In the realm of luxury watches, there are two main players when it comes to watching movements; the Swiss and the Japanese. While experts debate whether the workings of Swiss or Japanese watches are best, for most of us the difference between two watches comes from the styling, not the movement inside.
While Switzerland is home to household names like Rolex and Tag Heuer, Japanese watch brands include Seiko, Casio, and Citizen. If you’ve never really considered a Japanese watch before, here’s our pick of the top 9.
9 Best Japanese Watches
Perhaps the main difference between the two watch-making countries is that whilst the Swiss tend to follow tradition, Japanese watches have a reputation for technology. Whether you are looking for a watch with quartz or mechanical movement, there is something for you in this list.
1. Citizen Eco-Drive Titanium Perpetual Chronograph A-T Watch
You’ll never need to change the battery of this watch, as it is fitted with Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology. The internal lithium-ion cell is charged by converting light into energy. Considered one of the best Japanese watches for water sports and marine activities (but not scuba diving), it includes a one-second chronograph that will keep measuring for up to one hour.
Although they were first invented in Britain rather than Japan automatic watches are just as popular with Japanese manufacturers as they are in other countries. This model from Seiko is a true dive watch, suitable for depths down to 200m. Style hasn’t been sacrificed for performance, with the stainless steel casing contrasting with the black dial.
The classic diving look is complemented by a chunky strap. The display has hour markers, with minutes on the bezel, and a date window available in both English and Spanish.
3. G-Shock GA 100 Military Series Watch
Casio carved a name for style as a Japanese watch brand with its Casio G-Shock series. Their heavy-duty designs have made them popular with tough guys the world over, and the GA 100 is another of that type.
The design is all matte black, from the dial to the chunky resin band. The GA 100 has both analog and digital display and is fully programmable. It’s also shockproof and watertight to 200m if you live up to the action man look.
4. Citizen Eco-Drive Titanium Watch
The second from Citizen on this list, and another fitted with the eco-drive technology from this Japanese watch brand. Where this differs from the first watch, is that this model is styled for casual or dress wear, rather than for activity.
It has a titanium case with black dials and includes a chronograph. It’s also waterproof to 200m, but we wouldn’t recommend getting the leather strap wet. It also contains a date window and a low-charge indicator just in case you don’t get enough sunlight.
Orient is the brand to turn to if you want something stylish and understated, but with consummate engineering. The design is fuss-free, with a blue dial and titanium case contrasting with a brown calfskin band.
The dial is uncluttered, containing only the clock face itself with an outer and inner dial and a date window. No need to worry about winding either, as this model contains Orient’s caliber 48743 automatic winding mechanism.
6. Orient Monarch Mechanical Hand Wind Watch
If you want to create a vintage look with a brand new timepiece then the Monarch is right up your street. It has a simple steel case and a domed glass, protecting the black dial which is decorated in a timeless style.
7. Citizen Eco-Drive Avion Sport Stainless Steel Watch
Another vintage-inspired piece, this one harks back to the 1950s. The black strap has contrasting white stitching, a color choice echoed in the dial and hands. Despite the classic look, it contains Citizen’s eco-drive and will self-charge from natural light.
Waterproof to 100m, the Avion also has 12 and 24-hour clock dials and a date window. It might look like it’s slipped from the wrist of a pioneering trans-Atlantic pilot, but the Avion is all modern under the hood.
8. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch
Showing the versatility of Japanese watch brands, this model couldn’t be more different from Seiko’s other entrant onto this list. The 5 is an understated, military style watch that would look as good on your wrist on a night out as it would on a long hike.
With a brushed metal bezel and khaki strap and dial, the 5 has both inner and outer dials and a date window. Underneath the case is a 21-jewel automatic movement that means you’ll never need to stop and wind.
9. Orient Ray 2 Analog Japanese Automatic Silver Watch
An upgraded version of Orient’s best-seller, the Ray, they’ve upgraded the movement and added a hand-wind feature if you want to give the automatic winding a helping hand. If synching watches with others is useful for you, you can stop the second hand just by pulling out the crown.
Looks-wise, the Ray 2 is a slimmer version of the Ray. It has an attractive stainless steel bracelet and a blue face that echoes the Rolex Submariner. It includes a 120-click diving bezel, sword hands, and a date window.
Performance and Style
There’s no doubt, looking at this list, that Japanese watches can stand their ground when compared with models from any other maker around the world. A great watch is a combination of functional and stylish. It contains features that make life easier and blends well whether we’re working, socializing or getting out into nature.
If you need a little help in working out your balance of style and functionality, then keep watching our fashion section. We regularly share content about what is good and what is not in the world of men’s fashion. Whether it’s the best in Japanese watches or the must-have fashion accessories, we’ve got you covered.