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A Beginner’s Guide to Every Seiko Collection

Seiko Guide

Seiko are one of the most influential watchmakers in the world. When it comes to the sub-£3,000 category of horology, no one does it better. Their characterful watches embody the best qualities of Japanese watchmaking: precision, artistry and practicality. However, they also happen to be one of the most prolific watchmakers in the world and keeping track of what’s what with Seiko watches can be difficult. To guide you through their collections, we’ve created this handy guide to every Seiko collection you can buy at Seiko Boutique.

Prospex Models

Seiko Prospex

Arguably the most famous and diverse of Seiko’s collections is the Prospex line. The name is a reference to “pro-specs”, a range of watches that meet professional standards in the areas of diving, racing and exploration. Each watch also doubles as a durable and attractive daily beater thanks to their practicality and accessible prices.

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Seiko Alpinist

Alpinist

The Alpinist is a watch that has shaped the lineage of the Prospex range ever since it was first introduced in 1959. In many regards, it’s the original Seiko sports watch, designed to be easy to read and withstand the rigours of athletic activity.

Some of the innovations introduced on the 1959 version – which was re-created as a new timepiece last year – are now common across all kinds of watches, such as screw casebacks to protect the movement from sand and grit.

Modern Alpinists are versatile in design with varying degrees of vintage inspiration from reference to reference. Some key references are the highly accurate re-creation SJE085 and the recent Ginza special edition SPB259. Pictured here though is the base model SPB243J1, which is the most typical expression of the design with a 38mm steel case and the 6R35 automatic calibre, a well-regarded work horse movement.

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Seiko Prospex Turtle

Turtle/King Turtle/Tortoise

Something you need to learn quickly about Seiko watches is that very few of them have official names. Instead, many of the most famous models are given nicknames by fans which retroactively become the accepted name for the model. One of the most iconic examples of this is the Turtle diving watch, which earned its name thanks to the oval shape of the case and its large, sweeping surfaces.

Additionally, references that have distinctive differences from the classic design, even if they’re relatively minor, can spawn entire sub-collections with their own names. As is the case with the King Turtle which is practically identical to the regular turtle but has an upgraded ceramic insert bezel and sapphire glass. There’s also the Tortoise variant which is an adventure watch for use on land that uses a similar case shape. Tortoise = Land Turtle, hopefully you can follow that logic.

The reference pictured here is the King Turtle SRPE03K1 with a characteristically large 45mm steel case. It houses the 4R36 automatic movement, which like many Seiko movements can also be supported with manual winding.

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Seiko Willard

Willard

On the surface of it the Willard and the Turtle bear certain similarities, primarily that sweeping curved case. However, the Willard is inspired by military diving watches and so has a more pronounced crown guard and a cleaner dial without a cyclops lens or anything that could impact its instant readability.

The model is named after the character Captain Willard in the film Apocalypse Now as he wears one throughout the film. In 2020, a 55th anniversary limited edition ref. SLA049J1 was released with an attractive blue dial. It measures 44mm in diameter and contains the 8L35 automatic movement, which has an accuracy of +15/-10 seconds per day.

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Seiko Monster

Monster

The Monster is instantly recognisable because of its bezel. It’s the chunkiest in the entire Prospex range and indeed out of every Seiko model thanks to its oversized grip. The purpose of the grip is to allow you to adjust the rotating bezel under water or while wearing gloves, something that makes the watch very popular for polar exploration.

The polar regions have particular relevance to Seiko as they have been the official watch partner for several important Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, a fact reflected in their Save the Oceans Antarctica charity references, like this SRPG57K1. It houses the 4R36 movement but the focus of the watch is the dramatic 42.43mm case and its chunk bezel.

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Seiko Tuna

Tuna/Baby Tuna

An enduringly popular trend with dive and tool watches is that bigger is better and back in 1975 Seiko delivered on that adage like no one else. The Tuna is a diving watch with an insane 49.5mm diameter case. It’s large size and round shape earned it its name when fans remarked that it looked like a tin of tuna.

Acknowledging that the size of the watch was an issue for many collectors, Seiko released a smaller version at 43.5mm, affectionally known as the Baby Tuna. It’s testament to how huge the original is that 43.5mm is considered the more wearable option.

There’s also a hybrid analogue-digital version known as the Arnie that’s part of the Prospex’s streetwear line. However, this is the classic Tuna in all its 49.5mm glory with 1000m water resistance rating.

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Samurai/King Samurai/Shogun

As one of the biggest Japanese watch brands in the world, it’s only right that at least one watch, out of every Seiko model, makes reference the country’s cultural history.

The Samurai has sharp angles and a facetted case that evokes images of the armour worn by traditional Japanese warriors, an impression heightened by the patterned dials.

Similar to the King Turtle, there’s also a higher spec King Samurai version and a dive watch edition called the Shogun because of its bolder aesthetic. The Samurai house the 4R35 movement while the Shogun is upgraded with the 6R35.

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Seiko Solar Scuba

Solar Scuba Divers

In the spirit of practicality that can be found running throughout the Prospex range, the Solar Scuba Divers offer a super reliable way to power your dive watch.

Outwardly there’s little to distinguish them from any other dive watch but inside they house a solar quartz movement. The battery is charged by natural and artificial light meaning the power reserve can last for months and months on end.

It’s also another example of Seiko’s exemplary accessibility with the SNE585P1 priced at £480 despite its high tech movement.

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Speedtimer 1964 Chronograph

Speedtimer 1964 Chronograph

While many of the models in the Prospex have bold with aesthetics the Speedtimer 1964 Chronograph is far more restrained, wearing its vintage inspiration on its sleeve.

It’s based off an original Seiko Chronograph stopwatch that was used in a high profile international athletics event in 1964. Structurally, it has a bicompax display with small seconds and a 30-minute timer courtesy of the 8R46 movement contained within a 42.5mm stainless steel case.

This Ref. SRQ039J1 is a boutique exclusive available at selected stores worldwide.

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Speedtimer Chronograph 1969

Speedtimer Chronograph 1969

Another Speedtimer Chronograph model in the range is the 1969 re-interpretation. It’s distinguished from the 1964 model by having a tricompax layout that includes a 24-hour timer and features its tachymeter on the bezel.

Additionally, it’s powered by a solar quartz movement as opposed to an automatic piece. As a result, it’s also more accessible than its Speedtimer stable mate at just £590 but lacks some of the prestige that comes with a mechanical movement.

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Seiko Sumo

Sumo

Big and round, those are the two adjectives that best describe the sumo design, which is one of the least populous of the Prospex models.

It has a broad 45mm diameter and a case featuring wide curves. However, the display is one of the most skin diver-esque, with oversize circle hour markers and a thick bezel with a dive timer. Although, the grip on the bezel perhaps isn’t as heavily pronounced as it could be.

This SPB101J1 houses the 6R35 movement and is priced at £740, making it middle of the pack in terms of specs and accessibility. A great all-rounder, if you like big watches.

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Seiko LX

LX

The Seiko LX is a hybrid watch, combining an automatic Spring Drive movement with an electronic regulator, whereby the winding of the watch charges the battery.

Aesthetically it follows a principle of ‘lux’, meaning light, which translates to an increased number of facetted surfaces and sharp angles to catch the light in interesting ways. Its reminiscent of the principles employed by Seiko’s sibling brand Grand Seiko.

Ref. SNR029J1 has a diameter of 44.8mm in titanium, making it a large timepiece, as is expected of Seiko’s tool watches. The high end material of the case combined with the advanced movement makes this one of the least accessible Prospex watches that Seiko produce, it’s price tag is £5,400.

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Presage

Seiko Presage

Seiko’s Presage range focusses on celebrating the beauty of traditional Japanese crafts and design concepts. As such, they tend to be more refined, falling into the dress watch or daily wear categories of watches.

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Sharp Edged

Sharp Edged

The Seiko Sharp Edged is one of the most popular models in the Presage collection and indeed in every Seiko model. It’s typified by the stylish patterned dial, inspired by traditional Japanese hemp print.

There are a number of different functions available on the Sharp Edged, the most recent addition being the world travelling GMT. There’s also time and date, open heart and calendar variants. The term Sharp Edged comes from the updated case design that has, no surprise, sharp edges and a mirror finish.

Pictured here is the Ref. SPB219J1, a GMT model with a case diameter of 42.2mm and housing the 6R64 automatic GMT movement. While it’s not as fabulously accessible as many Seikos, the £1,300 price isn’t likely to break the bank.

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Seiko Cocktail Time

Cocktail Time

Any watch that takes alcohol as its inspiration is alright by our reckoning. The Cocktail Time is based on the Japanese tradition of after work cocktails, although that’s very much a custom shared in the UK.

Each edition is named after an iconic cocktail such as the Manhattan or Margarita and has a bright and fun aesthetic based on the titular drink. If you have a particular favourite drink, you can’t go wrong picking up the matching Cocktail Time.

This is the Cocktail Time ‘Mockingbird’ inspired by the cocktail of the same name. The defining attribute of the drink is its use of watermelon, which is what inspired the rich green of the dial. Beneath that melon surface is the 4R35 automatic movement.

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Seiko Style 60s

Style 60s

As its name suggests, the Style 60s models are based on classic retro timepieces from the 1960s. The vintage reference that’s most apparent in the design is the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, a watch that’s as prominent today as it was in the 60s.

However, the Style 60s converts the dive watch elements into more refined features such as having a slim bezel scale. Likewise, there are some open heart and small seconds editions that show a modern, elegant take on the retro vintage formula. This is the Ref. SRPG05J1, which has a blue dial, 40.75mm diameter case and is powered by the 4R35 movement.

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Craftsmanship Enamel Arita Porcelain

Craftsmanship Enamel/Arita Porcelain

There are few who demonstrate as much mastery over materials as Japanese artisans. Their culture of dedication to art and perfection leads them to produce some of the best enamel and porcelain found anywhere in the world, so naturally Seiko has found ways to integrate these skills into their watchmaking.

The Craftsmanship Arita Porcelain and Enamel models both follow the concept of Takumi, traditional hand crafts. In order to allow the material dials to sing their loudest, the overall designs of the watches are minimalistic. Pictured is the Arita Porcelain Ref. SPB293J1, a £1,500 watch with a diameter of 40.5mm and housing the 6R31 calibre.

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Seiko Zen Garden

Zen Garden

Seiko’s Zen Garden timepiece refers to one of the most famous phenomena of Japanese culture, Karesansui, better known as zen gardens. It’s the practice of raking gravel into serene patterns like ripples and flowing water, creating a meditative garden space punctuated by a few significant rocks and plants.

Seiko have interpreted this into watch form by using the distinctive rake pattern on the dial with flashes of colour such as red numerals to evoke plants such as red acer trees. There are a number of styles and functions available, representing the wide variance found in zen gardens.

This is the SRPG25J1, which has a classic zen garden pattern dial and an understated 41.7mm steel case. It houses the staple 4R35 movement.

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Astron

Seiko Astron Watch

When Seiko launched the first Astron in 1969 it was a ground-breaking watch thanks to its integrated GPS technology. Specifically, it was the first watch to be capable of automatically updating the time based on your time zone as you travel across the world.

The easy utility made it an instant hit and Seiko are still finding ways to increase its usability to this day.

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Seiko GPS Solar

GPS Solar

The GPS Solar is the modern iteration of the original Astron. Stylistically it maintains a very similar profile with a softly curving case, although it has been given some modern flair via the facetted bezel, which gives it a more technical appearance. Crucially, it’s also solar powered, meaning the battery never needs replacing, enhancing the utility that the Astron is famous for.

Pictured is the SSJ011J1, pairing a dark dial with gold colour indexes and hands. It has a 39mm steel case and of course houses the solar calibre called 3X22.

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Solar GPS Chrono Global Active

Solar GPS Chrono/Global Active

Alongside the time and date model, Seiko have created two models that aim to push the Astron’s inherent utility to the max. Those are a chronograph model (Chrono) and a calendar model (Global Active). It’s the natural evolution of the collection and enhances what the Astron is all about, showcasing data and information that is actually useful to the wearer.

The SSH107J1 Solar GPS Chrono is a further upgrade because it has a 42.7mm titanium case with a super hard coating, making it exceptionally scratch resistant and durable. Inside is the 5X53 movement.

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King Seiko

King Seiko

The King Seiko collection is Seiko’s youngest with the first model being launched early in 2022. It’s the revival of a vintage name as King Seiko was formerly a rival brand to Grand Seiko that disappeared in 1975 when the Daini Seikosha factory closed its doors. A new entry amid every Seiko model.

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King Seiko

King Seiko

As this is the King Seiko’s debut year (re-debut?) there’s currently only one model available, albeit in a handful of versions. That case is a 37mm diameter, stainless steel affair inspired by the 1965 King Seiko KSK, which was the second model ever produced by King Seiko. It makes for a compact design ideal for a comfortable daily beater. Nothing too eccentric, just solid and appreciable watchmaking.

Inside, it houses the 6R31 automatic calibre, a solid movement with an accuracy of +25/-15 seconds per day and a power reserve of 70-hours. All in a timepiece with a price of £1,470.

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Seiko 5 Sports

Seiko 5 Sports GMT SKX Re-interpretation SSK003K1 Blueberry

When looking at every Seiko model, you can’t miss their most accessible line of watches, which is the Seiko 5 Sports, a collection that rarely breaks above £400.

That accessibility makes it one of the most common to spot in the wild, even if it lacks the prestige of the Prospex or Presage. Another factor in its popularity is the variety of styles and designs that are available.

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5 Sports Field Collection5 Sports Field Collection

While the modern field watch is broadly used as an adventure watch or a sports watch, the core design codes come from its military heritage. Those core principles are instant legibility, accuracy and durability. There is very little room for extravagance in design as it could compromise a soldier in the field. Seiko’s 5 Sports Field Collection adhere to these principles with simple round cases, uncomplicated time and date displays and trusted automatic movements.

The SRPG33K1 has a military green dial with a 39.38mm stainless steel case, housing the 4R36 automatic movement. It’s also hyper accessible with a price of just £240.

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Seiko 5 Sports Diving

5 Sports Diving

The diving iteration of the 5 Sports was the first in this sporty collection. It owes a lot, at least aesthetically, to the Rolex Submariner because of its retro styling, thick bezel and oversize circle indexes.

The ref. SRPD55K3 has a stainless steel case with a diameter of 42.5mm and 100m water resistance. That might seem like a low depth rating for a diving watch but considering the watch is only £250, it’s admirable.

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Seiko 5 Sports Flieger

5 Sports Flieger

At first glance, the 5 Sports Flieger bears a lot of similarities to the Field Collection, however that’s because pilot’s watches and field watches share a certain number of principles. On closer inspection the Flieger displays more information since pilots require utter timing precision when visually navigating. As such the 5 Sports Flieger has both an hour scale and a minute scale to minimise errors.

Pictured is the SRPH23K1, a £270 watch with a 39.38mm diameter case and powered by the 4R36 calibre. Essentially, it’s a pilots version of the 5 Sports Field.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Junior Content Producer for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. While a relative newcomer to the magazine, he's nonetheless a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better.

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