Japanese Watch Brands

Top 5 Japanese Watch Brands for Timepiece Enthusiasts

From Seiko to Citizen, Japan has a rich history of watchmaking and innovation

Marianna du Maurier
12 Min Read

The world of horology has long been dominated by Swiss watchmaking, but another country has been steadily making waves in the industry.

Japanese watch brands have earned a reputation for their impeccable craftsmanship, innovations, and cutting-edge technologies.

Over the years, they have proven themselves worthy contenders in the global watchmaking scene.

Japan’s entry into the watchmaking industry dates back to the late 19th century. The top 5 Japanese watch brands have undoubtedly become prominent players, offering a diverse range of timepieces for watch enthusiasts worldwide.

From affordable yet stylish designs to luxury masterpieces, these brands continue to innovate and excel, pushing the boundaries of modern watchmaking.

Key Takeaways

  • Japanese watch brands offer a wide variety of high-quality timepieces
  • Innovations in technology and craftsmanship contribute to their global popularity
  • A thorough understanding of the top 5 brands enhances appreciation for Japanese watchmaking.

Historical Evolution of Japanese Watchmaking

The journey of Japanese watchmaking began in the mid-16th century when a Spanish missionary, Francisco de Xavier, presented a mechanical clock to the feudal lord Yoshitaka Ohuchi. This event marked a transformative moment in Japan’s horological pursuits.

The watchmaking industry in Japan developed gradually over the centuries and eventually soared, competing with their Swiss counterparts on the global stage.

Over time, Japan became home to numerous renowned watch brands. One of the most iconic Japanese watch brands, Seiko, was founded in 1881 by Kintaro Hattori.

Seiko initially produced wall clocks before expanding into wristwatches in the early 1900s. Their breakthrough came in 1969 with the introduction of the Seiko Quartz Astron, the world’s first quartz watch2.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Japanese watch industry made significant strides in quartz technology, leading to what is now known as the Quartz Crisis.

Watchmakers from Japan, including Seiko and Citizen, disrupted the Swiss watchmaking industry with their precise, durable, and affordable quartz watches.

Swiss manufacturers struggled to compete, forcing them to adapt and innovate to recover.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Japanese watch industry rediscovered its passion for mechanical watchmaking.

Today, a variety of Japanese watch brands, both big and small, have made a name for themselves in the watch world.

Top 5 Japanese Watch Brands

Some of the most notable brands include:

BrandEstablishedNotable Models/Features
Seiko1881Prospex, Alpinist, innovation, durability
Citizen1918Eco-Drive, craftsmanship, variety
Casio1946G-Shock, diverse range, affordability
Orient1950Kamasu, unique designs, up-and-coming
Credor1974Eichi II ‘Ruri Edition’, luxury, craftsmanship


Seiko is one of the most recognized Japanese watch brands. Kintaro Hittaro founded it in 1881 as a watch and repair shop in Tokyo.

The brand is known for its diverse range of timepieces including Prospex, Presage, Astron, King Seiko, and Seiko 5 Sports.

Seiko watches offer cutting-edge technology, innovative designs, and impressive craftsmanship that cater to various styles and budgets.


Citizen, one of the ‘Big Four’ Japanese watch brands, has been at the forefront of innovation for decades. What sets them apart is their development of Eco-Drive technology and “superquartz” movement.

Eco-Drive watches have built-in solar panels, making them eco-friendly and self-sufficient, while the superquartz movement offers exceptional accuracy and reliability. Their timepieces are known for their precision, durability, and stylish designs.


Casio is a multinational electronics company that also produces an extensive line of watches. Known for their quality and affordability, Casio makes G-Shock, Baby-G, and Oceanus watches, among others.

The G-Shock series is particularly popular for its rugged design, water resistance, and shock protection.

Casio watches are designed to withstand harsh conditions, making them ideal for outdoor and urban adventures.

Grand Seiko

Grand Seiko is a luxury sub-brand under the Seiko umbrella, often marketed as an independent brand.

Focusing on timeless elegance and superior watchmaking, their finely crafted timepieces use technologies like the Spring Drive and high-beat mechanical movements.

These watches showcase the pinnacle of Japanese watchmaking expertise, offering incredible accuracy and impeccable design that rivals even the most prestigious Swiss brands.


Orient is another prominent Japanese watch brand, best known for its range of automatic and mechanical timepieces.

One of their most popular models is the Kamasu, a diver’s watch with hacking and hand-winding caliber, a solid bracelet, and a clean, distinctive dial design.

Orient watches provide excellent value for money while offering a variety of styles for watch enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Innovations and Technologies in Japanese Watchmaking

As I delve into the world of Japanese watchmaking, I can’t help but be amazed by the innovations and technologies these brands have introduced. From elegant designs to precision engineering, Japanese watch brands have continuously pushed the boundaries of what we expect from our wristwatches.

For example, the world-famous Seiko brand began its journey in 1881, and has been responsible for numerous groundbreaking inventions.

In 1969, Seiko unveiled the Quartz Astron, the first quartz watch in the world. This revolutionized the watch industry by offering unparalleled accuracy, reliability, and an affordable price tag.

Another iconic Japanese brand, Citizen, carried the torch for innovation further when they developed their patented Eco-Drive technology in the 1980s.

The Eco-Drive watches are powered by light, eliminating the need for batteries and reducing their environmental impact. I find this technology fascinating, as it demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and innovation in a single timepiece.

As for Casio’s G-Shock series is synonymous with tough, durable watches that can withstand extreme conditions.

In 1983, Casio introduced the first G-Shock model, built to resist mechanical shock and vibration. Since then, the G-Shock line has expanded and evolved, incorporating features like solar power, GPS synchronization, and atomic timekeeping.

Orient stands out with its mechanical watches, which combine traditional craftsmanship with modern technology.

Established in 1950, the brand focuses on in-house movement production, allowing it to maintain high quality and precision.

Orient’s watches often incorporate classic design elements while integrating modern innovations like their Power Reserve Indicator.

Finally, Grand Seiko—Seiko’s luxury division—has earned a reputation for crafting high-quality, highly accurate watches with meticulous attention to detail.

Grand Seiko watches are famous for their Urushi lacquer dials, which combine traditional Japanese techniques with cutting-edge materials and design.

The brand also introduced the Spring Drive movement, which unites the best of mechanical and quartz watch technologies.

Analysis of Japanese Watch Brands

I have identified the top 5 Japanese watch brands that consistently produce high-quality timepieces in my analysis. These brands are Seiko, Citizen, Casio, Orient, and Credor.

Seiko is a well-known and respected name in the watch industry. Founded in 1881, Seiko has a long history of innovation and excellence.

They offer a range of watches in various collections, such as the Perspex and the Alpinist.

Seiko watches are known for their durability, precision, and design.

Citizen is another prominent Japanese watchmaker founded in 1918. They focus on eco-friendly technology, with their Eco-Drive watches harnessing solar power for their movements.

Known for their high-quality craftsmanship and innovative features, Citizen has models that cater to various tastes and budgets.

Casio is a well-established brand that offers a diverse range of watches, including digital, analog, and hybrid timepieces.

Their G-Shock line is renowned for its durability and shock resistance, making it a popular choice for adventurers and sports enthusiasts.

Casio also excels in providing affordable, stylish designs for everyday wear.

Orient is a relatively minor brand compared to the others but has gained considerable attention for its attractive and reliable timepieces.

Their Kamasu model is an excellent example of a high-quality diver’s watch at an affordable price.

Known for their distinctive dial designs and solid bracelets, Orient is an up-and-coming contender in the watch world.

Lastly, Credor is a lesser-known Japanese brand that focuses on luxury watches with understated elegance.

Their Eichi II ‘Ruri Edition’ is a fine example of top-level finishing and craftsmanship. Founded in 1974, Credor aims to create timepieces with the ultimate quality of gold.

Here is the tabular lists of other brands orgin from Japan that might be helpful for you to check out.

List of Japanese Watch Brands

BrandTypeLuxury LevelCost RangeTrust & Market ValueResell Value
SeikoQuartz, Mechanical, DigitalLow – Ultra-High$ – $$$$$HighVaries
CitizenQuartz, Eco-Drive (Solar Powered)Low – High$ – $$$HighLow – Moderate
CasioQuartz, DigitalLow – Medium$ – $$HighLow
OrientMechanical, AutomaticLow – Medium$ – $$$HighModerate
Grand SeikoMechanicalHigh – Ultra-High$$$ – $$$$$Very HighHigh
CredorMechanicalUltra-High$$$$$+Very HighHigh – Very High
MinaseMechanicalHigh$$$ – $$$$$HighModerate – High
Hajime AsaokaMechanicalUltra-High$$$$$+Very HighHigh – Very High
Masahiro KikunoMechanicalUltra-High$$$$$+Very HighVery High
KentexMechanicalMedium$$ – $$$HighModerate
The Citizen Watch CompanyMechanicalHigh – Ultra-High$$$ – $$$$$+HighModerate – High
Issey MiyakeQuartzLow – Medium$ – $$ModerateLow
W&WMechanicalHigh – Ultra-High$$$ – $$$$$+HighModerate – High
KiwatchQuartzLow$ – $$Emerging BrandLow
Tsumori ChisatoQuartzLow$ – $$ModerateLow
Seiko Epson (Seiko, Pulsar)Quartz, DigitalLow – Medium$ – $$HighLow
  • Type: Refers to the primary technology used in the watches (Quartz, Mechanical, Digital).
  • Luxury Level: An approximate gauge of the brand’s position in the market, from everyday (Low) to collector and high-end pieces (Ultra-High).
  • Cost Range: Estimated retail price range from entry-level ($) to ultra-luxury ($$$$$).
  • Trust and Market Value: General perception of the brand’s reliability and standing in the market.
  • Resell Value: Estimated potential of the watch to retain or increase in value over time.
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