Seiko is one of the few fully-integrated watch manufacturers. They design and develop their own movements, unlike most other brands in the same price range that use customer movements or off-the-shelf ebauches.
If you are looking for the best balance of price and quality, you can’t go far wrong when you buy a Seiko watch. Even their mid-range pieces rival the Swiss manufacturers, and the Grand Seiko range is widely acknowledged as being amongst the very best wristwatches in the world.
History of Seiko Watches
Seiko was originally founded in 1881 by Kintarō Hattori. In 1892, he began to produce clocks under the name Seikosha (“House of Exquisite Workmanship”). The first Seiko branded watches came out in 1924. Seiko really began to innovate some years later: In 1969, Seiko introduced the Astron, which was first ever mass-produced quartz watch. They went on to introduce the first quartz chronograph. In the 1980s, Seiko produced the first “Kinetic” watch. This combines the self-winding of an automatic watch with the accuracy of quartz.
The Seiko Watch Range
Seiko 5 Watches
Seiko watches are produced to a number of different price points. Towards the bottom of the range is the ‘Seiko 5’ series. These are automatic-winding mechanical watches, usually featuring a date and day function. The series has a basic (but bulletproof) movement and uses Seiko’s proprietary scratch resistant “hardlex crystal”. Although the first Seiko 5 watches had a crown at the 4 O’clock position, many no have the crown at the more traditional 3 O’Clock position.
According to Seiko, the ‘5’ stands for…
1. Automatic winding
2. Day/date displayed in a single window
3. Water resistance
4. Recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position
5. Durable case and bracelet
Seiko Kinetic Watches
Kinetic watches are a cross between automatic watches and quartz. A quartz crystal is used to regulate them, so they are extremely accurate. Like a quartz, the second hand ticks once per second. However, there is no battery to place. A rotor spins while the watch is being worn and this charges up a capacitor that keeps the watch running. Kinetic watches usually have a pusher at the 2 O’clock position that shows how much charge has built up. The series features sports watches, dive watches and even GMTs.
Seiko Prospex Watches
Prospex is the name Seiko use for their divers’ watches, all of which have now been rebranded to incorporate the Prospex ‘X’ symbol on their dial. Seiko diver watches are well regarded. Some of the more popular ones are the ‘Monster‘, the Solar Chronograph Diver and the classic SKX007 – as worn by Martin Sheen in Apocolypse Now.
Grand Seiko Watches
At the very top of the range are the Grand Seiko series. These are considered by enthusiasts to be the very best watches in the world – some say they are even better than the Swiss brands.
If you want a wristwatch but aren’t sure how to jump into the world of watch collecting, you can’t go wrong with a Seiko. They are affordable, reliable and attractive – and the best ‘bang for your buck’ you are likely to get.