The ULTIMATE Buyer's Guide on Vintage Seiko (All Models)
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Vintage Seiko watches

The ULTIMATE Buyer’s Guide on Vintage Seiko (All Models)

There are many different attributes that hook people into our niche hobby of watch collecting. Some people are attracted to the design, others hold onto the status, while some are enamored by the history and stories these little machines can tell.

I find myself leaning most heavily into the history and stories aspect. Early in my watch-collecting journey, I found myself fascinated by the nicks and scratches of every pre-owned piece I acquired. Like so many in this hobby, my limited budget and historical fascination quickly led me into the rabbit hole, or better yet, minefield, of vintage watches.

What To Look Out For When Shopping For Vintage Watches

The world of vintage watch collecting is not for the faint of heart. There are more horror stories than there are success stories at this point. Despite this inherent risk, the rewards can be almost unmatched.

Before we dive right into vintage watch collecting, let’s look at a few simple guidelines I’ve unfortunately had to learn the hard way. There is no way to be 100% protected, but these guidelines will help keep you out of trouble for the most part.

Do Your Research

First, research is everything. I know it’s fun to look through hundreds of ads on our favorite internet auction site (especially after a couple of drinks), but this is not where you’re journey with vintage watches should begin. You need to start with a brand, a model, and a year range. From there, dive into the nuances of the model and what characteristics are period correct.

Depending on how widespread the model is, this research can take quite a long time. If you look at this research as just a barrier you must overcome before pulling the trigger on whatever “deal” you found online, you will probably get burned. The research IS the journey of vintage watch collecting; purchasing one is just the trophy.

Cheap Does Not Equal Good

The next guideline for me is to not be so damn cheap! Like many of you, I am inherently cheap and will spend months searching for the most reasonable prices. However, vintage watches are different. 99 out of 100 times, the lowest price is not the “best” price. There are so many factors that can impact the price of a vintage watch, and without fully understanding why a price is low, you are more likely than not going to regret this “great deal”.

Condition Is Key

Often closely tied to price, condition and originality are the most important things to look for in a vintage watch. Do not settle on a watch with a damaged dial! Do not purchase the watch replaced hands! Do not save a few dollars for the timepiece with an over-polished case!

These watches will usually save you money, but they are not worth the time and energy you put into the research. You should always buy the most pristine watch that fits your budget. If your budget only allows you to scrape the bottom of the barrel, you need to increase your budget or pick a new watch!

Buy The Seller, Not The Watch

The final guideline is to trust the seller of the timepiece. We hear about buying the seller, not the watch, over and over in this hobby. The importance of this message cannot be overlooked when looking at vintage timepieces. There are plenty of vintage watch sellers that have great reputations with whom you should stick.

Once you get very familiar with a particular model and have handled more than a handful, you might be ready to venture into the world of searching for “farm-fresh” examples. They are out there, but remember, even the most experienced experts get fooled from time to time. If you’re unwilling to do the research necessary to become an expert, you need to pay the extra money for someone that is.

The Present-Day Vintage Watch Market

For watch collectors just joining the hobby, vintage watches are less attainable than they previously were. Rolex and Omega are priced near the MSRP of current models, if not more, and other Swiss brands are close behind. It is no wonder, when looking at how to maximize your horological dollar in the world of vintage watches, many people turn to Japan. Few brands can match the history and number of iconic model lines as enthusiast favorite Seiko.

What About Seiko Vintage Watches?

Seiko is, and always has been, a brand for the people. They produce high quantities of well-built timepieces, focusing on practicality and functionality. Thankfully, for us aspiring vintage collectors, the philosophy of increased production and quality has been the brand’s mainstay, yielding two incredible benefits.

First, there is no shortage of vintage Seiko watches. With the exception of a few rare pieces, there are several examples of most vintage Seiko watches, many of which look and run great to this day. The second benefit is more a consequence of the first. Because of the large number of watches available, prices are very reasonable for what you get. There is no other brand that can provide the variety, quality, availability, and price of vintage watches that Seiko can.

There are beautiful vintage Seiko watches available at any price, and we will look at 20 great examples. These will be listed in ascending order, and because there is no MSRP for vintage watches, I will provide a range of prices that reflects the market as of December 2022. The vintage watch market changes rapidly, but if you are patient and follow the general guidelines, you can get a great Seiko watch that is sure to satisfy your vintage craving.

Vintage Seiko Watches Under $200

Seiko 5 7009 Series ($50-$150)

Seiko 5 7009 Series

There is no better place to start this list than the almighty Seiko 5. Known for 5 design principles: 4 O’clock crown, Diashock shock protection, Day/Date complication, automatic winding, and water resistance. If these were called Seiko 6, the sixth principle would certainly be affordability! To this day, the Seiko 5 represents a great entry point into the brand’s mechanical timepieces.

The 7009 series features modest case sizes and a multitude of dial options. This watch series has almost limitless combinations and can be found for between $50-$150. There are too many options to research thoroughly, but you could pick up a few, given the price.

Seiko 5 ACTUS 7019 Series($100-$300)

Seiko 5 ACTUS 7019 Series

Like many of the budget-friendly options on our list, our next option falls under the umbrella of the Seiko 5. The 7019 Seiko 5 ACTUS is a more stylized version of the standard Seiko 5. The more modernized case sizes result in a slightly higher value on the secondary market of roughly $100-$300. These watches will be another no-frills option, but if you are interested in a slightly more modern design, the 5 Actus might be for you.

Seiko Sportsmatic 7625 Series ($150-$400)

The 7625 Sportsmatic is a step up when compared to the Seiko 5 models I have previously mentioned. The sports aesthetic lends itself nicely to a go-anywhere-do-anything watch, and the increased case size of 38mm will be a welcomed addition to anyone looking for a more modernly sized vintage watch.

These watches do fetch a slight premium for certain dials, but a basic model can be found for $150-$400. If you have a preference for a larger watch or a sportier aesthetic, the Sportsmatic is the perfect budget-friendly option.

Vintage Seiko Watches Under $500

Seiko Seikomatic 6206 Series ($150-$400)

Seiko Seikomatic 6206 Series

The Seikomatic is another mid-range offering in the Seiko vintage market, offering a robust 6206 movement and 36mm case. What really helps this model line stick out is the unique day placement at 6 O’clock. It helps give this ordinary watch some personality.

Combine that with the fact that this watch features a Kanji-day disk, and this watch provides an entirely different feel from a comparable Tissot or Hamilton from the time. This case shape also features a seamless crown design, in which the crown pushes flush into the case. Coming in at roughly $150-$400, the style isn’t the only thing giving the Swiss a run for their money!

Seiko Diver 7002 Series ($250-$400)

Seiko Diver 7002 Series

The 7002 series diver is the predecessor to the famous SKX. The signature 42mm case shape is there with a slightly reduced 150 meters of water resistance which I wouldn’t recommend putting to the test, given its age.

This watch is often the victim of the mod community due to its lower price point, which has resulted in original examples increasing in price. A good condition and original 7002 diver will set you back roughly $250-$400, but for a vintage dive watch with real history, there are few examples, even at double or triple this price.

Seiko Bell-matic 4006 Series ($300-$500)

Seiko Bell-matic 4006 Series

One often overlooked complication in the world of vintage watches is that of the alarm. Though some Swiss examples can set you back thousands, the Seiko Bell-matic will run you about $300-$500. This model comes in various dial colors and case shapes, but the 27 jewel 4006 movement is the true star. If you’re looking for a unique complication that you’re not going to find on many wrists, the Seiko Bell-matic is a great option.

Seiko Lord Marvel 5740 Series ($300-$500)

Seiko Lord Marvel 5740 Series

If you are searching for a classically designed dress watch from Seiko that shares many design elements with the Swiss, look no further than the Lord Marvel. This watch features many quality movements seen in King Seiko models, but they are housed in a simpler case style.

These watches also feature 36000 BPH Hi-Beat movements allowing the Lord Marvel to not only look like a Swiss timepiece of the era but also outperform it mechanically. The Lord Marvel can be had for roughly $300-$500. If you are looking for something a little simpler but with some mechanical innovation, the Lord Marvel is a great place to start.

King Seiko 5625 Series ($400-600)

King Seiko 5625 Series

Grand Seiko is often attributed with much of the credit for establishing the Japanese, and Seiko, in particular, as a horological powerhouse. The lesser-known faction of Seiko, known as King Seiko, was pumping out equally-stunning watches and helping to motivate Grand Seiko to achieve the great results they were able to.

King Seiko watches are less highly sought after than Grand Seiko by the mainstream collector, but that is quickly changing. Despite this rise in popularity, these watches can still be found for roughly $400-$600. The 5625 King Seiko features a Hi-Beat movement, much like the Lord Marvel, but housed in a more distinct Seiko case shape. If you want a Grand Seiko, but your budget simply won’t allow it, these King Seikos really are the next best thing.

Vintage Seiko Watches Under $1000

Seiko Yachtsman UFO Chronograph 6138-0011 Series ($700-$1100)

Seiko Yachtsman UFO Chronograph 6138-0011 Series

The UFO Chronograph features a noticeably different vintage design. This watch comes with a distinct saucer shape case at 44mm, which spawned its affectionate nickname as the UFO. The 6138 Chronograph movement is often overlooked in the history of automatic chronographs.

Coming in at a price of roughly $700-$1100, depending on condition, this is a great entry point into the world of vintage chronographs. If you are looking for a complicated vintage watch that will stand out from the rest, only a few options will do so better than the UFO.

Seiko Rally Diver 6106 Series (700-$1100)

Seiko Rally Diver 6106 Series

There are few styles of watches that are as distinctly Seiko as a Rally Diver. The checkered bezel, even making a comeback with the current Rowing Blazers Limited Edition, is a trademark of Vintage Seiko.

Many of these examples fall underneath the budget-friendly Seiko 5 line, but given the uniqueness of this timepiece, there is an aesthetic premium added to this one. Coming in at roughly $700-$1100, the Rally Diver from Seiko gives you an opportunity to wear something a little different on your wrist at a price that allows it to still be fun!

King Seiko 44KS 4402-8000 Series ($700-$1200)

King Seiko 44KS 4402-8000 Series

As discussed earlier, few vintage watches can punch above their weight quite like a King Seiko. The 44KS is my favorite example of what this great sub-brand was able to create. The 36mm stainless steel case and manual wind movement allow this watch to maintain modern proportions for a classic vintage aesthetic.

The resurgence of the King Seiko brand has sparked these watches to increase in price. Coming in at roughly $700-$1200, the value you get from these watches is still second to none. If you are looking for the best value for a vintage watch, not just from Seiko, this is one of the best picks available.

Seiko SilverWave J12082 Series ($800-$1200)

The Seiko SilverWave is not like any other dive watch you will find from Seiko. This watch predated the more recognized models, debuting in 1961, and had a unique way of accounting for elapsed time on a dive. The inner rotating bezel, which was controlled by a single crown, gave this watch a very distinct look for the time and for vintage collectors today. Single crown inner rotating bezel watches were rare in the 1960s and remain rare today.

This unique look allows the SilverWave to go unrecognized as the dive watch pioneer that it clearly is. Coming in at roughly $800-$1200, this watch is an excellent piece of dive watch history at a price the average enthusiast can afford.

Vintage Seiko Watches Under $3000

Seiko Bullhead Chronograph 6138-0060 Series ($1200-$2000)

Seiko Bullhead Chronograph 6138-0060 Series

Seiko is at it again, with another very distinct chronograph within their 6138 series. The Bullhead chronograph, with its signature crown and pusher layout, is another oddball choice with a cult following of collectors. The aesthetic screams of the 1970s with its brown color scheme and unique case shape.

Coming in at roughly $1200-$2000, these watches have a slight premium over their UFO-shaped cousins. If you are a collector of oddities within the watch world or simply appreciate the design ethos of the 70s, the Bullhead Chronograph is a great option.

Seiko Pogue Chronograph 6139-6002 Series ($2000-$2500)

Seiko Pogue Chronograph 6139-6002 Series

Of all of the Seiko chronographs from this era, none have garnered as much mainstream popularity as the Pogue. The 6139 model with gold dial and Pepsi bezel famously accompanied Colonel William Pogue on the Skylab 4 Mission in 1973, despite never being authorized by NASA. This is exactly how legends are formed, and this watch is no exception. Unfortunately, this is perhaps the most Frankenwatched vintage Seiko model, and prices vary greatly because of it.

A simple aftermarket dial can be the difference between a $400 watch and a $2400 watch. For a clean example, you should expect to pay between $2000-$2500. Any less than that, and red flags should come up! This watch has skyrocketed in popularity as of late, but if you are looking for a watch with the potential to still increase in value, this may be the best option on the list.

Seiko Baby Panda 6138-8000 Series ($2500-$3000)

Seiko Baby Panda 6138-8000 Series

The Seiko 6138 “Baby Panda” is the vintage Seiko chronograph for someone who would rather not be so daring with their wrist choice. The Pogue, Bullhead, and UFO are all great, but if you want something a little less bold, the Baby Panda is the watch to go with.

It features a white dial with distinct Panda sub-dials stacked vertically instead of horizontally. The case shape, while still having the wider case flanks Seiko is known for, has visible lugs and feels much more traditional in its design.

Despite being the most “boring” of the Seiko Chronographs listed, this one carries the highest premium, coming in at roughly $2500-$3000. If you are after a vintage Seiko chronograph that can go under the radar, this is the best option for you.

Vintage Seiko Watches Under $5000

Seiko Captain Willard 6105-8110 Series ($3000-$4000)

Seiko Captain Willard 6105-8110 Series

Now we’re getting to the truly iconic and historically significant vintage Seiko watches. Made famous by Martin Sheen in the movie Apocalypse Now, the 6105-8110 is a classic Seiko dive watch that has a cult following among collectors. Affectionately known as the Captain Willard among enthusiasts, this model has been reintroduced several times in the modern Seiko lineup.

There are several design cues across Seiko’s current lineup that are heavily inspired by the design of 6105, which was first introduced in 1968. Coming in at a price of $3000-$4000, depending on the condition, this watch is still a relative bargain. If you are looking for the dive watch that helped make Seiko what it is, this watch will be hard to beat.

Grand Seiko J14070 Series ($4000-$5000)

Grand Seiko J14070 Series

On this list, we have sung the praises of King Seiko, the lesser-known subset of Seiko, that famously competed with Grand Seiko for watchmaking supremacy out of Japan. It is now time to talk about Grand Seiko. Although a separate brand as of 2017, Grand Seiko and its vintage collection still fall within the umbrella of Seiko overall.

The J14070 is the watch that launched Grand Seiko into the stratosphere, proving once and for all that Japan can not only compete with the Swiss for timekeeping accuracy but lead the charge. This watch will set you back roughly $4000-$5000 depending on the condition and year of manufacture. If you are looking for a classically designed watch with a unique history, the J14070 is the watch for you.

Seiko 62MAS 6217-8000 Series ($4000-$5000)

Seiko 62MAS 6217-8000 Series

The 62MAS by Seiko is one of the most universally loved designs the brand has ever introduced. Being the first professional dive watch made by Seiko has helped this watch reach iconic status amongst collectors. Much like the Captain Willard, there have been several re-editions of this model, many of which have their own cult following. The signature 37mm size and skin diver case shape make this watch incredibly wearable on a wide range of wrists.

This watch will set you back roughly $4000-$5000, but given the rise in popularity of vintage dive watches (even those not named Rolex), this watch has plenty of potential to increase in value over the next few years. If you are looking for an iconic dive watch that has the potential to make you wish you purchased it when you had the chance, the 62MAS is an excellent option.

Vintage Seiko Watches Under $10000

Seiko Grandfather Tuna 6159-7010 Series ($5000-$6500)

Seiko Grandfather Tuna 6159-7010 Series

In this final tier of vintage watches, we will explore the most professional watches Seiko produced throughout the 1970s. The 6159-7010, known as the Grandfather Tuna, features a titanium case with an iconic shroud around it. This watch was rated to reach depths of 600 meters. In terms of Seiko’s current lineup of professional dive watches, the Grandfather Tuna is the ancestor that started it all.

They later ditched the automatic movement for a more reliable high-accuracy quartz one, but the technology, case shape, and overall design can all be traced to this model. Coming in at roughly $5000-$6500, this is another model that has the potential to increase in value over the next few years. If you are looking for a vintage professional dive watch that helped shape Seiko’s current lineup, the Grandfather Tuna is the watch for you.

Seiko Hi-Beat Diver 6159-7000 Series ($6000-$8000)

Seiko Hi-Beat Diver 6159-7000 Series

Much like the Grandfather Tuna, the Seiko Hi-Beat Diver is part of the 6159 series of watches and has helped to shape the modern lineup of Seiko professional divers. If you prefer the look of the Marine Master over the Tuna, you have the 6159-7000 Hi-Beat Diver to thank. Many of the design elements we see on Seiko’s current lineup are present here with this model and executed at a very high level.

The sharp edges and compact case design help this larger-sized watch fit even smaller wrist sizes. When looking throughout Seiko’s vintage dive watch catalog, this watch stands out as a premium offering. At roughly $6000-$8000, the 6159-7000 Hi-Beat Diver carries a premium fit and finish to match the premium price. If you are looking for the most luxurious vintage watch Seiko offers, the 6159-7000 Hi-Beat Diver is the watch you should go with.

The “Glory Days” Of Vintage Seiko Watch Collecting

There you have it! 20 of the best vintage Seiko watches at a variety of budgets. Over the last few years, vintage watches have become harder and harder to collect. Not just because of the increased risk but because the increase in value has made learning your lessons the hard way that much more painful.

In terms of prices going up, like always, Seiko has your back with this one. The Swiss vintage watch market has exploded in value over the last 5 years, while the Japanese market has been increasing more sustainably. This has resulted in many of the Seiko models listed here being undervalued compared to their equivalent Swiss counterparts. In other words, we are currently living in the “glory days” we are all going to look back on so fondly 10 years from now.

The vintage watch market is tricky, but if you are patient and do your research, there are still plenty of deals to be had! After researching this list, there are at least 2-3 watches that will one day make it into my collection. If I stick to these classic models and the guidelines listed above (even I have a hard time not clicking “Buy It Now” on everything after a few drinks), I should be able to end up with some gems for my collection.

Happy watch hunting!

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