Most luxurious old Seiko watches are highly appreciated among collectors. If you like this brand, you can pick out any piece, depending on your taste and budget. This company often produces limited edition models and uses precious metals and jewelry to offer top-value products.
Besides an incredible look, Seiko watches are famous for their astonishing precision. Their catalog includes models with hand-wound and spring-driven movements, including something for everyone. The peak of their skills is certainly diving watches. Let’s see.
Seiko Watches History
1881 to 1959 Seiko Watches
Kintaro Hattori decided to open a shop in Ginza, Tokyo, in 1881. That way, he became a 21-year-old entrepreneur who specialized in selling and repairing clocks and watches. A decade after, he founded the Seikosha factory in 1892 and began producing wall clocks.
The name was symbolic since the Japanese word SHA means house, and SEIKO had three astonishing meanings, minute, exquisite, and success.
In the 1890s, Kintaro decided to develop his business by creating the first pocket watch, and the Timekeeper appeared on the market in 1895.
Even though pocket watches were trendy in those times, Kintaro’s planned to teach their compatriots to wear wristwatches. The Laurel, the first-ever wristwatch created in Japan, appeared in 1913.
The first half of the 20th century
Unfortunately, the Seikosha factory all burned down during the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, so Kintaro had a fresh start. The following year, the company produced a new watch under the name Seiko.
That way, the new brand was born, and this name soon became a synonym for innovation, accuracy, and precision in the production of refining wristwatches.
In 1929, Seiko became an official Railway Watch pocket watches supplier after concluding a contract with the Japan National Railway. Each train driver had a wooden place in the locomotive for a pocket watch and used it during the drive.
The company was also socially active and initiated the neo-renaissance Wako Clock Tower construction in Ginza in 1932.
As for watches, the next step was to start the production of Diashock, an anti-shock system. Its purpose was to protect a 0.07 to 0.08 mm thin balance-staff pivot by absorbing the impact and reducing the friction.
Seiko Marvel appeared on the market in 1956 as the first wristwatch featuring this device. This model was also the first this company created entirely using their own technology.
The next innovation was the Magic Lever system, introduced in 1959. The first watch equipped with this new self-winding mechanism was Gyro Marvel. Interestingly, SEIKO’s self-winding watches still use the same system.
1960 to 1979 Seiko Watches
In 1960, the company introduced the first Grand Seiko wristwatch, with the best mechanism ever produced. It was an ultimate piece representing durability and accuracy.
When Tokyo hosted the 18th Olympiad in 1964, Seiko provided Official Timer and 1,278 purpose-built timing devices during that event.
The company designed the first wristwatch with a column wheel that allowed a stopwatch function in the same year. As expected, they provided stopwatches for all competitions after testing results showed that the difference between the two checked pieces was under 1/10 second.
The following year, Seiko created the first Japanese waterproof diver’s watch capable of working at 490 feet (150 m) depth. The Japanese, who set out on the 8th Antarctic research expedition in 1965, used it as an official watch.
Seiko went to Neuchatel to participate in the chronometer competition in 1963 for the first time. In 1967, the company won 2nd and 3rd place. Their watches also took every place from 4th to 10th at the Geneva Observatory Competition in 1968. It was an all-time record for mechanical watches.
In 1969, the company introduced Cal. 6139 watch, the first automatic chronograph watch in the world. This model featured a vertical clutch and an already certified Magic Lever column wheel. It was a giant step in Seiko’s tendency to become a leader in chronograph technology.
When Seiko Quartz Astron appeared on the market in 1969, it officially became the first quartz wristwatch made in the world. It was a hundred times more accurate than any model ever produced.
Then, the company designed Cal. 0614 watch in 1973 as the first LCD quartz watch with a digital display containing six figures ever produced. This long-lived watch featuring excellent contrast was designed to work up to 50,000 hours.
Already used to being a leader in innovation, Seiko designed Cal. 0634, the first multi-function chronograph digital model ever created in the world. It appeared in 1975 and fascinated people with internal light and an innovative lap time function.
The twin Quartz watch produced in 1978 was the model well-known for the ultimately accurate movement. Seiko also created the first diver’s watch with a titanium case after seven years of research. It became an immense help for professional divers who dived to 2,000 feet (600 m) depth.
1980 to 1989 Seiko Watches
Seiko started the new decade by inventing the world’s first TV watch in 1982. It was a complicated wristwatch and the smallest television at the same time. Besides standard watch functions, this model came with a headphone jack, tuner, and FM radio.
The Voice Note appeared in 1983 as the world’s first watch with a voice recording function. A voice memo lasted only eight seconds, but the fact it was capable of recording sound was the first step toward the future in that field.
After mastering mechanical chronograph and quartz technology, Seiko came up with the first analog quartz watch featuring a chronograph. Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Italian car designer, got the honor of designing this innovative miracle.
The next step was UC-2000, the first watch featuring computer functions created in 1984. It could memorize 2,000 characters, including addresses, telephone numbers, a one-month schedule, and a diary.
Divers got the new watch model in 1986, capable of withstanding diving in 3,280 feet (1,000 m) depths. It was a marvel of technology, thanks to a corrosion-resistant titanium inner case and outer case with a ceramic layer.
The following year, Seiko became the IAAF and Roma Official Timer. It was a great honor since Seiko had never timed any World Championships before.
Then, the company developed the AGS quartz model Cal. 7M22 with a hand-winding generating system. It was the forerunner of the Seiko Kinetic watch appearing in 1988, capable of powering the quartz movement by converting owner motion into electricity.
1990 to 1999 Seiko Watches
The Seiko company continued on the superior path by producing Scubamaster Cal. M726 in 1990. It was the first computerized watch for divers with a depth sensor, timer, and water sensor. Then, Seiko designed a unique model with the first millennium-plus calendar in 1991.
During this decade, Seiko served as the Official Timer at:
- The IAAF World Athletic Championships Tokyo in 1991
- The 25th Olympiad in Barcelona in 1992
- The IAAF World Athletic Championships Stuttgart in 1993
In 1998, Seiko honored the traditional values by creating a modern Grand Seiko.
That way, the company combined a high-tech mechanical watch generation with top-notch technology standards. The Thermic model appearing the same year was the first watch in the world driven by body heat.
The following year was reserved for two remarkable watches’ introductions. The first was a luxury mechanical Spring Drive watch.
While the second was Cal. 9T82, the unique ultimate kinetic chronograph with a stopwatch function.
The new Millennium
Five years from the beginning of the 21st century, Seiko designed the Cal. 9R65. It was the first spring-drive Grand Seiko with an automatic winding mechanism.
The next invention was the Solar analog watch, the first radio wave model with three bands. This model was capable of receiving standard radio waves from Japan, the US, and Germany.
The Kinetic Perpetual watch was powered by the owner’s body motions. It also featured the perpetual calendar with February 28, 2100, as the end date of accuracy.
The company made the next move in 2006 when the first E-Ink watch appeared on the market. Spectrum was the first wristwatch model in the world with an electrophoresis display and the first Japanese watch to win the Grand Prix de Genève.
Famous Old Seiko Watches
As you can see, the most exciting thing about old Seiko watches is their world’s first inventions. This company produced numerous models that were a leader in technology accomplishments, and some have remained iconic models.
The most iconic Seiko watches
|1960||Grand Seiko 3180|
|The 1960s||Grand Seiko 6145-8000|
|1963||Seiko 5 Sportsmatic|
|1964||Seiko 5717 chronograph|
|1969||Seiko Quartz Astron 35SQ|
Most Expensive and Rarest Seiko Watches
With the impressive list of top-notch watches, it was expected for the company to design some of the most expensive models in the world.
Only dedicated collectors with an unlimited budget can afford some of these beautiful and technologically perfect pieces. In most cases, it is about rare models from limited editions.
Most expensive Seiko watches
|2021||Grand Seiko Masterpiece, SBGD207||$185,000|
|2020||Grand Seiko Elegance, SBGW263||$97,000|
|2018||Grand Seiko Heritage, SBGA385||$53,000|
|2018||Eichi II (Credor)||$41,000|
|1968||Seiko Astronomical Observatory Chronometer||$40,000+|
|2016 to present||Grand Seiko Elegance, SBGW260||$29,000|
|2010||Grand Seiko, SLGA001||$11,100|
|2016 to present||Grand Seiko Heritage, SGBA211||$5,800+|
Grand Seiko Heritage, SGBA211
This model with the Titanium case, snowflake dial, and spring drive movement is one of the most desirable models in this collection.
The production of this, the least expensive model on the list started in 2016. However, you still need to set aside over $5,800 for this super accurate, water-resistant watch..
Grand Seiko, SLGA001
This model with titanium case, mechanical movement, and blue dial color is one of 700 pieces produced in a limited edition, so it is considered rare. It is resistant to water up to 2,000 feet (610 m), comes with glass made of sapphire crystal, and costs an impressive $11,100.
Grand Seiko Elegance, SBGW260
This beautiful watch comes with a case of stainless steel, gold, platinum, or titanium. It features enamel dial color and hand-wound mechanical movement. The primary modern model costs $4,300, but the most luxurious option typically reaches the price of $29,000.
Seiko Astronomical Observatory Chronometer
Seiko created 73 watches with a case, hands, and dial incorporating 18K gold in 1968. No one knows how many pieces still exist in the world, but one collector paid over $40,000 for this beauty with a mechanical movement in the 2010s.
Eichi II (Credor)
The Credor was a luxurious sub-brand introduced in 2018. Each piece comes with a spring-drive movement, rose gold case, and white and rose-gold dial color. You need to set aside $41,000 for this rare watch.
Grand Seiko Heritage, SBGA385
This particular watch was designed exclusively for US consumers. It is the best in the limited series of twenty watches, so you can expect to pay at least $53,000 for one.
It comes with a platinum case and thirty jewels inside the spring drive. A sapphire crystal glass is dual-curved and has an anti-reflective coating.
Grand Seiko Elegance, SBGW263
This model with 24 jewels, manual winding, and dual-curved sapphire crystal glass is the most precious in the collection. It comes with a case and clasp of platinum, while its back features 18K yellow gold containing an engraved lion. The company produced only twenty pieces, and its price is $97,000 on the current market.
Grand Seiko Masterpiece, SBGD207
This watch with spring drive movement is the rarest in the collection, so its price is an astonishing $185,000. Seiko manufactured and released only fifteen pieces with a platinum case and dial made of sapphire crystal. Besides 97 diamonds and 24 green garnets, this luxurious model contains 56 other gemstones.
Japanese manufacturers often recognize valuable Western inventions and are capable of raising them to perfection. That is the case with Seiko watches.
Even though this nation switched to a fixed-hour timekeeping system only in 1872, Seiko started designing the best wristwatches less than a decade later. Nowadays, they are reputable competition even with Swiss models.