I’m a huge fan of Seiko. Their quality and - with many models - style is up there with luxury brands like Tag Heuer and Omega but why are they so…well, cheap?
Well mainly - as far as I can tell - because they have no story. I mean, they probably do but they don’t tell anyone about it. While Rolex and Omega have been to the bottom of the sea, into space and on James Bond’s wrist and a Patek Philippe isn’t ‘owned’, it’s ‘looked after for the next generation’, Seiko is a mass-produced watch you can buy in Argos. It’s the more expensive ‘cheap’ watch. But the build quality is fantastic and the style on a lot of models is fantastic.
I have some great ad cuttings from the 70s where Seiko were actively gunning for Rolex and other big brands and preaching that they didn’t need expensive technicians because they had machines to do the work and they were passing the savings on to the customer. Makes sense I guess and I find the ads quite ingenious. But it doesn’t make me want to buy their watches, it screams ‘cheap’, which would be fine if they weren’t fantastic watches, but they are!
There are actually luxury models worth thousands and there is even a subsidiary - Grand Seiko - that is a brand in it’s own right and that specialises in classy, luxury end models but we’re not going to discuss them here, that’s for another day. GS aside, I find it weird that Seiko has such a disparate product mix and that they allow the cheaper (and I don’t just mean cost-effective, I mean cheap-looking too) to come under the same brand. The SKS403P2 retails for £65 while the SLA017 will fetch £3-4,000. They’re a similar weight and feel and you’d need to really know your stuff to understand the depth of the differences but that’s a helluva price leap. It makes no sense.
The Seiko SKX diver has become something of an iconic affordable dive watch and is usually recognised by it’s Jubilee strap and sparse dial. The dial and the bezel really bother me; they do look cheap and they don’t need to. This is obviously just my personal taste and there are millions of SKX addicts who - if they were reading this - would curse me for saying this. But it’s capable of being so much more.
I love Seiko. It’s Japanese engineering at it’s best and I want to see it doing more. This last pic is of my Dagaz modified SKX007 (I wanted the watch but just couldn’t bear the original dial) which will be with me until the end of time, no doubt keeping perfect…er…time…until the end.