Japanese watch company Seiko is one of the most respected watchmakers in the world. Starting out as a small shop in Ginza, Tokyo, Japan in 1881, Seiko (or Seiko Holdings Corporation) consistently produces high-quality timepieces promoting Japanese craftsmanship.
In this article, we’ll talk about Seiko’s origins and collections. Whether you’re buying your very first Seiko or simply growing your existing collection, this article will give ideas on the models you should take a closer look at. We’ll also be providing some buying essentials, like warranty and repairs.
Seiko: A History
Started by 22-year-old Kintaro Hattori. The Seiko sold and repaired watches in the first decade, and then moved on to open another factory in Seikosha in 1892.
Seikosha was the place where Hattori started producing different timepieces, from wall clocks to the first ever pocket watch (which he called “The Timekeeper”). This pocket watch was the model was the beginning of something big; Japan’s first wristwatch.
The year 1913 was a very important year for the brand, as it was the time that the first ever Japan-made wristwatch made its debut. Called The Laurel, this is the period when Kintaro exhibited his skill. It was not until 1923 that the brand officially released the first ever watch that bore the name Seiko.
Today, after being around for more than a century, the company continues to a leader in watchmaking.
Where Are Seiko Watches Made?
Seiko watches movements are made in Japan, as well as in their subsidiaries in China, Malaysia, and Singapore. All the company’s luxury watches, such as Grand Seiko (we will talk more about this later), are made in-house in Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio in Iwate, Japan.
The Shizuku-Ishi studio has a great website that not only shows the craftsmanship that goes behind the Seiko watches but also about the place itself and the craftsmen (“the elite of the elite”) behind them. If you’d like to learn more about the company’s art of watchmaking and the watchmakers, visit the Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio website here.
One article discussed (based on online forums such as this one), that there are reports that products manufactured outside of Japan can still be labeled as “made in Japan,” as long as they are supervised by a Japanese official. If you would like to read more about this topic, you can read the article here.
The Seiko catalog, composed of hundreds of watches, is extensive. Below, we’ll give you a peek at each of them, to give you an idea on what to concentrate on if you’re looking to buy one.
If you’d like to do further reading, you can also check out our article on the Best Seiko Watches for Men.
Seiko Astron Collection
Referred by Seiko as “possibly the most intelligent watch ever made,” the Seiko Astron is the world’s first GPS solar watch. The watches of this collection do not need a battery change—you will be able to automatically adjust it to a particular time zone (it recognizes over 40) with a simple touch of a button.
This collection, which you can view here, includes limited edition sports lines. One is in collaboration with tennis superstar Novak Djokovic—a watch with black and gold color combination, with a special minute markers that pay homage to the tennis points system (Love, 15, 30, 40), and UTC codes on the bezel for the four cities in the world that have hosted the Grand Slam tennis tournaments (Paris, London, New York, and Melbourne).
Seiko Prospex Collection
Seiko produced its first diving watch in 1965. Seiko’s journey to producing one of the best diver’s watches began with a professional diver’s request for a watch that could withstand the pressure of being underwater greater than 300 meters. Seiko formed a development team that did years of research, which resulted to producing watches that could be used underwater. By 1975, they have already produced advanced diver watch technology: the world’s first ever professional Diver’s 600M with an extremely durable titanium case, which was shock resistant, corrosion-proof, and has an airtight case.
Today, the company’s expertise in diving and sports watches are showcased in the Prospex collection, a collection of watches for Sea, Land, and Sky. The watches are not just for professional and recreational divers, but for those who are into any adventure sport.
Seiko Presage Collection
The Presage collection is a testament to the Japanese craftsmanship, highlighting meticulous, mechanical watchmaking.
Under the Presage collection is a series of “cocktail” watches, which was inspired by cocktail bars: “The high-quality dials feature an elaborate pressed pattern and curved hands that extend right to the applied indexes at the edge.”
This collection, which is available in 33.8mm case sized, features colors inspired by wine-based cocktails, such as the Seiko Presage SRP852J1, which is inspired by cocktail Bellini. You can check out the rest of the models here.
Seiko Premier Collection
The Seiko Premier collection features men’s and women’s collection features the Kinetic Direct Drive, which is a motion-powered technology.
This collection has another partnership with Djokovic. The Premier Automatic Skeleton, designed for the tennis star, is an homage to the sport: a mesh dial that resembles a tennis racquet and the skeleton window where you can see the balance wheel that resembles the player’s trademark slice shots. See the two available models here.
Seiko Solar Collection
The watches off the Seiko Solar collection does not need a change of batteries. The watches off this collection runs forever. There’s also a number of models to choose from—chronographs and dress watches are available (you can check out the lines here).
This collection has excellent dress watches for women as well, such as the Solar V115, which is a striking timepiece with a mother of pearl dial and 31 crystals.
Seiko 5 Collection
The popular Seiko 5 receives consistently positive reviews. This collection has watches that cost less than $100 but don’t look it, and the functions exhibit the company’s excellence in watchmaking.
This watch was referred by Hodinkee as “A Seventy-Five Dollar Watch That Looks Like A Million Bucks,” an extremely well-made watch that has a sleek, classic design and has the five key characteristics: an automatic winding technology, a day/date display in a single window, water resistant, a recessed crown at 4 o’clock, and a durable bracelet/case.
If you’d like to know more about the models, you can explore the complete Seiko 5 collection here.
Moving on to one of the company’s luxury brand, the Grand Seiko. These watches are not cheap, costing thousands of dollars (you can take a look at this website to get an idea on the prices). The technology and craftsmanship that go into making them, however, is something to be admired.
According to the brand’s website, the watches of this collection were specially made by master craftsmen in the company’s exclusive studios: “Each Grand Seiko watch is instantly recognizable because of its simplicity of form and its understated elegance.”
Referred to as watches for a lifetime and more, these watches were made by hand by experts making use of the most advanced technology.
Grand Seiko was launched in 1960. The company had one goal in mind: “to build a watch that would be as precise, durable, easy to wear and beautiful as humanly possible.” This was a sign that the brand wanted to go further—the current collections were already doing very well, but staying true to their passion in craftsmanship, they decided to do more.
Today, Grand Seiko is considered as one of the best in terms of expertise in both electronic and mechanical watchmaking.
The Grand Seiko line, which is usually compared to luxury watches such as Rolex and Omega, can be divided into three main categories: the Elegance collection, the Heritage collection, and the Sport collection.
There are also some limited-edition models (such as the SBGC229 off the Sport collection) that are featured on the Grand Seiko website. To get to know the other popular Grand Seiko watches, visit their site here.
One of the most popular Grand Seiko watches is the Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211.
Launched in 2010, Hodinkee calls this watch “the single most iconic model for Grand Seiko Spring Drive.” This watch is powered by the brand’s unique caliber Spring Drive (learn more about the technology here), a lightweight and high-intensity titanium case (30% lighter than stainless steel), and a 72-hour power reserve.
Are Seiko watches any good?
Seiko has an excellent reputation, widely known for manufacturing watches that are precise, durable, and stylish. Many Seiko watch models, especially the higher end ones, are comparable to Swiss watch brands that can cost three to four times as much.
Based on the models and collections that we have discussed above, this brand continues to make some of today’s best watches, and you don’t need to shell out thousands to have one.
Seiko is most popular for its quartz movement watches—they were actually the ones who invented it. This site highlights that they produce some of the best quartz watches in the world. It’s reported that the brand’s high-accuracy quartz watches are accurate within five to ten seconds per year, and the more affordable ones ensure that you will have reliable time for years.
Get to know more about Grand Seiko here.
One of the companies that are often compared to Seiko is Citizen. Both are Japanese watches, both popular for their quartz watches, and both have both affordable and luxury models. We’ve published an article on our website comparing the two, so if you’d like to know more about these two companies and their similarities/differences, you can find the article here.
Seiko Warranty Policy
Seiko has a “guarantee period” that allows customers to get a free repair or adjustment service. This, according to the brand’s website, the guarantee covers service “against any defects on the watch head (movement and case) and metallic band, provided that the watch was used as directed in the instruction manual.”
Seiko’s support page has a comprehensive FAQ section, and The Knowledge section is also a very helpful tool if you’d like to learn more about Seiko’s technologies (ie. Spring Drive, Kinetic). Each topic has its own page containing comprehensive details (such as a Spring Drive watch’s history, key features, and technology).
Customers need to apply for this service by presenting the guarantee certificate provided by the watch retailer. The instruction manuals can be found on this page.
In order to get this warranty, however, customers must make sure that they watch was purchased from legitimate sources, which brings us to the next part: the best places to buy Seiko watches.
Where To Buy Seiko Watches
Brand new and second hand Seiko watches are also available in Amazon and eBay, but Seiko has recommended that customers purchase Seiko watches at an authorized retail stores: “Only in these stores can you be sure to find the latest Seiko collection, and be sure that your new watch bracelet will be sized and fitted correctly, free of charge.”
There have been many reports about counterfeit watches, and while Seiko officials take action as much as they can, they recommend that customers buy the watch from only authorized sellers. If you’d like to buy the watch online, the company recommends that you look for the “Seiko Authorized Dealer Site” emblem to ensure that the watch has not been tampered with, and is under warranty.
Learn more about the company’s Internet Purchase Warning here.
If you’d like to visit a Seiko store, there is a store finder page where you can search for a Seiko or Grand Seiko branch anywhere in the world.
We hope you learned a lot about Seiko in this article. Having both affordable and luxury models (the models range from less than $100 to thousands), this company consistently produced watches that will last a long time. If you would like to learn more about the company’s history, models, and policies, their website is comprehensive and can provide you with more information.
Header Photo by Daniel Zimmermann