported goods which explains that on every SKXA35 (or SKX173 for that matter), you’ll see the "Mov’t Singapore" or "Mov’t Malaysia" on the dial and caseback.
A caseback shot of my SKXA35. Note the stamped marking "Movement Malaysia"
In contrast, you will not see the country label on "K" versions of 7s-caliber divers like the SKX007K(including Seiko 5s). There’s just the caliber and the dial code and nothing else. Similarly, on reverse side of the watch, the caseback has no mention of the country of manufacture.
Of worthy mention is the caseback number of the SKXA35 and SKX173. Here’s how to decipher the codes for the 7s26-002x divers:
Caseback code (last digit)
Where the movement assembly is made
Where the watch is cased (final assembly)
Example Seiko models
Malaysia or Singapore
Contrary to popular belief, the SKXA35 and SKX173s are not made in Singapore or Malaysia. Only their automatic movements are assembled in these two neighboring South East Asian countries. The completed movements are then shipped to Seiko’s plant in Hong Kong (China) for the final assembly and encasement.
The indicated country on the dial and watch caseback (e.g. "Mov’t Singapore") just denotes the country where the movement was made, not where the watch was cased and shipped from.
Seiko had been producing 7s-caliber movements at its Singapore production facility since the mid 1980s. It wasn’t until late 2006 when it shifted production to Malaysia, presumably to reduce labor costs. The good news is that Malaysia-made movements are of the 7s26B variant, which is reputed to be slightly more accurate than its long-running predecessor, the 7s26A.
Look and feel
The SKXA35 wears and feels like any other 7s26-002x divers that I own. That’s hardly surprising as it’s of the same weight and form factor as the rest of the bunch – SKX007, SKX009, SKXA55, SKX011J, etc.
Like all SKXA35s, mine came with a straight vent, 22mm rubber band. The flat vent strap is somewhat softer and more comfortable than the curved Z-22 model that is fitted to SKX007s. In fact, many Seiko 7s26-002x prefer the flat vent strap to the curved one.
The Seiko presentation box and its precious content when I received it directly from Seattle.
The SKXA35 comes in a hard cardboard presentation box, which is not the kind that you get in SE Asia. I think this box type is unique to Seikos sold in the U.S. In Asia excluding Japan, Seiko waches (other than Seiko 5s) usually come with the see-through plastic eggshell shaped storage box.
The cardboard box comes with a luxurious watch pillow, perfect for taking photos of your Seiko. Unfortunately it’s rather large and takes up more space in my drawer than the plastic version.
For those who love Seiko trivia, the cardboard box is code-named ECMA9J while the polystyrene box has the reference code ECM62H/J.
This is one of the very few wrist shots of my SKXA35 on its factory rubber strap.
I’m strictly a "desk diver" and therefore I feel a diver’s watch looks better on a bracelet or an aftermarket leather strap than rubber. Of course, if I decide to try a hand at scuba diving, I’ll replace my SKXA35 with its factory rubber strap. 🙂
The luminous material of the SKXA35 is on par with my other 7s26-0020 divers. Due to the bright yellow dial, when the lume is fully charged the dial appears brighter than my SKX007J. It won’t beat the fierce glow of the Monster or Sawtooth but the lume is bright enough to partially illuminate the dial in total darkness.
I also like the the fact that the lumed ball is at the tip of the sweep second hand like my 7002-700A and 6309-7040 divers.
A borrowed lume photo of an SKXA35 showing its brightly lit dial and hands
Customizing the SKXA35
There’s always room for improvement for this affectionately nicknamed "Bumble Bee" diver. Some owners aren’t content with its original looks and went ahead to modify their SKXA35s. Here are a few interesting examples. Some mods are subtle and some are pretty radical. 🙂
(All photos belong to their respective copyright owners).
The measurements of the SKXA35 are as follows:
Diameter: 42 mm (w/o crown), 45 mm (w/crown)
Lug-to-lug: 45.5 mm
Thickness: 12.7 mm
Lug width: 22 mm
Caliber: 7s26B, 21 jewels (7s26B from Oct 2006 onwards)
Caseback type: 7s26-0028
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 (Eng/Spanish)
Crown: Screw-in type
Construction: Stainless steel
Crystal: Hardlex glass, flat profile
Bezel: Unidirectional, 120 graduations
W.R. rating: 200m, ISO certified
Luminous material: LumiBrite™
Movement Malaysia, cased in China
As usual, here are some wrist shots of my watch. The strap used is a 22mm brown Morellato leather strap. I colored the originally white stitching with a phosphorescent yellow highlighter to match the yellow dial. What do you know? It glows when ultraviolet light illuminates the strap stitching! 🙂
Russ Murray, whose endless postings of his SKXA35 pictures prompted me to decide to get one. 🙂
Doug Jacobs of Seattle, WA who selflessly went through the trouble to buy this beautiful diver for me from the Seiko Company Store, carefully packed and shipped the watch to me. Oh, he got one for himself too! 🙂
This watch is an acquired taste for me. I don’t wear it often enough but I do make a point to strap on my SKXA35 when I have a yellow T-shirt on. It’s a very unique watch and I get a kick showing this citrus diver to the local Seiko store owners who have never seen an SKXA35 before.
The most interesting part is when my watchmaker inspected my watch a jeweler’s loupe and he couldn’t believe when he saw the "Mov’t Malaysia" markings on the dial. It’s not surprising that most Seiko authorized dealers never bother to learn more about the watches that they sell. I guess for them daily sales comes first, knowledge of their Seiko watches is an optional thing.
My SKXA35 will definitely be a permanent part of my collection and I wouldn’t be selling this one for sure. 🙂
What I liked:
Funky yellow dialed diver which is not sold in SE Asia or any other part of the world
Decent luminous dial and hands
Smooth action bezel with distinctive clicks
Looks good in various strap options
Availability of aftermarket custom parts
What I didn’t care for:
Crown is a bit difficult to screw-in
Low contrast dial makes time telling a bit difficult in poor lighting
Needs black framed hands instead of the chromed look for better contrast
Black background calendar would be a better option
Standard lume as with the other 7s26-002x divers
No bracelet option available, must be purchased separately