Credor is not a brand people hear a lot about. People often call it Seiko Credor, which is unsurprising, as it is a brand under the Seiko Corporation as well, much like Grand Seiko. We also know that the watches from the Credor brand have quite a steep price hike compared to most Seiko timepieces. Of course, this leads many people to think twice about Credor. Why do these timepieces, ostensibly under the Seiko brand name, have such high price tags that they could almost be considered luxury watches? We’ll tell you why: because it’s Credor — a Japanese legend.
Credor or Seiko Credor?
Seiko got the name Credor from the French phrase “Créte d’Or.” It means “the ultimate of the gold”, which makes sense considering the prices of the watches from this brand. In 1974, Seiko founded this company with the idea of producing watches made only from precious materials. This allowed the brand to completely embrace the Japanese aesthetic values — simple, delicate, beautiful. In the beginning, Seiko only used precious metals in Credor watches. However, more recently, you can also find stainless steel pieces in the Credor selection. Nonetheless, all Credor watches are premium timepieces — high-quality, lavish, and truly elegant.
What makes Seiko Credor such an icon in the industry, despite its underrated status, is that it brings together everything Seiko is known for, while also boasting an added element of glamorous luxury. It carries more traditional craftsmanship in terms of its designs. However, inside the Seiko Credor watches are contemporary movements made with cutting-edge technology. Seiko Credor shows where 100 years of watchmaking expertise — shared between the companies operating under Seiko — can truly take a brand,.
Sure, it might be more appropriate to call the brand Credor, but attaching the Seiko namesake just feels right. It is a Seiko Corporation brand, after all. In fact, Seiko used to put its logo in the dial of Credor watches as well. However, around the early 1980s, the dials of Credor watches became populated by the brand’s own “Golden Peak” logo and name, instead of Seiko’s.
This “Golden Peak” Credor logo is the embodiment of a mountain that represents where Credor sits in terms of watchmaking — the summit. The logo comes with three stars on top that represent the three main tenets of Credor as a brand. The first tenet relates to creating designs that are unique while still keeping in mind the Japanese aesthetic ideals — delicacy, precision, and attention to detail. Secondly, a Credor watch must be precisely made and feature modern technology available at the time of its making. Finally, despite being an independent brand, Credor must always utilize the decades of Seiko’s history and heritage as a watchmaking company, including its craftsmanship and artistry.
The Japanese DNA in Seiko Credor Watches
Why the Seiko Credor is not as big in the west as it is in Japan is not a mystery at all. Sure, it is not typically marketed as a worldwide brand, but that is because Seiko Credor watches are never meant for anyone else. Seiko Credor is as Japanese as it gets — both in terms of inspiration and market-wise. It is made by Japanese watchmakers for the Japanese people.
However, this does not mean that Seiko Credor timepieces should never be owned by anyone who is not Japanese. Instead, it just means that the timepiece you are getting is unapologetically Japanese. To say the least, a Credor watch is Japanese culture interpreted into a functional and elegant timepiece. That also applies to the watch’s technical aspects.
This is what makes Seiko Credor such a unique addition to anyone’s collection. It is also a wonderful investment for the future. Many brands have changed their ideas over the years as modern technology dawned, but not this one. Designers and watchmakers at Credor do not compromise on its tenets. Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world, and there are many ways a designer and engineer can apply modern technology without having to mess with the traditional aesthetics of a Credor watch.
That said, the conservation of the brand’s philosophies does come with a price — and a hefty one at that. Seiko Credor watches are not your typical everyday timepiece. If you keep that in mind and set your expectations right, you will soon understand why Seiko Credor is one of the most sought-after luxury watch brands today.
Seiko Credor’s Thin Movements
Precision may be one of the tenets of Seiko Credor, but there is something else it is known for: its movements. What impresses patrons of the brand most about its movements are its dimensions. Yes, not just the prowess and accuracy they hold, but the way they are built. Seiko Credor movements are some of the thinnest watch movements you can find, not only in Seiko but also in the entire watchmaking industry.
For instance, Credor Caliber 68 series movements sit at 1.98mm thickness. That makes this caliber the fifth thinnest mechanical movement in the world. Every component of this caliber was cut in 1/100mm units, forming a stunning movement that perfectly fits Credor’s standards. Even the quartz movements from the brand are exquisitely thin. The Caliber 6720, a quartz caliber introduced in 1980, is still the world’s thinnest quartz movement today, weighing in at only 0.89mm!
These movements from Credor definitely prove that you do not have to produce a chronometer-grade movement to make waves in the industry. Thin movements equate to sleek watches with crazy good dimensions. These help keep Credor’s watches truly stylish. However, do not be fooled into thinking aesthetics are all Credor watches have going for them. After all, Seiko Credor still has that Seiko name attached to it. This assures anyone that the brand produces only high-caliber movements. These movements will perform beyond any expectations and can even surpass Swiss standards.
5 Best Seiko Credor Watches
1. Credor GCBE993
To begin the list of all the Credor watches you need to check out, we introduce the GCBE993. The Credor GCBE993 is a fairly straightforward watch, but it still has the artisanal flair you would expect of a Credor timepiece. It comes with the brand’s iconic “Raden dial.” Raden is a traditional Japanese decorative technique. As the process goes, artists place a delicate inlay material on a surface before polishing it with a few layers of lacquer.
The Credor GCBE993 measures a slim 37mm in diameter and comes with compact tapered lugs. Additionally, the 6.5mm thickness makes it a fine, slender timepiece perfect for dressy occasions. This is a watch that stands out, especially as a conversation starter piece, thanks to its exquisite and unique Raden dial, which is undoubtedly the star of the timepiece.
On the dial, right above 6 o’clock position where the seconds sub-dial sits, is a delicate pattern made from gold. Against the black dial backdrop, the flecks of gold look almost like stars floating in a dark, lacquered night sky. The markers at 12, 3, and 9 o’clock also draw some attention, for they are not applied nor printed. Instead, they are hand-drawn by artisans at Credor. This is one of the reasons why Credor is such a popular brand for collectors — every piece is a work of art. With such fine details, only experienced artists can craft this Credor timepiece. Just a little distraction or mistake could easily ruin such a beautiful and precise watch.
The movement of the Credor GCBE993 can be seen through its exhibition caseback, giving you a glimpse of fine Tokyo stripes and vibrant blue screws. Even though the movement of this watch is thin, it still possesses beveled bridges, so light can play gorgeously across the surface of the movement. In addition, it only weighs 45g so it is ultra-light and slides right under the cuff.
This watch costs around $8,600 USD in retail.
2. Credor GBLT999
Eichi is a Japanese word that means “Wisdom” in English. This is is also the name of the brand’s most popular timepiece. The second Eichi II was a true masterpiece that quickly caught on for many collectors. Crafting this watch requires an artist’s attention to detail, along with the technology used to its advantage.
The Credor Eichi II GBLT999 is a model created especially by Seiko Corporation’s Micro Artist Studio. In this watch, you can get a glimpse of how Swiss watchmaker Philippe Dufour influenced the artists at Credor. This timepiece took the first generation Eichi watch and improved upon it. These upgrades include the placement of the power reserve display on the watch. Eichi I has it right on the dial at the 10 o’clock position. The Eichi II, on the other hand, chooses to put it on the underside of the watch, giving the dial a clean and symmetrical finish.
The Eichi II was launched to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the brand’s foundation, as well as the 15th anniversary of the Seiko Spring Drive movement. For this timepiece, Credor utilized a modified version of the Spring Drive movement, using a hand-polishing technique that both gave it an unmistakable shine and improving its durability and operability. In addition, Credor also gave the movement a truly dynamic finish with some chamfering.
With regards to the dial of the Eichi II, Credor went for a more muted, minimalistic aesthetic, with only deep blue markers, tempered hands, and a delicately-painted Credor logo against a stunning white porcelain dial. This is a beguiling dial that you simply cannot take your eyes off.
Do not be shocked that this watch costs around $52,500 USD in retail. This is a pretty reasonable price, considering its sturdy, lightweight platinum case and high-caliber Spring Drive movement.
3. Credor GCCD993
Next up on the list, we have the limited edition Credor GCCD993 that was inspired by the gorgeous colors of the dawn. There are only 60 pieces of the GCCD993 available in the market, but that is not the only reason why this timepiece is so valuable.
As is the case with most Credor watches, the dial of this watch is impressive in itself. It boasts a blue enamel dial that gives the illusion of a deep body of water right before the dawn of winter. This dial employs the use of impressive in-house enameling techniques. Craftsmen from the Ando Cloisonné Company are the ones responsible for the dial of this watch, creating beautiful gradients that are actually unique to Credor as a brand. They do this by layering four glazes. This technique gives the dial depth, adding an impression of increment radiating outwards from the center of the dial. This gives way to the octagons carved on the sterling silver base of the dial.
You can get this limited edition timepiece with either a classy crocodile leather strap or a sleek stainless steel bracelet. With such an intricately crafted design, it is no surprise that the retail price of this watch starts at $16,600 USD.
4. Credor GBLS998
The Eichi II was impressive but wait until you meet the GBLS998, Credor’s Minute Repeating timepiece. This watch has the same incredible embellishments you can expect from Credor, but it also has an additional spec that makes it a true collector’s must-have. I am talking about the minute repeating complication that is known in the industry as a complex complication.
The GBLS998 a bit bigger than other Credor models, but it is designed that way so that the minute repeater can function well. It has a cool and clear tone when the gongs hit, thanks to blacksmith Munemichi Myochin, a blacksmith and the 52nd head of the Myochin Family known for their stunning creations. The Myochin family is known as the House of Iron and they are known not only in Japan but also all over the world for their finely-tuned chimes, which they have also applied to the GBLS998.
With the combination of the Myochin family’s techniques and the powerful Spring Drive movement, the Credor GBLS998 is a watch that boasts the purest chimes you could possibly find in a minute repeater. Along with the crisp acoustics of the watch, you will certainly not hear any interference from the movement either.
There is a lot more to discover about this watch, and to hold it in your hand and experience its chime is the only way to really appreciate this timepiece. The Credor GBLS998 retails at around $400,000 USD.
5. Credor GCBD999
This is, perhaps, the most modern-looking watch from Credor. All the other watches we have discussed carry more traditional, conservative designs. The Credor GCBD999, however, embraces modern technology in all its aspects.
This watch boasts a ruthenium black skeleton movement. This gives the watch a dressy look without having to take away from its spirit. It feels a lot like staring into the water’s surface when looking at this watch. It has curves that meet unexpectedly, and the fine bridge connecting the movement to the case as well as the metal frame supporting the caliber give this movement a modern edge.
This intricate timepiece is a great alternative to models you might find from Piaget or Jaeger Le-Coultre. This watch was only recently launched, but it is definitely one to keep your eye on. It costs around $16,600 USD in retail.
Cost of Seiko Credor Watches
As of the writing of this article, you can find more than 80 models on Credor’s website. Their prices range from between $2,000 USD to $600,000 USD. Credor’s catalog offers a diverse range of watches that prove that Credor does not settle. The brand does not box itself into a certain market, nor is it afraid to take things down a notch when necessary. It can be intimidating to explore the entire range but you will definitely enjoy falling down the rabbit hole of Seiko Credor watches.
Top 3 Alternatives to Seiko Credor
There are a variety of reasons why the Seiko Credor might not be your cup of tea. It could be due to the fact that Credor falls on the more expensive side of the scale. Others simply do not get along well with the Japanese identity of the brand. Or, you might be looking for something just like the Seiko Credor. No matter what your reasons are, here are the top 2 alternatives to Seiko Credor, and one watch from each brand that you should definitely add to your collection today.
If you are looking for a brand of the same caliber as Seiko Credor, Hajime Asaoka is the one for you. This Japanese brand is well-known for its impressive collection of watches. However, just like Credor, this brand does not joke around when it comes to its price. Designer Hajime Asaoka established the eponymous brand, with self-taught knowledge in Haute Horlogerie, in 2005. The launch of the brand truly disrupted the Japanese watchmaking industry. Asaoka started out with a tourbillon watch, then proceeded to make many more noteworthy timepieces.
Hajime Asaoka, unlike other brands, does most of the work himself, which explains the price of his watches. Like Roger Smith, he is an independent watchmaker who creates watches with a contemporary flair. You can expect Hajime Asaoka watches to cost around $50,000 USD or more. While it may sound like a lot, many collectors swear by this watchmaker for its precise timekeeping and quality pieces.Hajime Asaoka Project-T Tourbillon
One of Hajime Asaoka’s most impressive watches is the Project-T Tourbillon watch. It is a traditional watch complication, given a contemporary twist with a modern design. Among its many quirks include the ball bearing located on the right side of the tourbillon’s upper bridge. This watch operates at 18,000 beats per hour, and has a power reserve of 40 hours. In this watch, you will find 13 ball bearings as well as 13 jewels. Hajime Asaoka used ball bearings instead of jewels because, according to the designer, they are lot more reliable and efficient than synthetic ruby jewels.
These unusual ball bearings were made by Yuki Precision. If you are not familiar with the name, Yuki Precision holds the Guinness World Record for producing smallest ball bearings ever. They have crafted minute, 1.5 mm outer diameter ball bearings that have been used for fidget spinners.
In addition, the Project-T Tourbillon watch also boasts a deep black dial with DLC processing which highlights the gunmetal features of the watch. This eye-catching timepiece costs around $80,000 USD in retail.
It is impossible to talk about the Japanese watchmaking industry without mentioning Orient. This brand is not the most popular of the bunch but it is definitely one that collectors enjoy. Orient provides intricate designs that range from affordable to high-end. Unlike brands such as Citizen and Casio, Orient focuses more on mechanical watches. This makes them one of the most affordable brands in the market. You simply cannot find mechanical watches from other brands at this price point.
Orient designs also tend to lean more on the conservative side as well. Rather than the Japanese style and artistry exhibited by Seiko Credor and Hajime Asaoka, Orient watches tend to be closer in design to traditional Swiss timepieces. That said, the combination of Japanese craftsmanship and quintessential Swiss aesthetics does make Orient timepieces extremely appealing to collectors as well.Orient Star Mechanical Classic
Orient Star is the brand’s representative model, which truly helped it rise in the industry. The Orient Star Mechanical Classic RE-AZ0001S is powered by a hand-wound movement that gives it 708 hours of power reserve. This practical feature is all thanks to its new silicon escape wheel, which allows the watch to be lighter. The silicon escape wheel also gives the watch even better accuracy compared to other movements. It has an accuracy of +15 to -5 seconds per day.
Aesthetically speaking, this Orient watch is stunning. It features a skeletonized dial that comes in stunning bronze and blue hues. It also has a hint of a spiral shape, reminiscent of the Milky Way. In keeping with the watch’s theme, there is also a noticeable comet-shaped component at the 9 o’clock position.
The gold version of this watch costs around $2,600 USD, while the stainless steel version in silver-tone costs around $2,000 USD.
Seiko Credor: Ingenious and Dignified
We have all seen what Seiko can do in terms of technology. That said, perhaps the Seiko Credor line is proof that the watchmaking industry is more than just technology. Instead, horology is about heritage and art as well. This brand truly embraces the Japanese culture and puts forward its philosophies with great care. If you are looking for an individualistic luxury watch with its own unique character to add to your collection, the Seiko Credor is it.
Photos courtesy of Credor.