Watch enthusiasts have been pitting Seiko and Citizen against each other for a long time. You’ve probably wondered which of the two is the better brand. It’s a hard question to answer, but we've tried our hand at it.
Seiko has been in the watch industry for over a century. They produced their first wristwatch in 1913. The wristwatch wasn’t just their first, but Japan's. Seiko kept breaking records as they created the nation's first dive watch in 1965.
Horology and heritage are major for watch enthusiasts - the fact that Seiko has had so many accomplishments gives them a good reputation.
The company is forever expanding, being the parent company to sub-brands like Orient. Recently, Seiko announced that their Grand Seiko collection would enter the market as its own brand.
Citizen has been around since 1918, and was also founded in Japan. Although Asian in origin, the company has European roots. Its founder was from Switzerland. In the watch world, Swiss timepieces are pinnacles of craftsmanship. Like its counterpart, Citizen has also broken records. In 1993, they gave the world its first multi-band atomic watch.
Seiko and Citizen differ quite a bit when it comes to movements. Citizen has a love affair with solar-powered watches. Their Eco-Drive watches are all powered by the sun. There are Seiko solar watches too. Citizen uses solar tech much more often, though.
The fact that Citizen utilizes solar technology is great, but drive technology is not a movement type. The devices are quartz. Since the company uses solar tech on many of their pieces, their items are widely quartz.
Seiko does all types of watches. However, automatic ones are their favorite. Both companies have released atomic watches. If you’re curious, they’re the Seiko Astron GPS line and the Citizen Satellite. Seiko's Astrons utilize GPS solar timekeeping, while Citizen's Satellite use Eco-drive.
Citizen watches are more accurate than Seiko’s. Why? Because they mostly use quartz movements. Although automatic and mechanical watches are cool, they’re not as accurate as there are many parts to them. They also need jewels to prevent gears from rubbing against each other. Depending on the mechanism present, the number of jewels available would differ. No, they're not real. They're pieces of glass.
The two watch brands put a lot of effort into their pieces. It’s hard to figure out who wins in terms of quality. That being said, we did promise you an in-depth review.
Seiko has the Grand Seiko watch line. It hosts high end, superb quality watches. Citizen doesn’t have a collection that can compete with it. You could say Seiko produces better quality watches.
Both watch brands have released some good-looking pieces. Since we have to pick between the two, we believe Seiko releases watches that are more classic looking. Depending on the Citizen timepiece you're looking at, it may look more "outdoorsy".
When looking at the Citizen vs Seiko appearance argument, keep in mind that they normally don't place precious metals or gems in their pieces - for the most part at least. The Grand Seiko 130th Anniversary SBGW252 rocks a gold body.
Seiko watches can be very expensive. The watchmaker has pieces that are around $70,000. This doesn’t mean all of their devices cost an arm and a leg. Many of them are around $100.
Most of the brand's expensive watches are in its Grand Seiko line. They usually start at $1000 and go up. Considering that the line is becoming its own brand, this point won't be that valid.
Citizen watches can also be expensive. However, they won't be as costly as Seiko’s. The company's most expensive watches are around $20,000. Most of them start at around $100.
Citizen's premium devices aren’t as expensive as its counterpart's , due to the timekeeping they have. Quartz watches are much cheaper to produce.
They both have watches made from mineral glass. You’d see Seiko’s favorite Hardlex crystal used (their version of mineral). The glass is great for diving. A lot of Seiko and Citizen's dive watches come with stainless steel bracelets. There are many that come with rubber straps too. The functionality of both materials is high as they're waterproof.
Much of their pieces come with 660 feet (200 meters) of water resistance. Most of them are ISO 6425 certified.
You could say Citizen is better at producing timepieces for the pool. They have the Citizen Promaster line, which can withstand up to 3280 feet (1000 meters) underwater. Unfortunately, Seiko’s answer to this, the MarineMasters are a lot more expensive. As we’re all for saving, we’d reach for the Promasters any day.
Let’s put what we discussed to the test. We've run through some of their best watches.
This is a Japanese Quartz watch. We, unfortunately, don't know the name of its specific movement. However, Citizen is known to use the ultra accurate Miyota mechanism.
It can handle quite a bit of water. Its water resistance rating is 660 feet (200m). Although its polyurethane strap doesn't help with its appearance, it helps when hitting the pool. The material is very waterproof. It also keeps mud and other muck off it.
You're probably wondering if you can dive with it - we're happy to say that citizen's eco piece is ISO certified.
We think its dial is easy to read. It's pitch black with large circular markers. They're full of lume. The pigment is on its hands too. What makes its dial especially easy to read is its sharp red hand.
There's a date window. We don't think it's that useful, though. It's in the 4 o'clock position, so you'll be straining your neck trying to read it. Its font is also small. Something else that is in the 4 o'clock position is its crown. You'll appreciate this as the chances of you slamming it into your hand are low.
You might've figured that it's one of Citizen's solar powered watches. According to the brand, sunlight and fluorescent lights charge it up.
What's its window made of? Mineral. It's also a large quartz watch. Its case stretches 1.73 inches (44 mm).
The citizen eco drive has a water resistance of 990 feet (300 meters). Of course, you can dive with it. It's another timepiece that has a rubber strap. Not only is the material durable, but it's also waterproof. The BJ8050-08E has a quality steel case as well, so corrosion will never be an issue.
Speaking of its case, it's huge. It's 1.88 inches (48 mm). The device has a bit of heft to it- you're looking at almost 6 ounces (170 gram) timepiece.
The Pro Master is a Quartz watch, utilizing the Eco-Drive movement. Just like the entry above, Citizen says that you can charge it with natural as well as artificial lighting.
Its dial is very busy, mainly as its hour markers are huge. Although they take away from its elegance, they provide ample space for lume. We love that the pigment is on its hands too. And just like the BN0150-28E, you're getting a sharp red hand.
As its face is so busy, you might not notice its day date function - we didn't at first. Thankfully, the calendar isn't at an awkward angle.
The watch's huge case isn't the only strange thing about it. Its crown is on the left side. It's peculiar, but the chances of it slamming into your hand have been eliminated.
The watch utilizes a mineral window. The glass's surface is curved, so it’s less likely to reflect light.
This isn't the most water-resistant watch. It can only last up to 330 feet (100 m) underwater. This is why its strap isn’t metal or polyurethane - it’s a green canvas band. If durability is a concern for you, know that canvas doesn't break easily. The material is also more comfortable to wear.
It isn’t classic looking as it has a military-style display. It looks like a standard field watch. They were made for military men, to read very accurate time. As it's meant to be worn outdoors, the fact that it's resistant up to 330 feet (100 meters) is good. If you were apprehensive about its strap, know that the material is light-weight. This makes it great for the outdoors.
Like the other two quartz watches discussed, this one is also powered by solar energy. Citizen says that any light source can charge its battery. You probably don't know this, but quartz movements are widely seen in field watches as they are so reliable.
There's a chronograph function on the field watch. The chronograph subdials count the seconds, minutes and hours passed. But what exactly is the feature? Basically a stop-watch.
Not only is its crown huge, but there are large buttons that work its chronograph on the left. You're definitely going to slam them into your wrist.
Last but not least:
It has a mineral window.
The Seiko watch has automatic timekeeping. It comes with the 4R36 mechanism. This means it has a 40 hour reserve and 24 jewels between its gears. The more jewels an automatic watch has, the smoother its gears will be. 24 jewels is above the standard amount. Another good thing about its movement is that you get hacking and self-winding. Self-winding is pretty self explanatory, but hacking is when you can halt a watch's seconds' hand.
The item comes in a stainless steel body. Its red and blue bezel is a pop of color. It's pretty common in diving watches. Seiko's especially a fan of placing it on their devices.
How much of a dip can it handle? 660 feet (200m) underwater. We're happy to say that you can dive with it.
If its bezel wasn't red and blue, the PADI watch would look a lot like the Rolex submariner. The design of its face is similar, especially the shark-like teeth on its bezel.
Yes, there is ample lume on its dial. Seiko included their favorite Lumibrite. It's impressive as it can glow for 3-5 hours. This is 10 times more than the standard amount.
We're glad that its crown is in the 4 o' clock position. Do we have to remind you why this is so great?
It has a hardlex display. The glass is tougher than regular mineral but is not as resistant as Sapphire. You'll largely find it on the company's watches.
The Seiko Prospex is heavy. It weighs over 10 ounces (283.4 grams). Yes, it makes it feel more premium, but your arm will be weighed down.
The SKX007 is Rolex Submariner-like. Both devices have black faces, stainless steel bodies and shark-like teeth on their bezels. If you're not a watch enthusiast, you might not know that the Submariner costs over $10,000. The 007 is pretty affordable, so it's great that it looks so expensive.
Its hour markings are on the larger side. This helps pack as much lume as possible. The lume in question is LumiBrite.
The watch isn't that big. Its case is only 1.65 inches (42 mm). It's got a bit of heft to it, though. You're looking at a 7.05 ounce (199. 8 gram) unit.
Like the entry above, the 007 has a hardlex window. You already know how we feel about it. There is also a day-date function. Seiko didn't place it at an awkward angle - Thank God!
The watch can handle quite the dip in the pool. It's resistant up to 660 feet (200 m) underwater. Yes, you can dive with it. There's also a rotating bezel that'll help you time yourself in the pool.
No, it doesn't utilize quartz technology - it comes with the 7s26 movement. This results in it having a 40 hour power reserve and 21 jewels between its gears. 21 isn't out of the ordinary, it's about the standard amount. The mechanism is a work-horse, but you can't hack or self-wind it. The features are popular in the industry, so we're disappointed.
Although the standard model has a steel strap, there is a variant with polyurethane.
The SNKN37 is one of Seiko's many dress watches. It's fine that it's only resistant up to 165 feet (50 meters). Leather straps are common for dress watches. Although they make them look more elegant, they're horrible at being water-proof. They take a really long time to dry too.
Touching on its band, we don't know the kind of leather it's made from. Considering that the watch isn't that expensive, we wouldn't say alligator-skin.
Something peculiar about its face is its shape. It's more rectangular, which is seen in Swiss devices. Something else that is peculiar is its date window. It reads the month and date instead of just the day.
The SNKN37 is on the larger side. Its case stretches 1.69 inches (43.5 mm) across. If you have smaller hands, it'll definitely eat you up. We don't really know what its weight is, but it's got some heft to it, since it's an automatic device.
You're already familiar with the movement it has - we met the 7s26 caliber movement in the entry above. In case you forgot, you get 21 jewels and a 40 hour power reserve. We hate to remind you that you can't hack or self-wind it.
The SNKN37 has an exposed skeleton rear. It makes the watch look more expensive.
Being a mechanical watch, you unfortunately can't expect reliability. The Seiko watch has an accuracy of +-15 seconds a day.
Its display rocks the brand's favorite Hardlex crystal. You already know how we feel about it.
Let's wrap our article up. Citizen is the winner of the comparison. It offers an array of similar features and specs that Seiko does, at a slightly lower price tag. Their watches even excel in accuracy. With our review in mind, you might've wondered how the two fair against Bulova. The brand is normally pitted against them, after all. Bulova produces high-end pieces, so they're more high quality than Seiko and Citizen's. No, its timepieces don't have the same reputation as Omega or Rolex's.
In conclusion, Seiko and Citizen are great if you want affordable, Japanese watches. Give Seiko a chance if mechanical technologies are what you want. Give Citizen options some love if you want solar watches.