Switzerland is known as one of the homes of watchmaking but Japanese watch brands are also big players. Watchmaking in Japan has been going for a very long time and some of the brands are the best-known in the world.
The likes of Casio, Seiko and Citizen are just some of Japan’s best watches. But what about the rest? Let’s take a deep dive into the best Japanese watch brands!
When it comes to cheap Japanese watch brands, the one on the tip of most people’s tongues would be Casio. Ever since Casio came onto the scene in the 1940s, the Japanese brand has made it easier for people to afford stylish watches.
Casio has the ability to appeal to the masses while also bringing plenty of style and durability. However, thanks to their low budget prices and overall mass-produced style, Casio doesn’t really feature as a major player for most collectors.
What Casio watches are, though, are ideal timepieces for adventures and hikes. Their durability means they can take a bit of a beating and keep on going.
Even when worn out it’s relatively cheap and easy to replace the bands and keep things fun. As far as Japanese digital watch brands go, Casio finds itself right at the top of the pile.
Best Casio 2021: Casio G-Shock GW-9400-1CR Rangeman
Citizen watches are some of the best on the market that use solar power. Watches from Citizen are largely known for the Eco-Drive models, which comes with a large dial and illuminated window.
Charging Eco-Drive watches isn’t something wearers have to worry about and they are often capable of handling underwater activities. Like Casio, Citizens are some of the best Japanese watches you can find at affordable prices.
However, unlike Casio, Citizen doesn’t rely on digital watches as its mainstay. Instead, Citizen mixes old school watchmaking techniques with modern solar-power batteries.
Citizen watches are nice enough that they can be worn for social occasions. However they are also not so expensive that they can’t be worn to work.
Best Citizen 2021: Citizen Promaster Nighthawk
Seiko is one of the most affordable Japanese watch companies around and is a great option for everyday wearing. This watchmaker was founded before the 20th century and is known for its reliability and varied style choices.
Watch collectors can enjoy cutting edge designs from Seiko or enjoy some nostalgia with the company’s traditional-style collections. The variety of options from Seiko, including handheld, chain and pocket watches.
For those seeking something a little more luxurious, Seiko also owns Grand Seiko which come with a higher price tag. Considering Seiko isn’t best known for being a luxury brand, we suggest upgrading to the Grand Seiko if you wish to keep with the brand.
Best Seiko 2021: Grand Seiko Elegance
Although Hajime Asaoka hasn’t been around for as long as the previous Japanese watches, it hasn’t wasted any time in establishing itself. When looking for premium Japanese watch brands, Hajime Asaoka is at the front of the queue.
Hajime Asaoka watches are made to last a lifetime yet they also provide genuine quality to their wearers. If you wish to get your hands on a watch by Hajime Asaoka, you have to go right to the designer himself.
Few major watch brands offer this level of personalisation but there is a long waiting list for the handmade timepieces.
Best Hajime Asaoka 2021: Hajime Asaoka Tsunami
Watch brands would like to think they bring something a little different than their competitors to the table. Minase does just that by keeping its operations small and relatively localised.
Watches from Minase are difficult to come by outside of Japan and, like Uniform Wares, timepieces are designed in-house.
Minase started out making drill bits and that experience with making tiny components inspired the company to get into watchmaking. Many years later and Minase timepieces are some of the most stylish and reliable in the world.
Best Minase 2021: Minase 5 Windows
Orient is considered to be one of the giants of the Japanese watchmaking industry. It stands tall alongside the likes of Casio and Seiko. Orient’s watches have yet to properly take off in the United Kingdom, however. Meanwhile, in Japan they are seen as a quality brand.
Orient’s approach is largely focused on mechanical watches, keeping the style traditional and simple. The brand is a great way to purchase a particular style of watch if you aren’t too fussed about wearing a name on your wrist.
All of Orient’s watches are made with quality, but affordable, materials so their price points are fair.
Broadly speaking, Orient focuses on three types of watch; classic, contemporary and sports. Orient has a beautiful range of skeleton watches and mechanical sports watches that will suit most tastes.
Best Orient 2021: Orient Star Contemporary
If you want freedom over your watch design then Knot should be interesting to you. Knot’s approach to watchmaking is a simple one; find a piece you like on the website and get customising.
All of the designs are created by Knot but you get the freedom of making the watch your own. Some of the highlights from Knot include the brand’s chronograph and solar-powered watches. Japanese automatic watch brands don’t come much more original than Knot.
Best Knot 2021: Knot Custom
Unlike Japanese brands, our watches are designed in-house at our London studio. We deliver customisation, much like Knot, while staying true to our minimalist and contemporary approach to design.
Our watches are made with Swiss engineering and it’s possible to choose whichever case and strap matches your style. No matter the occasion, our classy watches will look great on your wrist.