The Best Seiko Watches Under €1,000 — Finding The Best Bang-For-Buck Options In 2022
Seiko is famous for its fun, capable, and affordable watches. But one prevalent comment about Seiko watches is that they’re becoming more expensive. In this article, I won’t go into why and how the brand is doing that. But I’d like to take a look at what’s still available for under €1,000 to see whether you can still buy yourself a fun Seiko watch for a decent price. Here are my five picks that won’t hurt your wallet too much while still offering that typical Seiko fun!
For this little exercise, I decided to set some boundaries. I went to the Seiko website and looked for the page with the collection overview. There, I turned on the filter for the “New” watches and set the maximum budget to €1,000. That left me with about 40 watches to choose from. You might think that that excludes quite a few references from the running, and yes, it does. So, just to check whether I was missing out on any nice models, I turned the “New” filter off it left me with almost 500 options! Nevertheless, I think the watches below are a still good representation of current Seiko models that I’d choose for under €1,000. Indeed, many of the newer references below are limited editions or evolutions of earlier models. So without any further ado, let’s get to it!
It’s cocktail time!
I’ll use the price of today’s watches to determine the order in which I’ll talk about them. And I’ll start with the most affordable one, which is the Seiko SRPJ13, available at €415. It’s a blue-dialed so-called “Cocktail Time” from the Presage collection. The Cocktail Time has already been around for a long time, and I think it’s such a great watch for the price. It offers a simple, somewhat dressy design in a stainless steel case. The dial itself has a motif you’d expect in a higher price range, just like those elegant indices and the logo, which are all applied instead of printed. And this particular reference even comes on a stainless steel bracelet.
The Cocktail Time has been the choice of many enthusiasts as a first watch, and I can fully understand why. It looks like a very serious watch for its price. It’s well proportioned at just under 40mm wide and 46mm from lug to lug. Inside is Seiko’s 4R35 automatic movement, which has an accuracy between +45 and -35 seconds per day. That might not be very accurate indeed, but it’s a great way to get familiar with what it’s like to wear an automatic watch in daily life. And unlike older automatic Seiko movements, like the 7S26 in the SKX007 for example, this one can be hacked and hand wound as well. The only real drawback here might be the Hardlex crystal, which scratches quite easily. And unfortunately, that same crystal material has also been used on my next pick.
A funky limited edition of an all-time classic
But luckily, apart from that one little drawback, the SRPJ41 is a fascinating watch. It’s a limited edition within the Seiko 5 collection, and this one has been co-designed with graphic artist Kosuke Kawamura. It uses the classic Seiko diver’s design we’re all so very used to and then spices it up with a colorful and transparent dial and case back. There are two versions available, but my choice would be the teal and orange variant you see here. In my case, that’s because this would be an on-the-side watch, and for €450, I suppose I could afford to go a little crazy. What do you think?
It’s also nice to know that when you buy one you’ll be the lucky owner of only 3,000 pieces made. And because of its recognizable design, you’ll immediately be part of a very friendly group of Seiko enthusiasts. But even if you don’t care about those social aspects, this watch just looks so damn cool! The tried-and-tested 42.5mm case might look a bit big at first sight, but the 46mm lug-to-lug makes it wear very well on a wide variety of wrists. And if you’re not sold on the more outgoing design, the current Seiko 5 lineup gives you plenty of options to choose from. You can even go for a GMT if you want, just like the next watch on the list.
An affordable time zone tracker
When the Seiko 5 GMT series launched in June, many Seiko enthusiasts got very excited. Again, it uses the very familiar and beloved Seiko SKX-style case, but this time, it also offers a 24-hour bezel, a 24-hour rehaut, and a fourth hand. That means you can track up to three time zones. It comes in three playful color options, each with a bicolor bezel. If you’ve never had a GMT watch before, I think this is a great and affordable way to try it out to see if it’s for you.
My choice would be the classic black SSK001 with its prominent red GMT hand. I also really like the Jubilee-style bracelet it comes with. It gives the watch a more sophisticated look. But together with the colored variants, it’s still a watch you can wear on almost any occasion. And who doesn’t love a little magnifier over the date? Yes, it would’ve been nicer if both the crystal on the top and the bottom were made of sapphire. But at the price of €470 for an automatic GMT watch, I guess we can’t really complain about anything. But if you would like to bump up the specs, maybe one of the next two contenders is something for you.
A Prospex explorer
Take the limited-edition SPB355 Alpinist from Seiko’s Prospex collection, for example. It looks like an actual explorer’s watch with its silver “rock face” dial, the glacier-blue details, and that internal compass bezel. With that last one and the help of the hour hand, you can actually navigate your way through the wilderness. To find out how, please read my introductory article on the SPB355. And just like the GMT above, there’s also a little magnifier over the date here, but this time, it is made out of sapphire. And that’s not the only upgrade you get for €930.
The jump in specs is also noticeable in the movement department. You now get a 6R35 automatic movement with a power reserve of 70 hours. With an advertised accuracy between +25 and -15 seconds per day, it’s still not very accurate, but it’s better than the 4R series. I think the Alpinist with its quirky second crown, large numerals, and cathedral hands is a piece with a lot of character. And especially at its price point, it’s a very original option. However, if you’d rather go for a higher-spec diver, you might prefer my next option.
A vintage-inspired do-it-all diver
I actually bought this SPB317 myself and spent my whole summer with it on my wrist. It’s inspired by the 6105-8000, one of Seiko’s legendary divers from the ’60s, and apart from the slightly longer indices and the date at four-thirty, everything else has pretty much stayed the same. That means it retains the very comfortable 41mm C-shape case. And I can tell you this is such a strap monster. Both NATO straps and all kinds of textile and rubber two-piece straps work very well on this do-it-all diver.
It’s water-resistant to 200 meters, there’s a screw-down crown, and the sapphire crystal will make sure you’ll always be able to look at that beautifully simple dial layout. It uses the same movement as the Prospex Alpinist, and apart from its less-than-awesome accuracy, I really like the watch itself. It also represents Seiko so well. To me, it’s a company connected to not-too-expensive but very capable dive watches. And this SPB317 is exactly that. It’s not too complicated, but it looks fantastic, and you can do anything you like with it. It sells on a rubber strap for just under today’s budget at €950, but if you prefer a steel bracelet, you’ll have to slightly exceed that amount.
Solar wild cards
So there you have it — five automatic Seiko watches, all of which are available for quite a reasonable price. I decided to focus on mechanical watches in the above selection, but when I scrolled through Seiko’s website, I also saw some interesting solar-powered watches in the same price category. So if you’re not hung up on an automatic movement, these three wild cards might be for you.
What about a good ol’ Arnie, for example? Seiko released three new models of the hybrid survival watch this year. My pick would be the SNJ035, which is the PADI version of the watch. That said, the other two don’t look that bad either. Prices range from €660 to €760, which, in this case, buys you a whole lot of watch!
But if you prefer a more classic-looking chronograph, the Prospex SSC909 might be for you. This particular one is a limited edition with a “Crystal Trophy” dial and black-coated center links on the steel bracelet. But there are also more conventional options available, like the ones pictured above. Regardless of the one you choose, they all cost €700.
And if you’d rather have a more classic-looking diver, then the SNE573 might be a good option. This is the classic black variant, but many other colors are available as well. And at €510, it’s almost a no-brainer because it’s a watch to keep alongside your regular collection. Being solar-powered, it will always keep running if exposed to sufficient light and therefore is a great grab-and-go piece.
Which one would you pick?
All right, that’s it for now. I think these options give you enough to choose from within the sub-€1,000 Seiko collection. And I certainly hope that I’ve shown you that there’s still more than enough fun to be had in the more affordable ranges of the Seiko catalog. I guess you already know which one would be my choice of the watches above, but please let me know in the comments which one would be your favorite. And if you think I forgot about a particularly important one, please also let me know in the comments below.
Oh, and if you’re also interested in great sub-€1,000 picks from other brands, make sure to check out Jorg’s overview here!
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