7 Best Japanese Watch Brands (2021 Guide)

Alongside Switzerland, Japan makes some of the best watches in the world.

Their fine attention to detail, unparalleled craftsmanship, and ability to stay current and stylish makes them a great choice for many timepiece enthusiasts.

There are dozens of well-known Japanese watch brands, but which companies are at the top?

The best Japanese watch brand is Seiko because it has a timeless appeal with affordable prices, durable materials, and watches for every occasion. Casio, Citizen, and Orient tie for second-place for their reputation, style, and tech upgrades. Knot, Minase, and Hajime Akaoka are also up on the list.

In this article, we'll cover what you should know about each watch brand, what to look for when shopping for Japanese watches, and our favorite watches from each company listed.

 

What to Look for When Buying from a Japanese Watch Brand

When you're looking for a watch from a Japanese brand, there can be a lot to consider.

For example, you're probably looking for something within your budget that matches your stylistic needs, daily routine, and timepiece movement selection. Let's break down the three things you should look for in a Japanese watch brand below.

 

  1. Your budget should be at the top of your concerns. After all, you can't get a watch that's too expensive, but a cheap watch might not meet your expectations.

  2. The movement and construction are a close second when it comes to necessities. Whether you're looking for a manual or automatic watch or something powered by solar energy, it's important to keep these issues in mind.

  3. Last but not least, the style is impossible to skip. If you work at a nice office with constant meetings and well-known company members, you'll need a nice watch. Those looking for a casual timepiece can lower their budget and match their wardrobe.

 

We'll dive into more details about each of these factors, then cover our favorite Japanese watch brands. Enjoy!

 

Consider Your Budget

Unfortunately, we can't always get the best and most expensive watches. The good news is Japanese watchmakers have managed to make high-quality timepieces without breaking the bank.

Here's a quick chart of the typical expensiveness you can expect out of our favorite Japanese watch brands:

Japanese Watch Brand

Average Expense

Score

Seiko

Below $300

8/10

Casio

Below $200

10/10

Orient

Below $300

8/10

Minase

$3,000 to $8,000

3/10

Hajime Asaoka

$4,000 to $50,000+

2/10

Citizen

Below $500

7/10

Knot

$200 to $1,000

6/10

Keep in mind these prices are subject to change. Our score or rank is based on the average affordability of Japanese watch brands, not each watch's overall quality or desirability.

Hajime Asaoka might've had the lowest score, but it's by far one of the best watch brands worldwide.

 

Construction and Movement

The next important feature to look for is movement and construction.

Many Japanese watches are made for their appearance and unique artistic design. However, brands like Casio have made sub-brands, such as G-Shock, to promote durability for those who work construction jobs and other laborious lifestyles without ruining their watches.

You should also compare manual vs. automatic watch movements. Neither is better than the other, but it's based on personal preference. It's safe to say that those who prefer the nostalgic, classic appeal of Japanese watches should lean toward manual timepieces. In contrast, those who prefer modernized tech and convenience would enjoy automatic timepieces more.

 

Appearance and Style

Many of us buy watches for their appearance, which shouldn't be surprising.

However, it's crucial to match your watch with the occasion, clothing, and personal preferences. It'd be strange to wear a G-Shock watch by Casio to a fancy dinner, but it makes perfect sense to wear one to a track match or labor-intensive job.

On the other hand, getting a Hajime Asaoka might be far overdone if you're using it just to tell the time from a working-at-home job. We recommend fitting the timepiece to your daily lifestyle. For this reason, Seiko, Casio, Orient, and Citizen seem to be a top choice for everyday watch wearers. They have plenty of models to dress up or down, depending on the occasion.

Without further ado, let's jump into the list!

 

Our Top Picks

  • Best Overall: Seiko
  • Best for Affordability: Casio
  • Best for Mechanical Timepieces: Orient
  • Best Dress-Up Brand: Minase
  • Best High-End Watch Brand: Hajime Asaoka
  • Best Solar-Powered Watches: Citizen
  • Best Up-and-Coming Brand: Knot

 

Best Overall: Seiko

Founded in 1892, Seiko is no stranger to change and varying demands in style, price, etc.

This brand has gone through countless decades of timepiece construction, making it a top choice for those who prefer reliability, new and old appearances, and nostalgia. You can find a Seiko watch for almost any occasion.

The Seiko Men's SNN241 Stainless Steel Watch is a perfect example of the style and craftsmanship you can expect from this brand.

It features a 42.6mm watch face, a leather band, and a 100m water-resistance rating. This watch uses a Japanese Quartz movement with an analog display to maintain a classic appeal with modern toughness and comfort.

 

Bottom Line: Seiko offers chain watches, leather bands, handheld timepieces, pocket watches, and more. They're our best Japanese watch brand because you can pick a Seiko watch and wear it anywhere you go without feeling underdressed, out of place, or too behind on the tech side of the equation.

Pros

  • Seiko has been in business since the late 1800s, making them a trusted brand throughout the world.
  • They rely on durable materials and attention to detail to provide excellent watches for a reasonable price.
  • Seiko provides great customer service and warranties for all of their watches.
  • Seiko owns Grand Seiko for those seeking luxury watches.

Cons

  • While Seiko is well-known, it's not the best choice for dressing up for high-end events. You could choose a Grand Seiko or go with another brand from the list. Note that this might not be an issue if you don't attend these gatherings.

 

Best for Affordability: Casio

Casio was founded in 1946 in Tokyo, Japan.

The brand made it much easier for low-income people to buy nice watches without breaking the bank. Casio watches have the appeal of high-quality watches, paired with durability and trustworthiness. However, their low-budget prices and basic designs mean they're not as sought after as some of the expensive brands.

The Casio Men's MDV106-1AV 200M Duro Analog Watch is a top example of what you should expect from a Casio timepiece. It's tough enough to go on hikes or workouts, thanks to the stainless steel case and sweat-resistant resin band. Minor features like the luminous hands and interchangeable band make it a fun, affordable choice for beginner watch wearers.

 

Bottom Line: Casio might not be a luxury brand, but they're an ideal Japanese watch brand for those seeking budget-friendly prices, stylish timepieces, and exercise-ready bands. They own G-Shock, a popular brand among fitness enthusiasts, military members, and more.

Pros

  • Casio watches offer great prices.
  • They're ideal for people who need a watch to wear for exercise or a labor-intensive job.
  • The brand offers a wide range of styles, both analog and digital.

Cons

  • Casio watches aren't suitable for fancy dinners, meetings, and similar events.
  • You won't get the same quality and unique attention to detail as other watches on the list.

 

Best for Mechanical Timepieces: Orient

Orient was founded in 1950 to favor mechanical watches without staying away from the nostalgic design.

These watches are made in the same fashion they were many decades ago. This heritage-rich brand focuses on providing the artistic, hand-made design many watch collectors desire without driving the prices too high.

Orient offers the Men's Mako II Watch for those who want the classic style of a chainlink watch band combined with a 41.5mm watch face. They come in Blue, Two-Toned Blue (blue and red), and black. Regardless of which color you choose, you'll receive a watch with a 200m dive rating, date/date window, and single-knob design.

 

Bottom Line: Orient watches are the middle-ground between luxury and affordability. To some, they're the best Japanese watch brand worldwide. They're an easy choice for people who favor tradition, heritage, and craftsmanship exclusive to Japan.

Pros

  • Orient watches aren't too expensive.
  • They're made with excellent waterproof materials.
  • Orient timepieces follow a decades-old tradition.
  • The mineral crystal won't scratch or glare.

Cons

  • Much like Casio, Orient watches aren't considered to be top-of-the-line. However, they're definitely of higher quality than Casio and get more attention, too.

Best Dress-Up Brand: Minase

Minase was founded in the early 1960s to create a luxury watch brand for those seeking an upgrade.

We believe getting a Minase watch is a step up from less-expensive watches, such as Seiko, Citizen, or Orient. These watches are hand-made and beautiful from edge to edge. If you want to improve your watch collection for a high-end job, event, or lifestyle, look no further.

The Minase Divido VM04-M08SB is an unbelievably beautiful timepiece that has non-reflective sapphire crystal glass, a see-through backing, and a highly durable stainless steel case. It also has a date window on the analog display with illuminated numbers and a 38-hour power reserve.

 

Bottom Line: Whether or not you can get a Minase watch, it's impossible to create a list of the best Japanese watch brands without including this one-of-a-kind company. From their unique story founded with few tools and a secluded mountain location to their luxurious design, these watches are here to stay.

Pros

  • Minase watches are perfect for fancy occasions, nice outings, and so on.
  • They're made by hand by trained professionals who've been making watches for decades.
  • Each Minase timepiece has non-reflective sapphire glass.

Cons

  • Minase watches are undeniably expensive.

 

Best High-End Watch Brand: Hajime Asaoka

Hajime Asaoka was founded in 1992 to bring some of the most luxurious, high-end watches the world has to offer. They're made to last a lifetime and can pair well with any suit, dress, or similar lavish attire.

Kurono Tokyo explains most Hajime Asaoka watches are ordered from the watchmaker himself. If you want to get your hands on one, you'll either have to get them used or wait on a long list. Many of the watches go off the shelves within weeks of production.

 

Bottom Line: Hajime Asaoka is nothing short of the best. These watches are made by the designer to provide a story in every timepiece. They're incredibly luxurious, stunning, and invaluable to those who wear them.

Pros

  • These watches are all hand-made.
  • They're perfect for watch collectors, nice occasions, and more.

Cons

  • It's very difficult to get a new model.
  • Used and new Hajime Asaoka watches often cost as much as a car.

 

Best Solar-Powered Watches: Citizen

Citizen was originally founded as the Shokasha Watch Research Insitute in the early 1800s. Today, these watches boast solar-powered energy storage to power the watch's hands and illuminated surface. Citizen watches are mostly known for their Citizen Eco-Drive models.

The Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Watch comes in blue, green, and black. It has an illuminated date window and hands wrapped in a 48mm stainless steel case. Thanks to the sun-powered design, you never have to charge this watch. This dive watch is water-resistant down to 650+ feet.

Bottom Line: Citizen managed to match old-school watchmaking techniques with new-age solar-powered construction to make some of the best, most-purchased watches on the market. Whether you prefer stainless steel or leather bands, they have it all.

Pros

  • Many Citizen watches use solar energy to power the timepiece.
  • They come in a wide range of budget-friendly prices.
  • Citizen watches are nice enough for many occasions but can be worn casually, too.

Cons

  • Citizen rarely makes watches in an old-school fashion, despite the fact that they're one of the oldest watchmakers on the list. This may or may not be an issue, depending on your preferences.

 

Best Up-and-Coming Brand: Knot

Knot was founded in 2014, making them one of the youngest watch brands from Japan. These watches are interchangeable and customizable with anything you find on the website, making them perfect for people who want to change their style frequently. You can find a knot watch for work, home, exercise, and more.

 

Bottom Line: In a world where watchmakers compete to make the best watch available, Knot is refreshingly personalized. You don't have to choose a watch and sacrifice the desired features since you can mix and match every component.

Pros

  • Knot watches can be customized to your liking.
  • You can make a fancy watch for work or a casual watch for exercising and weekend outings.

Cons

  • Knot watches have an unpredictable price range since each modification increases or decreases the cost.

 

Conclusion

Seiko is a classic watch brand that owns a few other companies, provides plenty of watches for any occasion, and typically provides affordable timepieces. However, we can't overlook the other watches mentioned above.

Truthfully, you're in good hands with any of the seven brands we've covered.

Japanese watches are among the best worldwide, so why not give a few of them a try to see what fits your style? You could have one for work, one for casual settings, and one for exercise. Good luck!


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Sources

Article| 01/08/2021 |