Any time somebody on the internet makes a “best of list” you have to wonder who made them an expert. Well, today I am making a list of Seiko watches. While I may not be a horological expert, I am a Seiko fanboy and I do own every watch on this list. So, I am the perfect person to give you some solid advice about which Seiko to buy if you want to spend $500 or less.
Really, you could stop right here. I think everyone needs to own a Seiko Turtle. It’s a classic, robust automatic dive watch that looks awesome. I would probably say it is the best all-around value in the Seiko lineup right now. It looks great on a bracelet, awesome on a rubber strap, and outstanding on a nato. It has just enough Seiko heritage behind it to be cool and the design and style are still understated enough not to scream “jerk off”. Add a little extra in the looks department and spring for the King Turtle, still well under $500.
Seiko Urban Safari SRPE31K1
If I really need a watch that is going to get banged around, I reach for the Urban Safari. I am not sure what Seiko classifies this watch to be as it takes some inspiration from a Seiko Tuna and the dial hands and markers from a more traditional Seiko Diver. This watch is just cool in every way. It’s not as popular so you’re unlikely to run into another dud at the party with it on the wrist. If you want something a little different looking, this is your guy.
Seiko Alpinists SPB159
There are several versions in this lineup with different dial colors and strap options. Whichever you choose you can’t go wrong. It has a rugged and refined look to it with the leaf hour hand and steel case. The textured dial adds to the depth of the watch and the old-school feel adds to the watch’s charm. I waited forever to buy my first Alpinists and I wish I snagged one sooner. It’s the perfect adventure watch that looks good on the hiking trail or out on a date. The price does bounce around, so if you see it below $500 buy it immediately.
Seiko Monster SRPH75
Another Seiko that comes in several dial colors. They have us figured out, when we love a watch so much just make a different color and idiots like me will buy another. If you want something that looks adventurous and rugged with a tiny bit of flash, then I found a watch for you. The stainless steel shroud protecting the case is ready to be slammed into an oil rig on your next dive or the next-door jamb you pass through. This version, Save The Ocean has a very cool dial with sharks swimming. No picture does this dial justice, in person, they are much more pronounced. This could be your only watch.
Seiko 5 Sports SRPG37
If this watch had a screw-down crown it would be near perfection. I say near because surprisingly the lume on the dial is just OK, not the light-up the night experience of the divers. If you can get past those two complaints you have yourself the perfect field-style watch. Classic looks with a reliable 4R36 that gives right around 40 hours of power reserve. Mine has never gone the full 41 that Seiko claims, but I’m OK with that. Save your money and skip a Hamilton Khaki to buy this watch….in two colors! Another home run from Seiko that is a “strap monster” as they say.
Seiko Presage Cocktail SRPB41J1
One of the very, very few Seiko watches I have sold off. I am in love with the dial, it’s sheer beauty. It looked awesome on my wrist and was so sharp looking. However, I could never get the butterfly clasp sized just right for my wrist. It was either too tight or too loose. I didn’t need another dress watch on a leather strap so I traded it off for an old Seiko 6309 from 1984. This watch will be a staple in your collection and looks good with a suit, dress casual, or even a pair of jeans. It comes in a few dial colors and all of them are as fantastic looking as the next. This Seiko is one of those watches that looks way more expensive when you wear it than what you paid for it. The watch only has a push/pull crown, but that still gives you 150 feet of water resistance, So you can fall in the pool with confidence at your next wedding.
Seiko Presage SRPG05
The Seiko Presage model SRPG05 is a sporty yet refined watch with a fixed bezel marked for 60 minutes. Its standout blue sunburst dial pairs well with the silver hands and hour markers, which are also filled with vintage-color Lumibrite. Seiko has released so many watches over the last few years it’s hard to keep up. This one is only a year or two old but keeps a super classic look to it. The Hardlex box crystal creates a clear and visible dial with the slightest distortion giving it a semi-vintage feel. A few colors are available, but I really love the blue dial on the SRPG05.
When I bought this watch I had no idea what it was. I am sure you know that sometimes private parties or very small sellers on Amazon will list some one-off or discontinued items dirt cheap. Well in this case it’s a Japan Only model that has made its way to multiple platforms. I read somewhere that the case shape was supposed to mimic that of a bird. I’m not sure if that is true, but this watch is beautiful. If you know what a SARB was then this should be considered a real replacement. There is no shortage of SZSB012 vs.SARB033 reviews and Reddit posts. It’s the perfect sports watch, it looks sporty on the bracelet but has a classy dial and marks so it will dress up to a suit.
This is one of the first Seiko watches I ever bought and also one of the first few automatic watches I purchased when I started getting away from just quartz watches. It’s the precursor to the SRPG37 above and I think it is a better watch. It has more of that rugged field watch style. These are now longer made, but as I write this there is no shortage of the watch on Amazon or other sites like eBay in a few different dial colors. It has the older 7S26 movement which does not have hacking, where the second-hand stops when you pull out the crown. What it does have is a long history of reliability, the 7S26 will keep on ticking for many, many years. Mine above has had a movement upgrade to a 4R36 from Nathan at Four Forty Four PM
Some say it takes a special wrist to wear a Samurai, but I say if you love a great-looking watch then wear this guy! It has sharp angles and a deep dial that give it a unique look, while its automatic movement ensures accurate timekeeping. It’s also water resistant to 200 meters, making it perfect for any aquatic activity. Plus, its hardlex crystal protects the watch from scratches and bumps. Whether you`re diving in the ocean or just need a stylish watch for everyday wear, the Samurai is sure to impress. There are multiple dial colors and options. Check out the King Samurai here.
This is another watch that’s nearing the end of its production run so you should snag one while you can. You get a lot of watch for a few clams in this case. With a traditional pilot’s dial and automatic movement, this watch is a great gateway drug into horology. Coming in at 37MM it’s a smaller watch that doesn’t look out of place even on bigger wrists.
Part of me didn’t want to include this watch even though I love it. It’s one of the new Seiko 5 that replaced the beloved Seiko SKX…the only issue is Seiko dropped the screw-down crown. It just rubs me the wrong way, but if you can get past that it’s absolutely one of the best deals around for a Seiko and probably automatic watches in general. Available in what seems like over 100 combinations, you are sure to find one that will match your wrist and wardrobe. I also love the gilt no bezel version here.
Seiko SBDC031 Sumo 2nd Generation
Recently replaced by the third-gen Sumo you can still readily find these awesome oversized divers from Seiko. I know I say all watches are my favorite, but my Sumo is my favorite. I picked up the third-gen when it was released and still a sub $600 watch, now they are more. However, eBay and Amazon have a ton of second-gen models well below the $500 mark. So what’s so cool about this Seiko diver? Everything! I love the bold bezel markers, the super cool sword hands, and of course the lume. I have an average wrist of 7.25” and I think I can rock the Sumo with ease. The lug length is a little long and the lug holes are far outboard of the case so when you wear this on a strap it has a big gap sometimes. To me, this is a bracelet or nato watch all day long. The watch just looks so good on your wrist. It has that classic diver look but is still original.
Seiko SRPG15 Land Tortoise
When I saw this watch on Worn & Wound I couldn’t wait to buy one! I love the Seiko Turtle, it’s my favorite amazon favorite, really. Seiko has the MiniTurtle which I think looks stupid, but this land Tortoise was more in line with a slimed down version. It has a hacking and hand wind movement, great lume, and a cool brushed case. It looks awesome on a strap or nato. I keep waiting for Strapcode to release a good bracelet, but for now, I wear mine on a Ritchie rubber quick-release. The whole thing with the Land Tortoise is the rotating bezel can be used as a compass and the watch itself has a slight field watch vibe. These are coming down in price and I think it’s one of the most underrated Seiko watches in the last few years. If you ever thought a Turtle or Sumo was too big, well here is your alternative.
I felt the need to add one more Seiko dress watch to the list. I love having different color dials in my collection but these red ones don’t get worn as much as others. It’s definitely a statement piece or something that has a little more flash to it. Like the Cocktail Time relative I mentioned, this presage watch has a beautiful scalloped dial design. The classic style numerals give it a slightly casual look if you wanted to dress it down, but the polished case and crown are enough to throw on a suit with this guy. The watch also has a blue and green dial brother that are equally as good looking.
Seiko SNKP23 RECRAFT
Seiko has some interesting watches in their Recraft lineup. Most of them are square case shapes. I bought a SNKM97 years ago but at the time I was still new to all of this. I just thought it looked ginormous on my wrist, little did I know I would fall in love with a Seiko Sumo. A few years later I picked up this blue version that’s a tad smaller. It’s got the cheaper movement and the bracelet is trash, but for under $150 it’s so good-looking!
Go Buy A Seiko Watch!
I am sure I will get a few emails about how I left off other great Seiko watches. Remember, I actually own or have owned each watch on the list! That’s the thing about Seiko, their catalog is so massive anyone can find a perfect watch. I hit all the main categories, divers, dress watches, field watches, and casual. Almost every model above has other colorways in the lineup or Seiko has released a limited edition custom color. I like to expand my watch collection to other brands, but if you open my watch drawer it’s filled with Seiko’s.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.