BRAND / Seiko

Seiko or Citizen? A guide to best Japanese watches

Beyond sharing the same country of origin, Citizen and Seiko have other similarities as well as differences worth appreciating. Here’s an in-depth comparison guide of both watch brands and how they bear up against one another.

        
Seiko vs Citizen

It was the quartz crisis (or quartz revolution) that helped put Japanese watch brands like Seiko and Citizen on the map for their affordability and their reliability, but both brands were manufacturing watches long before they began chiseling a chunk out of the watch market. Beyond sharing the same country of origin, Citizen and Seiko have other similarities as well as differences worth appreciating. Here’s an in-depth comparison guide of both watch brands and how they bear up against one another.


History:

Seiko’s history is a rather dramatic one. Founder Kintarō Hattori created clocks between 1881 and 1892 but thereafter began specializing in watchmaking. The watches Seiko created for the general public were unaffordable up until the ’70s when quartz technology became simpler and cheaper to produce, and as a result, the public turned to buying quartz watches en masse.

Citizen’s history is much less dramatic and shorter. The company was co-founded by Swiss and Japanese investors and has spent its 100-year lifespan specializing in developing and refining sustainable watches. The company has focused on solar-powered wristwatches but also created the first atomic watch in 1993 – a watch that receives a signal from one of the atomic clocks. As a result, these watches would lose less than one second every 100 000 years! Like Seiko, Citizen’s brand exposure was helped along by the quartz revolution, many of their wristwatches of which are equipped with a Swiss movement despite their watchmaking facilities remaining in Japan.

Popular Citizen collections:

Style-wise, both Seiko and Citizen have a large catalog of watches that span from the technically-heavy, higher-priced watch range down to those that sit within the fashion watch price bracket. Whilst Seiko is recognized for creating classic styles, Citizen has been more experimental and adventurous in its approach to watch manufacture, creating innovative timepieces that dare to break the mold. It also specializes more in quartz models as opposed to automatic.

Citizen Promaster:

Two technically sophisticated watches from the Promaster collection include the Promaster Land watch and the Pro master Sky watch. The Promaster Land is equipped with an altimeter and an electric compass. Others feature atomic time synchronization. The Promaster Sky watch relies on solar energy and offers countless functions that enable pilots to calculate flight data. It’s also available as a radio watch and is distinguishable by its titanium case which creates a lightweight feel on the wrist.

Citizen Promaster Altichron

Reference: BN5058-07E
Caliber: Eco-Drive J290
Functions: Date, Hour, Minute, Second, Altimeter, Compass, Power Reserve Indicator
Case Diameter: 46 mm
Case Thickness: 14.50 mm
Winding: Quartz
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Water Resistance: 10 ATM (200 meters / 660 feet)
Lugs Width: 22 mm
Strap/Bracelet: Black rubber 
Dial: Black 
Crystal: Scratch Resistant Mineral.
Case-back: Solid

Citizen Satellite:

Citizen has used its satellite technology since 2011. Many watches receive a GPS signal from space, synchronized with atomic timekeeping. Although there are other models made by the manufacturer that relies on satellite technology, Citizen’s Elegant collection which is home to over 200 models is the best place to start searching if you’re looking to buy a Citizen satellite watch, especially if you prefer the look of a standard three-handed dial design with a date feature. The Promaster Echo-Friendly watch ref: JW0126-58E even features a stopwatch with a 1/1000th of a second.

Citizen Eco-drive Satellite Wave GPS World Time

Reference: CC3035-50E Eco-Drive
Caliber: Quartz
Functions: Date, Weekday, Perpetual calendar, World time watch
Case Diameter: 44 mm
Case Thickness: 14.3 mm
Winding: Quartz
Case Material: Steel
Water Resistance: 10 ATM
Strap/Bracelet: Black steel
Dial: Black 
Crystal: Sapphire crystal

Citizen Sport watches:

Citizen’s sports collection is the place to find a sturdy and robust wristwatch, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors or if you’re an individual who takes part in a lot of sport. The models are equipped with 100 meters and are powered by quartz movements. Despite being classified as a sports watch, these timepieces look just as refined as some of the watches from the brand’s Elegant range like this model ref: AW1147-52L.

Citizen WDR Eco-Drive

Reference: AW1147-52L
Caliber: Citizen Caliber Eco-Drive J810
Functions: Date, Hour, Minute, Second, Solar-powered, Calendar, Solar, Stainless Steel
Case Diameter: 41 mm
Case Thickness: 10.20 mm
Winding: Eco drive
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Water Resistance: 10 bar (100 metres / ~330 feet)
Lugs Width: 22 mm
Strap/Bracelet: Stainless steel
Dial: Blue
Crystal: Scratch Resistant Mineral
Case-back: Solid

Citizen Promaster Diver:

The Citizen Promaster Diver collection is home to around a dozen rugged diver’s watches for you to choose from. If you prefer your diving watch to offer additional features there are models like the BJ7111-51M which boast a colorful one-way rotating bezel and a GMT function, along with 200-meter water resistance. These Promaster Diver models are popular because of their robust qualities and their affordability, as well as their Eco-Friendly technology, powered by light.

Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 

Reference: NY0087-13EE
Caliber: Citizen Caliber Eco-Drive E168
Functions: Date, Hour, Minute, Second, Solar-powered, Calendar, Solar, Stainless Steel
Case Diameter: 45 mm
Case Thickness: 12 mm
Winding: Eco-drive
Case Material: Stainless Steel 
Water Resistance: 200 meters / 660 feet
Lugs Width: 20mm
Strap/Bracelet: Stainless Steel
Dial: Black 
Crystal: Scratch Resistant Mineral
Case-back: Solid

Popular Seiko collections:

Seiko Prospex:

Like collections from Citizen, the Seiko Prospex collection is renowned for its affordability. Its high-tech specifications are purpose-built for professionals. Models like the SLA017 is reminiscent of the first Japanese diving watch in 1965. Newer 40mm diver’s watches from Seiko’s Prospex range are equipped with 200-meter water resistance. They’re also propelled by mechanical calibers from the Grand Seiko range, particularly the Marinemaster Professional 300M. There’s also a range of quartz watches to choose from within the Prospex collection equipped with world timers, solar cells, radio reception, and stopwatch features.

Seiko Diver Diver Watch Fifty-Four

Reference: 6217-8000 / SEIKO 62MAS
Caliber: Seiko NH35A
Functions: Date, Calendar
Case Diameter: 37 mm
Case Thickness: 13.80 mm
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Winding: Mechanical
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Jewels: 26
Water Resistance: 20 ATM (200 metres / ~660 feet)
Lugs Width: 20mm
Strap/Bracelet: Black rubber with black "cordura effect" rubber
Dial: Black 
Crystal: Single dome sapphire glass

Seiko 5:

The Seiko 5 is an affordable sports watch with prices that start from around 90 dollars. Sleek and sporty, these timepieces feature simple three-handed dials with day/date displays. The watches, being automatic, are so affordable because so many are made. The movements are considered low maintenance workhorses that guarantee precision without the pricier chronometer certification.

Seiko 5 Sport Automatic 

Reference: SNK805K2
Caliber: 7S26
Functions: Date
Case Diameter: 37 mm
Case Thickness: 9 mm
Power Reserve: 40 hours
Winding: Automatic (Self-winding)
Case Material:  Steel
Jewels: 21
Water Resistance: 10 ATM (100 metres / ~330 feet)
Lugs Width: 20mm
Strap/Bracelet: Green Textile
Dial: Green
Crystal: Mineral Glass.

Seiko Premier:

The Seiko Premier watch collection is where you will see traditional watchmaking elements brought through to modern designs. Roman numeral hour tracks are combined with bold 41mm and 43mm cases – some of which feature a two-toned aesthetic. Some models have kinetic movements, however, the majority are powered by quartz. There’s also a desire for these watches on the preowned market, where you can pick up a second-hand Seiko Premier watch for around 300 dollars.

Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual 

Reference: SNP139P
Caliber: Premier Kinetic Perpetual
Functions: Date, Perpetual calendar, Power Reserve Display, Screw-Down Crown, Only Original Parts
Case Diameter: 42,90 mm
Case Thickness: 12,30 mm
Winding: Automatic (Self-winding)
Case Material: Steel
Water Resistance: 10 bar (100 metres / ~330 feet)
Lugs Width: 22 mm
Strap/Bracelet: Steel
Dial: White
Crystal: Scratch Resistant Sapphire
Case-back: Solid

Prices:

Seiko uses all of its own components without the need from any external suppliers, making each timepiece incredibly good value for money. Watches from the lower-end scale at Seiko cost anything from around 100 dollars upwards but can stretch up to the thousands with watches from the Grand Seiko range. Because Citizen has created an equally large range of watches, the prices between their lower-end and higher-end watches are similar to Seiko (if we take out the Grand Seiko range for comparison reasons). Generally speaking, the more technical the Seiko or Citizen watch is, the higher the price tag.

Conclusion:

On the whole Seiko and Citizen share similar recognition within the market. Both have focused on creating watches that are neither too flashy nor too expensive. Whereas Citizen has saturated the market with its solar-powered technology, Seiko relies more on its past to create classic, traditional-looking watches that tie in nicely with their history. If you’re looking for quartz or solar-powered watches as opposed to mechanical – Citizen is your best choice. But when it comes to style, both brands have created a huge range of watches that span from the dynamic and sporty, to the ultra-technical, to the clean and elegant.

Find out more:

More information about Seiko can be found here , and for Citizen here.