A Guide on Japanese Watches

A Guide on Japanese Watches

Swiss watches certainly soak up a lot of the attention when it comes to quality timepieces, but the Japanese have a long history of making very high-quality watches. As the Tokyo Olympics have now come to an end, what better time than now to give you the ultimate guide to the biggest Japanese watch brands such as Casio, Citizen, Seiko, Superdry. Here is everything you need to know, from key features to style and pricing when buying a Japanese watch.

The History of Japanese Watches

The Japanese watch industry goes back to the 16th century when the first clocks were presented to the emperors by Spanish missionaries. Back then, the Japanese measured time differently to the Western way, dividing day and night-time into six equal segments which varied in length by season. In 1872, after adopting the solar calendar, that system came to an end, and the option of exporting Japanese-made clocks and watches to the rest of the world became a possibility.

As the Japanese manufacturing industry became a world leader after the Second World War, the production of watches and clocks went from 700,00 units to 1.7 million within 15 years. It was at this time when many of the brands that have now become household names captured the market. The quartz (battery-powered) movement was also perfected by Seiko in 1969 and “Made In Japan” became the mark of quality in the world of watches. By the end of the 1980s, the Swiss mechanical industry was almost brought to its knees by these accurate, affordable timepieces. To this day, Japanese movements are seen as a sign of quality in a wristwatch.


Seiko is one of the few remaining fully integrated watch manufacturers. They design and develop their own in-house movements, unlike most of the other mass-produced brands that use off-the-shelf movements. If you are looking for the best balance between price and quality, you can’t go far wrong with a Seiko watch. Even their mid-range pieces rival those produced by Swiss manufacturers, and the Grand Seiko range is widely acknowledged as being amongst the best in the world.

Nowadays, Seiko offers a watch at every price point, from the affordable automatic Seiko 5 range, through the well-reviewed Prospex divers’ watches to their stylish Presage luxury watches .


Casio watches are manufactured by a company perhaps more famous for inventing the world’s first practical electronic calculator. They went on to make all kinds of gadgets that changed our lives forever, including the iconic Casio F-91W , which I consider to be the best watch in the world. The company sells millions of timepieces every year, and not only to fans of the retro nostalgia look.

For a company that began making calculators, it’s reassuring that the Casio Calculator Watch is still in production in the 2020s, but that is not all that Casio has to offer. It’s hard to know where to begin, but the Casio G-Shock is the class-leader in shock-resistant watches; the Casio Edifice chronographs are so good that some models were endorsed by the Red Bull Formula 1 Teams; and Casio Ladies watches are one of the few brands that offer a range of robust and well-manufactured timepieces that just happen to be sized appropriately for a smaller wrist, rather than simply adding diamantes to the dial.


Citizen is a Japanese watch giant which was established in 1918 and has since helped to change the way we think about precise timekeeping. Originally known as the Shokosha Watch Research Institute, over the last century, they have grown to become a household name. They are known for innovations such as the Chronomaster and atomic watches, but they also own the Miyota movement manufacturer, which produces movements for hundreds of other brands.

Citizen’s signature mechanism these days is the Eco-drive , which combines the accuracy of quartz with the battery-free convenience of a self-winding automatic watch. The Citizen Super-Titanium range is a great way to enjoy a larger watch without the weight that comes with solid stainless steel, and Citizen still makes a range of radio-controlled Atomic watches that never need you to set the time; even as you cross between time zones!


The final manufacturer I’d like to cover is Superdry – a name not commonly associated with watches as much as it is with clothing. Although the company is based in the UK, they make liberal use of Japanese characters and styles in their products, including their watches – which do have Japanese-made Miyota movements.

Superdry watches are targeted at the fashion watch segment, which means a range of cool designs, an affordable price point, and the backing of a big brand for peace of mind. I particularly like their G-Shock-like Superdry Sport digital model and their orange and black take on the two-tone watch style.

Japanese watches represent more than a single style – as you have seen there are Japanese options for everything from affordable digital watches through to the highest-end analogue timepiece. What’s more, you will find Japanese movements in many watches that are built elsewhere in the world, and where you see the Made in Japan mark you can be assured of a high-quality piece of engineering that is well worth the asking price. Explore our full range of Japanese watches.