If you're a watch enthusiast, you're certainly aware of how good Orient dive watches are. Unfortunately, most of their models have very modern designs, leaving us retro diver's fans a bit left out.
However, Orient offers one solid option for vintage watch enthusiasts: the SK Diver Retro. This reissue of the iconic dive watch from the 1970s certainly has a distinctive styling that's sure to get noticed, but is it worth the $250+ price tag? Let's find out!
orient sk diver retro
In typical Orient fashion, the case of the SK Diver Retro has a peculiar 41,70mm diameter. This measurement goes to show the change that happened to dive watches between 1970 and today. For instance, the near-42mm case was considered big & bulky back then, but it is now considered a small case for a diving piece.
If you have small wrists, you shouldn't write off the SK Diver Retro immediately. As you can see above, this timepiece has some of the shortest lugs I've ever seen; they don't stick out from the case at all. With its 46mm lug-to-lug length, it will look good even on a small 6.25'' wrist.
The 12,6mm case thickness doesn't seem too bulky on paper, but it is a noticeably thick watch in person. This is because the length-to-thickness ratio is much smaller than usual, making it feel a bit thicker than it actually is.
There isn't a mistake in the table above, the SK Diver Retro actually has an 18mm lug width, which is super tiny for a 42mm watch. As you can see below, the end link is truly 18mm wide, but the first link after that is around 20-22mm. The bracelet then tapers down to around 18mm at the clasp.
The SK Diver Retro doesn't have an integrated bracelet per se, but finding a replacement bracelet will be damn-near impossible. You can always strap on an 18mm bracelet/band to this watch, but it will look quite underwhelming next to the 41,7mm case.
orient sk diver retro
50m / 5 bar
Hands & Pips
316l Stainless Steel
Let's start by talking about what's amazing on the Orient SK Diver Retro: the in-house F6922 caliber. This is an automatic movement built by Orient which has everything a mechanical watch enthusiast needs.
Not only is this movement very reliable and quite accurate (for this price range), but it also offers hand-winding and hacking, two highly sought-after functions. Also, this caliber makes use of 22 jewels, beats at 21,600 bph, and has over 40 hours of power reserve. Orient states that the watch will keep time within a -15 to +25 seconds/day range, which is excellent for this price point.
At $245, the SK Diver Retro is awkwardly priced between the Orient Ray II (≈$160) and the Orient Kamasu (≈$280). This means that it's a bit too cheap to offer high-quality components like the Kamasu, and most of the components are the same as the much cheaper Ray II.
For instance, the Kamasu is equipped with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Conversely, the SK Retro Diver is equipped with the same flat Hardlex crystal as other entry-level Orient watches, like the Ray II. It isn't an inherently bad crystal (Hardlex is more scratch-resistant than most other mineral crystals), but it can be a bit disappointing for a $245 watch.
If you are disappointed by the Hardlex crystal, the water resistance of the SK Diver Retro will make you fall off your chair. With a 50 meters rating, I think the "Diver" in the watch's name is a big misnomer.
Not only is the water resistance low, but the SK Diver Retro's also equipped with a push-pull crown. While the 50m rating is technically enough for recreational swimming, the crown could accidentally get pulled underwater, which would ruin the movement.
The situation doesn't get any better when looking at the lume of the watch. Whether it's intentional to recreate a vintage feel, or it's simply a lack of effort from Orient, the SK Diver's lume is definitely subpar for today's standards.
Orient applied a tiny line of lume on each hand as well as small lume pips at the extremity of every hour mark. However, this lume is both extremely dull and short-lived.
The bracelet of the SK Diver Retro is just another item on the long list of disappointing components of the watch. It's not that bad in-and-of-itself (comfort-wise), but it shows lots of signs of cheap manufacturing and cost-cutting.
For instance, the bracelet is made of folded links with hollow end-links (quite rattly), the deployant clasp is stamped and thin, etc. As I said, it's not an uncomfortable bracelet per se, but it could be improved easily.
orient sk diver retro
Fade to Black
316l Stainless Steel
While I might've been a bit rough with Orient when criticizing the specs of the SK Diver Retro, I've got nothing bad to say about its styling. The dial, which is offered in 3 colorways, is stunning and has a nice fade-to-black gradient that screams "vintage".
Every SK Diver Retro model comes with gold-tone baton hands and studded indices. This gold-tone color is also found on the day-date display's frame, as well as the applied Orient logo (which pops out quite a bit).
In the middle of the dial, you find the same "SK" script that was on the original model. This acronym stands for "Super King", which is often mistaken for "Sea King". Also, there is a 22 jewels script instead of the original 21 jewels to reflect the brand new movement inside.
I really like the studded indices because they have a vintage vibe, but they're also quite unique. Additionally, their shape adds a bit of depth to the watch's dial.
Within seconds of looking at the SK Diver Retro, you will notice the large 4 o'clock crown. This one is used to operate the 60-minute inner diving bezel. You simply rotate it to align the "0" mark with the minute hand to easily measure any time frame from 0-60 minutes.
The case of this watch is very polarizing, and it explains why people either love or hate the SK Diver Retro. First, the right side of the case has an octagonal shape, whereas the left side is perfectly rounded. Also, the bezel is nailed to the case using a pin in each corner, which gives a modular look to the watch.
This case features brushed bezel & lugs, polished sides, and a plain stainless steel case back.
In typical Orient fashion, the SK Diver Retro's reference number looks like R2-D2's distant cousin. All SK Diver models have the same reference number up until the last two digits, so you can recognize them this way: 1G, 2R, and 3L.
The 1G model is definitely my favorite watch of the collection. The champagne dial has a distinctive color that's scarcely seen on other watches. Also, I love that the hands & indices pop out of the dial despite the gold-on-gold layout.
The SK Diver Retro 2R is also an excellent model that features a gorgeous red dial. In my opinion, this is the model on which the fade-to-black gradient looks the best.
I also like the fact that the dial's color closely resembles the 15,30, and 45 minute marks of the diving bezel, which are also painted red.
The SK Diver Retro 3L is probably the last watch I'd pick from this collection, but that's simply a question of preference. In fact, I think I only overlook it because I have so many other blue-dialed watches in my collection.
However, I must admit that pictures generally don't do justice to the 3L's dial. If possible, I suggest trying this watch on in person before buying, or at least watching a video instead of only pictures.
A leather band is probably the only third-party strap I would use on an Orient SK Diver Retro. For some unknown reason, I think it's the only layout in which the 18mm strap doesn't look too underwhelming compared to the 41,7mm case.
As you can see above, a black leather band is a great idea because it will always match the dial, no matter which variant you get.
I don't think the SK Diver Retro is well-suited for a nylon strap, but to each his own. Pictured above is the only photo I could find of an SK diver strapped on nylon. I don't think the choice of color is particularly good, but this strap might be better-looking on the 3L model.
If you own an SK Diver Retro and wear it on a nylon strap, please send me a picture (or comment below) so I can update this segment.
As I mentioned earlier, I do not recommend swapping the OEM bracelet for something third-party. Above, you get the perfect example why it's not recommended.
An 18mm bracelet paired with a 41,7mm stainless steel case (which feels even bigger because of the 2-crown layout & peculiar case shape) just looks plain foolish.
In conclusion, I think the Orient SK Diver Retro is a gorgeous & unique watch that's a bit overpriced for the components it offers. However, if you're someone who doesn't plan to dive (or even swim) with your watch and that's usually able to avoid crystal scratches, you should get this watch by all means.
If you're still unsure about getting the SK Diver Retro or not, I encourage you to read the pros & cons list below.