Although Seiko and Citizen may have similarities on the surface, they make very different watches. Having mentioned that, this article is a comparison of both brands. We’ll take you through their particular highlights and characteristics to see if anyone beats the other. Otherwise, it’s a draw.
Note: Keep in mind that this article is purely educational and will let you decide which manufacturer to go for.
Seiko, unlike its competition in this category, doesn’t only make quartz watches. Their range of watches with automatic movements is known to rival the best in the industry when it comes to complications and craftsmanship. However, the manufacturer’s selling point is their cost-friendly price that doesn’t sacrifice either performance (power, movement, etc.) or aesthetics. Below, we’ll go through the brand’s highlights.
Features of Seiko Timepieces:
- Uses an extensive variety of movement types
- Excellent build quality, with a professional finish
- Budget-friendly price (the Seiko 5 costs $75, and it uses an automatic movement)
- Combination of GPS function with movements (solar in most cases) for precision
Over the years, Seiko has come up with movements of all sorts. Unlike most of the competition, the watchmaker doesn’t allow itself limitations from Swiss tradition, or even misconception on what should be. It’s like the Samsung of the industry, with the Citizen a lower-tiered iPhone (at least when compared to Rolex).
They have made watches with quartz, automatic, solar, kinetic, and spring movements. Their quartz movements include both the standard types and high-precision ones in the case of the 9F Quartz. As for automatic, you’ll find movements that can rival the best in the watchmaking world. A highlight is the Grand Seiko SBGR253 with up to 72 hours in power reserve. On the part of solar watches, six months of use upon full charge is the new milestone.
The kinetic and spring movements, on the other hand, are entirely different. In the case of the first one, it refers to a collection of watches that uses a battery that’s charged through winding, whether self-winding or modern, where it self-winds. Also, keep in mind that the ‘old-school’ method comes with two power indicator functions, so you feel the transfer of power.
The second, which is the Spring Drive movement is like a brother to the kinetic movement. Both are proof of Seiko’s innovations as a master of both electronic and mechanical watchmaking. Back to Spring Drive, it combines tradition with precision. The movement charges like any mechanical watch, but then includes the use of an electronic regulator for higher accuracy (±10s per year).
The price of Seiko watches can go from as low as $100 to as high as $50,000. But most times, the Seiko lineup is less than $1,000 (exceptions are the Seiko Presage, Seiko Prospex, and Seiko Astron collections) while the Grand Seiko collection starts from there. For the innovative Spring Drive, only the Grand Seiko uses it. You’ll find every other type of movement Seiko makes in the sub-$1,000.
- Good dive watches start at $300
- Sleek dress watches start at $400
- GPS models start from $1,000
- Street-styled series start at $400
- Casual/outdoor and military-styled watches start around $150
Seiko watches always come with a high level of finish, durability, and sophisticated design. Sadly though, Seiko doesn’t complement all three with precious metals like we usually see in watches made by Rolex, Patek Philippe, and others. The one exception to this norm is the Grand Seiko 130th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGW252.
Citizen is a watch brand that formed in 1918. The manufacturer purely focuses on in-house quartz movements which are all made in Japan. Also, most of their watches are assembled in automated factories, though their high-end models (assembled by Meisters and Super Meisters) are an exception to that rule. That said, as we mentioned above with Seiko watches, Citizen watches are known for their high prices, too. And that’s with no adverse effect on the performance. Here’s a breakdown of the features of a Citizen watch on the market.
Features of Citizen Timepieces:
- Ultra-accurate quartz movements
- Light-powered quartz movements
- Dainty form factor
- Use of perpetual calendar in all watches with a date display
- Atomic timekeeping for precise time transmission from unique radio towers
- Battery span of up to 20 years, before power storage capacity, dropped by 20%
With Citizen, their central movement revolves all-around their Eco-Drive technology. The technology can generate light from any source. Whether that be natural, artificial, or even dim (regardless of which one), the battery gets charged. What’s more, a full charge means 5-12+ months of operation in pitch darkness.
Other than that, their HAQ (High-Accuracy Quartz) technology is the next best, and it’s the industry standard. Citizen watches with this technology usually have a staggering time accuracy of ± five seconds per year. It’s one of the best we’ve seen so far.
In contrast to Seiko, Citizen doesn’t have a variety of movements. But the ones they do have (namely, the Eco-drive movements) are the best that you can find in the market, especially with the updates to the tech itself.
Note: Citizen has an automatic movement called the Miyota movement. It’s not as popular as its counterpart; and even when compared to the ones found in the Seiko, it’s no competition.
The latter is a bit underwhelming when compared to Seiko’s, but keep in mind that Citizen only makes quartz watches. They never want to compromise on time accuracy by using mechanical watches. At the same time, durability and features are never too far away from their collections.
- Dive and dress watches cost below $400
- Eco-drive watches start from as low as the minimum $100
- Atomic timekeeping watches start at $350
Seiko Watches Aesthetics
Citizen is like Seiko in this regard. Neither of them uses precious metals (gold, platinum, diamonds, etc.), but both their watches do offer impeccable finish, high durability (use of stainless steel), and exceptional aesthetic appeal overall.
Seiko Watches Final Thought
If you don’t mind quartz watches and the extra accuracy the tech brings, Citizen watches might be your best bet. Alternatively, if you prefer the tradition of mechanical watches, with a cost-friendly price, then Seiko watches should be your choice! Either way, it’ll be a win.