Seiko vs. Citizen: Who WINS the Luxury Timepiece Battle? 
When we talk of luxurious watch brands, Europe and, in particular, Switzerland immediately comes to mind as the nerve centers of luxury and exquisite timepieces. Did you know that Asia also produces luxurious and stylish watches?
In the 1970s, Asia started making waves in the watch industry due to Switzerland’s quartz crisis. The increase of battery-powered quartz watches in the 170s, and 1980s dramatically changed the watchmaking industry.
The situation kicked off with Astron, the first-ever quartz watch by Seiko, in December 1969. The trick was to replace the watch’s mechanical movements with quartz movements and replace the analog display with a digital one. Quartz is more accurate and more affordable.
The quartz watches became popular and more widely accepted. In the next two decades, two Japanese watch brands gained a more significant chunk of the watch market, namely Seiko and Citizen. Most consider these two brands twins as it’s difficult to tell their differences.
The two brands have numerous similarities beyond their country of origin, homology, structure, brand prestige, recognition, and resale value. We shall discuss some of these differences in this article. If you find it hard to choose between the two, this article will make it easier for you.
Seiko vs. Citizen: Brief History of Seiko
This distinctive brand’s history dates back to humble beginnings in 1881 21-year old Kintori Hattori opened a jewelry store called K. Hattori, located in Ginza Neighborhood, Tokyo. After eleven years’ experience in buying, selling, and repairing clocks and pocket watches, Hattori started thinking of becoming a watch manufacturer.
In 1892, he opened a factory that produced elegant and outstanding luxury wall clocks under the brand name, Seikosha, a Japanese word meaning house of exquisite artistry. This endeavor made by Hattori played a significant role in defining the future of the Seikosha watch brand. In 1895, the Seikosha brand built its first pocket watch, the Seikosha timekeeper.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the brand saw a rise in the demand for wristwatches. It took the bold step of coming up with an elegant wristwatch with a 29.6 mm silver case and a porcelain enamel dial known as the Seikosha Laurel.
In 1923, the Kanto earthquake hit Japan and devastated many buildings, including Seikosha’s factory and the timepieces in stock. Seikosha put their operations on hold, but Hattori quickly rebuilt the factory.
A year later, they came up with a new wristwatch, the first to feature the name Seiko on its dial and the first watch that marked the beginning of the Seiko Brand. Kintore Hattori passed away in 1934, leaving behind his eldest son Ginza to take over the company and run its operation.
After the ups and downs of World War II, Seiko started becoming a globally recognized brand as it produces over 3 million watches each year, which the company traded to many far places in the world, like the United States of America.
In 1954, the company hit another milestone after creating the Seiko Marvel, which features the brand’s first movement designed and produced in-house. The company launched the Seiko Automatic, Japan’s first automatic wristwatch. In 1960, the brand created its first luxury line named Grand Seiko, which competes with high-end Swiss watches.
The brand continued to prosper, and in 1964, they became suppliers of the Tokyo Olympics, where they provided 1,278 stopwatches. The brand has already produced many quartz wall clocks, but they’ve yet to replicate the model into a wristwatch.
Seiko kept pushing to become the first watch brand to create a quartz wristwatch, which they did in 1969 when they made the Seiko Astron. Their quartz wristwatches changed the watchmaking industry and pushed the brand’s success throughout the 1970s.
The 1980s weren’t easy for Japanese companies, and Seiko was no exception. However, the brand continued to put more effort into perfecting the watchmaking industry. Seiko has become a great company that manufactures watches, printers, and optics though their watches are the brand’s driving force. Over the past year, the brand has become a household name across Europe, North America, and Asia.
Seiko leans more towards the sporting world and is better known for its diving watches. The Seiko sports watches are renowned and acclaimed as the lead sponsors for top athletes like tennis star Novak Djokovic. Seiko’s performance is unprecedented, holding accuracy to within five seconds per month.
Brief History of Citizen Watches
The history of Citizen Watches is shorter and less impressive than that of the Seiko. Its history dates back to 1918, when a Tokyo jewelry seller, Kamekichi Yakamazi, established the Shokosha Watch Brand Institute and started producing pocket watches.
Swiss watchmaker Rodolphe Schmid registered the brand in Switzerland for watches sold in Japan. In 1924, their first commercial model, the Caliber 16, was sold under Citizen. The company continued to expand until the Second World War halted its success. The brand was famous but had little success globally.
However, a new era began for Citizen Watches after the war as a new president, Elichi Yamada, took power. Yamada, an experienced man, quickly discovered that the brand’s future was in the foreign hands of the Swiss.
He created the Citizen Trading Company, which marketed the brand globally. Elichi Yamada also improved the Citizen watches’ technology by producing many outstanding mechanical timepieces, a breakthrough in the Japanese watch industry.
The Japanese brand saw the quartz revolutionary as an opportunity to use the first era of electronic watches to make most of its outstanding models. One of their hottest models then was the Citizen X-8, their first-ever titanium watch.
From 1975 to 1981, the Citizen Watch brand unveiled the first-class watch each year. Perhaps their best accomplishment yet in their history was introducing Eco-Drive technology. This technology enabled the user to recharge quartz batteries via a solar panel under the watch’s face.
This recharge meant that the battery would retain power when you placed your watch under the sun for some time every day. Today, Citizen is a world-renowned luxury watch brand and owns Bulova, an American watchmaker.
Which is the Better Brand?
Comparing the two Japanese luxury brands is not an easy task because both brands have attained numerous achievements. The watch brands have many similarities, and both brands have produced many exquisite watch models.
We shall compare the two brands regarding technology and movement, recognition, resale value, and other qualities to see which luxury brand is better.
The best luxury brands are the most recognized in the world. While some watch brands are known only by watch enthusiasts, some are known by the average person. Between Seiko and Citizen, Seiko is more recognized than Citizen by the year of establishment.
While Seiko started in 1881, Citizen Watch Co was in 1918. By the time the Citizen watch brand started, Seiko had already established itself in the watch industry.
Technology and Movement
Both companies are prestigious, and they deliver high-quality watches. However, Citizen watches lean more toward quartz watches. It’s hard to find a mechanical watch in Citizen’s brand. Despite being the quartz revolution’s driving force, Seiko still produces some mechanical watches.
When it comes to style, Seiko’s style is more modern. Being the older company, Seiko is still establishing more prestige and reputation by connecting their watches’ style with the past. In contrast, Citizen embraced technology.
A good example is how Citizen embraces eco-drive technology, which focuses on solar-powered watches. Though Seiko has embraced the technology, Citizen solar-powered watches are much stronger than Seiko’s. If you want a stylish mechanical look, go for the Seiko brand.
Highest Resale Value
Some people prefer to buy a luxury watch with high resale value. When comparing this on Seiko vs. Citizen, we have to first look at each company’s sales saturation.
While Seiko has better models than Citizen, the latter still makes more sales than the former, though the difference isn’t huge. With Seiko being more recognized, you’ll likely get more when reselling a Seiko watch than a Citizen watch.
Style and Design
Seiko and Citizen have differences in watch styles. Seiko creates more classic and traditional style watches. For instance, their dress or dive watches will be just that and have no extra features.
However, this sticking to tradition allowed them to specialize in some specific watches. Some of the top watches come from many decades of designing the same design over and over, making mistakes and rectifying them.
Citizen uses modern technology to build more accurate watches creating market disruption with their timepieces.
The latter also uses quartz technology, but the brand has added various types of technology to help them innovate more and sell more. If you need a classic timepiece, such as a beater or dress watch, choose Seiko. Check out Citizen’s models if you want to experiment and see what is available in the market.
Many Citizen Models have mineral crystals, and their more expensive and rarer watches contain sapphire, which also applies to Seiko. Seiko has its crystal technology known as Hardlex, found on their best brands and whose durability is almost the same as a mineral.
Best Seiko Watches
Here are some of Seiko’s best watches:
This Seiko dive watch uses automatic movement, accurate up to 20 seconds per day. The movement is adjustable to get better accuracy. The lens contains Hardlex crystals, and the watch uses Seiko’s Lumibrite to keep the watch bright in dark places.
Seiko 5 SNK809
This Seiko watch is one of the most affordable watches. For around a hundred dollars, you buy an automatic movement watch that contains a day-date window, a durable stainless steel case, a look, a mineral crystal, and water resistance.
The Seiko 5 SNK809is a beater watch, and you can fit the bill for camping, the sea, and your workplace. This watch is affordable, and most watches contain some special features for that price. The Seiko SNK809 has five features, making it the best option if you’re on a budget.
Best Citizen Watches
Citizen has some of the best watches, including:
Citizen Eco-Drive Nighthawk
The most striking part about this watch is its intricate design. The Pilot’s chronograph boasts an extensive collection of Arabic Arabian markings and numbers and a sliding scale that calculates fuel consumption, air speed, etc. Its best feature is the GMT function, which has a sweeping arc red or white GMT index ranging from 6 to 12.
The pointer hovering over a colored arm tells the GMT and allows the watch to have a double function. The watch also has a stainless steel casing, decorated dial, and resistance to water up to 200 feet.
Citizen Eco-Drive AO9020-84E Dress Watch
Citizen has a well-designed dress watch with a stainless steel casing, a chronograph design that displays date and day, and a black dial.
Most dress watches use leather straps, but the Citizen Eco-Drive AO9020-84E Dress watch comes with a stainless steel bracelet. You can wear the dress watch to the dinner table or ballroom, making it an excellent timepiece for different occasions.
Seiko leans towards the more conventional watch, building mechanical, automatic movement, and quartz watches. Citizen specializes more in quartz movement due to its Eco-Drive technology, which allows for more innovative designs.
For exciting new models, check out what Citizen offers, like a watch that tracks GMT and the fuel consumption for a pilot. If you want a watchmaker who has honed their skill with tried and tested methods, you might want to try out Seiko. They have come from far and their fair share of innovations.
Some of Seiko’s best-known watches gained their fame from the fact that Seiko knew their trade and honed it over the past more than one century.
Look for a watch between the two that fits your way of life and style. The best watch serves your needs, not going with the trend for the sake of trending. If you are a diver, choose a diver’s watch and research before you embark on the watch buying process. May the best watch win!