Seiko is one of the most popular watch brands in the world, and for a good reason. They offer some of the best value-for-money watches at just about every price point.
The affordable, entry-level Seiko 5 punches way above its weight, while the luxury-level Grand Seiko is just as good (or even better!) than similarly priced Swiss watches.
Better yet, they offer watches for every type of collector at every price point in between. The Prospex lineup is designed for professionals, while the Presage lineup is perfect for those who want a refined dress watch without breaking the bank.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the best Seiko watches currently on the market at every price point, ranging from the most affordable to the most expensive.
Use the table of contents below to jump to a section.
A not-so-hidden gem of watch collecting, the Seiko 5 lineup is the brand’s most affordable offering. Despite its affordable price tag, the Seiko 5 lineup is a roaring success, looking and feeling much more expensive than its price tag would suggest.
Since its inception in 1963, the Seiko 5 has served as the entryway into automatic watches for many, including myself.
They lack some modern features, like the sapphire crystals that are mostly found in Seiko’s more expensive pieces, hacking and hand-winding movements, and even a decent bracelet.
However, these cost-cutting measures can easily be overlooked when you consider you are getting one of the most well-built and best-looking watches for the price. Toe-to-toe, $100 Seiko 5s are comparable to $300 – $400 watches from some other brands.
There are hundreds of designs to choose from, whether you’re looking for durable, workhorse automatic movements or styles that are way more refined than you’d ever expect. The Seiko 5 has always been and continues to be, one of the best values in watches.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best Seiko 5s currently available.
Note: Seiko 5 Sports models are covered in the section after.
SNK803, SNK805, SNK807, and SNK809
|Water Resistance||30 meters|
The Seiko 5 SNK800 series is one of the most popular and well-regarded of the lineup, and with good reason.
Like most pilot-inspired designs, it has a highly legible dial, and the watch is versatile enough for everyday wear. The unique, sandblasted finish of its case hides scratches, so you can wear this watch without coddling it.
The movement housed inside is an automatic Seiko 7S26 movement that won’t win any rewards for its aesthetics or accuracy but is known for its reliability and durability. It’s rare to see an in-house movement built by the brand itself, even in watches that cost hundreds of dollars more. Having one in such an affordable timepiece is brag-worthy in itself.
The movement lacks some modern features like hacking and hand-winding. Still, for the price, that will easily be overlooked when admiring the mechanical movement through the watch’s transparent case back.
Although this watch looks at home on casual NATO or canvas straps, a leather strap can dress it up enough for office attire in the more subtle colorways, making it a fantastic everyday watch.
Its 37mm diameter makes it suitable for any wrist size. This size makes it increasingly rare in modern watches, which tend to favor larger dimensions.
In true Seiko 5 fashion, Seiko offers this watch in various dial colors. The black dial SNK809 and cream dial SNK803 have been staples in my personal collection for quite some time. Seiko also offers the model in blue (SNK807) and green (SNK805).
Check out the full SNK809 review for more information.
SNXS73, SNXS75, SNXS77, and SNXS79
|Water Resistance||30 meters|
A lot of what can be said about the previously discussed SNK series can also be said about the Seiko 5 SNXS. It’s a lineup of fantastic automatic watches using Seiko’s workhorse 7S26 movement, and they are some of the most affordable mechanical watches one can find. Where they differ is in aesthetics.
While the SNK800 series looks a bit rugged, tough, and ready for adventure, the SNXS looks quite dressy and refined. Its sunburst dial is more than well-executed and comes in a variety of colors.
My personal favorite of the bunch is the grey dial SNXS79 which has a luxurious feel and is often considered a budget version of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual.
Each SNXS comes in an all-polished case that can look a bit overly blingy, and the included bracelet is a bit of an arm hair puller. Fortunately, throwing this watch on a leather strap alleviates both of these minor issues.
All-in-all, the SNXS series is a fantastic everyday entry from the Seiko 5 lineup. Anybody who is into watches and sees it on their wrist will be surprised to learn just how affordable it is.
Check out the full SNXS79 review for more information.
SNKL15 and SNKL23
Although all under the ‘SNKL’ reference, there are two distinct variations between within the lineup. The SNKL15 and SNKL23 use different cases, and finishes than the SNKL41, SNKL43, and SNKL43, so we’ll break them up into separate sections.
The SNKL15 and SNKL23 are two of the dressiest in the lineup. They feature pinstripe tuxedo dial accents that add charm and texture rarely found in entry-level watches.
The SNKL23 is particularly handsome with its rich, black dial. However, it has become overly popular thanks to a Hodinkee article and has dipped in and out of stock since gaining attention within the watch community. Instead, I urge you to take a look at its more affordable (and widely available), silver dial sibling, the SNKL15.
The duo comes in at 38mm wide, and its impressively small 10.6mm thickness easily slides under the cuff of any shirt.
The SNKL15 and SNKL23 are the kinds of watches you wear if you want something sophisticated but still classy, attention-grabbing yet subtle, and expensive looking, but easy on the pockets.
SNKL41, SNKL43, and SNKL45
Looking for a simpler and lesser-known (meaning: underrated) Seiko 5? Look no further than the other SNKL lineup: the SNKL41, SNKL43, and SNKL45.
Each one features a relatively simple design, with subtle sunburst dials that aren’t as blingy and, thus, won’t attract as much attention as the previously discussed models. Yet they still look fantastic in their own right.
The case is slightly rounded, with brushed lugs and a polished bezel that gives a sporty, versatile appeal. This makes it perfect for everyday wear and is a detail often skipped by other watch brands.
The SNKL series is a goldilocks of sorts in that it will never be too dressy or casual. It’s always just right for any occasion. Similarly, its versatility allows it to be worn on almost any watch strap imaginable. The white-dialed SNKL41 looks just as great on a crocodile strap and paired with a suit as it does on a fun orange rubber strap in the middle of summer while wearing your bathing suit.
Seiko 5 Sports
The Seiko 5 Sports lineup is the newer, modern interpretation of the standard Seiko 5. Seiko seems to be shifting its focus toward the 5 Sports lineup and phasing out the older Seiko 5.
Thankfully, the Seiko 5 Sports takes almost everything we loved about the original lineup and upgrades it. It incorporates modernized 4R36 movements with hacking and hand winding, increased water resistance (typically 100 meters), and a large variety of new models and designs.
Further, the styles and dimensions are a bit more updated than typical for a modern generation. Let’s take a look at some of the best Seiko 5 Sports currently on the market.
‘5KX’ Dive Watches
References: SRPD51, SRPD53, SRPD55, SRPD57, SRPD59, SRPD61, SRPD63, SRPD65, SRPD87, SRPD91, SRPD93, SRPD95, SRPG61, SRPD67, SRPD71, SRPE75, SRPE77, SRPE79, SRPD79, SRPD81, SRPE72, SRPE75, SRPD77, & SRPD85
The Seiko 5 Sports divers, nicknamed the ‘5KX’, are closely based on one of the most legendary Seiko dive watches of all time: the Seiko SKX.
A combination of brushed and polished case surfaces and a chunky, colorful dive bezel and dial, results in a modern, sporty look that can easily be dressed up or down.
Although not quite as robust and water-resistant as the SKX, the 5KX Sports Dive offers great value, with its 100m water resistance and a huge variety of over 27 different models. The dive bezel is functional and can be used to keep track of time in up to 1-hour increments.
While a dive bezel is traditionally used for divers to measure how much oxygen is left in their tank, I find myself using it more frequently for other purposes. These sometimes include actions like keeping track of food in the oven or seeing how much time remains on the parking meter.
Its in-house Seiko 4R36 movement is a very welcome addition over the previously used 7S26, thanks to some key quality-of-life upgrades such as hacking and hand-winding that were starting to become more frequent in other affordable watch brands. Although not the most accurate, the movement is durable and reliable and likely can go without needing service for ten years or more, just like its predecessor.
Measuring 42.5mm in diameter, you’d expect this watch to wear a bit larger than it does. Its condensed lug-to-lug 46mm, and cleverly-curved case design that contours to the wrist help it wear well on just about any wrist; it wears more like a 40mm.
Ultimately, the 5KX SRPD Sports Diver is a fantastic entry-level dive-style watch for those who love the look, but there are more water-resistant options later in this list for those who want a watch they can actually dive in (Seiko has plenty).
Check out the full SRPD95 review for more information.
‘DressKX’ SRPE Series
References: SRPE51, SRPE53, SRPE55, SRPE57, SRPE58, SRPE60, SRPE61, SRPE63, SRPE67, SRPG63
The SRPE DressKX lineup is a minimal version of the previously mentioned 5KX losing the dive bezel in favor of a smoother metal bezel and smaller dimensions. This results in a cleaner look that is much more appropriate for everyday wear, be it poolside or at the office.
The dials are a rich sunburst ranging from black to my personal favorite, a rich sunburst anthracite grey (SRPE61).
The DressKX comes in two main variations, one on a bracelet with a polished bezel and one on a NATO strap with a brushed bezel. My personal preference is the latter, like the SRPE61 mentioned above, a staple in my personal collection.
Typically, I prefer watches that come on bracelets since replacement straps tend to be easier to come by. However, these models come with a brushed case and bezel and have a subtle, polished, thin chamfer sandwiched between them. This contrast creates a fantastic sense of depth and a luxurious feel.
Coming in at 40mm in diameter, the DressKX is the perfectly-sized sweet spot that will wear more favorably on average-sized wrists.
Most impressively, the DressKX features 100m water resistance, making it a reliable piece for everyday wear that you won’t have to treat delicately. Wear it in the pool, out in the rain, whatever!
Due to its minimal design and relatively monochromatic color scheme, its versatility is unmatched. This watch will look good on just about any strap you put on it, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Check out the full SRPE61 review in the video below!
Seiko 5 Sports GMT Watches SSK001, SSK003, SSK005
Seiko has mastered the art of designing and manufacturing watches that are a fantastic value, delivering new and innovative styles, designs, or complications at nearly unheard-of prices. And that’s what they’re doing with the new Seiko 5 GMTs.
The Seiko 5 GMT is the perfect travel watch. It sports a GMT function to track a second time zone, a versatile jubilee bracelet, and a ‘do-anything’ design and build.
Because of the complex movement required, automatic GMTs often cost $1,000 or more. Somehow, Seiko has managed to release them for just $500.
A GMT complication allows you to track a second time zone and requires a specific movement. Therefore, Seiko created the 4R34 GMT movement specifically for this watch, pushing the boundaries of what was previously possible, given the constraints of watches within this price point.
These GMTs feature a second hour hand and bi-color bezels used to track AM or PM in a second-time zone. Their designs are variations on the SKX/5KX design with a new spin and new sunburst dials.
Given the rarity and expensive nature of the GMT complication, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything comparable in this price range. If you’re a frequent traveler or just like the idea of having a unique watch movement, the Seiko 5 GMT may be the perfect choice for you.
Check out our full review of the SSK003 in the video below.
SRPG Field Watches
References: SRPG27, SRPG29, SRPG31, SRPG33, SRPG35, SRPG37, SRPG39, SRPG41, SRPJ09
The Seiko 5 SRPG series is Seiko’s take on the military-inspired field watch aesthetic. In typical field watch fashion, the dials are bold and legible, with large, lumed hour markers that make the watch extremely legible at a quick glance.
Their dials are matte, perfectly matching the smooth, all-brushed finish. Altogether, this creates a very subtle and understated look that lets this watch fly under the radar, exactly as intended when out on a battlefield.
With a few options available, you can certainly have your fun with some of the more daring colors, but my personal favorite is the SRPG35, a black dial variant with cream hour markers and accents resulting in an aged and weathered look. This is something we see and expect from watches that cost hundreds of dollars more (i.e., Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical), but it is rarely executed so tastefully at this price point. Once again, Seiko knows how to deliver a watch that truly has no business being as affordable as it is.
For more information, check out the full SRPG35 review.
References: SNKP23, SNKP25, SNKP27, SNKN37, SNKM97
The Seiko Recraft is a lineup of retro-inspired watches that look and feel straight out of the ’70s. You’ll likely have an immediate visceral reaction and either love or hate the look of this piece at a moment’s glance.
Because of its boxy design, it wears even larger than its dimensions would suggest. And with a case width of just under 40mm, it seems like it would fit the sweet spot of the average size preference. However, it feels a bit blocky on the wrist.
The build of the Recraft is very similar to the Seiko 5 lineup – nice but basic, from the dials to the finish and up to the movement used. The movement housed inside of these recraft models is the automatic 7S26C, one of Seiko’s most basic. It simply gets the job done.
With that said, you could do a lot worse for the money, and with such a unique style, there are few alternatives on the market — unless you’re willing to dig through the trenches of old and worn vintage watches.
The Seiko Tank is a community-issued nickname given to this series of watches in homage to the Cartier Tank, one of the world’s oldest and most popular watches.
Of course, in true Seiko fashion, they offer the style at a much more affordable price point — with some corners cut, of course. The Seiko Tank is an elegant, square-shaped dress watch that is relatively small, especially compared to modern wristwatches.
A textured dial and roman numeral hour markers result in one of the classiest designs in the watch kingdom.
The Tank is a statement watch you throw onto a quality exotic strap (think lizard, crocodile, alligator) and wear on special occasions. Or, if you’re like my brother, wear it with shorts and a t-shirt. It’s the most complimented watch he wears, which shows you that there aren’t any hard-set rules regarding watches.
Depending on the model, the Seiko Tank uses quartz or solar movement and can be found in either gold or silver.
If you want affordable, Seiko has you covered with the Seiko Prospex. Luxury? This model is everything you could want and more. For those who have been down the rabbit hole, tried a few watches, and refined their tastes over time, the Prospex has you covered.
The Seiko Prospex lineup is Seiko’s professionally specified (thus the name) range. It was built to be accurate and tough, to withstand the challenges of professional divers and the like. This makes the Prospex lineup overbuilt for day-to-day, and thus, it’s a favorite of those within the watch community who want a hard-wearing and somewhat accurate watch that can be their companion for any adventure, surviving it with but a few scratches.
Further, Seiko’s Prospex lineup is one of the most horologically significant in watchmaking for its various milestones. In modern times, Seiko constantly refreshes historical pieces with new and improved models based on these classic designs. This is a great opportunity to get a taste of true watchmaking heritage without having to deal with the headaches of owning a vintage watch (though I would argue that vintage Prospexes are some of the least headache-inducing).
The SPB143 is inspired by Seiko’s first-ever watch, the 62MAS. As such, the SPB143 has a vintage, skin-diver aesthetic, beefed up slightly for a modern generation.
Interestingly, it has a stainless steel bezel insert instead of more typical aluminum or ceramic. Steel scratches over time, so that may be a turn-off for some, However, I imagine the SPB143 will look awesome after years of use with a bit of wear and tear.
Measuring 40.5mm wide and 46.5mm lug-to-lug, Seiko carefully proportioned the SPB more conservatively than some of its other, larger, ~44mm Prospex divers. Any watch around 40mm is often considered a Golidolocks of sorts because it works well for any wrist size. Pair that with the H-shaped case and condensed lug-to-lug, and the SPB143 is perfectly proportioned on any wrist.
The Seiko Alpinist is Seiko’s first sports watch, originally introduced in 1959. However, few Seikos are more recognizable than the modern recreation SARB017, released in 2006. Its gold hour markers contrast against its green sunburst dial, cathedral handset, and conservative width diameter, creating one of the most unique watch designs ever. Somehow, it manages to look both outdoorsy and dressy at the same time. The SARB is a Seiko fanclub favorite for its heritage and versatility, and at one point, its value proposition.
Originally built for mountaineering, its unique inner-rotating compass can be set toward the direction of the sun to aid in navigation. It pairs specifications like 200 meters of water resistance, a sapphire crystal, and caliber 6R15 movement, often found in Seiko’s more expensive watches — it even has a screw-down crown. The SARB017 has cemented itself as the perfect everyday, do-anything watch.
At the height of its craze in 2015, it was readily available for under $400, marking the SARB one of the best watches for the price point, period. Unfortunately, they have since been discontinued, and you might have a hard time getting your hands on one, at least for a reasonable price. In 2020, Seiko rereleased the Alpinist, which we’ll dive into in the next section.
SPB117, SPB119, SPB121, SPB123, SPB209, SPB210, SPB197
Seiko’s previous Alpinists are some of the most popular. However, they have been discontinued and can be quite difficult to get a hold of. Luckily, Seiko released a new JDM (Japanese domestic market) lineup of Alpinists in 2020.
These watches include a beefed-up 40mm case width, 200m water resistance, Seiko’s 6R35 movement, and a sapphire crystal. Of course, they retain the core Alpinist design and features (re: rotating inner bezel, cathedral handset, and utilitarian but polished field watch design) that we associate with the lineup.
Some prefer the smaller dimensions of the older, 38mm model, and are not fans of the inclusion of a cyclops that magnifies the date wheel. Personally, I’m a fan of both. The 40mm suits my 6.5″ wrist well, and the cyclops adds visual interest.
This lineup introduces a variety of new dial colors, including a watch that closely resembles the SARB17. They include a green dial with black hour markers (SPB121), a black dial (SPB117), a silver dial (SPB119), a champagne dial with gold indices (SPB123), a brown dial (SPB209), a gold case with a green dial and markers (SPB210), and my personal favorite, a staple in my own collection, the SPB197. Its icy blue dial stands out from any other watches I’ve had.
Seiko Baby Alpinist
References: SPB155, SPB157, SPB159
The ‘Baby Alpinist’ takes the classic Alpinist design with a few key differences like a fume, sand-textured dial, cream-painted hour markers, and a domed, sapphire crystal. Further, the inner rotating bezel and the extra crown at 4:00 that controls it have been eradicated, resulting in a clean and pure rendition of the Alpinist.
Coming in at 38mm in diameter, this watch is nicknamed the Baby Alpinist for obvious reasons. While it may seem like this model needlessly strips away some of the core characteristics of an Alpinist, this actually helps simplify the overall design, making it much more minimal and legible than its sportier counterparts.
Of the three models, the green and gold SPB155 is my favorite. Although it clearly references the SARB017 styled Alpinist that is wildly popular and is a color combination that has been done, the green and gold combination has the most contrast. It works well to compliment the vintage styling of the piece. As a bonus, this is the only model in the lineup which comes on a stainless steel bracelet. The two other models come with a blue and black dial (SPB157) and a grey and black dial (SPB159).
Let’s not forget that these cool little watches are still part of Seiko’s Prospex lineup. So although they may not look like it, they are well-built. These capable watches sport 200 meters of water resistance, fantastic lume, 6R35 movement with 70-hour power reserve, and even a screw-down crown.
Seiko Laurel Alpinist
References: SPB241, SPB243, SPB245
As mentioned previously, Seiko first released the Alpinist lineup in 1959. The Alpinist was meant as a do-anything watch, capable on the mountains and sleek enough for dinner in town. Well, that’s what Seiko delivered, yet again, with another rerelease of the Alpinist lineup: the SPB241, SPB243, and SPB245.
This is one of the sleeker-looking Alpinists with no rotating bezel and just simple, geometric hour markers. Look closely, or you might miss the small details, like the minute track running through the center of the dial, and the triangular hour markers at 12, 6, and 9, applied and lume-painted in a rare, divided, geometric pattern. This allows you to easily orient the watch and read the time even under low light conditions.
The geometric, beveled case, paired with the large, smooth, sunburst dial creates an almost otherworldly juxtaposition: one sharp, one smooth. This is the type of watch that doesn’t immediately jump out to capture your attention. Rather, it entices you with the slow burn of its little details.
My personal favorite is the SPB241 with its ivory dial, complementing the soft, warm tones of the luminescent cream paint filling the hour markers and handset. Along with the gray dialed SPB243, it comes on a stainless steel oyster bracelet, while the green dialed SPB245 comes on a simple leather strap (and costs $25 less as a result).
References: SRPD43, SRP777, SRPE93, SRPH55, SRPG19, SRPA21, SRPC23
The Seiko Turtle is the unofficial, community-issued nickname for the modern revival of older, classic Seiko divers from the ’70s and ’80s. The Turtle notoriously sports a unique, turtle-shaped cushion case, automatic movement, 200 meters of water resistance, and even an ISO certification. These specs make it suitable even for truly professional divers.
Either way, the Turtle has always been an excellent, hard-wearing dive watch that is as well-built as it is unique. Over the years, Seiko has reimagined the Turtle with quite a few variations; here are some of the best:
PADI Turtle SRPA21/SRPE99
Seiko dive watches aren’t just there for style. Professional divers truly do use Seiko’s divers, thanks to their water resistance, legibility, and build quality. Even better, Seiko’s PADI lineup of divers is certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. This marks them as some of the most capable dive watches on the market.
Seiko has released two PADI Turtles so far: the Pepsi SRPA21 (also referenced as SRPE99) and SRPG19.
The SRPA21 sports an energetic blue sunburst dial and the red/blue ‘Pepsi’ bezel and is one of the first watches that comes to mind when I think of the Turtle lineup as a whole. The SRPG19, on the other hand, has recently become a crowd favorite thanks to its unique globe-shaped, textured dial, blue-accented hour hand and bezel insert.
Both use Seiko’s 4R36 movement and have 200m water resistance, although the SRPA21 uses Seiko’s hardlex crystal. It also has an aluminum bezel insert instead of the higher-quality sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel insert, which are more resistant to scratches on the SRGP19.
Either is more than capable of a dive out in the ocean or even just wearing it while lounging at the beach. If you want something bright and breezy, the SRPA21 makes a great summer watch. But if you’re looking for something a little more muted from afar but detailed up close, the SRPG19 is a great option.
The SRP777 is the most faithful recreation of Seiko’s original Turtle from the ’70s, with its black dial and bezel. Regarding specifications, it loses compared to the more modern King Turtle, which we’ll discuss later in the article, because it only includes a hardlex crystal instead of sapphire and an aluminum bezel instead of ceramic. Both of these are much more prone to scratches.
However, there’s just something about the classic, black matte dial and bezel of the SRP777 that makes this feel like a genuine ‘do-anything’ watch. One you might even be able to wear for all your pursuits.
Save the Ocean
References: SRPC91, SBDY027, SRPD21, SRPE07, SRPE39, SRPF77, SRPH55, SRPH57, SRPH59
Every year since 2018, Seiko has released limited Save the Ocean editions of their popular dive watches, donating a portion of proceeds to various ocean exploration and conservation organizations. They each have wildly varied textured dials, typically in shades of blue: an obvious nod to the color of the ocean.
There have been various options to choose from over the years, each dedicated to their own conservations and styled accordingly, from penguins to manta rays to great white sharks to … well, turtles. Jump quick, though, as they can be quite limited, with older years’ models becoming more and more difficult to find.
No matter which of the references you pick, you’re getting Seiko’s reliable 4R36 movement and turtle case. Some models, like those from 2021, are based on the King Turtle build and include upgraded sapphire and hardlex crystals. It will be interesting to see if this is the standard build for Seiko’s Save the Ocean lineup going forward.
References: SRPE03, SRPE05, SRPE07
The King Turtle upgrades the traditional Seiko Turtle with a new sapphire crystal and a ceramic bezel insert. Unlike the sportier matte or sunburst dials, on other models, its new waffle dial adds some aesthetic texture and a bit more ‘military’ appeal.
At 45mm in diameter, the Turtle sounds like it would wear larger than most of us are likely used to. However, its condensed 47.7mm lug-to-lug and unique cushion case help the watch wear much more favorably than is suggested on paper. The cushion case is rounded toward the bottom, reducing the physical and visual bulk. This allows you to rotate your wrist freely, despite its chunky dimensions. On the whole, it is one of the most unique and clever aspects of the Turtle design.
The King Turtle is a watch you’ll look at and immediately know if you love or hate it. If you’ve always wanted the visual presence of a larger watch but typically don’t have the wrist to pull it off, the Turtle is the perfect middle ground. Further, the King Turtle is one of the most fully kitted of the affordable turtles, with its upgraded crystal and bezel making it a complete package.
References: SRPC35, SRPC41, SBDY083, SBDY085, SBDY109
If you like the idea of the Turtle, but the larger Turtles are just a bit too large with their 45mm case width, the Mini Turtle is a great alternative; it comes in at just 42mm. Still, it retains the conceptual design of the Turtle case: cushion toward the top, tapering toward the wrist. This lets you move your wrist much more freely and feels even smaller than a typical 42mm watch, making it great for those with smaller wrists.
The Mini Turtle also adds a few unique color variations, like the emerald SBDY083 or limited-release snowflake-textured SBDY109. Of course, the standard colors are still present, like simple black (SBDY083) and Pepsi (SRPC41). Overall, the Mini Turtles are a bit smaller and more “fun” looking than their larger Turtle counterparts. Although, maybe that’s just my perception, seeing these as little cute ‘pups’ compared to the bigger turtle ‘dogs.’
References: SPB151, SPB153
The Seiko Captain Willard is the first cushion case Seikos ever released and one of the most sought-after vintage Seikos. Nicknamed for its appearance in the movie Apocalypse Now by … well, Captain Willard, the watch is as well-known for its innovation and heritage in horology as it is in cinema.
The Willard is instantly recognizable for its hefty crown guards and broad, flat case shape, which is a bit more rectangular and H-shaped than the standard Turtle models.
The Captain Willard’s first reintroduction was in 2019 as the SLA033, which runs at a premium ($3,000+). However, it has been more recently reintroduced in the more affordable SPB151 and SPB153 models. Build-wise, the SPB151/153 Willards use a fairly standard (and somewhat disappointing) aluminum bezel, although the sapphire crystal is welcome and expected at this price point.
Captain Willard isn’t Seiko’s best value proposition, but it’s hard to argue that it’s one of the most legendary. Its pure, tool-watch design is historical, utilitarian, and in a league of its own. The watch is incomparable to any other watch on the market. The Willard is designed for the real Seiko-head who wants to own a major piece of the brand’s history and, quite frankly, look awesome while doing it.
References: SKX779, SXX781, SRPE27, SRPD25, SRPD26, SRPD27, SRPG57,
The Seiko Monster was released in the early 2000s. It quickly became a cult classic amongst Seiko collectors for its combination of daring design and incredible build. The design is instantly recognizable thanks to its chunky all-stainless bezel and aggressive, off-white hour markers resembling the discolored teeth of a sea monster. It wasn’t until recent generations that it joined the Prospex lineup.
Few upgrades have been made, though the 7S26 movement was replaced with a newer 4R36. This is because it was already considered a professionally rated dive watch since gen one.
The hour markers are large and bold, allowing for Seiko’s top-tier lume to be applied generously. And generous it is! The Monster has o of the best lume in any dive watch—glowing like a torch and lasting all night. This set a benchmark for all dive watches released after it, demonstrating that you don’t need to buy an expensive luxury watch to have great lume.
Further, the Monster has a weight and heft that gives its wearer a sense of reassurance that this is by no means a cheap watch, despite its sub $500 price tag. Its build, satisfyingly tactile bezel action, amazing lume, and even its solid link stainless steel bracelet give the feeling of a dive watch that should cost much more than it really does.
Recently digging into the archives of Seiko’s dive watches has led me to hunt down and pick up a 1st generation orange SKX781, and it has quickly become a summer favorite in my collection. Now, on the 4th generation of Monster, any of the newer models like the SRPD25 or the PADI SRPE27 will serve you just as well. And so will the older ones, if you’re willing to put in the legwork to find one on the used market.
References: SBD061, SPB077, SPB187
Once you’ve experienced Seiko’s entry-level divers and see just how surprisingly good they are, it can be tempting to stay in that price range and buy another and another. But if you want something that feels more premium, jumping up your budget can get you a lot more in a watch. The Marinemaster 200 is the perfect example. Nicknamed after the more expensive Marinemaster 300, the 200 is much more refined, in both look and feel, than Seiko’s entry-level pieces.
Holding the MM200, it’s instantly evident that this is a much more refined piece than Seiko’s entry-level offerings. The brushed and polished finishes, varied throughout, are impeccable, allowing the MM200 to catch the light beautifully. The case width is a palatable 44mm, although curved lugs, relatively thin 13mm thickness, and 20mm lug-width help the watch to wear a bit smaller than it seems. The most recent Marinemaster 200, SPB187, wears a bit like a slightly bulkier SKX.
Its materials used, like the diashock coating on the stainless steel case and bracelet, are a step above Seiko’s entry-level varieties. And the bracelet is another step up from Seiko’s other quality options.
However, there are probably better bracelets out there for the price. The same goes for bezel action. It seems the dive bezel here is about as good as Seiko’s more affordable offerings, which is a bit disappointing. Or it’s just a testament to how much love they put into their entry-level models.
References: SRPF03, SRPB49, SRB51, SRPB53, SRPB55, SRPB99
Seiko is a master at combining professionally rated specifications with rather innovative and, dare I say, ‘out there’ watch designs. The Samurai is the perfect embodiment of this philosophy, with its incredibly aggressive geometric design.
Nicknamed the Samurai because its bevels are all sharp and angular, as though sliced by a samurai’s sword, this watch has a ton of character. At 44mm in diameter, it also has a ton of wrist presence. If the in-your-face design wasn’t enough to stand out on your wrist, the relatively heavy ~190g weight will be, which may be enough to turn some people off.
But the Samurai isn’t all just flash and fluff. It is part of the Prospex line, which is specified as suitable for even professional divers with its 200 meters of water resistance, torch-like lume, and durable sapphire crystal. Don’t expect anything more than a suitable bracelet or bezel action, though, as you’ll need to pay a bit more for “great.”
Overall, the Samurai is one-of-a-kind when it comes to design. If you dig the style, pick one up. The Prospex build quality is more than adequate and, dollar-for-dollar, excellent compared to watches from other brands in the sub $500 price range.
References: SRPE33, SRPE35, SRPE37
Like the King Turtle version of the Turtle lineup, the King Samurai is an upgraded variation of the Samurai. It retains its sharp, geometric design but adds a more textured, checkered dial, ceramic bezel insert, and sapphire crystal. This offers a fresh take on an older design that looks less like a tool watch and is more appealing. Further, the ceramic and sapphire are much more scratch-resistant, resulting in a watch that will look new for longer, despite daily wear and tear.
The King Samurai comes in a few variations, from the Save the Ocean SRPE33 with a deep-sea blue-black dial with manta ray silhouettes on it to the black dialed SRPE35. My favorite is the white-dialed SRPE37 — the ‘freshest’ looking of the bunch.
If you want an incredibly unique watch that’s totally Seiko, few watches embody their philosophy of unique designs combining long-standing quality builds more than the Samurai does.
The Seiko Tuna is another cleverly nicknamed watch in the Prospex lineup. It’s given this nickname for its unique, lugless case shroud, which resembles, well, a tuna can! Don’t let this silly little comparison confuse you, though. The Tuna is a serious, purpose-built dive watch. The original Tuna, released in 1978, was revolutionary.
Not only were they the first professional quartz dive watches Seiko released, but they also came equipped with ventilating accordion-style rubber straps and L-Shaped gaskets. Both innovations are replicated throughout the entire industry and in modern watches today.
Recently, the iconic Tuna style has been re-engineered in new, modern Tuna releases, including the Baby Tuna, a smaller, more wearable and affordable version of the beastly professionally rated diver.
References: SBBN031, SBBN033, SBBN035, SBBN039, SBBN043, SBBN045, SBBN047
The Tuna spans a variety of different models and price ranges. Notably, the SBBN031 and SBB033 are faithful recreations of the early Tunas.
Immediately noticeable, their design and dimensions are massive, making for a highly practicable, legible dive watch when diving. However, it may be a bit impractical in your day-to-day life when a 47mm diameter watch sticks out like a sore thumb (although that is part of the appeal for some).
And although it’s a large watch on paper, in reality, it wears much smaller than its dimensions suggest, perhaps due in part to its relatively flat case design that sits closer to the wrist than others — even smaller watches.
Sporting 300 meters of water resistance, these Tunas are serious watches made for serious divers, which is why they are part of Seiko’s Marinemaster lineup.
References: SRPF81, SRPF83, SRPE29, SRPE31, SNE567
The Baby Tuna is a smaller, more wearable lineup of Tunas designed for those who like the concept and design but not the large, 47mm+ case width of the full-sized models. They also introduce an automatic movement, previously inaccessible in any Tuna under $1,000. Think of the large Tuna for someone more professionally-oriented (or a Seiko enthusiast), while the Baby Tuna is a bit more civilian.
The newer SRPF81 and SRPF83, named the “Safari,” are well-wearing with just a 43mm case width and 44mm lug-to-lug. This results in a watch that is much more suitable for various wrist sizes but still has a ton of wrist presence thanks to its shrouded design.
These models are the most playful, with sunburst dials in green or blue, depending on the model, and are some of the most colorful, bicolored bezels in the lineup. Similarly, the Urban Safari SRPE29 and SRPE31 are much more muted color variations of the near lugless Tuna design in khaki and grey, respectively.
The movement housed inside is Seiko’s 4R35. It’s not as full-fledged as the Big Tuna’s 8L35 movement, but still a more than capable movement for everyday usage. Similarly, the Baby Tunas feature just 200m of water resistance instead of the Big Tuna’s 300m. However, all but the most serious divers will push the watch past that limit.
References: SNJ025, SNJ027, SNJ029, SNJ031
The Seiko Arnie, nicknamed after Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wore the watch in the films Commando (1985) and Predator (1987), become an icon of the ’80s. Since then, Seiko has recreated the ’80s classic in a more affordable modern reinterpretation: the SNJ025.
It’s a hybrid digital and analog dive watch, which allows you to tell the time easily. You can glance at its many digital display features: time, calendar, chronograph, and alarm. The Arnie is housed in a Seiko Tuna-style shroud which protects the watch from wear and tear. The shroud adds a bit of bulk, both physically and visually, though the matte black color and relatively condensed 40mm bezel within the shroud keeps the watch much smaller-looking on the wrist than its dimensions would suggest.
Some complain that the Arnie is too big, at 47.8mm in diameter, though you can imagine why it would fit someone as muscular as Schwarzenegger. Regardless, if you think the watch is cool, I don’t believe something as subjective as a watch being “too large” should stop you from enjoying it. It’s one-of-a-kind for its cinematic history and hybrid/digital/dive watch appeal.
References: SPB101, SPB103
The Seiko Sumo is a larger, contemporary take on Seiko’s typical dive design language. Its dimensions are not trivial, with a 45mm case width and a longer 52.5mm lug-to-lug than its other 45mm counterparts, like the Turtle, and this makes it an ideal candidate for those with average to larger-than-average wrists. Its case is bold and curvaceous, with polished chamfers framing the bezel and a beautiful brushed finish throughout.
The Sumo sits between Seiko’s more affordable Prospex divers, like the Turtle and Samurai, and their more expensive options, like the Marinemaster 300. Housed inside the Sumo, depending on the model, is the caliber 6R15/6R35 movement, the latter of which is the most recent and has an impressive 70-hour power reserve. Both are on the upper end of Seiko’s workhorse models within the Prospex lineup. There is also a solar-powered quartz chronograph variation of the Sumo (reference 757) which, functionally, has everything one could ever need from a watch. However, its extra complication makes it a bit too busy looking for my taste.
References: SSC813P1, SSC815P1, SSC817P1, SSC819P1, SSC911P1, SSC913P1, SSC915P1
The Seiko Speedtimer is a solar-powered, racing-inspired chronograph. Although this modern Speedtimer is a long way from the design of the original 6139 ’70s model, its black, steel tachymeter bezel gives it the appearance of some of the most popular modern chronographs — most notably, the Rolex Daytona — but with enough unique design queues to set it apart.
With a wide variety of dial colors, from black to white/black panda, blue, and even cream, there’s something for everyone. And I’d argue that fewer watches are more versatile than an all-purpose, streamlined chronograph.
Coming in at 39mm in diameter, the watch is a crowd-favorite, suitable for various wrists. Its lug-to-lug measurement, however, is a deceiving 46mm, because the included metal bracelet has male end links protruding to 49mm, although this does not make it unwearable or too large by any standards.
The Speedtimer runs on Seiko’s solar-powered V192 movement. The subtly integrated solar cells on each chronograph’s 3, 6, and 9:00 subdials absorb light to power the watch, making it last for up to six months on a full charge.
References: SNR029, SNR031, SNR033, SNR035, SNR041, SNR043, SNR045, SNR049
The Seiko LX series sits at the top of Seiko’s collection in price and specifications. Competing with watches from Swiss luxury brands like Rolex is no easy feat, but the Seiko LX does precisely that. Offering near Grand-Seiko-like quality in tool watches designed for land (field), sky (GMT), and sea (dive), the LX comes in a variety of different models and watch styles.
All LXs have Seiko’s meticulous Zaratsu finish, one of the finest in all of watchmaking. Some models, like the SNR025, 029, and 033, come in a featherweight titanium case much lighter than typical stainless steel cases. Holding the Seiko LX next to more wildly expensive luxury Swiss watches, many watch enthusiasts would be surprised to find out that the LX costs a fraction of what high-tier watchmakers offer.
Housed inside are one of the most consistently accurate movements and Seiko’s most premium spring drive movement. This movement combines the best of both quartz and mechanical to produce the smoothest sweeping second hand.
Overall, the Seiko LX is a premium Seiko watch at a premium price. With a wide variety of styles (GMT, dive, and field watches) to choose from, one of the best movements, and some of the most refined designs and finishes, it’s hard to do better than the Seiko LX.
Marinemaster 300 SBDX023
Seiko’s Marinemaster 300 is a refined, luxury-level dive watch that competes with its more expensive Swiss alternatives (looking at you, Omega and Tudor). Somehow, it manages to look dressy enough to wear with a suit but sporty enough to wear casually.
You can even put it to the test in its natural habitat: the ocean. Its somewhat bulky dimensions (44mm diameter and ~15mm thickness) paired with its classic dive watch design scream “utilitarian tool watch.”
However, the high-polished accents on the case and applied hour markers contrast against its impeccable brushing throughout and sleek character lines on the case to form a luxurious appearance. Only Seiko could blend the two worlds so well.
The included bracelet is solid and tapers, helping the watch wear a bit smaller than its 44mm diameter, and it includes a ratcheting clasp, traditionally used to fit the watch over a dive suit. But it also becomes extremely useful if your wrist swells up from the heat, elevation, or, frankly, too many delicious slices of pizza that day.
A few owners of the Marinemaster have complained about the bracelet’s pin and collar system over screws, typically found in watches of this price point. Further, the clasp is stamped instead of machined and is quite thick compared to the rest of the bracelet links.
Regardless, the bracelet is well built and comfortable on the wrist — you’ll have a hard time doing better for the price. Those who come from other brands may find the 4:00 crown a bit unusual, though it makes wearing the watch much more comfortable without the crown digging into your wrist.
The MM300 has 300m water resistance thanks to its unique fixed-caseback design, which is way beyond what most people, including divers, realistically need most of the time. Housed inside the MM300 is Seiko’s high-beat 8L35 movement, based on the Grand Seiko 9S55 (without the visual refinement and decoration). This is an impressive workhorse. With a high-beat movement that beats at 36,000 BPH, it has one of the smoothest sweeping second hands you can find.
Those who have only held Swiss divers, like those from Omega and Tudor, will often scoff at the idea of a high-end Seiko … until they’ve seen one in person. Dollar-for-dollar, the Marinemaster 300 is one of the best values for the money, and you’ll be hard-pressed to do better.
As a brand, Seiko demonstrated early on that you don’t need to spend a lot to get a great mechanical watch. The Presage lineup takes it further, proving that details like beautiful, textured dials and unique materials aren’t just for luxury Swiss watches. The Seiko Presage lineup offers dress watches with some of the most exotic dial materials and textures, from porcelain to enamel, at a price previously inaccessible. Here are some of the best Seiko Presage models currently.
References: SRPB43, SRPB41, SRPE19, SRPB77, SRPD37, SRPE41, SRPE43, SRPE45, SRPB77, SARB065, SSA346, SRPF41, SSA343, SSA347
The Presage Cocktail Time lineup was launched in 2010 and is a series of watches, the dials of which are inspired by various cocktails. The SARB065 was the first model to kick off the craze with its gorgeous, ice-blue, lacquered dial. It amazed Seiko enthusiasts, growing in popularity among them.
It was remarkable to see such attention to detail and effort being put into the dial of a watch at such an affordable price point — something other watch brands seem to entirely disregard until watches are in the $1,000+ price range. The series was relaunched in 2017. As the lineup has exploded in popularity, so have the number of models available, each with its own unique flair.
While each model differs primarily in its dial color and layout, most have simple, all-polished cases. They come in either 38.5mm or 40.5mm case widths, perfectly suitable for many wrist sizes as a casual dress watch. There are also some smaller ladies’ models, though I believe any size would be fine for anybody.
Some models, like the SSA343, my favorite Cocktail Time, include a power reserve complication, which allows you to check how wound the mechanical movement is at any given moment. Not only is it practical, but it also gives some added visual interest — as if the watch needs it.
The Cocktail Time could easily be the only watch you needed to own if the hardlex crystal was upgraded to a more scratch-resistant sapphire and the water resistance was increased from its 50m rating. Both, however, are still better than your average dress watch.
Housed inside the earlier Cocktail Time models like the SARB065 was the 6R15 movement, but that was quickly downgraded to the 4R35/4R57 (time-only/power-reserve) as a cost-cutting measure. The 4R series are still great movements, often featured in Seiko’s professionally rated Prospex lineup as well. They have hacking and hand-winding, although they are slightly less precise than the 6R15.
Most come on a leather, patent leather, or faux alligator strap, which isn’t the highest quality. If it’s within your budget, consider replacing the included band with quality leather to dress it up and elevate the look entirely.
Overall, the Cocktail Time can easily be a one-watch collection (if you’re not too hard on your watches) or the mesmerizing centerpiece of one that already exists. Their dials are undeniably attractive and come at a price point in which most other brands would entirely disregard the dial details and aesthetics.
References: SARX077, SARX075, SARX079, SARX099, SARX089, SPB165, SPB227
If you’re looking for something a little more sporty than the Cocktail Time, the Sharp Edged carries similar DNA — beautifully textured dials, but with a more durable build. The star of the show on the Sharp Edged series is clearly its refined, geometric design, from case to bracelet to dial. The sharp edges allow the watch to catch light and sparkle from any angle. The dial incorporates a traditional Japanese hemp leaf pattern with a rich texture and subtle sunburst. This aesthetic varies from deeper, almost-black hues but opens up to blue/black/white/green, depending on the model.
Coming in at just under 40mm in diameter and an impressively thin 11mm thickness, it comfortably fits the sweet spot for most people’s wrists. Its stainless steel case has a dia-shock coating applied and sapphire crystal, making this quite a scratch-resistant watch all around. It has a sporty and versatile design that can easily be an everyday watch. Housed inside of the time-only models are the Seiko 6R35 movement with an impressive 70-hour power reserve and a rated accuracy of +/- 20 to 40 seconds per day (although, more often than not, it tends to be much more accurate than that).
Some of the most notable models are the SPB167 for its beautifully dynamic blue dial and the GMT collection, which retains the textured, sharp-edge design but adds a 24-hour bezel and, of course, GMT functionality to track an extra time zone. The GMT lineup is often referred to as the “Baby Grand Seiko,” referencing the much more expensive Grand Seiko Sport GMT Spring Drive — a testament to the Sharp Edge’s luxurious nature.
Overall, the Sharp Edged series retains many of the things loved about Grand Seiko: beautiful dials, fit, and finish at a much more affordable price point than was previously accessible. The Sharp Edged dials are dynamic and well-executed, the dimensions are modern and fit a variety of wrists, and both the time-only and GMT models are well-worth their price.
SRPD39 and SRPD41
The Presage SRPD39 and SRPD41 are a duo of beautifully textured dress watches. The duo is often called the “baby grand Seiko” for their surprisingly detailed, textured dials — a cool, icy-white on the 39 and a deep, peacock blue on the 41.
The stepped case with multiple layers of finishing, brushed and polished, is not quite up to the level of Grand Seiko, but of course, neither is the price tag. Still, in hand, it’s easy to see the comparison is not too far-fetched.
At 42mm, these are pretty large for a dressy watch, giving plenty of room for the showpiece dial to stand out. Overall, if you want a stepping stone to the Grand Seiko, with a minimalist design that pays more attention to the details than most other watches in its price range, the SRPD39/41 may be for you.
Arita Porcelain Dials
References: SPB171, SPB293, SPB319
Seiko’s Presage lineup doesn’t just experiment with beautiful dial textures but also with materials used. Seiko used carefully crafted and glazed Arita porcelain for the dial in this lineup. This results in a highly glossy and simply otherworldly-looking dial that you just can’t find from other watch brands. Again, it’s easy to see why people refer to these models as more affordable alternatives to the Grand Seiko.
The SPB171 is the most popular model, with a power reserve and day wheel indicator on the dial, but it is limited and becoming harder to find. Thankfully, Seiko has just released a series of simple, three-handed porcelain watches — SPB293 and SPB319 — which simplify the overall design to a time-only setup, giving the porcelain dial more room to shine.
Overall, if you want a standout showpiece in your collection, the Arita porcelain dial Seikos will stand out even amongst a collection of luxury Swiss watches.
References: SPB045, SPB069
Enamel is typically reserved for old pocket watches or modern high-end luxury watches in the $10,000+ range. Well, Seiko is doing what Seiko does best and is offering an enamel dial at a much more affordable, ~$1,000 price point in the white dialed SPB045.
Enamel is a difficult material to work with, requiring multiple layers of glass-based paint, each set using fire. It’s best to avoid Seiko’s enamel models with a date window, as they tend to show flaws with the brand’s value-based approach to the enamel. However, in the models with a date subdial, the enamel flows freely throughout.
The enamel dial Seikos are, hands-down, the most affordable way to experience an enamel dial in a modern watch. They are tasteful, well-executed, and housed in a vintage-style, all-polished case that is quite charming, if not just a bit thick (just under 13mm). B-ut corners need to be cut somewhere. As with the Arita Porcelain models, if you want a showpiece dress watch, it’s hard to do better than their enamel lineup.
Not to be confused with the affordable side of Seiko, Grand Seiko is the luxury branch of the brand, aimed at watch enthusiasts with much deeper pockets. With that comes some of the best, uninflated value in luxury watches, easily rivaling that of luxury Swiss counterparts such as Rolex and Omega.
Grand Seiko is well-known for its innovative Spring Drive movement, which uses a battery-powered quartz module to regulate the mechanical mechanism. This keeps the watch accurate to one second per day. The Spring Drive also has the smoothest sweeping second hand in all of watchmaking, as it releases energy continuously in one direction.
Grand Seiko is the epitome of fine Japanese watchmaking, demonstrating some of the most impressive attention to detail in all of horology. With hand-finished, mirror-like Zaratsu polishing, and some of the most unique dials on the market, like those on their popular Snowflake models, it’s easy to see why they get such high praise at first sight. And I urge you to do so if you have any Grand Seiko boutiques nearby.
There are a variety of Grand Seiko models, ranging from sporty to dressy — and even more formal. While there are simply too many great models to cover in this article, we’ll be releasing a future article detailing more of the lineup in greater detail.
We’ve included just a couple of our favorites. Read the full Grand Seiko buying guide for more picks.
Here are some of the best currently available:
The SBGA211 Snowflake is part of the Grand Seiko’s “four seasons” lineup, and each watch’s dial represents one of the four seasons. The SBGA211 is nicknamed the Snowflake for its beautifully executed white, textured dial. The texture is subtle, drawing you in to examine details that become more noticeable as you get closer.
The Zaratsu finish on the titanium bracelet and case is done impeccably and contrasts beautifully against the textured dial. The titanium case and bracelet are a bit polarizing — some love its lightweight feel, while others prefer the heft of a stainless steel watch.
At 41mm in diameter, 12.5mm thickness, and 49mm lug to lug, the Snowflake has fantastic proportions. Of course, Grand Seiko’s proprietary Spring Drive movement is housed inside, completing the package. Overall, the Snowflake represents the best of what Grand Seiko offers. From design to build to fit and finish, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find a better watch at this price point.
If you just want a simple, time-only alternative, consider the newer “White Birch” model (SLGH005), which has much more pronounced grooves in its all-white, snowflake-esque dial.
SBGA413 Sakura Cherry Blossom
If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself at a Grand Seiko watch meetup, you can expect this exact model to be on ~50% of the attendants’ wrists, and for good reason. The SBGA413G Cherry Blossom is one of the GS models that really kicked off the brand’s craze in 2017.
As part of the Grand Seiko’s Heritage Four Seasons lineup, each watch’s dial represents — you guessed it — one of the four seasons in Japan. The SBGA413 is nicknamed the Cherry Blossom for the rich, pink blossoms that bloom in spring.
The star of the show is the beautifully textured pink dial, which is subtle enough to look silvery in most lighting conditions. It’s only when examining the dial closely or in direct light that it opens up to a slightly more saturated pink, but not overly so. The texture is impeccable and impossible to miss. It resembles varied brush strokes in any given direction; the eye gets lost in it.
The watch’s case and bracelet are made of titanium and, like the handset and hour markers, are hand-finished with Grand Seiko’s remarkable brushing and Zaratsu polishing. Polished to the finest levels of refinement, it reflects light as if it were a mirror. Such aesthetics are one of the many aspects that simply blow its similarly priced Swiss alternatives out of the water.
Of course, the Grand Seiko Spring Drive movement is present in the Sakura, completing the package of one of the most amazingly innovative timepieces released in the past few years.
With a 40mm diameter, it is a nearly perfect size for just about any wrist, though the odd 21mm lug width is slightly unusual. With that said, if you’re paying ~$6,000 for a watch, spending even $200 on a perfect fit, the exotic leather strap seems like a drop in the bucket.
In June 2022, Seiko also released a smaller, 36.5mm, time-only Cherry Blossom (SBGW289). However, the SBGA413 will forever be in the heart of many Grand Seiko lovers as the first to enter their hearts (and collections).
Every traveler needs a GMT watch, and every watch collector needs a Grand Seiko. Neither of these things is gospel, but why not kill two birds with one stone? The SBGM221 is a Grand Seiko GMT that simply exudes class. There’s a good reason it’s part of their Elegance lineup. This watch doesn’t grab your attention with its uniquely textured dial as many Grand Seikos do. Instead, it uses an understated design philosophy that uses the best materials with the best finish. It does so in a balanced and proportional way, creating a timeless design that will look just as great 100 years from now as it does today.
The Zaratsu polishing on the case, handset, and hour markers reflects light in a way that differs from that of the well-executed, slightly glossy cream dial. This is the type of watch that gets you lost in its details every time you look down at it.
Housed inside is the automatic 9S66 GMT movement rated to -3/+5 seconds per day. However, it can be regulated and often runs much more accurately — extremely impressive for an in-house movement, or for any movement at all.
The proportions of the case are spot on, with a diameter of under 40mm, a relatively condensed lug-to-lug 47mm that wears fantastic on just about any wrist, and a 13.7mm thickness. It could be a bit slimmer, but it is expected, given GMT complications often add some bulk.
The SBGM221 is a fantastic watch that, under $5,000, packs way more punch than it has any right doing. This is quite possibly one of the best watches you can buy at this price point for any watch brand.
The SBGV245 doesn’t have a clever nickname like the rest of the Grand Seiko lineup does (“grey beast” isn’t very clever, is it?). Nor does it have the legendary Spring Drive movement. In fact, it doesn’t have a mechanical movement at all. Priced at ~$3,000 for a quartz watch, one that doesn’t even come on a bracelet, this might have you scratching your head … until you learn more about it.
The SBGV245 uses the Grand Seiko 9F82 quartz movement, accurate to +/- 10 seconds per year. One of the most innovative parts of this movement is that it has been hermetically sealed. While the lubricants used in most movements would dry up and require a watch service, in 4-8 years, this seal will allow the 9F82 to go up to 50 years without needing a service.
Like any quartz movement, it’s battery powered, and the battery in the 9F82 needs to be replaced just once every three years. It’s also rather well decorated, although it’s hard to appreciate since this watch lacks a see-through display case back. However, that’s par for the course for even high-end quartz watches.
The SBGV245 has a classy, utilitarian design that is sporty yet dressy. This can easily be a one-and-done watch collection that can do just about anything. Its case is primarily brushed, hiding surface scratches easily, with thin, polished accents to add some flair and dynamic interest. With plenty of lume between the Zaratsu-finished hour markers, the handset keeps the watch sporty and legible for everyday wear.
And the dimensions, at just 40mm in diameter and under 12mm thick, make it extremely comfortable for all-day wear.
The SBGV245 has been discontinued, and we’ll likely see new models from the GS Sport lineup to replace it. However, in the meanwhile, you can still find them available from various Grand Seiko authorized dealers.
References: SPB279, SPB281, SPB283, SPB285, SPB287, SPB291
|vibrations per hour||6 bps|
|Power reserve||70 hours|
|Water resistance||10 bar|
|Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m||4,800 A/m|
|Retail price in USD||$1,700|
|Case and bracelet||Stainless steel|
|Crystal||box-shaped sapphire with anti-reflective coating|
King Seiko is the counterpart of Grand Seiko – the brand’s high-end. Originally released in 1965, the King Seiko lineup has been relaunched in 2022, so King Seiko enthusiasts no longer need to scour eBay and watch forums for vintage models — though they will probably prefer to.
Its design is largely unchanged from its 1960’s rendition, with flat and angled facets across the case, handset, and hour markers, intentionally designed to catch light and do a great job of it.
The watch has new, modern specifications, like its 37mm diameter and 6R31 movement with a 70-hour power reserve, and a more solid, multi-link bracelet that is brushed to mute the somewhat reflective case. This watch looks just as great on exotic leather straps, though.
Coming in at under $2,000, it’s certainly not the best value proposition on the market, but It’s hard to argue with the King Seiko’s undeniable refinement.
References: SSG009, SSG010, SSG019, SSG020 SSG021, SSG022
The Seiko Coutura is a lineup of avant-garde watches that don’t fit the mold of what most people’s perception of Seiko is. Big, bold, and a bit blingy, the Coutura may not be for everyone. But if you think most watch designs are a bit too plain, the Coutura lineup may be for you.
On the other hand, its feature set is a bit less polarizing. With a radio sync solar movement powered by sunlight and an automatic sync with radio towers, it precisely sets the time. They mostly come on integrated, stainless steel bracelets, so this isn’t the watch you’ll want if you want to have fun changing watch straps for different moods.
All in all, the Coutura has quite an impressive set of features, though it is quite large and a bit blingy. And that may be what you’re looking for.
References: 5X53, SBXS003, SBXD007
The Seiko Astron is a premium GPS solar watch that is perfect for travelers. Combining the traditional aesthetics of an analog watch with the technological advancements of GPS technology, the solar quartz movement used in the Astron can accurately and automatically set the time from just about anywhere in the world. This makes it the perfect travel companion, quickly adjusting the time as you enter a new time zone.
On the high end, the most premium Astron watches can cost upward of $3,000. At this point, it’s competing with entry-level Swiss luxury watches, making it a niche sell.
If you’re a frequent traveler who wants a set-it-and-forget-it watch that will constantly set the time for you, this is the one for you.
The watches below would have made great candidates for this list… Before they were discontinued.
While once widely available, and able to be found at a great price, the watches below can typically only be found secondhand at significant markups due to their exclusivity.
Still great watches, and icons in their own right, if you can find one for a fair price, they might be worth the hunt. But otherwise, many of the other watches on this list will offer better value for your dollar.
Seiko SKX007, SKX009, SKX13
One of the most iconic and popular watches in the world, the Seiko SKX has a long-standing history of being one of, if not the most, affordable automatic watches on the market. Notoriously, their ISO certification is present in many of Seiko’s Prospex watches but lacking in many other watch brands. Especially in the affordable price range, the SKX set the bar for how affordable a true professional dive watch can be — an impressive feat.
The most notable SKXs are the black dial and bezel SKX007 and the navy dial and Pepsi (red/blue) bezel variant SKX009. Both come in at 42mm in diameter and have a condensed lug-to-lug that makes the somewhat chunky diver fit comfortably on almost any wrist. Two hundred meters of water resistance is pretty standard in Seiko’s serious dive watches, and its 7S26 movement is reliable. But it is outdated, with the 4R35/4R36 being used in Seiko’s more modern watches.
Along with its charming, unpretentious, tool-watch design and affordable price tag, these divers are a favorite among watch enthusiasts and will forever be icons. They’re a cornerstone in many watch collections (including my own).
Unfortunately, the SKX was discontinued in 2019, making its availability much more scarce. While I can’t recommend picking one up at inflated prices (I have seen them run for an insane $500+ on watch forums), if you happen to find one in good condition, at a good price, I urge you to consider it. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for some of the many other great divers Seiko has to offer, like those in the Prospex lineup, or the more affordable Seiko 5 Sports divers, which are closest in design to the SKX, although they lack the water resistance and ISO certification.
Check out the in-depth SKX009 review to learn more.
Seiko SARB033 and SARB035
A handful of Seikos have been at the center of conversations for the past decade. The SARB033 and 035 are probably some of the most recognizable and talked about watches among Seikoholics. Known for being well-proportioned, well-finished, having much better specifications than their counterparts, and at one point, affordable (~$3-400), the SARB was a benchmark to which all other watches were compared.
It was nearly impossible to talk about any watch under $500 on watch forums for years without the SARB033/035 being brought up. “Best Seiko ever!” “Baby Grand Seiko!” “Don’t buy X, Y, or Z watches. Buy the SARB instead!” However, since the SARB033 and 035 have been discontinued, their prices on the secondhand market have become inflated.
The SARB033 and 035 are still excellent watches if you can find them for a reasonable price. Anything over ~$400ish (I’ve seen them go for a ridiculous $750!!!), and there are plenty of great alternatives on the market, including just about any other watch on this list.
Seiko SNA411 Flightmaster
The Seiko SNA411 Flightmaster is a quartz pilot chronograph that doesn’t just look like a complicated and technical purpose-built tool watch. It is one.
With more features than you’ll likely ever use, including a slide rule bezel used to make calculations on the fly and the much more practical chronograph, the ‘Flighty’ is a whole lot of watch for a little money (often around $200). It also has a military appeal, with a unique hit of yellow accents that are hard to come by and a great way to subtly add some color to your collection.
At 42mm in diameter, 13mm thickness, and just 44mm lug to lug, the Flighty is extremely wearable and looks just as good on a military-style NATO strap, or more casual leather, as it does on the included stainless steel bracelet.
If you want a cool pilot watch that is practical, accurate, and affordable, the SNA411 is not just one of the best Seikos, but one of the best watches that fit the criteria, period.
Seiko has no shortage of exceptional watches, regardless of your preferred style or budget.
We hope this all-encompassing list was helpful in finding the next Seiko for you.
If you still need suggestions, we’ll be happy to help. Drop us a comment below or on social media with what you’re looking for, and we’ll be glad to help!