- Date acquired: Sep 12 2003
- Production date: Jan 2003
- Source: Spark Time Trading, Pertama Complex
- Price paid: MYR480 (USD143)
- Status: In production
The SKX779K, or affectionately known as the “Black Monster" by Seiko watch collectors around the world is a total departure from the classic Seiko diver lineage inherited by the 7s26-0020 or the SKX007K model and its siblings. It was first introduced in 2000 but I only caught sight of the watch in 2003 when my watch collecting hobby started.
The SKX779K was my first automatic watch since 1976 and it’s also my first Seiko diver’s watch. Powered by the tried-and-proven 7s26 caliber, it has gained popularity amongst Japanese dive watch enthusiasts and enjoys brisk sales to this day.
The Black Monster or “BM" for short, triggered my love for divers and mechanical watches. When I bought it, I had no idea that I would soon be collecting diver’s watches even though I seldom go to the sea for a swim and let alone, scuba dive.
What attracted me in the first place was the extraordinary lume that the BM uses. Up until the arrival of this watch, the timepiece with the brightest lume I had was my Seiko SDWF81P “Flightmaster" chronograph. I first read about this watch on John Davis’ excellent SKX779 review of his BM and the more I read it, the more intrigued I became about this dive watch.
This was the exact picture that led me in desperate search for the Black Monster. Really!
Timefactors.com gave pretty much attention to the SKX779K and heralded it as a watch with the brightest lume they’ve ever seen. (I thought that’ was a great unique selling point!)
I looked for more photos of this watch and found one that really looked delicious to me (it’s not that I’m able to devour horologic items).
These excellent photos found in the Seiko Diver’s Reference by Kevin Chan really nailed it in for me and I was captivated. I just had to find this elusive Black Monster!
I finally managed to locate a SKX779K in a small watch store specializing in dive watches, Spark Trading Sdn Bhd at the Pertama Complex mall that I sometimes hang out during lunchtime.
The sales attendant told me that the Monsters were not officially sold in Malaysia and he obtained his stock through a gray market supplier from Singapore. It didn’t come with the official warranty. Instead, he gave me a 1 year warranty from his store – if anything happened to it he would be happy to exchange it for a new one.
Look and feel
The Monster’s moniker suited this watch. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it design. Purists shunned the BM, saying that it was such an abomination of the Seiko diver’s line. Others welcomed it with open arms and didn’t give much forethought before buying one (or more!)
The scalloped bezel design and case combination was something I had not seen before in a watch. An interesting moment is when the sword-like hands hour and minute hands line up together on the dial. It resembles a rocket ship to many Monster aficionados. The watch itself, on rubber strap is quite light on the wrist.
The caseback is a mixed affair of polished and matte surfaces. Seiko’s famous “tsunami wave" symbol is etched in the middle of the caseback. The screw-in crown is easy to handle, not fiddly at all and screws in quite effortlessly.
I would rate the dial as top notch and the chapter ring is perfect. It’s a bold watch and it’s not something that you see on anyone’s wrist everyday. The bezel is smooth turning and has 120 fine graduations or clicks, with each click representing half a minute.
Probably the highlight of the Monster is the ultra sensitive LumiBrite, the non-radioactive luminous compound developed in conjunction with the Nemoto Corp of Japan. The name LumiBrite itself is patented by Seiko. It doesn’t take much light to excite the BM’s lume and will readily glow for 8 to 10 hours in the dark.
I measured the BM’s dimensions as follows:
- Diameter: 42mm (without crown), 47mm (with crown)
- Lug-to-lug: 48mm
- Thickness: 14mm
- Lug width: 20mm
I later found out by accident, that the ultraviolet (UV) light emitting diode in a cigarette lighter that I had, was the best thing to energize the lume. The LED was meant to check paper money for forged notes but I found a new use for it! With a standard flashlight it would take about 10 to 15 seconds to excite the watch’s lume. With moderately strong UV illumination you need no more than 5 seconds to fully charge the lume! Later on I bought a LED Lenser V8 UV key chain torch just for this purpose.
The LED Lenser wasn’t powerful enough for me and in the end I got myself the superb Inova X-5 five-LED, ultraviolet torch.
Some early photos of my Black Monster
I grew fond of my SKX779K that I often wore it to bed. It was the first automatic watch I’ve had in a long time and I grew to appreciate the smooth sweep of the second hand. The 7s26 movement is fully automatic and there’s nothing that you need to do but to shake the watch a couple of times to get it going.
Setting the time is a breeze but I learned that I have to remember never to set the calendar between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. This is because the calendar change takes place during this period. The mechanism that turns the day and date discs can get misaligned or damaged if I were to manipulate the calendar within this “prohibited zone". (This applies to all analog watches with day/date, whether they are mechanical or quartz).
The watch runs fast out of the box, probably around +20 secs/day. All 7s-caliber Seikos are made this way, probably Seiko thinks it’s better to show up early for an appointment than to be late. From the customer service point of view, perhaps a slow running watch means a defective watch to those accustomed to accurate quartz watches. New 7s-caliber Seikos should ideally be run-in for two or three months before the movement settles in and give you better accuracy.
Some Monster owners have successfully regulated their watches and gotten them to run as good as +5 sec/day or better. Your mileage may vary. Mechanical watches don’t behave like quartz; they tend to run fast off wrist and lose time when worn. Gravity also affects the watch escapement, you’ll find that placing your watch face up, face down, crown up, crown down, etc will yield varying gains in time.
It may also interest you that shaking any mechanical watch violently will cause the movement to speed up, so you may want to be easy with your walking stride. If you wear a mechanical watch that’s fully unwound (the watch had stopped), it’s better to give the watch a good shake for a minute or two before setting the time and wearing it.
Some people like the BM on its high quality 20mm bracelet, others prefer rubber. I had my watch on its original rubber strap until it broke while I was in Saudi Arabia last year, perhaps from the arid dry heat and also the fact the strap was already 4 years old by then.
Since I don’t really like rubber straps, I made a switch to a nice 22mm Morellato Cordura Lorica leather strap. It’s no problem squeezing into the 20mm lugs and the wider band feels better on the wrist than a 20mm one.
Shots of my SKX779K Black Monster on a 6.5″ wrist circumference
- 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, cased in China
The Black Monster still remains as one of my favorite watches to this day. Early Monsters came with the English/Spanish day language while those made from 2004 onwards have English/Roman instead.
Would I buy the SKX779K again? Definitely. It’s a unique tool-like watch and is a well known representative of Seiko’s contemporary diver designs. I liked it a lot that not too long afterwards I bought its other cousin, the SKX781K – the Orange Monster (OM). In my opinion, the BM due to its higher contrast, is easier to read in failing light than the OM.
The best deals you can get are probably from the eBay sellers based in Singapore, namely Pokemonyu and Premierworld. The Seikos sold by these two sellers are the gray market type, without official Seiko warranties or papers. However, the watches sold as are genuine as the ones sold by an authorized Seiko dealer except that you can get them cheaper.
If you prefer a warranty with the watch, other reputable online sellers from the Far East that you can get the Monster from include Wayne’s Watch World, Chronograph.com and Skywatches.
The Black Monster’s popularity caught Seiko by surprise and apart from the Orange Monster (SKX781K), the company had also introduced the:
- Limited Edition Yellow Monster with sapphire crystal (SKZ203K), 300 pieces
- Limited production run Blue Monster (SKZ213K)
- Limited Edition Red Monster (SKZ243K), 1313 pieces
Japan market, PVD “Orange Monster" (SZEN001)
- Japan market, PVD “Black Monster (SZEN002)
What I liked:
- Tough case, durable 7s26 automatic movement
- Very bright and long lasting lume
- 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
- Bezel triangle doesn’t align perfectly at 12 o’clock
- The stainless steel bracelet (just my opinion)
- The original Z-20 rubber strap
|Value for money:
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