Some time ago, it would have seemed laughable to think that a Japanese watch brand could not just stand the test of time, but become a household name and even garner respect in the watchmaking world equivalent to its Swiss counterparts. And while there’s still some ground to cover in that regard, Seiko has more than proven their mettle over the years.
In fact, if you want a beautiful, functional timepiece that you can rely upon day-in and day-out, you can find more than a few in Seiko’s catalog. And while they’re still trying to shake off the “discount brand” association, there’s no denying their worldwide impact on the horological industry and the company’s rising stock. Today, we’re going to take a deeper dive into their offerings and highlight the 12 best Seiko watches for men.
Seiko Holdings Corporation
A Brief History & Background
While they’re assumed by many to be a more modern brand, Seiko actually got their start way back in 1881. That year, a young entrepreneur by the name of Kintaro Hattori opened up a small shop in the center of Tokyo, out of which he began selling and repairing timepieces — ranging from standard wall clocks to pocket watches. By 1892, he started producing his own clocks under the name Seikosha — a two-part Japanese term with “Seiko” roughly translating to “exquisite,” “minute,” and/or “success” and “sha” meaning “house.” Then, in 1895, Seikosha produced Japan’s first pocket watch, which marked the steps toward the country’s first wristwatch in 1913 — also made by Seikosha.
By 1924, and after a massive fire that burned down the original factory, the Japanese watchmaking company rebranded as Seiko — beginning a long, arduous, and successful trek to becoming one of the world’s most important and impactful brands ever. Since then, they’ve made official timepieces for Japan’s railways, the Tokyo Olympics, the 8th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition, and more.
And while all of that is enough to make Seiko a noteworthy marque, they also helped create a wealth of timekeeping firsts. They include a unique, proprietary self-winding system, the first Japanese watch to have a stopwatch function, Japan’s first dive watch, the world’s first quartz watch, the first dive watch to feature a titanium case, and a good deal more. So, as you can see, Seiko is a good deal more than just a budget-friendly watchmaking brand. They’re trailblazers who deserve a good deal more respect than they’ve garnered. And we hope this brief history and the following superb timepieces will help exemplify just how excellent they truly are.
Seiko 5 SNK805 Automatic Watch
As proof of just how much of a value proposition Seiko watches actually are, this one — which will cost you less than a Ben Franklin — still boasts an automatic movement. That means you’ll never have to swap out batteries or charge it or anything. A part of the brand’s 5 series, it’s also sport-focused, with a durable stainless steel case and a durable-yet-comfortable nylon strap. It’s also water-resistant to 30 meters, although we’d suggest avoiding exposure to moisture if you can help it.
Seiko Prospex SSC007 Solar Chronograph Watch
If you want to pack in as much functionality as possible, but you still want an analog timekeeper, Seiko has you covered with their SSC007 Prospex Chronograph watch. Not only does this watch fit perfectly into the lives of anyone with an active lifestyle, thanks to its solar-powered movement, but it’s also got a trio of built-in sub-dials, a date window, and a tachymeter bezel — which is good for making calculations like speed, distance, and more travel-friendly metrics. For math-minded jet-setters, this might be the best Seiko has to offer.
Seiko SKX009P9 Automatic Dive Watch
Whether you want it for its classic Pepsi bezel or you actually have plans to head out on a dive or two, Seiko’s SKX009P9 automatic dive watch has got you covered. It’s powered by a reliable automatic movement — meaning you can just set it and forget it — and comes with an iconic rotating dive timer bezel, as well as a sturdy and sporty silicone strap. Mate that to an off-set, shielded crown and a water-resistance rating of 200 meters and it’s clear that this is a timepiece that wants to be out on adventures with you.
Seiko Prospex SBEP005 Fieldmaster Solar Watch
Though probably not as hand-in-hand as, say, Casio, there was a time when Seiko thrived in the digital watch world. And while much of their catalog is not reflexive of that today, they do still have a number of excellent digital offerings. Their Prospex Fieldmaster that you see here is one such watch. Powered by sunlight, this outdoor-friendly digital timekeeper is equipped for dives up to 200m deep, has a power reserve that’s good for up to five months of constant use or 20 months in power-save mode, and boasts a wide variety of features that include everything from alarms to stopwatches and more. Think of this like an affordable, durable, simplified smartwatch — just without the connectivity.
Seiko Prospex SRPC91 Save The Ocean Dive Watch
Another absolutely magnificent dive watch from the Japanese brand, this limited-edition offering is also known as the “Turtle” courtesy of its shell-shaped case. And it’s a fairly appropriate name, all things considered. You see, this watch features a 200m water-resistance, a 24-jewel automatic movement that will keep on ticking for decades and decades, and a unidirectional dive timer bezel. Of course, it’s also stylish enough, with its stainless steel case and silicone band, that you could wear it even if you’re landlocked.
Seiko Prospex SRPB55 Black Ion Automatic Dive Watch
If the look of a dark and stormy cocktail suits your tastes, then Seiko’s Black Ion automatic dive watch you see here might be right up your alley when it comes to timekeepers. The overall silhouette of this dive watch is about as classic as they come, but it’s elevated by an eye-catching black-and-gold colorway that gives it a sinister edge. Of course, that wouldn’t mean much without metrics to match; but that’s no problem. This watch has an automatic movement with a 41-hour power reserve, 200 meters of water resistance, a unidirectional dive timer bezel, and a PVD-coated stainless steel case for a bit more durability.
Seiko Prospex SBDC031 Automatic Dive Watch
One of the most sought-after and renowned of all Seiko’s offerings, the Prospex SBDC031 automatic dive watch is perhaps better known by its nickname: Sumo. Highly coveted, this watch has a self-winding movement that can be hand-wound if necessary, boasts a 50-hour power reserve, boasts a durable stainless steel case (this one with a matching link band), and has an off-set screw-down crown. And yes, with a 200m water-resistance rating, it’s more than suitable for waterborne activities of all types.
Seiko Prospex SNE535 Solar Dive Watch
While this watch is referred to by the brand as a “Solar Diver,” we like it a bit more for its streetwear styling and unique features — like a case shroud and textured silicone strap that matches its dial and dive-timer bezel. Of course, that’s hardly all this timepiece has going for it, as it also boasts a power reserve that’s good for up to 10 months, a subtle date window, a screw-down crown, and a water-resistance rating of 200m. Better still, while we appreciate the matte green colorway, it’s also available in gray and dark blue for more style choices.
Seiko Astron SAST009G Solar GPS Watch
While plenty of Seiko’s watches were built with the ocean in mind, this one has its sights set more on the stars — or, perhaps more accurately, Earth’s orbit. That’s because this stainless steel timepiece actually boasts some connected functionality, including an onboard GPS system for convenient navigation. It’s also built with a solar-powered movement, a perpetual date calendar, a 39 timezone world timer, and more. It’s pricey, but this watch is superb by every measure.
Seiko Prospex SLA025J1 Automatic Watch
Back in 1968, Seiko unveiled a timepiece that would go on to become one of their most fabled and iconic of all time. Now, they’ve recreated that watch in perfect detail with the SLA025J1 — the very watch you see here. This recreation boasts everything that made the original wonderful — including its iconic flat caseback, studded strap, and gold-and-black colorway. But it’s also got some modern additions, like an automatic movement that’s good for 55 hours between recharges, a 300m water-resistance rating, a date window, and a second hack function. If you want a timekeeping icon and you can afford a hefty fee, this one is stellar.
Grand Seiko SBGE248 Spring Drive GMT Watch
As mentioned, Seiko is widely associated with creating budget-friendly timepieces. But they also have a long tradition of building premium examples under their Grand Seiko sub-brand. Their latest and greatest addition is the Spring Drive GMT you see here. Complete with an automatic movement, a third hour-hand with a 24-hour bezel, and a stainless steel case, this watch is a beautiful blend of fashion and function. And that’s even truer when you consider that it also boasts 18k gold detailing. Furthermore, while we probably wouldn’t suggest taking this watch for a swim, it is water-resistant to 200 meters.
Grand Seiko SBGC229 Spring Drive Watch
Nissan’s GT-R is one of the most iconic supercars around the world, and it just so happens to come from Japan. To celebrate its 50th anniversary — alongside the 20th anniversary of Seiko’s legendary Spring Drive automatic movement — the brand has released this limited edition watch. Built from titanium and ceramic, this unique chronograph has a 72-hour power reserve, tachymeter bezel, dual time display, 100m water resistance, and even comes with a gorgeous, premium alligator leather strap. It’s exceedingly expensive, but that’s the price you pay for one of the most exclusive watches that Seiko has ever built.
How To Read A Watch Bezel
While not all Seiko watches are divers, many of them are. And one thing they have in common: they all come with alternative functionality built into the case. Learn all about how it works and more on our guide explaining how to read a watch bezel.