Whether you’re a wristwatch connoisseur or just starting your watch collection, you probably have come across the name Seiko a few times. Be it a cheap Seiko 5 you got when you were younger, a robust dive watch, or a high-end timepiece, Seiko is just one of those brands that will be a part of most watch lovers’ collections at some point.
But what is it that makes Seiko so ubiquitous and adored by collectors worldwide? What factors should you consider when looking to purchase a Seiko watch? And most importantly: Are Seiko watches worth it?
The answer is complex. We think some Seiko references are utterly stellar, while others are best avoided. Keep reading to figure out if this watch brand is for you, and if so, which watches you should consider buying.
What Makes Seiko Unique?
There are several traits we usually examine to characterize a watch brand as unique. Here are some of the most compelling selling points of the Seiko brand.
Seiko’s long and successful history has established it as one of the world’s most well-known and loved watch brands. It was founded in 1881 by Kintaro Hattori and was originally a watch and clock seller. However, a decade later, Hattori turned the brand into a watch manufacturer named “Seikosha.”
Seiko became widely known to western audiences after its involvement as the official timekeeper at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. But, what ended up skyrocketing the brand to the top of the watch world was its release of the first quartz wristwatch, the Seiko Astron, released in 1969.
The Astron started a quartz revolution that saw the Japanese brand outsell famous Swiss watch manufacturers during the 1970s.
Most Seiko watches, especially the more affordable ones, offer great value for your money. Seiko consistently produces well-priced timepieces, which is how the brand ensures its presence on everyone’s wrist.
What you get with a Seiko watch is a timepiece with a huge horological history made with durability and versatility in mind, although there are some occasional mishaps. Also, Seiko produces its own in-house mechanical and quartz movements, which come with every Seiko watch.
Seiko and its subsidiaries produce the most uniquely broad range of timepieces. They range from affordable Seiko 5 models below $100 to timepieces with artisanal Japanese design and tourbillon movements that cost half a million dollars.
What’s more, Seiko offers excellent options in almost all watch styles. No matter whether you’re a fan of dive watches, chronographs, dress watches, or anything else, there is a Seiko watch out there for you.
Seiko Watch Prices - Are They Worth It?
It is evident that Seiko watches present an overall great package for the money. However, it is not without its faults.
Namely, Seiko is known to have some quality control issues and to occasionally cut corners with some of its watches. One running issue, as a result of that, is misaligned bezels on occasional watch purchases.
There are other issues that mostly pop up with some of Seiko’s cheaper watches, like unsigned crowns and subpar metal bracelets. The brand also refuses to use sapphire crystal in some of its watches, which has a negative impact on its reputation. We generally find these issues with the “5KX” lineup and some references from the “Cocktail Time” lineup, so we suggest avoiding those.
Until recently, Seiko watches were the go-to option for someone looking for an affordable and reliable timepiece. However, nowadays, several other brands, including some microbrands, offer better value for your money. Not to mention that Seiko has increased its price tags, especially in its entry-level watches.
These are a lot of negatives, but with a bit of research, we still think you can find many watches that are worth the price, especially on the mid and luxury end of its offerings. After all, you still get an excellent timepiece with heaps of heritage and over 100 years of craftsmanship.
Best Seiko Watches
Seiko may not always be consistent, but there are many well-made and iconic watches from the brand that we think are worth considering. Check out our Seiko favorites.
Best Seiko Watch Overall: Seiko SPB143J1
In 1965, Seiko released its first commercial dive watch, the 62MAS. Over 50 years later, the brand released the SPB143J1, a watch greatly inspired by the iconic 62MAS and one of the best in Seiko’s lineup.
The watch was very well received, mainly for its wearability, with a case diameter of 40.5 mm. Of course, being part of the Prospex lineup, the watch is an ISO-certified diver’s watch with 200 m of water resistance and a sapphire crystal. Inside, the watch beats the 6R35 movement with an upgraded 70-hour power reserve.
There are a few dial colors to choose from and an option for a rubber strap. However, the hefty metal bracelet on this model is high-quality and gives the watch a more masculine character.
Best High-End Seiko Watch: Grand Seiko SBGA211 “Snowflake”
Grand Seiko is one of Seiko’s subsidiaries that specializes in manufacturing high-quality luxury timepieces. The SBGA211 is one of the best watches made by Grand Seiko and is renowned for its dial and movement.
The watch gets its nickname “Snowflake” from its mesmerizing white dial that is meticulously crafted to look like actual snow. Also, inside the watch beats the innovative 9R65 Spring Drive movement. This revolutionary movement utilizes the accuracy of a quartz movement and the smooth sweeping effect of a mechanical watch without the need for any external power.
Of course, the watch features an excellent build with both the case and bracelet made from titanium and 100 m of water resistance. The beauty and craftsmanship of the Snowflake rivals even some of the best Swiss-made watches in its price range.
Best Affordable Seiko Watch: Seiko 5 Sports SRPE55
The Seiko 5 lineup has always included robust and reliable automatic watches that are very affordable. Recently, the prices have risen a bit, but they still maintain their affordable character.
The Seiko SRPE55 offers a simplistic and familiar case and dial design with excellent sizing at 40 mm. It features 100 m of water resistance and the 4R36 movement. Overall, you get a great set of specifications in an affordable timepiece you can wear for any occasion.
There are a plethora of dials to choose from, including two-tone options on two-tone bracelets. Speaking of the bracelet, it could be better, but for the price, it performs adequately and adds to the watch’s overall aesthetic.
Best Seiko Dive Watch: Seiko S23631 “Darth Tuna”
The Tuna lineup is generally geared towards professional divers who want the most reliable and robust analog timepiece. The recently released S23631 gets its nickname “Darth Tuna” from its black color scheme and shape, which resembles a tuna can.
The watch comes in a titanium case and has a whopping 1000 m of water resistance. This ensures it can withstand even the most extreme conditions faced by professional divers. Also, the watch uses the 7C46 high-torque quartz caliber in order to be able to move its heavily lumed hands.
You can find the Darth Tuna on a high-quality rubber strap, ideal for diving. It is truly one of the best dive watches you can pick up, especially if you are a professional, although Seiko’s Samurai also deserves a special mention.
Best Seiko Everyday Watch: Seiko Presage Sharp Edged SPB167
For individuals who want a versatile timepiece, one of the best offerings from Seiko is the Sharp Edged series. It blends the beautiful dial of a dress watch with the durability of a tool watch. It’s the perfect combo for any scenario.
Specifically, the SPB167, with its stunning blue dial, can be your perfect companion for every day of the week and any activity. It is well built, with good dimensions to suit most wrist sizes, adequate water resistance, and a sapphire crystal. It also features the reliable 6R35 in-house caliber.
There are several different dial colors to choose from, so you will definitely find one that suits your style. The watch also looks good on any strap; you can swap different styles of straps for different occasions.
Best Seiko Watch for Ladies: Seiko SRP852J1 “Bellini”
The Seiko SRP852 is part of the Presage Cocktail Time family of watches. Thus, it gets its nickname from the famous Bellini cocktail.
As part of the Cocktail Time lineup, the Bellini has one of the best dials you can find in wristwatches at this price point. It is an excellent option that won’t cost a fortune, paired with the reliable 4R35 caliber and excellent case finishing.
The rose gold color scheme and the good quality leather strap add some flair to the watch. It is a versatile timepiece that can be worn on most occasions to accentuate your personal style and love for watches.
Seiko’s Family Has a Spot For You
Overall, we think that Seiko’s achievements and its wide range of value for money options make it one of the best watch brands.
Its affordable price points, in particular, make it very attainable to obtain one and try it out for yourself. Not to mention that Seiko watches can be an excellent gift for someone looking to get into the world of watches. What’s key is to choose some of their more reputable offerings after doing a bit of research.
Remember that even the cheapest watches require proper care and maintenance when they aren’t on your wrist. If you want to keep your brand new Seiko watch in pristine condition, consider purchasing a high-quality watch roll, like the ones from Operandi Firenze.
So, choose one of the myriads of options by Seiko, and don’t forget to keep an eye on the time!