Japanese watches, the best brands and why to choose them

Japanese watches, the best brands and why to choose them

Japanese watch brands cover a broad spectrum of products and technologies, ranging from low-budget timepieces to luxury watches capable of competing with the most refined Swiss-made luxury ones. They often stand out for their innovative and unique technologies no other manufacturer can ever rival. There are three main leading watch groups in Japan: the Seiko Group, the Citizen Group, and the Casio Group. Each of them has a broad brand portfolio, and each prides itself with showcasing many proprietary technologies.

Vintage Japanese Watches

Japanese vintage watches cover a consistent volume of the Japanese watch business and, compared to most Swiss brands, usually come at far more competitive prices. Iconic pieces, like the Seikosha-produced Kamikaze watch from WWII we introduced on our military-watches related article, excluded. Generally speaking, second-hand prices are growing, with some Seiko vintage divers and King Seiko watches leading the way.

Japanese sports watches

Diving watches belong to this class of products, a category where Japanese brands are world leaders. At least three brands are offering such products within the Seiko Group. Orient, owned by Seiko, offers, for example, several sports watches, including a professional diver such as the Orient Pro Saturation Diver.

seiko-prospex-lx-gmt-spring-drive-snr025j1Seiko's Prospex collection is the brand's sports watch collection par excellence, with products like the renewed Marine Master, Turtle, and King Turtle, although the Japanese Seiko diving watch legacy is often associated with the Tuna. Casio is another remarkable player, with the G-Shock and Pro-Trek series offering countless multi-function rugged Japanese sports watches. Finally, let's include Citizen watches, whose Promaster collection is iconic whether you're opting for sea, land, or air.

Japanese luxury watches

The Citizen Group and the Seiko Group also have luxury brands that compete with the best Swiss brands. The former has The Citizen brand in its portfolio, available exclusively on the Japanese market as we write this section, while Seiko has at least two high-end watch brands: Grand Seiko and Credor.

grand-seiko-sbgk005Grand Seiko is a global luxury Japanese watch brand, rapidly expanding across the European market; Credor is limited to the domestic, Asian, and American markets and is the best representation of Japanese savoir-faire. Citizen has yet another luxury brand in its catalog, which it is a bit under cover. It is called Campanola.

Classic Japanese Watches

Japanese brands hold an excellent reputation when it comes to classic automatic or hand-wound watches. With the Orient Star collection, Orient promotes classic timepieces at affordable price points. Seiko's typical offering is the Presage, whose portfolio includes the Basic collection, and the Prestige collection, far more refined and expensive. We accurately introduced the Presage collection in our 2020 Seiko catalog-related article. Grand Seiko offers the exquisite Elegance Collection at the top end of the spectrum, whose reference SBGK005 is an excellent example of the best Japanese craftsmanship.

Japanese satellite GPS watches

Seiko and Citizen invest much in satellite GPS technology too. They compete with each other in offering the most advanced GPS-equipped products, whose main feature is to quickly pinpoint a wearer's position anywhere on earth, anytime.

citizen-satellite-wave-gps-cc7015-55eSeiko's related collection is the Astron, with the Satellite Wave GPS representing Citizen's timepieces instead.

Japanese or Swiss watches?

Japanese watches offering is second to none and covers every market request; all the brands listed (Casio excluded) showcase a product and technology mix no Swiss brand can rival. Japanese brands are often and misleadingly regarded as reliable low-end product manufacturers. Seiko's portfolio ranges from automatic to quartz, including "hybrid" technologies like Spring Drive. Also, Japanese brands are leaders in sunlight or light-powered technology. Citizen's product mix focuses on Eco-Drive, throughout the full line up. Some proprietary technologies outperform the standard ones; Spring Drive, for instance, combines the refinement of a mechanical timepiece with the precision of a quartz watch; its second's hand's glide motion is unique. Moving upmarket, the Japanese brands keep building their awareness; however, although Credor has stunned enthusiasts with exceptional creations, they need to close the gap in terms of awareness with the Swiss counterparts. Last but not least, luxury brands Grand Seiko are as refined as the best Swiss competitors.


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