The 10 Best Japanese Watches

Dec 2, 2019

Category: Style

While the Swiss often get top billing in the watchmaking world, they’re hardly the only name in the game. In fact, the Japanese have a lot to be proud of in regards to the craft. Hell, Seiko actually invented the quartz movement — an innovation that altered the watchmaking landscape permanently. And that’s just one of many timekeeping-related things to come out of the eastern island nation.

Perhaps obviously, the watchmaking landscape in Japan is not quite as vast as that of the Swiss — but there are still a fair number of brands producing spectacular watches that call Japan their home. And their offerings span a wide range of prices, styles, functionality, and more. We’ve rounded up ten of our absolute favorites on the following list of the best Japanese watches.

Orient Bambino 2nd Gen Version III Automatic Watch

It probably seems absurd to think that you could get a handsome automatic dress watch for as little as $118. However, that’s exactly the case if you’re looking at Orient’s Bambino 2nd Gen Version III. Available in a number of colorways, this watch boasts a self-winding movement, stainless steel case, domed mineral crystal, a 3 o’clock date window, and a handsome leather strap.

Size: 40.5mm
Movement: Automatic
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $119

Orient Ray II Automatic Watch

If the Bambino is a bit too dressed-up for you, never fear; Orient has plenty of other options. One such offering is the Ray II automatic dive watch. With classic diver’s styling, this watch features a rotating dive timer bezel, a self-winding auto movement, a stainless steel case with a matching link band, and a shielded crown. And it’s still remarkably affordable.

Size: 41mm
Movement: Automatic
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $123

Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Professional Diver’s Watch

Another diver-style timepiece out of Japan, Citizen’s Eco-Drive Promaster you see here has some unique bits to offer. For starters, the offset crown makes for more comfortable all-day wear regardless of the activity. It’s also housed in a stainless steel case with a crown shield for extra durability. And it has a dive timer bezel. However, perhaps the most enticing bit is that this watch boasts a solar-powered movement — meaning sunlight is all you need to keep it ticking indefinitely.

Size: 43mm
Movement: Solar
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $163

Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk Watch

Another solar-powered offering from Citizen, the Nighthawk is vastly different from its diver-styled sibling. You see, this watch is designed for use by travelers and pilots alike. In conjunction with its stainless steel case and link band, it boasts a slide rule — a handy tool that allows pilots to complete on-the-fly calculations without the help of digital instruments. There’s a learning curve, to be sure, but if you’re mathematically-savvy, this might be the Japanese watch for you.

Size: 42mm
Movement: Quartz
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $188

Casio Edifice EQB-800BR-1ACF Quartz Watch

Though their best-known watches most certainly come from their G-SHOCK sub-brand, Casio does make other watches for those looking for timekeepers with a bit more refinement in their styling. This Edifice EQB-800BR-1ACF is one such watch — boasting smartphone connectivity, a solar-assisted quartz movement, an onboard world timer, a tachymeter, and much more. Granted, it’s a bit on the larger end of the spectrum, but it also boasts 100m water-resistance, as well as a slew of built-in functions perfect for tracking athletic activity.

Size: 49.2mm
Movement: Quartz
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $329

Casio G-SHOCK GMW-B5000 Full Metal Watch

Back when G-SHOCK first launched, they had one offering: the DW-5000C — a unique, ultra-tough take on a digital watch. Now, to celebrate that monumental, industry-altering timepiece, they’ve released an updated, modern version in the form of the Casio G-SHOCK GMW-B5000 Full Metal. This new version retains much of the same iconic styling, but now comes in a completely metal case with a matching band. It also boasts a solar-powered movement, a Multi-Band 6 built-in antenna for accurate timekeeping at all times, Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone app compatibility, plus plenty of other built-in features.

Size: 43.2mm
Movement: Solar
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $500

Seiko Prospex ‘Sumo’ SBDC033 Divers Watch

There are a couple of theories as to how this watch has earned its nickname, ‘Sumo’ the first being that it boasts a rotund case reminiscent of sumo wrestlers themselves and the second being that the 12 o’clock marker resembles the garments worn by sumo wrestlers during their bouts. In either case, this timepiece is one of Seiko’s most well-known and sought-after offerings ever. It boasts a stainless steel case with a matching link band, an automatic movement, a water-resistance rating of 200m, an offset crown, and more. If you’re searching for a Japanese classic, this is one of the best watches you can buy.

Size: 44mm
Movement: Automatic
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $506

Seiko Prospex ‘Black Ion’ SRPB55 Diver’s Watch

Nicknamed ‘Black Ion’ for its dark finish, the Seiko Prospex SRPB55 is one of the Japanese brand’s most striking offerings to date — aided by its metallic gold detailing. Of course, even without its handsome and slightly sinister black-and-gold colorway, this would be a compelling timepiece for those in search of a solid Japanese watch. That can be accredited to its self-winding automatic movement, water-resistance rating of 200m, 41-hour power reserve, dive timer bezel, shielded screw-down crown, and sturdy-yet-comfortable silicone strap. Somehow both bold and refined, this watch is on another level entirely.

Size: 44mm
Movement: Automatic
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $525

Casio G-SHOCK Master Of G Rangeman GPRB1000-1 Watch

While it’s relatively lightweight, the G-SHOCK Rangeman you see before you is by far the largest watch on our list. However, if you can get past its sheer size, you’ll come to realize that this is one of the toughest and most capable timepieces to ever come out of Japan. Not only does it boast the brand’s signature durability and shock-resistance, but this one also comes with better resistances to mud, dust, and water than much of its lesser brethren. It also has GPS capabilities, Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone app compatibility, a solar-assisted movement, and so much more. This isn’t so much a wristwatch as it is a Japanese-made survival tool. Truly, the Master of G Rangeman is in a class of its own.

Size: 57.7mm
Movement: Solar-Assisted Quartz
Case: Resin, Stainless Steel, & Ceramic

Purchase: $800

Grand Seiko Sport SBGE248 Spring Drive GMT Watch

If, in your search for a Japanese watch, your chief concerns are in regards to design, then you’ll probably find yourself drawn to the exceedingly-beautiful Grand Seiko SBGE248. A newly-released offering in Grand Seiko’s Sport Collection, this watch is crafted from a combination of stainless steel and 18k gold. And while its obvious handsomeness is enough to get excited about, it’s also an exceptional GMT watch with some stupendous timekeeping features. That includes the brand’s Spring Drive movement — which combines the motive force of a mainspring with the high precision of a quartz watch — as well as a 72-hour power reserve (with its own display), a date window, and more.

Size: 44mm
Movement: Spring Drive
Case: Stainless Steel & 18K Gold

Purchase: $11,500

The 15 Best G-SHOCK Watches For Men

One of the most prolific watch brands to come out of Japan, Casio’s G-SHOCK timepieces are highly-sought-after around the world and renowned for their toughness and capability. Find the best one for you on our list of the 15 best G-SHOCK watches.

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