How Seiko Watches Caters To Your Different Budgets

One conglomerate with countless different price points, How does the Seiko Group cater to the different budgets of watch buyers?

At just about ANY budget of watch collecting, there would be a watch made by the Seiko Group available for you. From a Seiko 5 to a Credor Tourbillion, The creations of the brand spans over just about every price-point.

At Nomad360, we’re devoted to cover watches below the thousand dollar price-point. Incidentally, we are able to compare a single design from 5 different watches within this price point. In this article, let’s explore how this watch-making group fulfils the different budgets of their different consumers.

How Similar-looking Watches Command Different Prices

We know, we know – It’s always a mistake to mention “Similar”, especially with vast differences under the loupe. What we mean is overall design, in this case, we are focusing on black dial, silver metal design that are suitable for casual and formal wear. Aside from dive watches, this is one of the more popular design for the enthusiasts and general consumer alike. We’ll be going over each price-category within the sub-$1000 range and will also be touching slightly beyond.

1) SNKL23 ~ $180 SGD/$140 USD

If you’ve been following our blog, it would be no surprise we love the SNKL23. This is practically an overkill at this price, finishing can be found on the case and dial, which is not an everyday sight at this price.

Seiko SNKL23
Image: Ben’s Watch Club

At the bottom of this price-category, this watch already offers a lot for your money. The SNKL23 is part of the Seiko 5 line, and the reason they are able to produce mechanical watches at this price is because:

  1. Designed more than 20 years ago, Seiko entirely paid off The toolings and parts.
  2. Seiko automated the entire manufacture of the movement.
  3. It was cost-effective to ship pieces of equipment to non-Japanese countries so labour for case manufacture and assembly didn’t cost much.
Seiko SNKL23 Wrist Shot on leather strap

Although the bracelet is folded and cheap, the rest of the package more than make up for that one single gripe I have with the watch. The easiest-resolution? Put it on a leather strap, which was what I did, and I haven’t look back since.

You can find the Seiko SNKL23 here.

2) SUR311 ~ $200 SGD/150 USD

Seiko SUR311
Image: WatchUSeek User – Fagyalllo

Sapphire crystal, sparkly applied indices, excellent finishing, and quartz. Did the last feature put you off? If not, you’re well on your way of finding superior value. Undoubtedly, this is one of the more underrated model on this list. However, it’s unmistakably the same design as the following few, and most would argue that despite it’s solid build, it wouldn’t be their choice as it’s a quartz watch.

Which begs the question, how much more would you be willing to pay for a mechanical movement?

You can find the Seiko SUR311 here.

3) SARY057 – $350 SGD/ $265 USD

Seiko SARY057
Image: Reddit user u/OES25

This price-point usually brings in the Presage line, so, we took the liberty of including a model from it. For me, this model looks a little less-dressy, the inclusion of minute-markers and thicker indices make this watch less minimalistic. However, with a lack of lume on the dauphine hand, I could only intepret it as design executions included in yet another dress watch.

The Presage line is notable for providing great value at this price. Usually, they include an acceptable level of finishing with more attention on the dials like the Cocktail Time series. This model? Not so much, but it still remains aesthetically simple and is an incredibly versatile option in any collection.

4) SARB033 – Discontinued, R.T.P~$450 SGD/ 340USD

Amongst this cluster of watches, one model manage to command an absurd premium after it’s discontinuation, the SARB033.

Price trend of the SARB033
Background Chart: Watch Chart

While I certainly disagree with how the market currently prices this model, it used to be the go-to value proposition at it’s prior price. A very minimalist aesthetic that consists of a few features executed well. This watch was beloved especially amongst the enthusiast community, which explains a sharp increase in value after Seiko discontinued it in 2018.

SARB033 on red packets
Image: @dav1dc_watches on Instagram

At this price, you’re getting sapphire crystal and a 6R15 with other classic styling features. At the same, you start to notice a higher-level of finishing at the edges of the case as well as on the solid bracelet.

I would set this model as the benchmark, when considering similar watches, how much do they deviate from this model? In my opinion, the SARB033 is certainly the ideal mechanical watch of this design back when they were selling around for 450 SGD. As of February 2021, I see them going around $600 SGD and personally, I just wouldn’t shell out that much.

5) SARX033 – $1.400 SGD/$1050 USD

While the R.R.P(Recommended Retail Price) of this model goes slightly beyond $1000 USD, it’s commonly found well under instead. The SARX057 is commonly known as the “Baby Grand Seiko Titanium”. And it absolutely holds up to the name. I’m often perplexed when the SARB033 is referred to as the “Baby Grand Seiko”, when in reality, this model from the higher-end SARX line is much more fitting of the name.

SARX057 on a titanium bracelet

The first difference you would notice would be the weight. The SARX057 is encased in titanium with a bracelet of the same metal. At 55% the weight of steel, you wouldn’t even notice it on the wrist if it’s sized-well. Having owned one before, I noticed that I wasn’t caught up with any details present, instead, I was more enamoured by the depth of each feature.

Some notable features include a captivating dial contrasted with crisp indices. and an exceptionally-finished bracelet, which is made up of 5 facets. Satin-brushed on the 3 main-links and polished on the connecting areas. The finishing on the bracelet alone shows that attention isn’t spared at this price-point.

You can find the Seiko SARX057 here.

Above The Thousand-Dollar Mark: How They Compare Moving Up The Price Ladder

The models mentioned earlier are just some examples of what you can get with $1000 as your budget. But if you’re a little more frivalous with your money, what can a brand like Seiko offer?

6) SBGP011 ~ $3200 SGD/$2400 USD

The SBGP011 from the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection is an entry-way into modern offerings by the sister brand.

Grand Seiko Quartz SBGP011
Image: Seiya Japan

As a watch from a different brand, the price is definitely a far-fetch from our previous mentions, and with good. Firstly, the Grand Seiko brand is more geared towards a luxury market consumer-market. While there is an unsurmountable number of enthusiasts who are fans as well, domestically, Grand Seiko exists as a luxurious symbol in Japan.

Secondly, watch-making transitions from a more essential-based practical approach into a more artful one. For example, the case of this SBGP011 is finished with Zaratsu Polishing, a term synonymous with the brand and usually accounted as an art form. The manufacturing process from this brand is entirely different from their lower-end counterpart.

Final Thoughts

All in all, is it worth it? That’s really up to you, the buyer, to decide. The ability to create a timepiece suitable for anyone, at any price, makes the brand usually misunderstood. For me, it’s also what makes them special, as not many brands have the ideation, much less the manufacturing prowess to replicate this.

An image of the Seiko Factory
image: Fratello Watches

The Seiko brand is often a misconception to the normal consumer. What are your opinions on brand produces such different level of watches ? Check out our Instagram Page for our educational infographics as well as our Youtube video for this week’s topic, a laid-back alternative to the blog, where you can sit back and enjoy our content narrated in the form of a short video.

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