Buying a vintage Seiko 7002 diver: quick things to look out for
The Seiko 7002 and SKX are what I would term pseudo-vintage divers. While the SKX can still be bought new, both models have their origins in the 1980s and you’ll be able to find examples with more than a fair amount of patina.
But unlike their predecessors from the 60s and 70s, the SKX and 7002 divers weren't famous for their handsome good looks (although they had it in plenty), which left a lot of them to the creativity of modifiers (or modders), especially the Seiko 7002 models.
A quick search on the net will net you (har har) a plethora of non-original examples of the Seiko 7002 watches. The extent of modding can vary - from a simple bezel change to an all out homage for something else that's famous.
Which makes buying an all-original (parts-wise at least) 7002 that much harder. In my journey as a collector I've only come across a small sampling of originals, and I'm happy to say that I have bought them all.
While this won't be a comprehensive take on the history and different variations of the popular entry-level vintage diver and its technical differences (there's a pretty good article here), it's rather a quick go-to guide if you're looking at one and need something to go by.
Nonetheless, never underestimate the power of a detailed research before you make a decision. My knowledge comes from handling dozens upon dozens of vintage, as well as reading whatever I find about certain watches (and sometimes a bit of a gut feel).
With that, I submit to you, dear reader and lover of vintage Seiko divers, a quick but non-comprehensive reference guide to the Seiko 7002 diver.
Seiko 7002s have a large crown with a coin edge for grip, beveling to a taper at the ends for aesthetics. Fitting snugly between the short crown guards on the case, the crown typically takes about 1.5-2 turns to lock or unlock.
Of some of the 7002s that I have come to own, the crown can take some persuasion to unlock, and when it's free it doesn't really pull out of the movement that much. You're going to have to 'feel' the stem popping out twice to get to time adustment.
You should turn clockwise to adjust the time forward, and anticlockwise to move the date ahead.
Bezel and Rehaut
There are two color variations to the bezel - a deep clear black and a pepsi with the red markings from 12 to 4'O, both in aluminum and sloping inwards towards to the dial in a downward angle. The bezel is thin, and approximately 3mm wide.
On the bezel the 5-minute marks are fat hash markers that stop short of touching the outer edge of the bezel The tens are Arabic numerals, in a bold round font that's approximately 50% the thickness of the large hash markers. The rest of the minute marks are nice round dots, three on each segment and four for the ones adjacent to the pip at 12.
Speaking of the pip, it's nicely placed slightly towards the bottom of the triangle. And speaking of the triangle, here's something you'll want to note. The triangle at 12, and also for the hashes and numerals all have a little overprinting towards the inner edge of the bezel. I'm thinking it's because they were pressed down and this resulted in the overprint effect.
The bezel turns both ways with a soft click and response from the fixed ball bearing that you can kind of feel at 2'O. The bezel is quite thick, with a double line of hobnob knurling for grip. If you look at it from the side you'll also notice that the bottom where it contacts the case isn't exactly flat - there are small grooves that allow it to catch with the ball bearing when you turn.
And don't worry too much about the alignment of the markings on the bezel to the ones on the rehaut. As they say, wabi-sabi.
The rehaut is at a deeper angle than the bezel, giving the watch more depth and dimension with the differing slopes towards the dial.
The 7002 comes with a flat hardlex crystal that's susceptible to scratching. Unlike acrylic, you cannot polish mineral as easily, and those who have tried will probably see a clouding effect on the surface. Also, it's not AR coated (it's a budget watch after all).
Here's where it gets interesting. The Seiko 7002 is perhaps my favorite dial of the Seiko divers. As I explain in my sales posts, there is a certain symmetry that the exclusion of the day window provides.
The 7002 has a modest dial with a base matte color of either black or a grayish blue that appears in the JDM pepsi bezel models. At 12 is a long double triangle, with long rectangular hour indices for the 6 and 9, and the rest in square ones that are approximately half the height of the 6 and 9. An exception is at 3'O, where a simple date window has been cut into to the dial which leaves a sliver of the long index.
At 12 underneath the triangles are the Seiko and Automatic words printed in a dull silver, in upper case. That same silver font is also used at 6 with the 150m and the 17 Jewels (only the m is lower case).
It's a brilliant silver which stands out when you put it under a loupe, and you can also appreciate it as you walk under the sun and happen to look at your watch.
Also at 6 are the text for Water Resist, printed in red. Most watches would have seen them fade to some degree of 'vintage red'.
Stretching from the 8 to 4'o indices are the dial codes, which vary between the different models. What you should look out for is that dull silver color of the font, and also the clarity of the Daini Seikosha logo.
Big broad hands filled with lume are a characteristic of divers, and the 7002 does not disappoint. Both hour and minute hands have rounded corners while the seconds 'lollipop' hand is flat.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this diver is the lume which Seiko used on it. Despite not being as old as other vintage watches, the lume on the 7002 age really quickly, degrading to a dark grey-green tint for some. At first glance the lume will appear to be dirty and moldy even, but it's all part of the charm of the 7002.
On the dial the lume will not cover the entirety of the hour indices, leaving a thin silver border.
Although it's pretty obvious most of the time, what I like to do is put the watch through a UV light to see if the shine is consistent throughout. That tells me that the lume probably is original or period correct.
The lume used for this watch does not last long, usually fading to a dim glow after 5 mins of exposure.
The case is polished to shine on its side and has a lightly brushed finish on the top. What you'll want to look out for is the over polishing. While I have no idea why anyone would want to polish a divers watch, there will be instances where you'll find less than ideal examples.
I like the cornering on the crown guards, there are lines there that will disappear with polishing, and you might want to look out for those if you're picky.
Seiko 7002 Automatic Diver
2 variants: black or pepsi bezel (JDM pepsis have a dial with a bluish tint
Movement: Seiko 7S26 (no hack, no handwind)
Case Size: 41mm
Lug Width: 22mm
With that I hope you will have deeper understanding of the watch, and will go into decisions with a little more info. The Seiko 7002 is an excellent vintage diver that will no doubt surprise you with its wearability and charm.