Top 10 Japanese watch brands you should know!
When it comes to watches, people usually think of Swiss watches. However, for so many years, Japan has been continuously challenging Switzerland with a series of the most innovative and most affordable watches on the market. It is not an exaggeration to say that some of Japan watch companies are now leading the global market in terms of technological design and creativity while the Swiss are still loyal to classical watchmaking.
In today’s blog, we will walk you through the list of the top 10 Japanese watch brands.
Top 10 Japanese Watch Brands You Should Know!
As the oldest and most prestigious Japanese watchmakers in existence, Seiko has been a major force to compete with the Swiss. In fact, Seiko, founded in 1881, is the Japanese watch brand that created the world’s first quartz watch. This groundbreaking invention in 1969 has marked the beginning of the quartz revolution and help Seiko earn their respect in the market. Since then, Seiko has continuously gained an excellent reputation by constantly releasing the best quality watches at reasonable prices.
It is no secret that Seiko watches are popular for their high accuracy. This is the reason why Seiko watches are used in major sporting events, including the Olympics. The most famous Seiko watch lines are Seiko 5, Grand Seiko, King Seiko, and Credor.
- Since: 1881
- Price: $ 100 – $ 72,000
- Why Seiko: innovative, top functional, a variety of style but mostly elegant look
Casio, founded in 1946, is a multinational consumer electronics and commercial electronics company in Japan. It entered the watchmaking market in 1974 and took quite some time to reach its current status. It was not until 1983 that Casio shook the watchmaking market when it produced G-SHOCK (DW-5000C), the world’s first shock-resistant wristwatch. Since then, Casio has never stopped innovating its products and became a trendsetter in the watch industry.
Undoubtedly, Casio is one of the best watch brands in the world. If you are looking for a high-tech watch at an affordable price, Casio is probably a great choice. In comparison with other watch brands in the same price range, Casio watches have a superior quality which can easily satisfy even the most difficult customer. What made Casio watches so sought-after was their unique designs and advanced features such as shock resistance and water resistance. Especially, its G-Shock series were made from carbon fiber, which is much stronger than iron. Another notable feature of this brand is that most of their watches use solar technology to recharge their batteries. Therefore, G-Shock series is extremely popular among sportsmen.
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- Since: 1946
- Price: $25 – $1000
- Why Casio: affordable hard-wearing best seller G-Shock, latest PRO TREK smartwatch
It would be a shame if we did not mention Citizen – a Japanese watches brand. Started as an experimental watch manufacturer in 1924, Citizen has made spectacular breakthroughs, rocking the world watch market until nowadays.
While the Swiss still focus on mechanical watches, Japan is now more focused on embracing new electronic technology. In 1970, Citizen created the world’s first watch that uses Titanium which is very light, durable, and rust-resistant. However, the biggest milestone of Citizen is the introduction of Citizen Eco-Drive. This is a new solution in watch power usage, using natural or artificial light instead of traditional batteries to create power for watches. Shockproof and waterproof capabilities also make Citizen watches perfect to wear under any condition. With these environmentally friendly products, Citizen has stepped up in the game, becoming one of the biggest watchmaking companies in the industry.
Citizen watches are not the most expensive on the market, but they absolutely are worth the money. In 2019, Citizen released the Caliber 0100 which is the world’s most accurate wristwatch right now.
- Since: 1924
- Price: $100 – $6,400
- Why Citizen: Eco-drive (in other words, accurate watch), sophisticated timepiece
Next is Knot. Founded in 2014, it is a new watchmaking brand with a development history of 6 years only. However, nowadays, it is still one of the hottest Japanese watch brands, even challenging the biggest names in the industry. This small company, located in the center of Tokyo, has begun to create a buzz both in Japan and abroad thanks to their fashionable and high-quality watches.
Hiromitsu Endo, the founder of Knot, aims to provide wristwatches that truly bring out the spirit of Japanese modern lifestyle. Knot has been received a positive reception from young people around the world thanks to their simple but eye-catching designs and outstanding quality. Besides, part of what makes Knot watches appealing is their affordable prices. If you are looking for a high-quality wristwatch that costs less than $ 200, Knot is the right answer for you.
- Since: 2014
- Price: $100 – $200
- Why Knot: competitive price, minimal design, premium material, custom-made service
Orient is a name that has been resonating in the watchmaking business for nearly 70 decades. Started its journey in 1950, Orient, has constantly learned and inherited the cultural elite of the watch industry to produce watches with excellent quality. Nowadays, it is one of the most sought-after Japanese watch brands in the world. Not only being attractive for their elegant, heritage appearance, Orient watches also leave a deep impression on their great durability and stability.
Currently, Orient has 2 product lines: Orient and Orient Star. Although the Seiko Group owns Orient now, Orient is still a notable name among Japanese movement watch brands. The brand focuses on mechanical watches, both self-wind and manual-winding. However, it also produces quartz and solar watch models.
- Since: 1950
- Price: $40 – $2600
- Why Orient: affordable in-house made mechanical watches, mostly classic styles
Next is Minase. Founded in 2005, it is a small company in comparison to all of the major brands we’ve mentioned above. However, their products are very well-known and there are many good reasons for it. Unlike other brands, Minase creates watches in Japanese traditional style. The construction of Minase watches is quite similar to wooden puzzles. It means that you can disassemble and reassemble them without harming the inner mechanics. The unique design is also part of what makes Minase so special. Because of their intricacy, only around 500 watches are produced and sold every year. Minase milestone is the Osaka G20 summit in 2019 when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was seen wearing a Minase Divido.
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- Since: 2005
- Price: $3000 – $13,000
- Why Orient: limited luxurious in-house mechanical watches with zaratsu polishing, made-to-order products
7. Hajime Asaoka
Another name on the list – Hajime Asaoka. Hajime Asaoka is a self-taught independent watchmaker. He began making watches in 2005 and introduced his first watch in 2009. Besides his incredible ability to master the knowledge of watchmaking, Hajime Asaoka is also known for making watches 100% by himself. That means that he is involved in all steps of watchmaking including design, feature development,…Over the next decade, Hajime Asaoka has continued to produce crafted masterpieces. Their prices are above 50,000$.
- Since: 2009
- Price: > $50,000
- Why Hajime Asaoka: crafted tourbillon timepieces that are as expensive as those from high-end independent Swiss brands
Another familiar name on the list – Credor. Credor, introduced in 1974, is a high-end watchmaking brand that has been around for ages. In fact, it is a sub-brand of Seiko. At that time, Seiko wanted to design a wristwatch series that was solely made of precious metals. That’s the reason why they choose the name Credor as it comes from “Créte d’Or” (French), which means ‘’the ultimate of the gold”. Obviously, the name speaks itself perfectly.
Credor watches are among the most luxury watches in the world. They have considered masterpieces thanks to their high accuracy and lavish designs. Their prices can be up to more than 450,000$!
- Since: 1974
- Price: $5000 – $500,000
- Why Credor: extremely limited ultra-luxurious with diamond-dusted dials, hand-painted scenery; understandably costly
9. Frank Miura
Similar to Knot, Frank Miura is a new name in the watchmaking industry. Their products were first launched in the market in 2012. Did anything spring to your mind when you first heard the brand name? Yes, it is quite similar to Franck Muller – a Swiss watchmaking brand. Though Frank Miura’s watches look quite alike with those of Franck Muller, their prices are much lower. Moreover what made Frank Miura watches truly special and unique is their unorthodox designs. You can see some animated characters or even Kanji words on the top of these watches. If you are looking for a fun, wacky but still elegant watch at an affordable price, Frank Miura is probably a great choice for you.
- Since: 2012
- Price: $25-$85
- Why Frank Miura: affordable and fun versions of the famous Swiss brand, Franck Muller
10. Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko, launched in December 1960, is a high-end japan watches brand. Along with Credor, it is a sub-brand of Seiko. The brand aims to bring out creative but practical inspiration. Since the beginning, the engineering team of Grand Seiko has been determined to create the most advanced watch in the world.
In terms of luxury appearance and high precision, it is no exaggeration to say that hardly any Japanese watches can compete with the Grand Seiko watches. Though their prices can be really high, it is not a waste of money to buy them. With all advanced features and lavish design, Grand Seiko watch can definitely prove that your money was spent wisely.
- Since: 1960
- Price: $2000 – $180,000
- Why Grand Seiko: serious watchmaking with the precision and beauty like a katana
Other less known brands
1. Naoya Hida
Naoya Hida& Co may be a new watch brand from 2019 but its founder is no newbie in this industry. Indeed, he is an esteemed figure who was in charge of sales and marketing for many distributors of famous brands. For instance, even F.P. Journe and Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry have had him as their representative in Japan. So it is no surprise that in 2018, this man decided to cooperate with Roku-Roku Sangyo, a production firm that majors in precision machinery, and established a watch brand with a single aim to make high-end wristwatches 100% made by hand. This means every component from cases to dials to hands is hand-etched, hand-polished by excellent craftsmen, and of course, the movement is hand-wound.
Naoya Hida’s first creation is one of 2 novelties of 2019, the vintage-inspired NH Type 1B. This model has a quite small case of 37mm and just 9.8mm thick. NH Type 1B is made of 904L stainless steel (also used by Rolex) and it is worth the price of $17,600. However, ever since, this brand only release 2 other models with a similar style. So there is little choice here.
- Since: 2019
- Price: $17,000 – %20,000
- Why Naoya Hida: simple and small vintage wristwatch 100% made by hand with top decent material
2. Rhythm Watches
This is a long-run brand founded by Noson Tokei Seisakujo in 1946. The pros of Rhythm is its variety, which means it only produces wristwatches but also other sorts of timepieces. You may not know this, but Rhythm was the first company in Japan to make a plastic-frame clock. Now that it has grown worldwide, customers in the US, UK, or even in some eastern south Asia countries like Vietnam or Indonesia can get access to this brand’s watches.
- Since: 1946
- Price: $170 – $500
- Why Rythm: diverse, affordable
3. Kikuchi Nakagawa
It all started when Yusuke Kikuchi and Tomonari Nakagawa, two studying Japanese watchmakers meet in France (2004). They later co-founded a business in 2012 and introduced their dedicated products, Murakumo. Inspired by the 30s and 50s watch era, Murakumo is moderately proportioned 36.8mm in diameter, 8.5mm high but the opposite is true for the lug (22mm wide). The case, hour, and minute hands are all made of stainless steel and back-polished by the company itself. After Murakumo, the duo watchmaker only releases another model called Ichimonji which sticks to the same philosophy: elegant look, highly finished, and Vaucher-powered timepiece.
- Since: 1946
- Price: $22,000
- Why Rythm: vintage aesthetic but refined Murakumo or Ichimonji
So that’s the top 10 Japanese watch brands you should know (plus 3 other less-known but equally qualified brands). Hopefully, this blog can give you enough information to pick the right watch for yourself.
And now you probably understand why Japan can be a threaten to Swiss in the watchmaking industry right? If you have any question or concern, please share with us in the comment section.
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