Japanese Watch Brands (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

japanese watch brands

Revolutionary Japanese watch brands

Japan is world known for its watchmaking culture. With world leading watch brands like Seiko, Casio, Orient, Grand Seiko, Citizen, and more, the watch manufacturing industry is shining for a long time now in The Land of the Rising Sun. The growth of the Japanese watch brands took off in the 1970s, from the very moment when Seiko introduced their quartz movements. It was a turning point as some other Japanese watch brands followed the same path, entering this way, in a new era of watchmaking craftsmanship. 

When it comes to good affordable timepieces, you don’t have to limit your search in Europe anymore. Japanese watch brands are valued for their accuracy, toughness, and functionality. Frankly, this is what to look for when deciding to purchase a watch that can be passed down for generations. 

Japanese watch brands VS Switzerland watch brands

Now, I’ll be straight with you fellow watch lovers. I love these watch manufacturing cultures so much I can’t really decide which is the best. What I can do is list you the properties of both Japanese watch brands & Switzerland watch brands so you can get to a conclusion by yourself. 

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japanese watch brands

History of Movements

Now we all know the revolution that Seiko, the Japanese watch brand brought to the world of watches when they first introduced their quartz movement watch or as they liked to call it at that time, the self-winding timepiece. And while quartz was invading the immense world of watches, many Swiss-made watch brands continued to manufacture mechanical watches, and to combat the quartz wave, they kept improving and improving their mechanical watches to produce some exceptional timepieces.

After realizing the quartz mania was far from ending, Swatch Group introduced ETA – one of the greatest movement manufacturers to this day. Many watch movements followed from both bastions: Japanese watch brands and Swiss watch brands. The competition did good to the watchmaking industry, as many efficient and precise watch movements were brought to life. When it comes to the mechanical element, it is a matter of choice as both watch industries deliver the same accuracy, durability, and are a true reflection of the real watchmaking craftsmanship tradition.

Differences in Price

Salty prices are what you get from Swiss Made watch brands and they still keep leading the world’s luxury watch marketplace. Do you want to know why? Exceptional marketing campaigns if you ask me. Now it is true Swiss Made luxury watch brands like Rolex, TAG Heuer, Tissot and more, deliver the top-quality timepieces, crème de la crème of the watch industry they are, but the same thing can be said for Japanese luxury watch brands.

Mostly focused on the technical part of the watches they manufacture, Japanese watch brands are the ones who stood up and told the 400 years old Swiss watchmaking industry, they can do the same thing, at a lower price. All I’m trying to say is that there are timepieces from both parts that are worth the top dollar.

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Unique Designs

Now there are contrasts and similarities on both: Japanese watch brands and Switzerland watch brands. The human being as a product of Mother Nature is destined to copy and a slight imitation of the Seiko’s Dive SKX Series can be seen on Rolex Oyster Perpetual. The same thing did the Swiss watchmaking industry but with movements, when a Swiss version of quartz movements got applied on most of the watches they manufactured.

On the other hand, many Japanese watch brands are just followers of Swiss watch designs. It is not a fact, but similarity can be seen in both watch cultures.

With that being said, both watch industries have taken and given to each other and to the whole world of watches. When it comes to designs it is a matter of choice too. You will see the watch you want to glow on your wrist and you will dress your wrist with it without asking if it is a Japanese watch brand or Swiss made.

In my opinion, Japan watches brand dares the most and brings more options to all watch aficionados. On the other hand, Swiss-made watches stick to the classic and this is one of their strongest points.

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The best Japanese Watch Brands

Moving away from generalities, below you will see the details of some of the best Japanese watch brands that have shaped Japan’s and the world’s watchmaking industry for good. Without wanting to leave any Japanese watch brand out of the selection a brief introduction is mentioned to some brands that fly under the radar too.

11 Best Japanese watch brands

  • Seiko 
  • Grand Seiko
  • Citizen
  • Orient
  • Casio
  • Frank Miura
  • Minase
  • Knot
  • Hajime Asaoka
  • Naoya Hida
  • Credor

Read on…

Luxury Japanese watch brands

Seiko 

This pick shouldn’t be a surprise at all. As previously mentioned, Seiko is the creator of quartz movement – Astron, and continues to amaze watch lovers of all calibers with their timepieces filled with new inventions. Seiko’s collection of watches is immense and they have something to offer to everyone. Whether a mechanical or automatic movement aficionado, Seiko has that part covered too.

All pieces of the giant Japanese watch brand are homemade, from movement to casing to glass and hands, all covered. Expect an average price for purchasing one of Seiko’s regular watches. The same thing can not be said about all this Japan watches brand as some of them are worth way more.

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Grand Seiko

Now, what do you get if you take Seiko and put some more craftsmanship in it? Grand Seiko watches is what you get. Becoming more autonomous with the passing of time, Grand Seiko watches are finished with the beauty and precision of a katana, really underestimated by the mass market.

Probably is from the price. If for a regular Seiko you would pay 500$, the price tag for a Grand Seiko to shine on your wrist would be at least 10x more. This is Japan watches brand ultimate watchmaking, and with the price come some of the greatest mechanical and quartz movement types marvels you will ever encounter.

Citizen

Citizen’s history began in the late 1900s and its dominance to the watch’s marketplace is going stronger than ever. Among an impressive list of innovations, the Citizen’s world’s first light-powered quartz watch was introduced in 1976 – the famous Citizen’s Eco-Drive was the timepiece that put this Japanese watch brand on the map of the world’s leading watch industry.

Many timepieces have followed ever since, and each of them shaped the Japanese watches brand culture of watchmaking to better and improved timepieces.  Eco-Drive Caliber 0100 was recently announced by Citizen, described as the most accurate timepiece ever made by a watch manufacturer.

Orient

Approximately 70 years ago Orient had its inauguration and it got its place near exceptional Japan watches brand category for good. The Orient’s watch manufacturers are mainly centered on mechanical movement watches and unlike any other mechanical watch, they come at affordable prices.

All watch parts and pieces are homemade and movements too. Focused on classic, they tend to be a little restrained when it comes to the design of the watch. Besides that, affordable prices for everlasting quality watches are music for watch lovers’ ears. Frankly, this is the type of watch you want to transmit to your kids and pass it down to generation after generation.

Casio

First introduced to the world as a manufacturer of calculators and digital cameras, Casio has thrown their past behind the wings, and is going stronger than ever in the watch-making business. You might have heard of the famous G-Shock, the durable and water-resistant watch Casio announced in the ’80s.

The success kept growing as in the early ’90s the giant Japan watch brand focused on digital watches. They also managed to create a digital watch with build-in games which for the time was a true achievement. Being one of the world’s leaders when it comes to the ultimate wrist technology, Casio has earned its place among the epic Japanese watch brands.

Under the radar Japanese watches brand

Frank Miura

Frank Miura watches are manufactured in Osaka, Japan. In the Japanese watches industry, the Japanese watches brand Frank Miura builds their timepieces from scratch with parts 100% in-house manufactured. If you want a Swiss Made Frack Muller timepiece so much but can not afford one, Frank Miura watches offer the same designs at a way lower price. In 2017 Miura won a court case, filed by Swiss-made Frank Muller watch brand.

Certainly, Muller was so unhappy with the idea of having a competitor with similar designs and names but more affordable prices. Now don’t get things wrong. When it comes to technical parts, Frank Miura has brought innovation to the industry of watchmaking and this is what prevents us from calling it a cheap replica.

Minase

After a long time, manufacturing watch cases for other watch brands, Minase understood the game and got into the watchmaking business. The movements are Swiss made ETA, customized a bit from Minase itself to lower the final price. Coming with experience into case making, Minase watches bring different, unique, and astonishing designs, variable from one model to another. 

Knot

A simple name for a watch with simple designs almost focused on classic looks. Knot is one of those Japanese watches brand that likes to fly under the radar. Those who have one on their wrists, will see that Knot likes to bring minimalism complexity when it comes to watch designs. On the other hand, Knot likes to use premium materials for their timepieces and at affordable prices. You can choose from Knot’s collections the model you like and get it custom-made as you prefer. 

Hajime Asaoka

Now what you can encounter in a Japanese watches brand is affordability and quality work. Well, do not expect to get easily accessible prices for a Hajime Asaoka timepiece. This is serious watch making business and with exceptional movements and designs a Hajime Asaoka is the real definition of watch making craftsmanship. Expect to pay at least $ 30,000 and upwards for a timepiece of this caliber. 

Naoya Hida

For a brand that got its first launch in 2019, Naoya Hida has gotten into many people’s wrist this far, which is a good thing for a new brand. If you see the watch’s design, you will understand why people like it this much. Coming in a champagne dial with blue steel leaf-shaped hands that rotate around beautifully engraved Arabic numbers; Naoya Hida is the perfect watch for every classic aficionado. 

Credor

Credor is what flying under the radar means. Being as ancient as watchmaking itself, Credor watch manufacturer knows how to keep discretion with the other part of the watch making industry. It would be easier to encounter Santa Claus bringing presents from your chimney, than having the chance to catch a glimpse of a Credor timepiece. This is how rare they are. Regarding the design of a Credor, it is the ultimate Japanese artisanry of watchmaking – Diamond dusted dials, hand painted sceneries or the Minute Repeater movement which sounds like a Japanese wind chime. Understandably, Credor watches are really expensive but they are really special watches.

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