When considering the most versatile watch brands in terms of both global reach and variety within their own brand portfolio, it’s difficult to identify a brand that surpasses Seiko. In 1881, a young entrepreneur by the name of Kintaro Hattorri (pictured below), opened up a shop in Tokyo's Ginza where he sold and repaired watches and clocks. At just 21 years old, Hattori took a massive risk in hopes of creating something bigger. These hopes were realized in the coming century as the watch brand he created established numerous watchmaking milestones and eventually changed the course of the entire watch industry with the release of the legendary Astron, the world's first quartz wristwatch, in 1969.
In more recent years Seiko has established itself as one of the most beloved brands on the market, offering a wide range of styles from dressy to sporty to space-age high-tech and all for what most would consider very accessible prices. In this blog, we dive into the wide world of Seiko watches, naming our favorites from the brand's major families, in hopes of providing a jumping-off point for your own research into a potential next purchase.
Some Ground Rules
Given the number of watches that could be included, we will need to draw the line somewhere, so don’t be concerned if one of your favorite Seiko models is not on the list. We will focus primarily on regular-production models, not limited editions that may be unavailable before too long. We've envisioned this is as a fluid post, and will be adding more watches to this list as time goes on. With this in mind, the approach for this list will be broken down into looking at watches within a few of Seiko’s key collections 1.) Seiko 5, 2.) Prospex, 3.) Presage, 4.) Recraft, 5.) Japanese Domestic Market
There is little secret to the level of value that is typically associated with the Seiko 5 collection. This collection has served as a gateway for many collectors with the amount of variety presented to those looking to make their first purchase into the world of mechanical watches. And no, I am not exaggerating, there have been hundreds of Seiko 5 models produced over the years and I envision dedicating an entire blog overviewing a good portion of those produced, however, in this writeup I wanted to limit the amount featured while still highlighting some of the key references.
References:SNK803, SNK805, SNK807, SNK809
Specifications:Price: $75-$100, Case Size: 37 mm, Thickness: 11 mm, Lug Width: 18 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43 mm, Water Resistance: 30 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 7S26, Power Reserve: 40 Hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Description:The Seiko 5 SNK800s are perhaps the most ubiquitous Seiko 5 models on the market today. This level of popularity is achieved as a result of doing something right. For under $100, these watches have become a great casual everyday wearer. Within you are getting their 7S26 automatic movement that just simply runs. I have owned a few of these over the years and I have always enjoyed having them given their ability to work in a variety of situations while not leaving that much damage on the checking account.
References:SNK789, SNK791, SNK793, SNK795
Specifications:Price: $75-$120, Case Size: 37 mm, Thickness: 11 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43 mm, Lug Width: 18 mm, Water Resistance: 30 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 7S26, Power Reserve: 40 Hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Much of what can be said about the SNK800s can also be said about this 700 series, however, you tend to not see these as much in the wild. These 700s have some fun sunburst dials that look great especially the light blue dial791 that I have owned and featured on the channeland seems to be sold out nearly everywhere. Nevertheless, you still have a selection of pieces that I feel can walk the line of casual and somewhat dressy occasions well.
Specifications: Price: $275, Case Size: 39.4 mm, Thickness: 13.2 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.1mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R36, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Years ago, Seiko launched the SNK and SNZG collections, models that were considered by many to be some of the best in their price range when it came to automatic field watches. Although at a slightly higher price point, the follow-up SRPG27 might be even better. Coming in at $275, the SRPG27 offers a proportioned 39.4mm case that slides in nicely between the 37mm and 42mm offered by its predecessors, while also getting a movement upgrade from the outdated 7S26 to the hacking and handwinding 4R36. Compared to more rugged designs like the Bulova Hack and even the Hamilton Khaki, the SRPG27 is also somewhat more refined, making it a versatile and affordable field watch to consider.
Specifications: Price: $295, Case Size: 42.5 mm, Thickness: 13mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R36, Crystal: Hardlex
When Seiko retired the SKX lineup in 2019, they quickly followed up with an updated Seiko 5 range including the SRPD51, which retains some of the charm and design language from the SKX, but with scaled back specs to accommodate the price point while also creating some separation from the Prospex series where Seiko has focused seemingly focused their hardcore dive watch efforts. Are these new Seiko 5s a replacement for the SKX? No, that’s probably a better designation for the current iteration of the Turtle. However, this SRPD51 is a worthy sports timepiece with an automatic 4R36 movement, solid construction, and great lume, all at an affordable price.
Specifications:Price: $90-$130, Case Size: 38 mm, Thickness: 10 mm, Lug Width: 18 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44 mm, Water Resistance: 30 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 7S26, Power Reserve: 40 Hours, Crystal: Mineral
Several years back, there was little talk of the SNKL23, but following a few features in watch blogs and YouTube reviews, this piece took off in popularity. This model made waves as a result of its clean tuxedo style dial, glossy black dial surface, and sword style hands that aided this design in leaning substantially more dressy than other Seiko 5 models out there. Nowadays, this model is regularly sold out and trades above $100, but there are times when it does become available for decent prices, just be ready to jump.
Refrences:SRPC61,SRPC63, SRPC65, SRPC67, SRPC68
Specifications: Price: $150-$250, Case Size: 45 mm, Thickness: 13 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R36, Power Reserve: 41 hours. Crystal: Hardlex
Seiko fans are some of the best at coming up with clever nicknames, but I don’t think we can give them too much credit for this one considering how easy it is to call this one as it is. This line of references is known as the Bottlecaps as a result of their bezels and are some of the most unique of any of the Seiko 5 watches that are on the market given their sizing that wears much larger than the typical Seiko 5 and their use of their 4R36 movement within which is fully hackable and features hand-winding unlike that of the 7S26.
Seiko Sea Urchin
Specifications:Price: $150-$200,Case Size: 45 mm, Thickness: 13 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R36, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
If there was a perfect representation of the best Seiko 5 that is the ideal stop prior to jumping into the work of Seiko Prospex models, the Seiko Sea Urchin would be a great choice. This watch's large case gives off wearability that will be close to matching the Seiko Samurai and Turtles of the world.
Seiko 5 Sports
Specifications:Price: $200-$350, Case Size: 42.5 mm, Thickness: 13.4 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R36, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
After a long wait, in 2019 Seiko released a collection of watches that seemed to be a new and improved Seiko SKX, which considering these were Seiko 5s, was probably setting expectations a tad too high. Most enthusiasts at the time of their release found reasons to complain about these pieces, the lack of screw-down crowns, the prices (also not fair as SKX retail was much higher than the sub $200 prices they were going for these past 5 years), and 100 m of water resistance despite many of the detractors probably not going deeper than the depths of their 4ft above ground pool. This aside, since these have been on the market, I think they are starting to show their value. With a few dozen options to choose from, these are fun watches to add to the collection and despite falling short to the SKX in some ways, they do improve in the area of the calibers within with the 4R35 inside featuring hacking and hand-winding.
Specifications:Price: $90-$190, Case Size: 38.4 x 27.4 mm, Thickness: 6.3 mm, Lug Width: 23 mm, Water Resistance: 30 m, Movement: Seiko Solar V115, Power Reserve: 12 Month, Crystal: Hardlex
Okay, so this model is not a part of the Seiko 5 collection but it does share something in common with the esteemed collection, being a great watch at a bargain and I felt this list could not be complete unless this was included. Anyone with a bit of watch knowledge can tell that this piece is inspired by another watch but it delivers at a price that makes this a very enticing offer. For around $100 this watch offers a reliable solar movement within and solid looks. To put it simply, you are going to be hard-pressed to find a better option for the price if you want this style.
The Prospex collection is an offering of watches from Seiko that strive to meet professional specifications, being capable of taking on the world's most taxing conditions. Yet despite being intended for professionals, this collection has become a crowd favorite among enthusiasts in providing sporty looks while offering peace of mind in their wear.
Specifications: Price: $1200, Case Size: 40.5 mm, Thickness: 13mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.6mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R35, Crystal: Sapphire
With an insatiable market appetite for vintage reissues, brands have been digging into their archives for inspiration. Seiko’s extensive historical catalog certainly helps, especially when they can look back at models like the 62MAS, the company’s very first commercial dive watch from 1965. It’s not Seiko’s first time tapping into this design language for a reissue, with Seiko releasing the famously expensive and limited SLA017 back in 2017, but the SBP143 offers a more affordable alternative with a wearable 40.5mm case. The spec sheet also adds up nicely with 200m of water resistance, a sapphire crystal, and the automatic 6R35 movement with its extended 70 hour power reserve.
Specifications: Price: $1400, Case Size: 42.7 mm, Thickness: 13.2 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.6mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R35, Crystal: Sapphire; Limited Edition: 5,500 pieces; Alternatives: SPB151, SPB153
Commemorating 55 years of producing dive watches, Seiko unveiled a limited edition of their popular “Captain Willard” reissue with a deep blue dial and bezel in the well-spec’d SPB183. While in all aspects virtually the same watch as the successful SPB151 and SPB153, the SPB183 will be limited to 5500 pieces worldwide. Taking its inspiration from the 6105 worn by Martin Sheen in Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic film “Apocalypse Now”, the SPB183, (as well as the 151 and 153) comes in with smaller and more wearable proportions as well as the impressive 6R35 movement with its healthy 70 hour power reserve.
Specifications:Price: $400-$500, Case Size: 44 mm, Thickness: 13 mm, Strap Width: 22 mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R35, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
When thinking of the entry point for the Seiko Prospex series, one of the first models to come to mind is the Samurai. The Samurai was first introduced within Seiko’s catalog back in 2004 and quickly rose in popularity. The fan-created moniker of Samurai was given to this collection as a result of the lines' strongly pointed hands and markers on the dial that closely resembles that of a Samurai sword. The collection is made up of quite a bit of variety when it comes to the dial colors, such as the simple dial tone of the SRPB51, the striking orange of the SRPC07, or the unique SRPC93 “Save the Ocean” model that I am a huge fan of.
References:SRP773, SRP775, SRP777, SRP779
Specifications:Price: $390-$500, Case Size: 44m, Thickness: 13 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48 mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R35, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Despite the many Seiko’s out there, if I had to pick the go-to Seiko diver watch that first comes to mind when envisioning the brand (outside of the SKX) my mind automatically goes to the Seiko Turtles. The Seiko Turtle has a lineage dating back to the 1970s and probably is one of the best examples of embodying the design formula of early Seiko diving icons. Coming in several dial colors, a large but wearable case, a great price tag, and being compliant with professional diving standards, these watches are simply classics.
SPB077 & SPB079
Specifications:Price: $850- $1,000, Case Size: 44 m, Case Thickness: 13.1mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 51 mm, Water Resistance: 300 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R15, Power Reserve: 50 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
From the entry-level Seiko Prospex models moving into their higher-end divers like their Marine Masters, there is a bit of this midtier world of Seiko divers that tend to get lost in the mix. Two of the watches that do get lost in this busy midway are the Seiko SPB077 and SPB079. I recall the release of these models and thinking how these were some of the best looking Seiko divers that I had seen, offering a much more angled case design than that of the rounded out turtles with these clearly drawing influence from that of the legendary 6159 reference. These members of the Prospex family feature an elevated movement with the 6R15 that features an extended power reserve of 50 hours and also comes with a sapphire crystal. They might not be the best value of this entire list but are no question some of the best look divers in my humble opinion.
SNE435, SNE437, SNE439
Specifications:Price: $395, Case Size: 43.5 mm, Thickness: 12 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50 m, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Solar Seiko V157, Power Reserve: 10 Months, Crystal: Hardlex
I recall a time going into a large department store and the salesperson at the counter made a comment to me that every Seiko watch was solar-powered. Although this is clearly far from the truth, he was right when speaking about the ease of use for a solar-powered watch, and when combined with the other specifications from the Prospex collection, you have a spectacular combination for a worry-free wearing experience. As with these SNE435, 37, and 39s, they will run consistently for 10 months when fully charged and accurately while they are at it with an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds a day.
Seiko Alpinist (New)
References:SPB121, SPB119, SPB117, SPB123
Specifications:Price: $725-$750, Case Size: 39.5 mm, Thickness: 13.2 mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46 mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto 6R35, Power Reserve: 70 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
There have been many Seiko watches that have risen in popularity over the past decade, but very few reach the level of that of the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 (a model that we will get to a bit later). The model became such a hit that it was only a matter of time before Seiko gave it a worthy refresh, and in 2020, we got exactly that with the release of several new references. The original design identity was maintained with the same numeral and dial styles with the inner compass ring along the outside but was given a cyclops at the 3 o'clock and an updated 6R35 caliber within that extend the power reserve to an impressive 70 hours in comparison to the 50 hours of the 6R15.
Specifications:Price: $725, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 12.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R35, Crystal: Sapphire
The SPB155 was quickly classified by enthusiasts as a “Baby” Alpinist after its release. However, the 155 differentiates itself with its lack of crown guards and that signature secondary crown, while sharing a similar dial design with the larger SPB121 and its predecessor, the SARB017. The dial of the 155 does seem to be a bit more refined in its more textural execution versus the glossier production of the 121. It also features a solid three link bracelet and the case measures 1.5mm smaller than the 121, coming in at 38mm, which gives the 155 an early Rolex Explorer-esque vibe, making it an appealing option for a daily driver.
Specifications:Price: $525, Case Size: 47.5 mm, Thickness: 15 mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50 mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Solar Seiko H851, Power Reserve: 6 Month, Crystal: Hardlex
Watches were a huge part of 20th-century cinema and with the explosion of quartz watches on the scene throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Seiko made its way on the big screen quite frequently. There were some big contributions the brand had to the world of cinema but one of the most beloved is certainly the Seiko Arnie that bared the wrist of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator. In the past 12 months, Seiko released a new rendition of the classic. The watch like the original is a hulking piece fit for a man of Schwarzenegger’s stature and exudes 80s charm with its mix of analog with a digital display at the 12.
Specifications:Price: $850, Case Size: 45 mm, Thickness: 12.9 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 52.6 mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R35, Power Reserve: 70 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
The Seiko Sumo family has been home to some attractive looking divers, being a level up from many of the entry-level Prospex watches with their elevated spec. At the time of the release of the SPB101 and SPB103, these watches made a compelling case for some of the best Seiko divers under $1,000. Matching their name, the watches are large on the wrist with their lug-to-lug of 52.6 mm, but for those that are not getting sized out by this, there is a lot to like. These extensions of the Sumo family get added spec with the 6R35 caliber with its 70-hour power reserve, a well finished case with stark angling, and a sapphire crystal casting over the dial to assist in their durability.
References:SRPE03, SRPE05, SRPE07
Specifications:Price: $660, Case Size: 45 mm, Thickness: 13.3 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.3 mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R36, Power Reserve: 40 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
One of the recent treats we received from the Seiko Prospex family is the King Turtle lineup. I recently did a review of the SRPE03 and was impressed. The turtle case style remains, wearing much smaller than the case size might indicate, however, we get some nice added benefits that help them develop their own identity. With the inclusion of a sapphire crystal, a long cyclops covering the day-date at the three, a ceramic bezel, and amazing waffle iron style dial, this one is a unique offering in a Seiko lineup of divers that tends to overlap quite a bit.
Specifications:Price: $6,000, Case Size: 44.8 mm, Thickness: 15.5 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50.4 mm, Movement: Spring Drive 5R65, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300 m, Power Reserve: 72 Hours
Now if there was ever a Seiko that blurred the lines with it and Grand Seiko, it is the LX series of watches. The SNR029 delivers on what Marine Master does, but takes it to another level. The watch has a titanium case that assists in the wear of this large watch on the wrist, features a ceramic bezel smooth in its action, an angled profile across the side of the case with the help of the Zaratsu polish and sharply angled endlinks. These aesthetically charged differences with this piece can be associated with the design input by famous industrial designer Ken Okuyama, a man known especially for his work in developing Italian sport car legends like the Ferrari Enzo and the Ferrari P4/5. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of this watch is one that is hidden from view with the Spring Drive 5R65 within, delivering accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month.
Similar to the gap the Prospex collection fills for professional divers, the Presage collection answers the call for professionals that are required to look their best in less physically taxing environments. The collection calls many elegant pieces its own while also offering a variety of everyday wearers that have become fan favorites.
Specifications: Price: $525, Case Size: 41.7mm, Thickness: 11.8mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.7mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R35, Crystal: Sapphire
Earlier in the year we released a video reviewing and comparing the SRPF53 and the SRPF41 side by side and concluded that both pieces were impressively finished for the money. The 53 is a little bit larger than the 41 at 41.7mm compared to 38.5mm, so it should wear better on larger wrists. Dial differences also play a significant role between the two models and how they effectively wear, with the 53 exuding a dressier sensibility, aided by its alternating brushed and polished five-link steel bracelet. The SRPF53 is also only $45 more expensive than the 41, and considering the well-executed bracelet (by Seiko standards anyway) and especially the sapphire crystal upgrade compared to the Hardlex crystal on the 41, the 53 offers a lot to like as another refined yet inexpensive Seiko offering.
Specifications: Price: $480, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R35, Crystal: Hardlex; Limited Edition to 5000 pieces
—Equipped with another excellent dial inspired by nature, the SRPF41’s Matcha Tea green dial highlights Seiko’s thoughtful craftsmanship and impressive execution for the price. Limited to just 7000 pieces, the SRPF41 shares some similarities in the overall design approach with the Cocktail Time series with its domed crystal, traditional lug design, and more refined design. With its sub-$500 price tag, the SRPF41 is supplied with the 4R35 movement, which we found to be more accurate than the stated specifications when we tested it in house, running at +10 seconds a day.
Specifications: Price: $1000, Case Size: 39.3mm, Thickness: 11.1mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.2mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R35, Crystal: Sapphire
Positioned within the Sharp Edge collection and having a retail price of $1000, the SPB167 is further upmarket than many of the Presage models on this list while offering an outstanding blue dial with a textured design inspired by the traditional Japanese Asanoha pattern inspired by hemp leaves. Planting that striking dial inside a nicely-executed and well-finished case to go along with the 6R35 movement inside puts the 167 in the baby Grand Seiko realm for all of the right reasons. Aesthetically, mechanically, and in price, it’s a step up from the Cocktail Time collection, but also offers impressive value compared to higher-priced references like the limited SPB111 or the SPB113.
Specifications:Price: $400-$500, Case Size: 40.5mm, Case Thickness: 11.8mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Water Resistance: 50 m, Movement: Automatic Seiko 4R35, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Hardlex, Movement: Automatic Seiko 4R35, Power Reserve: 41 hours
I recently released a video covering a couple of the Seiko Cocktail times and positioned them as having the best dials you can find for under $500. Ever since the release of the cocktail time back in 2010, these watches have become some of the best dress watches available for the money. With a capable movement paired with several dial color options in an exceptional finish, these are great pieces to add to your collection if you are on a budget.
SRPD39 & SRPD41
Specifications:Price: $525, Case Size: 41.7 mm, Thickness: 11.7 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.5 mm, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R35, Power Reserve: 41 Hours, Water Resistance: 50m, Crystal: Sapphire
Falling in at right around $500, the SRPD39 and SRPD41 are two of the more interesting dials of the Seiko Presage collection for the price. Despite perhaps not delivering the same level of value as many JDMs for the same dollar amount, there is no question that these pieces are nice while offering something a bit different. With their larger case and eye-catching textured dials, these are a great choice for the larger wristed individuals looking for a dressier piece that could maybe step into the role of being a flashier casual wearer.
SSA392, SSA343, SBA393, SBA397
Specifications:Price: $500-$700, Case Size: 40.5 mm, Thickness: 14 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48 mm, Water Resistance: 50 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R57, Power Reserve: 41 Hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Taking the design formula from the three hand Cocktail Times, the SSAs and SBAs follow the format with their dial finish, hardlex crystal but offer a power reserve and date subsidiary dial at the 6. These watches, unfortunately, are going to struggle when it comes to the thickness of 14 mm and have the difficulty in competing against many SARXs and SARBs that offer great value here.
SPB113 & SPB115
Specifications:Price: $1,100, Case Size: 39.9 mm, Thickness: 12.4 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.2 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R35, Power Reserve: 70 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Similar to the Prospex collection going upmarket, we are seeing a very similar action from the Presage collection as Seiko looks to separate it from their more entry level offerings. Sitting right on the turning point of four figures for a price tag, we have the SPB113 & SPB115. These two 2020 introductions to the Presage family offer the 6R35 within and a simple design featuring enamel dials that would look favorably on a variety of wrists.
PRESAGE MULTI-HAND AUTOMATIC ENAMEL DIAL SPB045
Specifications: Price: $1,100, Case Size: 40.5 mm, Thickness: 12.8 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.2 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Automatic Caliber 6R27,Power Reserve: 45 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
From the first wave of non-limited Presage models with enamel dials.comes this Multi-Hand Automatic containing the Caliber 6R27, with a power reserve of 45 hours. Its artfully arranged dial hosts central hours, minutes, and seconds; a date calendar on a subdial at 6 o’clock; and an arc-shaped power-reserve indicator at 9 o’clock. The stainless steel case measures 40.5 mm in diameter and 12.8 mm and is water-resistant to 100 meters. The enamel dial has been crafted by Japanese master craftsman Mitsuru Yokozawa and his team, who painstakingly adjust the enamel’s thickness to the exact depth required for each level of the dial. The Roman numeral hour markers — inspired by those on a historic Seiko pocket watch from 1895 — are painted onto the dial at least ten times to achieve their elegant raised relief appearance, and the tips of the leaf-shaped hands are subtly curved to follow the contours of the sapphire crystal, aiding in the case’s slim profile.
As we are going through this list, there has been a brief mention of the many watches released by Seiko in the mid to late 20th century. Seiko’s Recraft series aims to bottle the charm of those old pieces while offering easy to digest price tags in order for many enthusiasts to enjoy them.
SNKP23, SNKP25, SNKP27
Specifications:Price: $200- $275, Case Size: 39.5 mm, Thickness: 12 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46 mm, Water Resistance: 50 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 7S26, Power Reserve: 40 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Nothing screams 1970s design like rounded off rectangle cases with warm accents on the dial. This retro introduction to the Seiko family appeals to nostalgia with its unique wearing experience given its dimensions and fun dial to match. You might end up paying a bit much for a 7S26 movement in comparison to others out there, but few of the Seiko 5s housing this movement are going to be able to compete with the level of vintage-inspired fun taking place here.
SSC667 & SSC669
Specifications:Price: $250- $375, Case Size: 43.5 mm, Case Thickness: 12 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 51 mm, Strap Width: 22 mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Solar Seiko V175, Power Reserve: 6 Months, Crystal: Hardlex
Finding a mechanical chronograph at an affordable price can be a hard search, and even if you do find one, when it comes around to servicing it, you might end up paying just as much to service as the watch itself. This leads to making a strong case that Seiko solar powered chronographs are some of the best choices when it comes to the world of entry-level chronographs, especially when you get to factor in the added benefits in the looks department from the Recraft series. The SSC667 and SSC669 are simply great fun and are chronographs you won’t have to worry about given their solar-powered movement within that on a full charge will tick 6 months straight.
JDM (JAPANESE DOMESTIC MARKET)
One of the most difficult aspects of Seiko’s catalog to navigate is the number of models that are created within the Japanese market but make their way into other markets through grey market channels. However, based on the models that tend to flood out of the Japanese market, it makes it seem like the Seiko saves the best models for inside their borders. When compiling these models, you begin to start to appreciate the number of home runs produced by Seiko and how the globalization of watch commerce through online channels have made it clear how much there is to offer within Japan’s market alone.
Refrences:SKX007 & SKX009
Specifications:Price: $200-$250, Case Size: 42.5 mm, Thickness: 13.5 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46 mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto Seiko 7S26, Power Reserve: 40 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Over the last couple of decades, there probably hasn’t been a Seiko diver that has been more ubiquitous than that of the Seiko SKX. Since the release of the 7S26 series of the SKX in 1996, these watches have managed to garner up an amount of widespread appreciation rarely seen, especially with a watch with a price of around $200. In the present day, the watch might not be delivering the same level of value for money as it once did, but with a passionate modding community you’ll be able to make up for any shortcomings you find this legend has and can make it your own.
Specifications:Price: $200-$250, Case Size: 38 mm, Thickness: 13 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43 mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 7S26, Power Reserve: 40 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Despite the accommodating fit of the SKX007 and 009 with their case size of 42.5 mm, there is still quite a bit of demand for smaller dive watches on the market. The Seiko SKX013 delivers in every way the 007/009 do but in just a smaller package of 38 mm in case size and a different handset.
References:SRPC35, SRPC37, SRPC39, SRPC41
Specifications: Price: $300-$400, Case Size: 42.3 mm, Thickness: 13 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 42.5 mm, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 4R35, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Hardlex
Less than a decade ago, the Seiko SKX models could be found quite regularly under $200, however, this is not the case anymore with prices now being north of $200 easily and in many cases even over $250 in certain markets. With this new reality of the SKX, enthusiasts starting looking elsewhere for alternatives that could deliver on what the SKX was providing. One of the first candidates of this search for alternatives was the Seiko Mini Turtle. These watches managed to strike a chord with many buyers as a result of their manageable price tag that was in the SKX ballpark, its improved movement within (4R35), and a case that is even more wearable than the SKX007 and 009. For a while, this was one of the better kept secrets, but with prices rising on these quite substantially in the last 12-18 months, I think those days of secrecy are over.
Seiko Alpinist SARB017
Specifications:Price: $400-$500, Case Size: 38 mm, Thickness: 12 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46 mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R15, Power Reserve: 50 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
As mentioned above, the Seiko Alpinist or SARB017 is one of the most popular JDM watches Seiko ever produced. Although discontinued a couple of years ago, we have not yet seen a sign that they are running out of them. In my time as a collector I owned one of these and found the style to be very warm and unlike really any other Seiko out there which based on the number of watches on this list is saying something. The watch with its green dial, rotating inner bezel compass, cathedral hands, and impressive 200 m of water resistance, is a prime companion for casual to phsically taxing wearing instances.
Seiko SARB033 & SARB035
Specifications:Price: $450-$500, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 11.2 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44 mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R15, Power Reserve: 50 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
What the SKX is for the sports part of Seiko's catalog, the Seiko SARB033 and SARB035 is for the dressier/everyday corner of Seiko’s lineup. These two watches are probably the most talked about watches when answering questions of the best pieces for around $500. And although I have become a bit fatigued with them, there is no question of their greatness for the money. With their extremely wearable cases, attractive/versatile looks, ability to be paired with a variety of straps, capable specs, and most importantly, great prices, these models are still some of the best value you can find in all of watchmaking.
SARY055 & SARY057
Specifications:Price: $350-$400, Case Size: 41 mm, Thickness: 12 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Seiko 4R36 Caliber Automatic, Power Reserve: 41 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
If you look too fast you might be thinking you are seeing double when looking at these two and the SARBs just mentioned, however, we have two new pieces here. The SARY055 and SARY057 are two prime examples of how small changes can make a huge difference in the popularity of pieces. On the surface, these watches match many of the design elements of the SARBs, but instead, have a day-date complication at the 3, features the 4R36 within, and most notably has a larger case. Although these watches probably won’t win out over the SARBs for most buyers, for a larger wristed individual these might be some of the best watches you will find for the price from any brand.
Specifications:Price: $800-$1,200, Case Size: 39.2 mm, Thickness: 13.2 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47 mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R24, Power Reserve: 45 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
It is not very often when Seiko decides to include more than one complication on a watch. This is not a byproduct of them being scared to show off their watchmaking chops more the difficulty in doing it at attainable prices. Yet, just because it is not done often doesn’t mean it never done at all - Exhibit A, the SARDs. The Seiko SARDS combines the common elements from several JDM models and feature a retrograde date, a power reserve indicator, and retrograde day of the week. Rarely do you see this combination of complications featured on watches of this price, but Seiko managed to pull it off without sacrificing the clean aesthetics.
References:SARX043, SARX045, SARX047
Specifications:Price: $500-$600, Case Size: 39.5 mm, Case Thickness: 11.3 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug to Lug: 48 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R15, Power Reserve: 50 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
With the popularity of the Seiko SARBs, I have jumped on the bandwagon the Seiko SARX series completely as I think much of the same value is there while providing something less often seen. The Seiko SARX043, 045, and 047 to me are some of the coolest looking Seiko pieces out there and with prices for just around $500, they need to be on a shortlist for those looking for an everyday watch with that budget. I have owned my Seiko SARX045 for over 18 months and the watch is still one of the most photogenic out there, resembling the teakwood style dial finish that comes with the OMEGA Aqua Terras, expect in this case you can manage to get one for around 1/10th of the price.
References:SARX033 & SARX035
Specifications:Price: $700-$800,Case Size: 40.8 mm, Thickness: 11.5 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.2 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R15, Power Reserve: 50 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
One of the coolest aspects of what I do is to be able to assist people in buying the best watch for them. It is a process that is exceptionally fun for me when the person I am assisting is someone I know personally. A few years back I gifted my younger brother an Orient Bambino, in fact, it was the Orient Bambino that was my first mechanical watch. The watch became a gateway for him into this world of watches and lead to him purchasing several other pieces, with one of them being the SARX033. Looking at these watches from afar you might be questioning whether the higher price tag is warranted given their looks to nearly match that of many less expensive Seiko everyday pieces, but I will vouch for these pieces as being worthy of their price. Within you are getting the same 6R15 movement as many of the SARBS, but the finish on both the dial and the case of these pieces is a notch up, and are some of the best Japanese daily wearers under $1,000.
Specifications:Price: $900-$950, Case Size: 40.8 mm, Thickness: 11.3 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.2 mm, Water Resistance: 100 m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R15, Power Reserve: 50 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
As you get to the higher end of Seiko’s offering, you start to see a bit of a blurring of the line when it comes to entering the world of Grand Seiko. Now, I don’t want to say that the SARX055 is on the level of a Grand Seiko (because it is not) but if there was a middleman between the more entry-level Seiko models and Grand Seiko, I think this would be the one. At the time of its release in 2017, the SARX055 was quickly greeted with positive attention and in typical Seiko fanboy fashion was given a nickname, “The Baby Snowflake”. For those familiar with the Grand Seiko can then appreciate the message that is being sent when even mentioning this watch in the same breath as one of the best dials in all of watchmaking. This Seiko SARX055 features a titanium case, 100 meters of water resistance, a nicely finished case, and perhaps the best dial you will find on any Seiko watch.
Marine Master 300 SLA021
Specifications:Price: $2,600-$2,800, Case Size: 44.3 mm, Thickness: 15.4 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50.2 mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Auto Seiko 8L35, Power Reserve: 50 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
When it comes to the pinnacle of Seiko dive watches in a modern sense, the Seiko Marine Masters are probably the best representation of exactly that. While you are paying for it, you are getting a product that is both impressive as well as matching in its charm. The watch features impressively lumed dial, a ceramic bezel, Zaratsu polishing along the case and one of Seiko’s higher-end calibers with their 8L35.
Shop This Article
Get your watch from TeddyBaldassarre.com and get 0% interest for up to 24 months available on select brands. Checkout with Affirm and spread your payments over 3 to 36 months. Learn More
Join the Conversation
Did Seiko stop producing the Kinetic Direct Drive watch? If so, when and why? It seems like an amazing technology to stop being in their line up. Especially as a lower cost alternative to spring drive, that mostly appear in Grand Seiko.
Great post. This is an article I will visit repeatedly; I’m sure. But I don’t understand the absence of the modern Astron. The titanium Astron GPS Solar UTC is my daily work-horse because is does everything, including power itself and find the right time and date, without me even having to touch it. It feels solid but never heavy and has good lume. It is so comfortable I sleep with it on.
I always end the day and start the next day wearing this watch. Depending on the day, I will wear the Astron, a Casio, a Rolex, a Muhle Glashutte, a Doxa or a Zelos. It just depends what is going on during the business day or weekend. But I always put on the Seiko at lease once a day. I can’t say that about any other watch I own. So, I can’t help but ask:
Where is the love for the Seiko Astron???
Did you intentionally omit the Prospex Monster line?
Seiko is the most represented brand in my modest collection, and I love just about everything about them except what I see as a little tardiness in their modern mid-tier movements. I have a new-ish Alpinist with the 6R35, but find its accuracy a bit disappointing given modern computer assisted engineering and the (AU) $1100 price.
I have watched your videos discussing the different seiko watches and their movements. I purchased two Seikos, SRPD89 and SRPE61 both have the 4R36 movements. I’ve been trying to find out more information about winding these watches. When I hand wind it seems like I could rotate the crown clockwise forever without feeling any resistance telling me that it is fully wound. My question is if this is normal or not and how do you know when your watch is fully wound if there is not a feeling of resistance when getting to the point of fully wound. I ask this because when they speak of power reserve when fully wound how would you know if you cannot tell if the watch is fully wound, Thank you.
How do these automatic movements compare with the kinetic movement. I have had 2 kinetics over 24 years and am leary of changing over