JDM Seiko: 5 Seiko Watches You Really Want

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Those who know us know our feelings on Seiko: they make some of the finest watches on the market. If you follow the forums, you’ll see we’re not alone in this sentiment; countless watch-lovers swear by their Seiko timepieces, be they the common but great Seiko SKX-divers on the affordable end of the spectrum, or the beautifully finished Grand Seiko timepieces on the higher end. But the watch community is a weird little bubble, and outside of that bubble “it’s just a Seiko” is a common refrain–one that is especially true in America.

However, American consumers are not the ones to blame. Seiko’s offerings in the US have been for the most part forgettable, and have been largely relegated to inexpensive quartz watches and not to timepieces one would pass down to their kids, though with Seiko expanding their American presence, this may certainly change. The fact remains that some of the coolest watches in Seiko’s catalogue are intended for the Japanese Domestic Market (or JDM). I am taking watches that can easily put their Swiss competitors to shame, all at a fraction of the price. So we thought we would highlight five of our favorite JDM Seikos currently available, with the vast majority selling for well under 2K. Ready your wallets, gentlemen.

(please note, all of the watches featured are available from Seiyajapan.com, though this article is neither sponsored or affiliated with the site)

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1. SEIKO PROSPEX SBDX001- Marine Master 300M

This one is a bit of a no-brainer. The 300M Marine Master is one of the most beloved pieces amongst dive watch aficionados, and for good reason. It boasts a beautiful 300m water-resistant monocoque case, which means that there are fewer ways for water to penetrate the case. Plus, the casework is impeccable (though for some, the bracelet leaves a lot to be desired). At the heart of the piece is the Seiko 8L35, an undecorated and unregulated version of a top-tier movement found in several Grand Seikos. The SBDX001 is really the jewel of the PROSPEX line.

photo credit: seiyajapan.com

Aesthetically, the SBDX001 pulls heavily from the legendary 6215/6159 family of watches, and in many ways it’s the direct successor of that line. It’s masculine and sporty, but at the same time elegant in a way many dive watches aren’t. Keep your eyes peeled for the limited edition SBDX012, a gold-accented nod to the 6159.

It is worth noting that the Prospex line is at least partially available now in the US. Though Seiko’s website does not feature this or the next model, they are available at the Seiko boutique on Madison avenue in NYC.

2. SEIKO PROSPEX “SUMO” 200m Diver

The SUMO is often the watch most Seiko fans buy after owning a SKX007, but before they take the plunge with the MM300. With that said, it should not diminish the SUMO’s standing. It may be the middle child of the Seiko diver family, but it holds its own quite well. The SUMO comes in a number of attractive colors, boasts a water resistance of 200m, and displays some elegant casework not often found on watches in this price range. I personally love the twisted lugs and the bold dial. Inside is the 6R15, Seiko’s workhorse meant to rival the ETA 2824. My one complaint would be the bracelet. It is a bit narrow for the case, and it is a point of contention for many SUMO owners.  I would rather wear the SUMO on a NATO strap, anyway.

3. SEIKO BRIGHTZ SDGM003/SDGM001

Let’s take a breather from divers for a moment and move our attention to the Seiko Brightz series. Brightz is Seiko’s line of mid-tier watches with superior overall finishing and what is, in my opinion, a much more intriguing design language than what is found on Seiko’s usual fare. One note: the Brightz line is expected to land in the US as Seiko continues its North American expansion, but for the time being it is still intended for the JDM.

photo credit: seiyajapan.com

First up is the SEIKO BRIGHTZ SDGM003, one of the dressier entries in the series. Aesthetically, the designs pulls heavily from Grand Seiko’s catalogue and, quite similarly, from the more affordable SARB line. The details and finishing, however, make up for the surcharge. In the case of the SDGM003, you get a gorgeous sunburst dial in a deep inky black, a sapphire crystal, and a much more refined case and bracelet. Also, the watch is layered in Diashield, a DLC-like coating developed by Seiko to protect cases from scratches. It’s a neat little package that should look great paired with a variety of outfits and straps.

BRIGHTZ_SDG_cream
photo credit: seiyajapan.com

If black dials aren’t your cup of tea, there’s the SDGM001. It’s a cream-dialed variant with a blued seconds hand–a combination reminiscent of Seiko’s beloved “cocktail time.”

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4. SEIKO BRIGHTZ SDGZ013 

Here is another stunner from the Brightz line, the limited-edition SDGZ013. First, let us discuss the innards. Ticking away is the 8R48, an automatic column wheel chronograph with not one, but three vertical clutches. This means that each chronograph hand is driven by its own vertical clutch, and not just the seconds hand as is often the case. The result is that all chronograph hands move with a continuous sweep. It is something totally unique to Seiko, and it is quite a bit of impressive engineering for a watch positioned well under 2K.

Movement aside, the SDGZ013 is, simply put, a beautiful timepiece. It pulls some of its DNA from one of my favorite vintage Seikos, the 6138-8020, and does so effectively and without bastardizing the influence. The case and bracelet are solid titanium, with both brushed and polished surfaces and a Diashield coating. I adore the lines of the case, which are reminiscent of what you would find on many Grand Seiko models.  If I had some extra cash, the SDGZ013 would certainly be on the shortlist.

5. SEIKO SARG013/SARG015/SARG017

And finally, there are these three new entries into the SARG line. The restrained dial design, the narrow bezel, and the thin beveled lugs give this watch a look that is far more elegant than its price might suggest. Sure, it pulls a little from both Omega and Bell&Ross, but it does so without feeling like an homage or a knock-off. It is also a watch that is both sporty and dressy enough, making it an ideal option for those of us on the hunt for an affordable all-around timepiece. My one criticism is that the SARG013 lacks the red-tipped seconds hand found on both the 015 and the 017, which is a bit of an annoying trade-off if you want the bracelet. Otherwise, it’s a great watch.

SEIKO_SARG1
photo credit: seiyajapan.com
Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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