The Best Seiko Watches You Need To Know – Our 2023 Guide

By: Nathan Schultz

As a child I only knew three watch brands: Rolex, Timex and Seiko. The first was an out of reach fantasy. The second could be purchased at the grocery store or found in Christmas stockings. The third was EVERYWHERE I looked from the clocks at school, to the big screen, and on my grandpa’s wrist.

Based in Japan and founded in 1881, Seiko has established itself as a dominant ubiquitous giant in the watch industry. Known for producing reliable timepieces at affordable prices, Seiko has earned the love of both enthusiasts and casual wearers.

But how did Seiko win over the hearts and wrists of my grandpa and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and what makes the brand so beloved from generation to generation? The below list of the best Seiko watches will begin to answer those questions. From dress watches to tool watches, this selection of historically significant timepieces demonstrates why Seiko continues to be the time-tested watch of choice the world over.

Seiko Alpinist

Image: Seiko
Case Size:39.5mm x 46.4mm x 13.2mm
Movement:6R35 (Automatic Movement)
Power Reserve:70 Hours
Accuracy:-15/+25 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$580 – $925

The watches below are (mostly) in no particular order. However, it felt appropriate to kick things off with the Seiko Alpinist, a watch that exemplifies the traits that make Seiko a watchmaking staple.

Released in 1959 with mountain climbers in mind, the Seiko Alpinist was the Japanese brand’s first sports watch. Like many of their timepieces, the original release marked a major milestone and is honored by today’s modern variations.

Speaking of variety, the Alpinist is now available in two sizes with various dial colors (from blue dials to black dials) to choose from – all with automatic movements. Some brands present customers with a single size and limited options. Not here. Seiko has your back.

Field watches should be readable at a glance. The Alpinist accomplishes this with strong lume, anti-reflective coating on the crystal, and a clean dial layout with legible hour markers. Because Seiko always takes the design to the next level, the Alpinist features elegant cathedral style hands and indices evoking mountain peaks.

Seiko Samurai

Case Size:43.8mm x 47mm x 13mm
Movement:6R35 (Automatic Movement)
Power Reserve:70 Hours
Accuracy:-15/+25 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$400 – $700

The Seiko Samurai is the first of many dive watches on this list. Dive watches feature robust cases, high water resistance (usually 200 meters) and rotating bezels. While technically designed to time underwater adventures, these timepieces are equally practical on land. When is there not a need to track elapsed time while looking awesome?

Because many tool watches feature similar specifications, the quest for the best Seiko diver often comes down to personal preferences related to aesthetics and wearability. Seiko has mastered the art of letting case shapes define the personality of their watches. The Seiko Samurai demonstrates this beautifully with flat surfaces and dramatic angles. The Seiko Samurai still lives up to its moniker, aggressive and ready for anything.

Seiko SRPD (5KX)

Case Size:42.5mm x 46mm x 13.4mm
Movement:4R36 (Automatic Movement)
Power Reserve:41 Hours
Accuracy:-35/+45 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$275 – $375

Seiko fans can’t help but give out nicknames. The Seiko 5 Sports SPRD (more commonly known as the 5KX) is no exception. To understand this alias, let’s take a quick look at its predecessor, the SKX007.

The Seiko SKX007 was long considered the best entry level diver’s watch on the market. Until recent years, this spec-heavy diver was readily available for around $150. With Seiko’s decision to discontinue this iconic piece in 2018, those low prices are long gone, putting an end to the SKX’s reign as the king of affordable dive watches. To fill this massive hole in their lineup, Seiko released the SPRD.

This new dive style watch features an upgraded movement and is available in two case sizes with a variety of dial options (from a fun teal-green dial to a subdued black dial). The 5KX has less water resistance than the SKX (100 meters instead of 200 meters) but is still plenty capable and is a solid choice for anyone looking for a reliable and budget friendly automatic sport watch.

Seiko Tuna

Case Size:47mm x 47mm x 12.4mm (Solar Tuna)
Movement:Automatic, Solar, and Quartz Movement Options Available
Price Range:Varies depending on model

The Seiko Tuna can be a bit polarizing. I’ll admit that it took me a few years to understand it. Maybe it’s the nickname that caused my hesitation. More likely, it was the inspiration behind the name: a case resembling a tuna can.

What finally changed my mind? I tried one on. At 47mm, the SNE498 was technically one of the biggest watches I’d encountered, but thanks to the (almost) lug-less design, it wore much smaller. Who knew that a tuna can could be so comfortable on the wrist?! Over time I’ve come to learn that the quirks of the Seiko Tuna are exactly what make it so special.

Seiko produces a ton of sports watches featuring similar movements and specs. So why buy a watch resembling a can of fish instead of something capable of flying under the radar? Because it’s cool. And quirky. And because watches should be fun.

Seiko Prospex Solar PADI

Image: Seiko
Case Size:43.5mm x 50mm x 13.5mm
Movement:V157 (Solar Quartz)
Power Reserve:10 Months
Accuracy:-/+ 15 seconds per month
Manual Winding/ Hacking:No/Yes
Price Range:$300 – $400

We’re only 25% of the way through this list and have already looked at three dive watches. What’s up with non-divers wearing these chunky tool watches? And why do some of them say “PADI” on the dial?

Dive watches are the ideal go-anywhere-do-anything choice. They can be dressed up on leather straps and look equally at home on a casual NATO. Seiko has been producing dive watches since 1965. With decades of credibility in the dive community, Seiko’s collaboration with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) on some of their classic dive watches makes perfect sense.

Each unique Seiko PADI features the PADI colors (red and blue) and logo. There are plenty of options to choose from including Samurai and Tuna, but my personal favorite is the Seiko SNE549 from the Prospex line. Powered by a solar movement and with a perfect balance of blue with red accents (even on the crown!) this watch is proof that you don’t need to be a diver to enjoy the benefits of a fun watch born of a niche partnership.

Seiko Speedtimer (Solar)

Image: Seiko
Case Size:39mm x 45.5mm x 13.3mm
Movement:V192 (Solar Quartz)
Power Reserve:6 Months
Accuracy:-/+ 15 seconds per month
Manual Winding/ Hacking:No/Yes
Price Range:$675 – $700

In the late 1960’s there was a race to release the first automatic chronograph. Competing with major Swiss brands, Seiko was the first to cross the finish line with the Seiko 5 Speed-Timer. They’ve been busy building a rich history in sports timing ever since.

Chronographs can be used as a stopwatch or to measure speed and distance. This functionality is inherently complex, and often comes at a price. The world’s most well-known chronograph, the Omega Speedmaster, costs a few thousand dollars. Even that seems like a steal compared to the grey market prices of another iconic chronograph, the Rolex Daytona.

In true Seiko fashion, the Seiko Speedtimer provides a reliable alternative for the masses. Drawing on designs of the past and now featuring solar movements, the Seiko Speedtimer combines technology with precision timing to make the perfect everyday chronograph.

Seiko Arnie

Case Size:47.5mm x 50mm x 15mm
Movement:H851 (Solar Quartz)
Power Reserve:6 Months
Accuracy:-/+ 15 seconds per month
Manual Winding/ Hacking:No/Yes
Price Range:$400 – $725

Introduced in 1982, the Seiko Arnie (the Seiko H558) rose to fame as the wristwatch of choice for Arnold Schwarzenegger during the 1980’s. Prominently displayed in films such as Commando and Predator, it was one of the first analog-digital dive watches and featured a uni-directional bezel, screw down crown, an alarm and even a chronograph.

This watch is part of the Seiko Tuna family. While it’s a BIG watch, the classic Tuna case shape allows for a comparatively short lug to lug distance and a surprisingly comfortable wearing experience.

The H558 was discontinued in 1990. But like The Terminator, the Arnie came back! The SNJ025 stays true to the design of the original but is now powered by a reliable Solar H851 movement with a six-month power reserve. Check out the PADI dial Arnie for a splash of additional color and historical significance!

Seiko Astron

Image: Seiko
Case Size:Varies depending on model
Movement:Solar Quartz (complications vary depending on model)
Price Range:$1600 – $3000

Each watch on this list has at least one defining trait that launched it to Seiko royalty. The Seiko Astron has… A LOT. It was the words first GPS solar watch. That’s right. Not only does this watch accurately set itself to local time via the touch of a button, this satellite-accuracy is powered by the sun!

The Astron’s historical significance is also insanely cool. In 1969 Seiko released the world’s first quartz watch: the Astron 35SQ. It was the first domino in the “Quartz Crisis” that rocked the mechanical Swiss watch making industry in the decades that followed.

Since that groundbreaking innovation in 1969, Seiko has continued to push the industry forward in terms of both design and technology. From simple (check out date only SSJ005) to complicated (perpetual calendars and more!) the modern Seiko Astron lives up to the Astron name.

Seiko Presage Cocktail Time

Image: Seiko
Case Size:40.5mm x 47.5mm x 11.8mm
Movement:4R35 (Automatic Movement)
Power Reserve:41 hours
Accuracy:-15/+25 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$300 – $500

The Presage line of automatic dress watches exemplifies Seiko’s ability to provide strong value for the money. That’s why we’ve included four of them here!

Seiko Presage watches feature some of the best dials in the industry. Paired with thin 40.5 mm stainless steel cases (a middle size- perfect for a variety of wrist sizes), these watches start at only $300! And with at least 50 meters of water resistance and the same workhorse movement found in the dive watches on this list, these charming timepieces are up for the challenges of daily life.

Looking for a Presage that doesn’t break the bank? Something from the Cocktail Time series is a great choice. Feeling thirsty? Each mesmerizing dial is inspired by a different cocktail. My personal favorites are the shimmering dials on the Manhattan and the Martini, but each stunning variation would be a solid addition to any collection.

Seiko Presage Urushi Dials

Image: Seiko
Case Size:40.5mm x 47.5mm x 12mm
Movement Options:6R15 (Three-Hander)
6R26 (Power Reserve)
6R24 (Power Reserve, Retrograde, Day/Date)
Power Reserve:45 hours
Accuracy:-15/+25 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$1000 – $2000

What if you want a $1000 watch that can hold its own against $5000+ alternatives? Look no further than the Seiko Presage Urushi Dials.

Japanese Lacquer is a tradition that dates back thousands of years. Urushi, a popular form of this craft, is as durable as it is stunning, making it perfect for everything from tableware to samurai armor, and now watches! These striking results are accomplished by carefully applying several coats of lacquer, roughening the surface between each application.

Because each dial is lacquered by hand, purchasing an Urushi Dial is an investment in a truly unique timepiece designed to withstand the tests of time. With three dial layouts available (from day/date to a Retrograde date and day display with a power reserve) there is sure to be an Urushi dial for everyone.

Seiko Presage Arita Porcelain Dials

Image: Seiko
Case Size:40.5 x 48.8 x 12.4mm (or 14.1mm for the SPB093J1)
Movement:6R35 (Three Hander)
6R27 (Power Reserve)
Power Reserve:70 hours
Accuracy:-15/+25 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$1700 – $2200

It wouldn’t be fair to discuss the Urushi dials without including another Seiko Presage with a stunning dial featuring a unique material: the Seiko Presage Porcelain.

Porcelain Dials aren’t common. Why? Like the Urushi dials, they’re a pain to manufacture. But Seiko has never feared a challenge, and I’m glad they were up for this one. The rich, visual depth of the porcelain is mesmerizing. And in true Presage fashion, it demonstrates better value than any other porcelain dial on the market.

Also like the Urushi dials, these Porcelain beauties can be as simple or complicated as you want. Check out the 6R35 powered variant for a clean dial free of any complications or the SPB093J1 for a busier aesthetic. Featuring 100 meters of water resistance and a sapphire crystal, either configuration can be enjoyed with peace of mind.

Seiko Presage Sharp Edged Series

Image: Seiko
Case Size:39.3mm x 47mm x 11.1mm
Movement:6R35 (Three Hander)
6R64 (GMT)
Power Reserve:70 hours
Accuracy:-15/+25 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$1000 – $1400

Closing out the Presage section of our list is the Seiko Presage Sharp Edged series. Like their Presage counterparts, these value-driven dress watches feature show-stealing dials. Unlike their smooth-dialed companions, the Sharp Edge features a textured dial, evoking the fibers of a hemp leaf.

In a word, these watches are….well, sharp! The case and bracelet both feature a combination of expertly finished polished and brushed flat surfaces. Paired with a focus on dial finishing, the result is a head turning timepiece that is just as good at catching the light as it is displaying the time.

Available options include eight dial colors, a date only and even a GMT!

Seiko Turtle

Case Size:44.3mm x 48mm x 14mm
Movement:4R36 (Automatic Movement)
Power Reserve:41 hours
Accuracy:-35/+45 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$375 – $625

If you’re in the market for a reliable dive watch but looking for something more visually unique than the 5KX, look no further than a Seiko Turtle. First introduced in 1977, the Turtle earned its nickname for its shell-like cushion shaped case.

This charming watch was reintroduced in 2016 as part of the Prospex line. Don’t let the large case dimensions intimidate you. Thanks to the cushion case, the Seiko Turtle is deceptively comfortable. With two case sizes (there is a “mini” turtle) and a seemingly endless configuration of dials, bezels and case colors (including black and rose gold), there is a Turtle for every style and wrist. Featuring an impressive 200 meters of water resistance, the Turtle lives up to its reptilian name.

Seiko Sumo

Case Size:45mm x 52.6mm x 13.5mm
Movement:6R35 (Automatic Movement)
Power Reserve:70 hours
Accuracy:-15/+25 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$600 – $800

The Sumo brings a fresh look to the already extensive selection of Seiko dive watches. Introduced fairly recently (in terms of Seiko dive history) as part of the Prospex line in 2007, the Sumo distinguishes itself with a unique case shape of its own.

It’s hard to compete with watches shaped like turtles and cans of tuna. Maybe that is why the Sumo gets less attention than its equally capable counterparts. Or maybe it’s the size. At 45mm, this watch looks bigger than it does on the wrist. Its attractively tapered case is as comfortable as it is aesthetically pleasing and the subtle sunburst dial adds just the right amount of visual flair. If you’re looking for a mid-tier Seiko dive watch that can fly under the radar, a Seiko Sumo is the perfect choice.

Seiko 5 Midfield

Image: Seiko
Case Size:36mm x 44mm x 12.5mm
Movement:4R36 (Automatic Movement)
Power Reserve:41 hours
Accuracy:-35/+45 seconds per day
Manual Winding/ Hacking:Yes/Yes
Price Range:$290 – $300

The jury might still be out on determining if the 5KX is a worthy contender to its predecessor, but there is no such debate with the Seiko 5 Midfield. These things rock!

If you’ve been around watches for a few years, you’re probably (OK… definitely) familiar with the now discontinued SNK 800 series. No watches delivered better on the Seiko 5 value proposition than these 37mm field watches. They were durable, legible, and surprisingly inexpensive.

These qualities are exactly what the new Seiko Midfield leans on. With a military inspired 24-hour scale on the inner track, generous amounts of lume and day/date complications, the Midfield displays essential information at a glance.

And, notably coming in at only 36mm (the smallest on this list), this watch offers a comfortable and unobtrusive wearing experience, perfect for exploring and adventures.

Common Questions About Seiko Watches

Is Seiko as good as Rolex?

Yes – some Grand Seiko models are comparable and arguably better than certain Rolex models. Grand Seiko represents the highest tier of commercially available luxury wristwatches offered within the Seiko family. Featuring much higher price points than most other Seiko models, Grand Seiko operates at a more high-end level of watchmaking in regards to technology, quality of materials, and finishing detail.

The following Seiko watches are considered the most popular:

  • Alpinist
  • Turtle
  • Cocktail Time
  • Astron
  • SKX007
  • SRPD

These models span limited edition, non-limited as well as watches for men and women. The product lines across Seiko are so vast and varied that Seiko could be the only watch brand that someone collects and they would still have a very respectable collection.

Seiko 5 models are so popular due to their affordability, quality of production, as well as standard features. Many Seiko 5 models are offered as mechanical watches featuring many different dial versions as well as Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex crystal and unique LumiBrite luminescent material on the hands and dial.

3 thoughts on “The Best Seiko Watches You Need To Know – Our 2023 Guide”

  1. Amazing article, Seiko has been my passion since my trip to Japan, that’s when I picked up a seiko for a souvenir..


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