I have spent considerable time researching, buying and wearing watches that some perceive to be ‘budget’ and no matter how many I try I always come back to Seiko.
In this area of the market we have Bulova, Tissot, Citizen, Casio and countless others. Slightly below in terms of price we have Timex, Accurist, Boss, Lorus, Swatch, Sekonda and so it goes on. And then there are all the fashion brands such as Armani, Guess and the like to supplement watches you should avoid from Daniel Wellington, Storm and Wenger.
It is a very crowded market which is no doubt dominated by purchaser who will buy a watch depending on the colour of the face (yes it’s a dial) or if they like the strap, but for those who understand watched and who do not want to spend £1,000’s there is Seiko.
There is competition in this area, however, and they certainly deserve consideration; Citizen makes watches that will literally run and run and run, they are deadly accurate and to say they do what it says on the tin is an understatement. The lack of character though is ever present for me and I never feel like a modern Citizen watch has true character. They tend to feel factory made in every single part.
Bulova has a wonderful history and lots of original designs to lean back on, but in my experience the newer incarnations of classic watches from the range don’t quite cut it in terms of quality and a feel of longevity.
The G-Shock is what it is and almost beyond criticism. Some of the models are just brilliant in terms of design, but alas the majority follow the same formula with minor tweaks year after year. I love a good G-Shock on my wrist, but would like to see Casio maybe try something different in the case shapes etc.
And then there is Seiko. No matter how much I think about it, if it is a Seiko chances are that it will be of brilliant quality and represent excellent value in comparison to the competition. Add to this a long history and re-inventions of classic timepieces in a way that is true to the originals and you have quality, character, originality and value which is all you can ask from any brand, let alone one selling watches from less than £100.
When I look at the SRP line I see a near perfect vintage recreation (ignore the chapter ring!) and one which ticks every single box with a massive pen. The larger Prospex watches have a character all of their own and even the lower-end quartz watches feel substantial and much more expensive than they actually are.
As it happens I was looking at some Grand Seiko watches at the weekend and next to Rolex I could immediately feel the competitive quality at a lower price point through a selection of watches that arguably offer more originality and a better finish than the big ‘R’. The fact that they do not hold their value is worth noting, but if you want to buy a luxury watch that you will wear for many years it is hard to argue with a Grand Seiko purchase.
I continue to consider the value of watch brands and I continue to believe that no one beats Seiko…