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Our complete and comprehensive buyer’s guide for Seiko watches.

Posted on August 31 2020

Our complete and comprehensive buyer’s guide for Seiko watches.

A Seiko Brand guide

 

Welcome to our first-ever buyer’s guide, and the first of many more to come. In these guides, you’ll find comprehensive, easy to digest guides to your favourite brands, and even those you may not know much about. For our first guide, we’re looking at a brand that is known by many but understood by a few--today we’re taking a look at Seiko.

Seiko’s catalogue is massive, with a wide global reach and an unrivaled diversity, their watches occupy almost every price point. From the reliable and dependable tool watches that you can get for a hundred dollars at your local retailer, to handcrafted masterpieces costing six figures at the most luxurious boutiques, it suffices to say there’s a Seiko out there for everyone. Some of the tastiest Seikos sit smack in the middle, particularly the ones that offer the most bang for your buck, specifically, the Seiko Prospex (sports/tool watch) line, the Presage (retro/dress) line, 5 (affordable/reliable) and the Premier(modern/complicated) line.

Despite Seiko’s diversity, there are still a few foundational qualities and factors that tie all of their watches together.

Value

Whether you’re looking to spend a few hundred dollars or willing to drop five figures on a handcrafted Credor you can expect an immaculate level of fit, finish and thought that far surpasses the price you’ve paid for.

Quality

There’s no getting around the fact that you’re paying for a proper high-quality watch when you’re buying a Seiko. Even their entry-level pieces will typically outlast and outperform their competitors in the same price range.

In-house manufacture movements

 

 From top to bottom, Seiko manufactures and develops all of their movements in house. Granted, telling people that your $100 wristwatch has an in-house movement might make you look a little silly, but the truth’s the truth.

Credibility

 Seiko’s credibility as a proper watchmaker is undisputed, if you’re at a horological event with a Grand Seiko, even the snobbiest would acknowledge the value and craftsmanship of your timepiece.

Drop by a diving spot with a Prospex diver and you’d certainly get an approving nod from your fellow divers, or just flash a budget-friendly Seiko 5 at mom and she’ll likely approve of your frugality and good taste.

Today we’ll be looking at Seiko watches from all price ranges. From the affordable everyday Seiko 5s to the astronomical Credors, and we’re giving you the insight on what’s the best (in our opinion, of course) watch to get from the range. Right now, with that out of the way, let’s get started, shall we?

 

Credor

Right off the bat, we do not carry Credor watches nor Grand Seiko, sadly, but humor me today as we take a look at these two fantastic watchmakers and our favourites from their ranges. Credor was founded in 1974 and specifically made watches only in precious metals, it wasn’t meant to compete directly with Grand Seiko, but to stand on its own as a hallmark to the highest level of Japanese watchmaking.

It still is to this day, with ultra-high-end and complex pieces such as the Sonnerie to more refined, and simple (albeit equally high-end) time only pieces like the Eichi II, Credor is undisputedly one of the best that Japan has to offer in the world of watchmaking.

Our favourite piece: Credor Eichi II

 

This unassuming three-hander might look as though it doesn’t have much to offer, but it packs one hell of a horological punch. The dial is a simple, minimalist affair but the process of making it is anything but. It’s an enamel dial (a process that often yields more failures than success) with hand-painted markers, paired with a Zaratsu polished case, and an impressive spring-drive caliber, it’s the epitome of high Japanese watchmaking at its finest.

But for those of you who would balk at the thought of spending five-figure sums on a Japanese-made watch, you’d probably want to hear this. The team behind the Eichi II; Seiko’s Shiojiri micro artistry studio. Is a studio of artisans and engineers established by one of the greatest names in Swiss watchmaking, Mr. Philippe Dufour himself. And if you’ve heard of the man, you would know how desirable and coveted his watches are in the industry. And if you haven’t, well take this from us, Dufour has an order list for his watches capable of spanning several lifetimes. So desirable is his craft that not even he can afford to wear his own watches. So, with the Credor Eichi II, you’re not just a spending five-figure sum on an expensive Japanese-made watch, you’re spending it on the most affordable (and realistically attainable) Philippe Dufour.

 

Case size: 39mm x 10.3mm

Case material: Zaratsu polished Rose-gold

Movement: 7r14 Spring-drive

Water resistance: 3Bar

MSRP: $56,170 (Before taxes)

 

Grand Seiko

 

Founded with the sole purpose of beating the Swiss at their own game, it should be expected that some of the finest watches that come from Japan, comes out of Grand Seiko’s workshops. So, what is it then, that makes them the best?

As I mentioned previously, all Seikos, no matter the price point, offers a level of fit and finish much higher than its asking price--it’s this value that really takes Grand Seiko a level above its Swiss counterparts.

Objectively speaking, with all brand cache aside, putting an entry-level Grand Seiko next to an entry-level Rolex or Omega, the Grand Seiko would have the two Swiss giants licked in its attention to detail, finish and innovation as well. The fact that it offers all this heritage, craftsmanship and innovation at a price relatively lower than its competitors is one of the biggest reasons every collection should have a Grand Seiko.

 

Our favourite piece: Grand Seiko SBGY003

 

The SBGY003 is, in our humble opinion the perfect Grand Seiko. Perfect isn’t a term we use lightly and for the SBGY003 to be called perfect, in our opinion, is truly something special. The SBGY003 is part of Grand Seiko’s very expensive and exclusive 20th anniversary of Spring Drive collection.

Looking at the watch, it’s a relatively simple timepiece featuring only 3-hands with nothing to offset the symmetry of the dial, not even a date window. It’s in its simplicity where Grand Seiko truly shines, with such a pure minimalism, there are no gimmicks or complications to hide behind.

 

 

Everything is laid bare for you to see and everything, and I do mean everything, is finished perfectly; every angle, curve and polish is executed to such a level of perfection you have to see it to believe it. The impossibly flawless sun-ray dial is as much a work of art as it is an engineering marvel, with the mirror polish on the hands and markers finished by hand, right down to the cap set atop the second hands.

The watch is powered by Grand Seikos 9r31 spring-drive caliber that, like the entirety of the watch, is immaculately finished with beveled edges, blued screws and flawless brushing on the plate. The SBGY003 is the perfect representation of what Grand Seiko is all about, offering the best that modern watchmaking has to offer, it truly is as much a work of art as it is an engineering masterpiece.

 

Case size: 38.5mm x 10.2mm

Case material: Zaratsu polished stainless steel

Movement: 9r31 Spring-drive

Water resistance: 3Bar

MSRP: $11,499 (Before taxes)

Seiko Prospex (Land, sky, sea, street)

It should not come as news that the Seiko Prospex line is easily one of the brand’s most popular line of watches, and for good reason too. Sturdy, robust and properly good looking professional-grade tool watches, (Prospex meaning Professional-Specifications to Seiko) these watches offer the most bang for your buck.

Whether you’re looking for a versatile tool watch to wear every day or if you’re looking for a tool to accompany you on your adventures, the Seiko line has all the bases covered. The Prospex collection is categorized into 4 different sub-categories, Land, air, sea and street. Today, we’ll take a look at what’s the best you can get from these categories.

 

Prospex Sea.

Our favourite piece: Seiko Prospex Automatic SRPC41K1 Men’s Watch

 

If we’re talking about affordable dive watches, then the piece to have would have to be the Seiko Turtle. It is undoubtedly one of the most iconic silhouettes in Seiko’s design history, alongside many others like the Tuna, Monster, Samurai and so on.

The Turtle is in our opinion the most recognizable and most wearable design out of the bunch. The watch got its nickname thanks to its unique compact case shape which surprise, surprise resembles the shell of a sea turtle.

It is the shape of this timepiece that makes it so wearable, with Turtles coming in 2 sizes the Baby Turtle (42mm) and Big/king turtle (45mm). The one we’re looking at today is one of my personal favourites, the Baby turtle.

This SRPC41K1 Baby turtle comes in the ever-popular and timeless Pepsi colourway and features a lovely subtle wave patterned dial that gives the otherwise spartan, no-nonsense tool watch a bit more flair which I’m sure every one of us can appreciate.

And as it always is with Seiko, and I cannot say it enough, though on paper it may sound like there’s a lot going on with the watch, the execution of those ideas is spot on. The case is neatly brushed and sized, the dial despite the pattern is beautifully finished and highly legible and the overall watch is just a really nice and well thought out timepiece that any enthusiast can be happy to own.

 

Case size: 42.3mm x 13mm

Case material: Brushed stainless steel

Movement: 4r35 Self-winding with manual winding capacity

Water resistance: 20Bar

MSRP: $452.65(Before taxes)

 

Seiko Prospex Land

Our favourite piece: Seiko Prospex SPB121J1 Alpinist Men’s watch

 

Could it have been anything else besides the Green Alpinist when talking about the perfect field watch? When the question of what the best Seiko watch to get per-category came up, my thoughts immediately landed on the Green Alpinist for the Seiko Prospex Land series.

It should come as no surprise, it’s an absolutely brilliant watch. This may be a reissue piece, but what Seiko has done essentially is taken everything that made the Alpinist great and made them better.

The old Alpinist was powered by the Caliber 6R15 while the new one is powered by the 6R35, giving it a whopping 70 hours of power reserve. On top of that, there is an exhibition case-back for you to enjoy the 6R35 caliber in greater detail. However, not much has changed visually on the new Alpinist SPB121J1, aside from the Seiko Prospex “X” branding on the dial and the inclusion of a cyclops magnifier too.

It’s a small touch that shows everyone that this watch is more than just a pretty face, it means serious business. And that’s the brilliance of this watch, whether its paired with a suit or strapped on your wrist out in the forest, the Alpinist never looks out of place.

Versatility has always been a strong point for the Seiko Green Alpinist and with this modern reissue, that strength has been modernized and improved (thanks to the upgraded movement) and is easily the perfect watch to get from the Seiko Prospex Land series.

 

Case size: 39.5mm x 13.2mm

Case material: Polished stainless steel

Movement: 6r35 Self-winding with manual winding capacity

Water resistance: 20Bar

MSRP: $908.50

 

Seiko Prospex Sky

Our favourite piece: Seiko Prospex SSC487P1 Men’s watch

 

The Seiko Prospex Sky series is the brand’s range of professional pilot’s watches that go from simple mechanical three handers to highly complex multi-function pieces. The SSC487P1 is the latter, packing a world-timer, chronograph, alarm and power-reserve indicator all in a tidy 44mm package that is powered by a solar power-source (hence the inclusion of a power-reserve indicator).

It is a brilliant example of Seiko’s prowess as a watchmaker, not just in the traditional sense but from a modern, innovative standpoint too. With unique visual cues such as the fang-like hour markers and bright orange hands it certainly adds an element of fun to an otherwise practical and highly functional tool watch.

 

Case size: 44.6mm x 12.3mm

Case material: Brushed stainless steel

Movement: V195 Solar

Water resistance: 10Bar

MSRP: $635.65(Before taxes)

 

Seiko Prospex Street

Our favourite piece: Seiko Prospex SNJ029P1 Men’s watch

 

The Seiko Prospex Street series line of watches is for the urban adventurer, capable of taking a beating wherever you sport it, while still looking good wherever you go. Personally, I don’t think there’s a more perfect contender for the Street series than the SNJ029P1 ‘Safarnie’.

It’s a watch that blends past and future technologies perfectly in a package that carries a retro-futuristic air in a neat little modern package. Some of you might already be familiar with the original Ana-Digi Tuna, or for its other better-known nickname, the Arnie (for the famed association with Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Though this one has been christened the ‘Safarnie’ by the Seiko faithful, harking back to the original Seiko H558’s jungle fighting association but with a more modern and colourful punch. The SNJ029P1 is a modern update of those watches with elements that stay true to the original’s design but with more contemporary finishes and trims.

The result? A stout, handsome watch, and despite its size thanks to a shorter lug-to-lug, sits smaller than the dimensions would suggest. All in all, if it’s an urban tool watch that you want, then the SNJ029P1 is going to be your best bet.

 

Case size: 47.8mm x 14.4mm

Case material: Brushed stainless steel and plastic (hard coating)

Movement: H851 Solar

Water resistance: 20Bar

MSRP: $599.00(Before taxes)

 

Seiko Presage

Seiko’s Presage range offers a slew of retro/dress-style watches that are made in-house in Japan. It offers a glimpse into the world of Japanese watchmaking for those shopping on a budget (relative to Grand Seiko and Credor). Though it does have pricier pieces in its Prestige line, they all offer exceptional value for money and an unparalleled level of detail and craftsmanship that you simply can’t get anywhere else for the price.

 

Seiko Presage Prestige

Our personal favourite piece: Seiko Presage Byakudan Nuri SPB085J1 Men’s watch

 

The dress watch is a staple in every man’s wardrobe, and though dress watches remain rather simple and minimalistic in design (as they should be traditionally) that doesn’t mean that you can’t have something a little different and a lot more unique when you’re looking to buy a premium dress watch.

Enter the Seiko Presage Byakudan Nuri SPB085J1--and this is no understatement--it is an utterly tremendous watch to behold. The party piece of this watch is undoubtedly the dial, finished with two incredibly complex and challenging methods of enameling, it is a true work of art.

The watch is also powered by Seiko’s higher-end 6r27 caliber offering a power reserve indicator, a pointer date and day display as well. The SPB085J1 is a perfect example of what Japanese watchmaking is truly about for the masses, blurring the lines between art and engineering.

 

Case size: 40.5mm x 12.8mm

Case material: High polished stainless steel

Movement: 6r21 Self-winding with manual winding capacity

Water resistance: 10Bar

MSRP: $2895.75(Before taxes)

 

Seiko Presage Basic

Our personal favourite piece: Seiko Presage SSA405J1 men’s watch

 

The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time line is one of my personal favourite ranges from the line-up. They’re gorgeously simple watches with beautifully textured dials that offer a visual experience you simply can’t get anywhere else for the price.

The SSA405J1 is the best example of why the Presage line is so respected by enthusiasts. Coming in at a quaint 40.5mm in diameter, it has the proper proportions that a dress watch should and with only 3 hands without a date display, it’s as simple as a dress watch should be.

With a beautifully textured blue dial that plays with the light at different angles as well as an open-heart at 9 O’clock showcasing the escapement of the watch, it’s truly a treat for the eyes. All of this is, of course, is made in Japan and so is the in-house movement, and that brings us to the best part--you get all of this craftsmanship and beauty, for under just $500. If that isn’t the bargain of the century, I don’t know what is.

 

Case size: 40.5mm x 11.8mm

Case material: Polished stainless steel

Movement: 4r38 Self-winding with manual winding capacity

Water resistance: 3Bar

MSRP: $485.55(Before taxes)

 

Seiko 5

In the 1960s, Seiko debuted a line of reliable and affordable sports watches that would show a new wave of budding collectors, that owning a reliable and great mechanical watch needn’t be expensive. The 5 in Seiko 5 stands for the 5 criteria that all watches under the sub-brand must have; automatic winding, a day/date display, water resistance, a recessed crown at 4 O’clock and a durable steel case and bracelet.

Today’s Seiko 5 still honors the same values as the ones in the 60s but of course with a more modern appeal and greater performance to boot. If you’re in the market looking for an affordable mechanical watch to scratch an itch of ‘just wanting something new’ or as an entry point to the world of mechanical watches, then you’re in the right place if you’re looking for a Seiko 5.

 

Our personal favourite piece: Seiko 5 Sports SRPE55K1 Men’s watch

 

It’s not an overstatement to say that the classically sporty SRPE55K1 might be the best Seiko 5 release of the year. Coming in at a wrist-friendly 40mm, with a smooth steel bezel, large bold indexes and hands, it is the best modern representation of everything a Seiko 5 is and has been since its inception.

The watch is powered by the tried and tested 4r36 caliber, offering 41 hours of reserve and a useful day/date complication as well. With all that said, it’s the look of this watch that really sells it. Taking design cues from classic sports watches such as the Rolex Explorer I and the Omega Railmaster, the SRPE55K1 with its simple legible dial, robust case and bracelet is a perfect example of what a modern affordable mechanical sports watch should be.

 

Case size: 40mm x 13mm

Case material: Brushed stainless steel

Movement: 4r36 Self-winding with manual winding capacity

Water resistance: 10Bar

MSRP: $285.95

 

Seiko Premier

 

Seiko’s Premier line is the brand’s offerings of what a modern, well-made dress watch should be. Whether it’s powered by quartz, mechanical, solar or kinetic movement, the Premier line offers a taste of what modern Japanese watchmaking is all about in an elegant and functional package.

 

Our personal favourite piece: Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual SNP089P1 Men’s watch

 

The SNP089P1 is the epitome of what the Seiko Premier line has to offer. Packing a practical and reliable kinetic movement that has a power reserve of six months when fully charged, and is capable of readjusting itself while it’s in its power-saving ‘sleep mode’, it is a testament of Seiko’s modern technological innovation.

Though that’s not just what this watch is capable of. If you couldn’t already tell by the name, the watch also comes with a perpetual calendar as well, one of the most coveted complications in high-watchmaking made accessible to the masses. The SNP089P1 is one of the best dress watches you can get for your money, whether you’re looking at it from a mechanical or technical standpoint, it’s a marvel of modern watchmaking.

 

Case size: 41.5mm x 12.1mm

Case material: Polished stainless steel

Movement: 7D56 Kinetic

Water resistance: 10Bar

MSRP: $849.90(Before taxes)

 

And that’s a wrap

 

We hope that you’ve managed to get more insight into Seiko’s vast catalogue of watches from our first-ever buyer’s guide and whether you agree with us or not, we hope you’ll be very happy with whatever watch you get.

If you do plan on getting one of the watches we mentioned on this list, we’re more than willing to go out on a limb and say that you’ll certainly enjoy it for a very long time to come.