The Best Seiko Watches Under €1000 Available Today
Ahhh… Seiko! An indisputably beloved brand in the world of watches, mechanical and otherwise. The brand’s incredibly diverse catalog caters to those new to the watch world, as well as to those more experienced looking for a serious watch. And that’s without getting into Grand Seiko territory! Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the affordable options in the Seiko catalog. I spent a couple of hours looking through the current lineup and picked out my five favorites under €1000. And there’s also a bonus sub-€300 pick at the end.
This top-five list is an update to Jorg’s list published back in 2020. And though I tried to mix things up and not pick only dive watches, they were ultimately hard to avoid. Therefore, as it turns out, all models in the list hail from the Prospex product family. Not that I have anything against the Presage, Astron, or 5 Sports lines, where plenty of interesting models can be had within budget. It just so happens that my tastes are more aligned to the Prospex line. I’ll be linking to our more in-depth coverage of each watch in the corresponding section, should you want to know more.
Finding true value in Seiko’s current lineup
Taking on the task of finding my favorite five Seiko watches within the sub-€1000 price bracket came rather naturally to me. Personally, I’ve never been interested in any other area of the brand’s catalog. Though I can admire those pricier models, which boast some incredible finishing and excellent design, Seiko’s value, to me, will always remain in the lower-end of the brand’s offerings. These are models that don’t fall within the usual definition of “luxury watches” due to their price and finishing. But when it comes to functionality and aesthetics, they offer value well beyond their RRP.
These are the watches that can truly be worn and used as intended. I wouldn’t dare go scuba diving with a €5K Omega dive watch. And though there are people out there who wouldn’t hesitate, I’m just not there yet. However, I wouldn’t think twice about taking my Seiko dive watches on a dive, snorkeling, or on a snowy hike. It’s that worry-free feeling that Seiko’s lower-priced offerings allow me to enjoy. And there are plenty of fantastic options in the current catalog. If anything, the only challenge was to narrow it down to just five — something which I might (or might not) have managed to do. Let’s wind back to 2007 for my first pick on this list of the best Seiko watches under €1000. It’s also the closest to the price limit — the Seiko Sumo, a lean, mean, diving machine!
Seiko Prospex SPB103J1 “Sumo”
Two years on, and the Seiko SPB103J1, alias “Sumo”, comes out on top of the list. Jorg and I are definitely on the same page, and despite Seiko having added plenty of watches to its catalog at this price point, it’s the beloved Sumo that prevails once again. I should clarify though, that it is on top because it comes in at the highest price point within our budget, at €830. I have taken all prices from the Dutch Seiko site, so there may be some slight discrepancies to the prices found where you are. So, what makes the Sumo my pick? It’s a combination of looks and features that does it for me. And though the latest model (not pictured above) has changed ever so slightly, the addition of a 3 o’clock lume plot beside the date window does not detract from this diver’s classic lines.
Twisted lugs, a chamfered bezel insert, and big, bold, sharp hands are some of the special details that make this such a cool model. The big signed crown at 4 o’clock and that special way in which the knurled dive bezel flares out a bit, yet lies perfectly recessed into the case’s sides is spectacular. Its 45mm steel case, with an impressive lug-to-lug of 52.5mm is not for the faint of heart. But thanks to its sloping lugs and a case just 13mm thick, the Seiko Sumo is perfectly wearable for anyone with a wrist of 17cm or bigger. Inside of the latest iteration, the Seiko caliber 6R35 ticks away, offering 70 hours of power reserve. A flat sapphire crystal and 200m of water resistance make this certified diver’s watch the perfect tool and one of the best Seikos under €1000.
Seiko Prospex SPB201J1 “Alpinist”
Look familiar? It should, as the Alpinist also took second place in Jorg’s 2020 top-five list. However, in the past year and a half, we’ve seen many new models released by Seiko, including updated versions of some of the classics. For this pick, I’ve gone with the SPB201J1, a limited-edition model for the European market. However, the SPB197J1 and SPB199J1 would also fit the bill. These three Alpinists, with their blue-gray dials, take this classic model to the next level. The gold and green tones of the SPB121J1 that Jorg picked are undeniably charming, but personally, I prefer the cool color scheme of these new models.
Equipped with the same 6R35 movement that’s inside the Sumo, the Seiko Alpinist is a perfect field watch. Though the compass bezel is arguably not as useful as a dive bezel, it adds a lot of depth and detail to the dial. Applied numerals and indexes match the ornate cathedral hands and sleek seconds hand. A perfect watch for any and all adventures, it also boasts 200m of water resistance. That’s something that many other field watches lack. There’s a reason why the Alpinist has become a beloved classic from Seiko’s lineup, and just as it has earned that cult status, it also earns a spot on this list.
Seiko Prospex SRPH77K1 Save The Ocean “Tuna”
Here’s where we enter uncharted territory. Whereas those first two picks retraced Jorg’s footsteps from a couple of years ago, here is where our paths begin to diverge. My third pick, coming in at €570, is the new Seiko SRPH77K1 Save The Ocean “Tuna”. This new take on a classic Seiko model was introduced just last week on the 11th of January 2022. Of the two new watches, I found the Tuna to be my favorite. There’s something about the shrouded case, with the radially grained steel bezel and stunning deep blue textured dial that make for a truly perfect combination. The Tuna has been around since the 1980s, and though it was never one of my top Seiko case designs, I have some newfound appreciation for the iconic diver. All it took was to see it in the metal.
Though it’s large, the 43.2mm case sits beautifully on the wrist. At just 13mm tall and with incredibly short lugs, it’s far more compact than its dimensions might have you believe. What I find truly brilliant about this watch is how its design stems from pure functionality. The removable steel shroud protects the crown and bezel (other than at the two points where your thumb and forefinger land perfectly when it requires turning). It looks and feels like a proper tool. And though there are many variants of the Tuna in different sizes, colors, and dial variants, the stunning dial on this STO special edition makes it that much more unique. Perhaps I’ve overdone it with black-dialed-and-bezeled dive watches. Either way, this is my third pick for the list and one that comes in right at the middle of the set price point.
Seiko Prospex SRPE99K1 PADI “Turtle”
In fourth place is another Seiko special-edition dive watch. This time, however, it’s the SRPE99K1 PADI “Turtle”, which also goes by the reference SRPA21K1. I would have been remiss not to include a Seiko Turtle on this list. Though my choice a year or two ago would have been the SRPC35K1 “Mini Turtle” (I wrote about my own here), the model has since been discontinued. Therefore, it’s the standard 44mm Seiko Turtle that slowly (but steadily) wins the race to make my top five. I went with the PADI special edition as I find it to be one of the nicest versions of this specific model. The added “Pepsi” livery and subtle PADI logo below the pinion are very cool indeed! I may be biased, however, as I became a certified scuba diver through the PADI learning program.
The PADI Turtle has an RRP of €470 on the European Seiko website. For less than €500 you get a classic Seiko dive watch on a solid bracelet. Though the colors and association to PADI may turn off those who are not certified divers, there are plenty of Turtles to choose from in the catalog. A strong second place goes to the SRPF13K1 with its incredible gray sunburst dial. However, it’s the blue and red amphibian that has won me over. Though I don’t currently own a Seiko PADI model, I wouldn’t be surprised if someday one found its way into my collection. On the bracelet for hot summer days at the pool, or on a rubber or NATO strap when suiting up for a weekend of scuba diving.
Seiko Prospex SNJ029P1 / SNJ031P1 “Safarnie”
You didn’t like the PADI Turtle? Don’t fret. My next pick takes things in a totally different direction, yet comes in at the exact same €470 price point. Another Seiko cult classic, the SNJ029/31P1 models pay tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pick for Predator and Commando. I’m talking, of course, about the Seiko H558-5000, also known as the Arnie. Reinvented in khaki green and tan color schemes and aptly nicknamed the “Safarnie”, these two models are beyond cool. With the same shrouded case as the Tuna, but with more crowns than Buckingham Palace, these solar-powered, ana-digi watches are as tough as they look.
Arguably, the only issue with the Safarnies is that you’ll likely have to hit the gym before you put them on your wrist. Coming in at a whopping 47.8mm in diameter, these are certainly not for everyone. I like to think of these watches kind of like Seiko’s take on a G-Shock watch. Yes, they are unapologetically big, but somehow the tactical look and long list of features mean that they get somewhat of a pass when worn in the right context. They’ll fit right in strapped on over your neoprene wetsuit next to your dive computer or sandwiched between a thick down jacket and a warm glove. However, this isn’t one to try and fit under the cuff of an Oxford shirt and blazer. My pick of the two would have to be the tan-colored SNJ029P1.
Bonus sub-€300 pick: Seiko 5 Sports SRPE57K1
Okay, okay… I know I said this would be a top-five list of the best sub-€1000 Seiko watches available today, but I couldn’t help myself. When I realized that none of my picks represented the sub-€300 bracket, I decided to add an extra pick. Though these are watches that can be enjoyed by collectors that already own a number of more expensive pieces, they also make the perfect entry-level pick for those curious about mechanical watches. The Seiko 5 line offers a lot of value for the price point. Though you do have to compromise when it comes to features such as water resistance, the movements inside, and even the bracelets, these watches still pack plenty of bang for the buck.
My pick here is the SRPE57K1. Yes, I could have picked a dive watch from the Seiko 5 lineup. And sure, there were many models that are extremely appealing that fall more into the field watch/pilot’s watch category in the lineup. But these two oddball models which have the signature Seiko SKX case shape combined with a plain steel bezel are quite special. You still get 100m of water resistance, which is enough for swimming and snorkeling. But as they couldn’t really be used for diving, it’s nice to strip away the rotating dive bezel in favor of versatility. At just €270, in terms of value, this is truly Seiko at its best. If you’re looking for a first mechanical watch or just a trusty beater, you could certainly do far worse.
And there you have it, dear Fratelli, the best Seiko watches under €1000! That said, do keep in mind that these picks are my favorites from the brand’s current catalog. There are plenty of alternatives out there, and certainly, something that will appeal to everyone. I highly recommend having a look at the Seiko site. I was pleasantly surprised at just how many different models were available for less than the given budget. But one thing is certain: we’ll definitely have to update the list next year. Seiko is a brand that doesn’t stand still, and I’m sure it will impress us with plenty of great releases this year.
For now, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did I pick your favorite? Or did I leave it out of my top five? Let me know what your personal picks would be in the comments below!