A lot of luxury timepieces are manufactured in Switzerland, which many connoisseurs call the “land of horology.” It has become widely accepted that many Swiss watch brands have already perfected the art of watchmaking. However, that does not mean we should count out Japanese watches just yet.
Many other countries have been making big waves in the horology industry as well. The most famous of them is Japan. Japan is known for producing the majority of quartz watches we see in the market, along with some affordable automatic pieces too. For these reasons, taking a look at what Japanese watches have to offer is definitely worth your time.
From the renowned Seiko and Casio to the underrated Frank Miura and Knot, here are some of the best Japanese watches you should consider. They come in different price points and designs, so you are bound to find one that fits your tastes and budget.
Our Best Picks: 15 Japanese Watches Worth Your Attention
1. Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA021J1
What better way to begin this rundown than with an eminent brand best known for creating affordable timepieces that perform at a luxury level. Seiko is famous for creating the first Japanese dive watch in 1965. This is why its Seiko Prospex divers remain incredibly respected and popular to this day. One of the most prominent members of this collection is the Seiko Prospex Ref. SLA021J1. Versatile and robust, this watch is one of the most impressive releases of the brand to date.
This Seiko model boasts a 44.3mm case and a black unidirectional bezel, both made out of stainless steel with super hard coating. Secured with a sturdy three-piece link bracelet, the timepiece also has a screw-down crown placed strategically at 4 o’clock for easier access. On the simple but striking matte black dial, you will find geometric hour markers and sword-shaped hands, all coated in LumiBrite. There is also a small date window on the right of the dial..
With a water resistance capacity of 300 meters, this Seiko watch can easily accompany you in various extreme watersports and diving activities. It relies on a 26-jewel automatic movement, which has a power reserve of 50 hours and an accuracy rating of +15/-10 seconds per day. Carrying a reasonable price tag of $3,150 USD, this is the ideal choice for those seeking a Japanese watch that is durable and long-lasting.
2. Casio G-Shock Gravitymaster Ref. GWR-B1000-1AJF
Next up, we have a piece from Casio. Casio is a well-known brand from the East whose expertise lies in creating extraordinary and high-performing digital watches. Due to their solid builds and unparalleled quality, Casio’s near-indestructible flagship watches have become a staple in every serious watch collector’s closet. Among the Casio timepieces worth checking out is the Gravitymaster Ref. GWR-B1000-1AJF. As part of the premier Casio G-Shock collection, this Japanese men’s watch is a testament to the brand’s passion for innovation and pure Japanese craftsmanship.
This G-Shock watch comes in a 50.1mm black carbon monocoque case and bezel. These match well with a tough resin band sporting the same black hue. True to its name, this timekeeper has outstanding shock resistance and can even withstand water pressures up to depths of 200 meters. Continuing with the dark aesthetic, its dial features luminous black baton indices and sword hands, and a date component at 3 o’clock. It also has a Super Illuminator LED light and an afterglow that endorse great legibility in low-light conditions.
When it comes to features, this Casio watch packs a lot. Aside from bearing a mobile link capacity, it also has a 1-second stopwatch, a countdown timer, a daily alarm, a battery level indicator, a full-auto calendar, a dual-time feature, and more. It is also solar-powered so you would not have to worry about its accuracy and durability. Indeed, Casio chose to prioritize function and ruggedness in this masculine $899 USD Japanese timepiece.
3. Citizen Promaster Aqualand Ref. BJ2167-03E
When talking about Japanese watches with cutting-edge functionalities and commendable looks, Citizen is surely the first brand that comes to mind. They famously pioneered light-powered timepieces with their proprietary Eco-Drive movement. This company has also been at the forefront of GPS technology, with models such as the Red Arrows World Time chronograph and the Satellite Wave GPS dive watch.
Right off the bat, you can tell that the Citizen Promaster Aqualand Ref. BJ2167-03E, priced at around $795 USD, will survive even the harshest circumstances. Coming from the brand’s famous Promaster collection, it has a beefy yet striking structure, which men with bigger wrists will surely appreciate. This watch features a stainless steel round case that is 50mm in size, and wide lugs that give the piece more edge. The majority of the watch sports a cool black tone, including the polyurethane strap, pushers and crown. However, there are also blue and red accents on the black bezel and dial that provide a youthful touch. The black dial with a matte finish bears thick hour indices and hands with luminous coatings. In terms of complications, it also features a date window at 3 o’clock, a 60-seconds sub-dial, a power reserve indicator, and a 12/24 hour time display.
Like most of Citizen’s products, this Japanese men’s watch relies on a movement equipped with the trailblazing Eco-Drive technology. It also has a water resistance rating of 200 meters. On the whole, you should go for this one if you love playful Japanese watches loaded with useful features.
4. Grand Seiko Ref. SBGA211
Each of Seiko’s subsidiaries probably merits a lot more discussion than we have time for. However, if there is one worth emphasizing, it would be Grand Seiko. Established in 1960, this Japanese company produces luxurious yet extremely precise timepieces. Indeed, Grand Seiko watches could easily compete with Swiss-made timekeepers in terms of appearance and performance. Exuding simplicity and elegance, Grand Seiko watches have pristine finishes, straightforward layouts, and chronometer-grade movements.
One of the brand’s most notable entries is the Grand Seiko Ref. SBGA211, popularly known as the Snowflake. This desirable gem comes in a 41mm high-intensity titanium case and a fixed bezel made of the same material. Its bracelet has thick, solid links that ensure a nice fit on the wrist, and it has a sizable teeth-edged crown which provides a good grip. Sporting soft textures that are reminiscent of snow, its milky white dial features silver baton hour markers and dauphine hands. There is also a date window with large black numbers at 3 o’clock, and a power reserve indicator sitting between the 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions.
This watch is powered by a Spring Drive movement with 72 hours of power reserve and a ±1 second per day accuracy rating. This timepiece is also water-resistant up to depths of 100 meters, making it suitable for snorkeling and swimming. With a hefty price tag of around $6,000 USD, this is one of the most expensive yet admirable Japanese watches on this list.
5. Orient Star Ref. RK-AM0001S
Evoking a lavish feel, the Orient Star Ref. RK-AM0001S runs on an in-house automatic movement and features a classic black crocodile leather band. You can glimpse the mechanism’s charms through the open-heart dial, which is protected by a resilient sapphire crystal. The crisp white face of this Orient watch sports large Roman numeral indices and blued steel hands. It also bears a moon phase display with blue and yellow accents, a power reserve indicator found below the 12 o’clock marker, and railroad-like patterns on its outer rim. The watch’s signature is also delicately engraved on the right of the dial, signalling this elegant Japanese watch’s identity. . Its 41mm round case, case back, lugs, and crown are all made out of hard and polished stainless steel, a material capable of withstanding impacts, corrosion, and scratches. On top of that, this Orient Star watch is both anti-magnetic and water-resistant up to depths of 50 meters. Priced at around $1,299 USD, this Japanese timepiece would look good with any ensemble, whether casual, business-themed, or formal.
6. Seiko 5 Sports Ref. SRPG33K1
Here we have another piece from Seiko, but this time with a more rugged and commanding look. While its daring aesthetics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, its well-executed dial layout and build are what makes this piece worth getting. With its handsome appearance, there is no doubt why this watch is one of the Seiko 5 Sports collection’s most popular members.
Suitable for men with retro tastes, the Seiko 5 Sports Ref. SRPG33K1 boasts a 39.4mm brushed stainless steel case, a fixed bezel, and a crown with teeth-like edges for a secure grip. Matching the lightweight nylon strap, the dial sports a dark green hue which is surprisingly pleasing to the eye. Adorned with silver Arabic numeral hour markers in a 12/24 hour format and luminescent sword-style hands, it also features a day-date display at 3 o’clock and a seconds hand with subtle orange accents. As a finishing touch, Seiko added a curved Hardlex crystal on both the front and the back, to shield the watch from external threats like dust and moisture.
This Seiko 5 Sports watch relies on a 4R36 automatic movement with 24 jewels and 41 hours of power reserve. It also has a manual winding capability, giving you the best timekeeping experience you deserve. With a price of only $379 USD, this simple but sturdy Japanese timepiece can easily serve as a conversation starter.
7. Casio Edifice Ref. ECB-900DB-1B
Although Casio is better known for their bulky resin watches, they also excel at creating trailblazing pieces with traditional looks. One good example is this motorsports-inspired Casio Edifice Ref. ECB-900DB-1B. It boasts a mesmerizing dark blue and silver color scheme, and combines the wonders of analog and digital displays all at once. Hailing from the brand’s reputable Edifice line, this watch comes with numerous state-of-the-art features and a bold, large watch face for optimal legibility.
Dashing and attractive, this Japanese men’s watch has a 51.5mm stainless steel case and a tachymeter bezel adorned with legible medium-sized markings. This is paired with a brushed stainless steel bracelet with thick links for a better fit on the wrist. Since this piece takes inspiration from the world of racing, it is only natural that its black dial boasts a fancy, dashboard-like appearance. Bearing baton hour markers and luminous, sword-shaped hands with silver outlines, the watch’s face also features a double LED light, a battery level indicator, and sleek metallic blue accents. You will also notice that this watch has four round pushers and a crown with engraved details.
This Casio Edifice model is water-resistant up to depths of 100 meters, making it the perfect companion for your swims. What’s more, this solar-powered watch also comes with a world time function featuring 39 time zones, a 1/1000-second stopwatch, a countdown timer, a speed indicator, a full-auto calendar, a power saving mode, and several alarms. This Japanese watch retails at around $250 USD, giving you excellent value for your money.
8. Grand Seiko Solar Diver Chronograph
When it comes to sports watches, you simply cannot go wrong with classic stainless steel ones. With its versatile aura and elegant finish, the Grand Seiko SBGE253 will surely look good with any outfit, whether formal or casual.
This Grand Seiko watch runs on a 30-jewel Caliber 9R66 automatic movement. It has 72 hours worth of power reserve and a ±15 seconds per month accuracy rating. With a water resistance capacity of 200 meters, this watch can be an instant diving companion. It boasts a stainless steel case that is 40.5mm in diameter, paired with a silver bracelet with a three-fold clasp and push button release. The brand also decided to craft the bezel using a black-colored ceramic, which makes the timepiece more high-tech and innovative.
Continuing with the minimalistic theme, the dial sports a chic black matte finish. This serves as a great backdrop to the luminous baton indices, hands, and the silver Grand Seiko signature. Apart from bearing a vibrant red GMT hand and an outer ring that displays 24-hour time, the face of this Grand Seiko watch also boasts a date window and a power reserve indicator. Enclosed in an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, this versatile men’s watch costs around $6,490 USD.
9. Citizen Satellite Wave GPS Ref. CC4004-58
Here we have another revolutionary timepiece that is worthy of hype and praise. The Citizen Satellite Wave GPS Ref. CC4004-58 adds a stylish and contemporary twist to the classic dress watch.
Everything about this Citizen watch screams lavish and timeless. Its exterior includes a 44mm black titanium case, paired with a sleek bracelet made of the same material. As a true chronograph piece, this men’s watch also has two pushers on the right and a large crown, giving it a 100-meter water-resistance rating. The textured black dial, however, is the true standout here. It boasts luminescent baton hour markers and sword-style hands, and a date window between the 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock positions. Other features it comes with include, a 1/20 second stopwatch, a world time feature, a Universal Coordinated Time (“UTC”) display, a perpetual calendar, a power reserve indicator, and more
Like what its name suggests, this model has a satellite GPS timekeeping system that keeps the watch accurate at all times. It even runs on an Eco-Drive movement, meaning it relies on any light source for power. Priced at around $2,495 USD, this is another Japanese watch worth checking out.
10. Orient Bambino Ref. AC00003W
Let us take a break from sporty timepieces and take a look at this sophisticated and graceful gem. It is no secret that Orient produces attractive watches that never go out of style. What’s more, their products all come with dependable in-house movements, making them good additions to anyone’s collection. One of the famous members of the brand’s current watch lineup is the Orient Bambino Ref. AC00003W. This is an affordable and stylish dress watch with exceptional attributes that are on par with its expensive Swiss counterparts.
Exuding a classy aura, this 40.5mm watch boasts a gold-plated stainless steel case, a fixed bezel, a medium-sized crown, and nicely-shaped lugs. These match well with the cushiony crocodile leather strap in a dark brown color. When it comes to design, this Orient watch veers towards a vintage-inspired concept. Its faded silver-whitedial features triangle-shaped hour markers and sleek, gold-tone dauphine hands. One downside to this watch is that it does not have any luminous elements. Nevertheless, the dial’s minimalistic aesthetic and polished finish are enough to make this timepiece very desirable
Driven by a 22-jewel caliber F6724, this automatic Orient watch beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour. This Japanese watch retails at $230 USD only. Despite its affordable price, this is one of the best pieces the brand has to offer.
11. Naoya Hida NH Type 3A
For those who love sleek timepieces with a lovely pop of color, then the NH Type 3A from the young label Naoya Hida is the best option. Aside from embodying superb retro aesthetics, Naoya Hida watches are also equipped with highly reliable movements. These movements are made by Valjoux, an esteemed Swiss mechanical movement manufacturer which focuses on crafting intricate chronograph mechanisms.
Apart from sporting a blue hand-sewn leather strap made of Alcantara, the Naoya Hida NH Type 3A also has a 37mm SUS904L stainless steel case, fixed bezel, and lugs. It also bears a curved sapphire crystal that provides optimal protection to the face of the watch. Exhibiting a vintage feel, the nickel silver dial with a micro bead blast finish features blued steel hands and hand-carved Roman numeral indices. To add, the dial boasts black dot markings on its outer ring and a delicate 18K gold moon phase disc at 6 o’clock.
Aside from looking good, this watch can also withstand water pressures of up to 50 meters. It relies on a Caliber 3021LU hand-wound movement that beats at 28,000 vph and has 45 hours worth of power reserve. Priced at a whopping $23,071 USD, this Naoya Hida watch is a must-have for those who love refined Japanese dress watches with a twist.
12. Hajime Asaoka Tsunami
If you are on the hunt for a versatile and ingenious timepiece that could easily impress onlookers, then Hajime Asaoka is a great place to start. The founder of the same name has been producing top-notch timepieces since 2005, becoming famous for his incredible watchmaking skills and philosophies.
Ideal for everyday wear, the Hajime Asaoka Tsunami comes in a 37mm polished stainless steel case and a bezel with the same finish. Its slim lugs ensure a nice fit on the wrist, while the large crown is easy for wearers to grip and adjust the watch’s settings. However, what truly makes this timepiece interesting is its neat and understated dial. Adorned with silver-colored hands and a mix dot and Arabic numeral indices, the dial sports a black and gray hue with sandblasted and matte finishes. It also features a railroad-like pattern on the outer rim, a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock, a red hand for the sub-dial, and a striking signature below the 12 o’clock marker. The brand also added a transparent case back, allowing wearers to admire the beauty of the watch’s reliable and intricate movement.
In addition, this watch relies on an in-house engine, designed personally by Hajime Asaoka in his own atelier. Aside from boasting 40 hours of power reserve, it also beats at 18,000 vph. Falling on the more expensive side of the spectrum, this well-designed Japanese timepiece retails at around $22,000 USD.
13. Maker’s Watch Knot Ref. CC-39BKWH
Many of you might think that only European watch brands can produce high-quality Bauhaus-inspired timepieces. That said, wait until you see this next model from the rising Japanese label Maker’s Watch Knot. Whether you need a chic dress timepiece with unusual dial layouts or a sporty watch you could proudly parade around, this brand has got you covered. The best part about Maker’s Watch Knot’s offerings is that they do not come with hefty price tags, making them true collectible pieces.
The Maker’s Watch Knot Ref. CC-39BKWH, priced at around $200 USD, runs on an Epson YM91 movement with 5 years of battery life. It is also water-resistant up to 50 meters, which means that it is suitable for showering and even recreational swimming. In terms of design, it comes in a 39mm black stainless steel case and a tan leather strap with fine stitchings. Embodying a vintage aesthetic, the dial bears clear Bauhaus influences. It contains thin black baton hour markers and hands, sub-dials for the chronograph feature, and an understated date display at 3 o’clock. On the whole, this is a unique Japanese timepiece that definitely deserves a spot in your collection.
14. Minase Horizon Ref. VM02-R01KD
This next piece from the underrated 58-year-old Japanese brand Minase will surely change your perspective about rose gold watches. The Minase Horizon Ref. VM02-R01KD is one of the brand’s best offerings to date, and it stands out effortlessly with its quirky but powerful shape. Bearing a futuristic and lavish look, this Japanese watch takes inspiration from Samurai swords and the horizon’s line over the ocean.
This Minase watch comes in a 38mm box-shaped stainless steel case and has a black rubber strap with a stainless steel deployment clasp. Besides the baton hour markers and luminous hands, its three-dimensional gray dial also consists of an elongated date aperture and a simple signature at 12 o’clock. Endorsing comfort on the wrist, the timepiece has a lightweight profile, weighing around 150 grams only. Minase also added a sapphire crystal to the case back. This protects the watch from scratches and impacts, and allows wearers to view the movement at work.
Moving on to its technical specifications, this Minase Horizon watch relies on a Caliber KT7001/1 automatic movement. It boasts 38 hours of power reserve and consists of hand-polished plates and bridges. Unique in all ways, this Japanese watch retails at around $3,700 USD and can withstand extreme wear and tear.
15. Masahiro Kikuno Sakubou
Last on our list, we have a piece from another independent watchmaker, Masahiro Kikuno. Known for his incredible horological prowess, he produces watches that go beyond expectations by hand. The Sakubou watch serves as solid proof of the founder’s amazing artistry and attention to detail. With its intricate parts, lavish appeal, and stunning composition, it is a timepiece that will surely age well.
Powered by a Caliber MK17 manual-winding movement that beats at 28,800 vph, this Masahiro Kikuno watch is quite slim, with a case diameter of just 38mm. It is secured with a brown leather band to finish off its daring but sophisticated look. This watch also has a Kuro-Shibuichi and white gold flower-shaped case with a flawless brushed appearance. The dial is the true show-stopper of this Japanese timepiece, sporting elegantly patterned black curves reminiscent of flowers and leaves. In addition, it boasts simpledot indices, thick maroon-colored hands, and an understated moon phase sub-dial at the 6 o’clock position. You just have to be cautious while wearing this delicate and opulent watch, as it is only water-resistant up to depths of 30 meters. This Sakubou timepiece costs around $44,000 USD, making it the most expensive piece in this list of Japanese watches.
If you still want to stick with Swiss watches after reading this article, we do not blame you. The manufacturers that operate there are some of the best in the world, and you cannot go wrong with choosing one of their masterful pieces.
However, as this article proves, timepieces made from the East can easily match the quality, form, and appeal of their Swiss counterparts. They deserve the same respect and consideration as Swiss timepieces, especially considering their more budget-friendly prices. With so many options out there, it is impossible not to find a Japanese timepiece to suit your exact tastes, which you can use for the decades to come. We hope that this list can help you choose the right Japanese masterpiece to add to your growing collection.
Photos from the aforementioned brands’ official websites, unless noted otherwise