A rival to Switzerland
Seiko watches have earned something of a cult status in watchmaking circles, namely for its high quality craftsmanship that hails from Japan, with price tags that are three times less than watches made in Switzerland. Today Seiko is based in Ginza, Tokyo, and is run by Shinji Hattori, the great grandson of founder Kintaro Hattori. The house produces both Seiko women and Seiko men watches, and as the original inventor of quartz, continues to innovate in energy saving technologies, whether watches powered by light or by the movement of the wearer.
Solar energy and Seiko Astron
Seiko launched the world’s first quartz watch in 1969 and has been a pioneer in the field since. It debuted the world’s first solar watch in 2012, and today its Astron line is equipped with GPS solar technology. High complication functionality is very much part of the range, such as the SSE174 (price £2,400) for men with its perpetual calendar, dual-time and 40-zone world time capabilities – and with good looks from its black PVD case and bracelet strap, matched with a black dial that has day window and geometric markers. Also part of the Astron range for men is the Executive Line of chronograph watches for men, such as the stylish SSE129J1 with a black dial on a titanium case and bracelet strap. There’s also a Astron solar chronograph for women, the SSE021J1 (price £3,095), that is truly chic and feminine (and notably without a diamond in sight): titanium case, white dial on white leather bracelet strap, and all the same high functionality, from perpetual calendar to world time.
Next-gen quartz technology
Seiko has also created watches powered by light. The Seiko Solar collection features the SUT068P9 (price £329) for women with a two tone stainless steel case and bracelet strap and diamond bezel for a jewelry look. The markers are lovely mix of Roman numerals and indexes, and there is also a date window. Also in the women line is a two tone (in stainless steel and rose gold) jewelry design, and diamond bezel with 20 stones. High quality dress watches for men also feature, such as the understated SNE034P1 (price £169), also with two tone stainless steel case and bracelet strap. For women there is the art deco style SUP252P9 (price £109), its solar powered quartz movement set in a rectangular case of high quality stainless steel gold tone and fitted with a brown leather strap. The SUP250P9 (same price) has a black leather strap, and a case once more in high quality stainless steel gold tone - but here with elegant Roman markers. Also for women is the SUT196P1 (price £179) with a gold tone stainless steel case set on a brown leather strap and a day window. The SNE372P1 (price £189) meanwhile is the version for men of the former, again with a gold tone case on stainless steel, the day window at 3 o'clock. With a brown leather strap, the watch is water resistant to 100m.
In 1986, Seiko was the first to convert kinetic movement to electric energy, and today it has developed that know-how into a line of watches with self-charging batteries – based on energy stored from the movement of a wearer’s wrist.. The line includes the likes of the stainless steel case and bracelet strap SKA267P1 (price £219) for men, featuring a blue dial with silver markers. Meanwhile a black ion-plated stainless steel model, also for men, looks especially stylish with its black dial. There is also a Kinetic Diver’s watch (price £379) with a cool blue dial, a rotating blue/red bezel and stainless steel case and bracelet strap. (Indeed it also makes the Seiko Automatic Diver, with an automatic movement and black silicon strap from the Prospex collection). And neither is it all sporty designs: a version for women in stainless steel comes with a white dial and diamond jewelry markers.
Spring Drive movement
Another technical feat is Seiko’s Spring Drive mechanism, which combines a mechanical movement with a quartz oscillator to create a gorgeously gliding seconds hand. The functionality extends to the likes of the Grand Seiko SBGA011 (price £5,500) with hand-winding capability, and a special snowflake dial, or the SBGC005J chronograph (price £8,500) with chunky markers for men.
Mechanical watches made a comeback at Seiko in 1998 with the 9S5 mechanical movement, Grand Seiko’s first in 20 years. Today its line of automatic watches, include the likes of a chic three-hander Grand Seiko SBGR055J (price £3,500) with a stainless steel case and bracelet strap, or an elegant automatic model in pink gold for women with a diamond bezel on a black leather strap.
In addition to making watches for men and women, Seiko is also a notable clockmaker. There’s the likes of the grand QXH008B pendulum clock (price £275), encased in oak with a Westminster chime and featuring an automatic chime silencer, or the classic QHJ201G desk clock, also with a Westminster chime and automatic chime silencer. The round, white QHT014W (price £27.50), with its luminous brass, diamond cut dial feels especially old school, or if digital designs are more your thing, there’s the LCD alarm clock (price £40) with an automatic alarm stop function, calendar and thermometer.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary, Grand Seiko fitted a special Caliber 9S watch into several attractive models, whether with a stainless steel or gold case, and a mix of leather and stainless steel straps. The mechanical hi-beat 36000 (price $6,300) came with a signature blue and gold dial, in with a stainless steel case. A crystal case back shows off a titanium oscillating weight. Also with a stainless steel case was the SBGR311G (price $4,900), with a gorgeous dial made from 80 spun curved lines (and again a crystal case back). There was also a model ($32,000 price) for women with crystal case back and silver lame-look dial on a leather strap. The SBGT241G (price £3,400) meanwhile, took after its 1993 predecessor, with a stainless steel case in crystal case back and a dial with a five pointed star. Elsewhere the SBGH265J ($27,000 price) on a crocodile leather strap is super classic, with its gold case and the VFA characters on the dial (and like the SBGR311G also has a dial from spun curved lines). There is also a two tone model - stainless steel case on gold - again with a crystal case back and an etched logo dial.
Three day power reserve
Seiko also some exceptional three day automatic movement watches that combine the latest hairspring technology. The SBGR261G (price $4,300) for example boasts a three day power reserve, with a muted silver dial that gives the watch an interesting dual tone look with its brown crocodile leather strap. Another three day piece is the SBGR257G (price $4,100),with a black dial on stainless steel case. The SBGR307G ($4,600 price) meanwhile is an elegant classic with a stainless steel case that matches a muted silver dial. A crystal case back shows off the movement. The SBGR309G (same price) has a similar look with its stainless steel case, black dial and crystal case back and again the maximum three day power reserve.
Fine chronograph watches for men
Seiko also make some wonderful chronograph watches for men (rather limited for women). The SNAF09P1 (price £219) is in fact an alarm chronograph for men, featuring a stainless steel case on a eye catching green dial with gold hands and a date window. A brown leather strap with contrast stitching has a luxe feel while being water resistance to 100m. The SNDC31P1 (price £179), again for men, feels more vintage, with its cream dial on a brown leather strap and 40mm stainless steel case. There is also a date window and the chronograph has 1/20 second increments and is water resistance to 100m. Also retro style with a brown leather strap is the SPC088P1 chronograph (price £199) with a gold case and gold number markers. A big date window is notably at the 12 oclock position. The SNDE03P1 (price £169) chronograph meanwhile is a super sporty watch for men, with a blue dial with a contrasting tone from orange markers. With a stainless steel case and water resistant to 100m, the chronograph also has a date window. The SSC019P1 (price £279) meanwhile is a diver chronograph Prospex, that is solar powered. With a stainless steel case and bracelet strap an interesting red and blue rotating bezel, the chronograph is water resistant to 200m and has a date window at 5 o'clock.
Seiko Dual tone women watches
Two tone watches are current trend and Seiko make some exceptional models for women. The SUP137P9 (price £179) is a lovely design with a jewelry style clasp, mother of pearl dial with gold hands. The two tone stainless steel case and bracelet strap is from the Solar collection. The SUP174P9 (price £239) is another jewelry style cocktail watch, again powered by quartz. The two tone case features diamond style Swarovoski crystal that offsets the mother of pearl dial - and is a divine watch for women. Also for women is the divine SRZ400P1 (price £279) that is wonderful two tone mix of rose gold case and bracelet strap on stainless steel, with a white dial featuring diamond style Swarovski crystal hour markers. It is even water resistant to 50m, which is great to see in jewelry dress watch for women.