It's impossible to overstate the impact Seiko has had on the watch industry. Founded in 1881 in Tokyo, the intervening 138 years have seen the horologist produce a series of world firsts in design and technological innovation, each of which redefined the industry.
The first quartz watch in 1969? Seiko. The first multi-function digital watch in 1973? Seiko. The first solar powered watch in 1977? Seiko. The list goes on.
More recently the arrival of the Seiko Spring Drive movement in 1999 and the solar powered GPS watch in 2012 prove the company has never rested on its laurels. The former offers a mechanical movement with quartz accuracy, the latter sun powered timekeeping controlled by satellite.
The company also operates across the full financial spectrum, from wildly affordable to the absolute opposite, yet each of its watches offers a combination of superb design and fantastic build quality. Ultimately, the Japanese company may not have the perceived luxury appeal of its Swiss brethren, but those in the know will usually sport a Seiko.
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Best Seiko watches
1. Seiko 5 SNXS73K
One of the older Seiko 5s, this model remains an icon of the scene. Its value is unbeatable in the automatic market, and it's also a dressier option for a smarter look. At 36.5mm the case is also smaller than many of Seiko’s chunkier watches, worth considering for the slight of wrist. Finally, it comes in a broad variety of colours, so finding one to fit your style is easy.
2. Seiko 5 SRPD65K4
The new generation of Seiko 5s come in a variety of flavours, and this subtle number hails from the ‘Sports’ range. The 42.5mm case is milled from stainless steel and features an automatic movement. With no battery, it runs off the energy generated by your motion and offers a 41 hour power reserve. A day date window and nylon strap complete an urban look.
3. Seiko 5 Pepsi SRPD65K4
Featuring the legendary Pepsi colour scheme (hence the blue/red bezel) and stainless steel bracelet, this new Seiko 5 offers real versatility in the fashion stakes. The watch also retains the five features that have given the Seiko 5 its name since 1963 (crown at four o’clock, durable strap, day date window, automatic movement and significant water resistance).
4. Seiko Prospex SLA033 Automatic Diver's 1970 Re-Creation
Seiko loves a reissue, and this one caused a stir when announced at Baselworld 2019 (the watch enthusiast’s equivalent of Glastonbury.) That’s because it’s a reimagination of the legendary 6105 watch, AKA the ‘Willard’, worn by Micahel Sheen in his portrayal of Captain Willard in the film Apocalypse Now. The watch has modernised internals, is serviceable at 200m, and is limited to 2,500 pieces worldwide.
5. Seiko Prospex ‘Arnie’
This watch is nicknamed the ‘Arnie’ after its predecessor made a series of big screen appearances strapped to the sweating wrist of a certain A. Schwarzenegger. These films include ‘Predator’ and ‘Commando’, so if 80s nostalgia is your thing this 2019 reissue will be right up your Straße. Sharing the design language typical of the Seiko Prospex range, the watch is solar powered and accurate to -/+10 seconds per month.
6. Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT
Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive GMT watches have always been go-to timepieces for the discerning, discreet traveler. But this latest offering goes for show with its two-tone blue and gold finish (18k). Powered by Seiko’s innovative/mysterious Spring Drive technology, the 44mm watch can be adjusted to local time without stopping the movement, maintaining accuracy across all timezones.
7. Grand Seiko Manual Winding
Proving Seiko is capable of super-lux, this watch from the horologist’s ‘Elegance Collection’ demands attention courtesy of its hand crafted Japanese Urushi lacquer dial. The watch also boasts a brand-new manual-winding movement, a small seconds hand and a power reserve indicator. The 39mm case makes this one of Seiko’s more refined options.
8. Seiko 5 SNK805K2
This Seiko 5 proves the company is a highly capable operator at both ends of the financial spectrum, and you are unlikely to find a better mechanical watch at this price anywhere on the market. The field watch design is complemented by a day date window, and the 37mm case means this watch will suit a smaller wrist. Finally, the material green strap evokes a military vibe.
9. Seiko Limited Edition Prospex Sea 1978 Re-Creation
Produced to commemorate the first quartz saturation diver’s watch, this stunning timepiece is designed to operate below depths of 600m (the original was tested to 1062m), and is limited to a run of just 1,978. The large 49mm case is made from gold plated titanium and four ‘shark bite’ grooves in the bezel make the watch easy to operate with gloved hands. Accuracy is +/-15 seconds a month.
10. Seiko Astron Watch Executive Sports Line Novak Djokovic Limited Edition
Seiko is brilliant at honouring its heritage, but is also relentless in innovating towards the future. This special edition watch from the Astron range (endorsed by Serbian tennis guru Novak Djokovic) is bulging with advanced technology, and is the world's first solar powered GPS watch. It remains constantly connected to a network of satellites to ensure the watch retains time, regardless of timezone, and is powered by the sun. Battery not necessary.