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Top 4 Japanese Watch Brands that Make You Forget Swiss' Craft

Japanese watches brands have embarked on its journey in the watchmaking industry.
Sep 14, 2021

Aiming its goals to be the “Swiss watchmaker of the East”, that's how the Japanese watchmaking industry emerged. Alongside Switzerland as the birthplace of the watch industry, Japan also appears as the global hub of watchmakers. The story began when Kintaro Hattori, the first Japanese watchmaker, started his company which went on to become the Seiko corporation by importing Swiss watches before producing his own Japanese-made timepieces in 1892. That year marked the world’s most important manufactures of timepieces. 

Ranging both from large companies to newer independent brands, their meticulous traits and dedication in watch manufacturing capability have made their quality reach international standards. It is obvious how the Japanese watches brand brought the Swiss down to their knees during the early 70s and gave them a run for their money.  According to the Japan Clock & Watch Association, this Land of the Rising Sun made 44.3 million watches in 2020 for both the domestic and international markets.

When we think of Japanese wristwatches, a list of brands such as Seiko, Casio, and Citizen are likely to appear in our mind and that's absolutely right to feel that way. Not to mention, the presence of Grand Seiko as the most astonishing Japanese watch brand due to its simplicity yet coming to us with grand features.

There is no doubt that Japanese watches are known to be more affordable for nearly everyone and yet they still provide a great range of features. Still, however, Japan is a place where watches in the mid-level, luxury, and high-end category come from. Varieties among brands are as good as others and you just have to know where to look. Therefore, here I come in to share with you the best Japanese watch brand list along with their timepieces. This might not be a big help, as all of them are my types, but some of these wristwatches from Japanese watch brands might be intriguing enough for you.

Seiko

Leading the growth of the industry in Japan during the early years, Seiko is the pioneer of Japan's watchmaking culture. It launched the first quartz watch, the Astron, to the world and battled fiercely with Swiss watch brands. You may know well how quartz watches mean something for the world, especially for horologists. 

It offered unmatched performance and was 250 times longer than any mechanical watch. Further, this brand also boasts outstanding milestones as the first Japanese wristwatch, self-winding chronograph, and dive watch. Now, Seiko continues to grow, expand, and advance their timepieces to make it the best for the wearers. Here are some of my favorite Seiko watches.

Presage Crown Japan Collection 2020 - Ltd Ed 1000pcs Ref. SARX081 

Preserving the use of traditional palette to produce various indigo hues, the Presage Crown Japan Collection 2020 - Ltd Ed 1000pcs Ref. SARX081 is presented in the deep and rich color imbued in Japan's culture. Adding on to that, the Zaratsu polishing through the entire timepiece adding a refinement to this unique watch. Carrying the image of Japanese indigo dyeing colorway, this exquisite timepiece is a form of genuine and evergreen hue favoured to be the true watch enthusiasts' collections.

Presage Crown Japan Collection 2020 - Ltd Ed 1000pcs Ref. SARX081

It is brought to us with the 6R35 caliber movement, hacking and hand-winding capabilities, sterile push-pull crown.  Above all of the features, the essential thing about this Japan Collection 2020 lies behind its limited production. A certain sum of the purchase will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross for giving a great help during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prospex 62MAS 200M Automatic Black Ref. SBDC141

Another spectacular reissue of their legendary watch has been presented in Prospex 62MAS 200M Automatic Black Ref. SBDC141 by uniting its heritage with technology advancement to make an avant-garde dive watch. It packs impressive features when it comes to specification from a woven fabric strap made to a performance-driven automatic movement and 200m of water-resistance.  Keeping its faithful look, the black sunburst dial implies a simple yet cohesive look making it looks fancy yet elegant around your wrist.

Prospex 62MAS 200M Automatic Black Ref. SBDC141

Grand Seiko

Surely, I won’t leave out this particular timepiece as one of the best Japanese watches brand that has appealed to the globe. Grand Seiko was established as a subsidiary brand of Seiko in 1960 but it became a totally separate brand in 2017.  

Thanks to their impressive design, appealing movement, and exceptional finishing, Grand Seiko is known as the luxury goods of watches. Some say that this is Seiko’s way of saying that it could do as good, if not better than, the luxury offerings from Switzerland. It also costs almost 20x the price of most normal Seikos. Let’s see how it looks.

Grand Seiko SBGA229

I believe that we can't go wrong with Grand Seiko watches as the name says it all as one of the best Japanese watch brand. It's none other than the luxurious side it offers to their fans. The case is measured 44.2mm in diameter and 14mm thick. An entirely polished case using Grand Seiko's sensuous zaratsu technique with no hard edges on its bezel, crown, or anywhere else. The SBGA229 is self-winding, lasts up to 72 hours -- three full days on your wrist would work just fine.

Citizen

Right after Seiko, here you have Citizen in the next Japanese watches brand list of mine. Both Seiko and Citizen became the forces that dominated the watch industry in Japan. Their great story began when they started mass production of affordable yet highly accurate quartz watches. Citizen further developed quartz technology with the development of Eco-Drive technology, solar-powered quartz. It became a significant icon leading to the future growth of this Japanese watches brand. It creates a great value proposition for the brand itself. Wondering of one? I listed some of them.

The Citizen Eco-Drive Sunray Blue Ref. AQ4080-52L

I would say the Citizen Eco-Drive Sunray Blue Ref. AQ4080-52L is a hidden gem for watch enthusiasts. At the heart of the watch, the AQ4080-52L is powered by a in-house calibre A060 high accuracy quartz (HAQ) movement. With that being said, accuracy is excellent on this  Sunray Blue. Highly-polished bezel resulting in a flawless mirror-like finish making it beautifully shimmers under nearly any light condition. A 37.2mm classy case diameter, a lug to lug distance of 44.2mm, and only 10.2mm case thickness are a perfect combination for an outstandingly refined watch on your wrist.

The Citizen Eco-Drive Sunray Blue Ref. AQ4080-52L

The Citizen Eco-Drive Sunray Silver Ref. AQ4080-52A

An elegant case with its charming dimensions of watch dial paired with 19mm stainless steel bracelet carry an unexplained aura to keep undivided attention on the beauty of the Citizen Eco-Drive Sunray Silver Ref. AQ4080-52A. Let's move on to its crown that highlights a quick-set date functionality signed with the Citizen's eagle emblem. This would be a neat feature for travelers that allows for an automatic date correction when pressed with a needle.

The Citizen Eco-Drive Sunray Silver Ref. AQ4080-52A

Casio

Watches were not their things but office electronic devices -- predominantly calculators. It’s not until the Seventies when Casio started its first move in the watchmaking industry. That’s why calculator watches are Casio’s unique selling point with their attractive look.

They marked their beginning with the introduction of the Casiotron electric wristwatch in 1974. It features a digital chronometer function and displays the time on its LCD. And in the past decades, the collection series of G-shock became the representation of this Japanese watches brand. Aesthetically speaking, Casio would be a perfect fit for a streetwear style. It mostly comes in a decorated version with plenty of collaborations, such as musicians, artists, and clothing brands.

DW5600E-1V

Are you looking for a lively timepiece available at colorful vibes? Casio has the answer for you through their G-Shock DW-5600E-1V. In some cases, wearing luxury watches in harsh outdoor activities might be a bummer for your timepieces -- it may not be an ideal thing to do. This one, also, you just need to grab this watch. Looking robust and extremely tough that it would last for a long-time despite various scratches, dents, and shocks. Be ready to be surprised that  the G-Shock DW-5600E-1V offers a water-resistance of 200m. You know what it means, right? It will be just fine for diving activities.

Orient Star

As a subsidiary brand of Seiko Epson Corporation since 2009, Orient also marked its name among other Japanese watches brand. They put their attention on making watches with mechanical movement, both for the self-winding and manual winding. Basically, speaking they care about the classic style that keeps things restrained and safe. 

Despite its decent design and even decent price, all watch components are made in-house. They provide a range of watch types, from field watches to divers and dress watches. You may want to check out what’s here in Orient Star. 

Diver Shinrin Green Pwr Rsv Ref. RK-AU0307E

A natural classic forest-green bezel and sunburst green dial theme are the premium features you could enjoy from this Diver Shinrin Green Pwr Rsv Ref. RK-AU0307E watch. The nuance of green would be a best buddy for your diving activities. Besides, it is further featured a luminous green pip making it immaculately clean in a dark environment. Not to mention the in-house caliber F6N47 as its automatic movement that just amazingly fitted on Orient Star watches.

Diver Shinrin Green Pwr Rsv Ref. RK-AU0307E

Avant-Garde Skeleton Blackout Ref. RK-AV0A03B

Ever thought of watching through your timepieces? One of this Orient collection of all-new Avant-Garde Skeleton line-up might be your favorite. Orient released their first-ever semi-skeleton watch in 2003. The Avant-Garde Skeleton Blackout Ref. RK-AV0A03B appears as the star of the collection. Be amazed with the skeletonized cut-outs that will take you to an insight of intricate dial workings. A luminous glow for a dark environment has already been set to  create a perfect legibility. Reliable and remarkable are words used to describe the RK-AV0A03B.

Avant-Garde Skeleton Blackout Ref. RK-AV0A03B

Every watch has their own story and so does the brand behind each of them. Although the majority considers Swiss as the most superior, it wouldn't make the Japanese watches brand any less perfect or grand. As the technology and knowledge continues, the Japanese would certainly go further to perfect their craft with better watch features.

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