Seiko vs Citizen: A Head-To-Head Comparison

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Seiko and Citizen are two Japanese watch brands known for electronics, horological chops, and incomparable discipline. In many ways, that’s where the similarities end, yet they tend to get compared to each other often. Head to head, we’re going to look at Seiko vs Citizen.    

Both brands have plenty to offer and have a lot of market presence, each for different reasons. So in fact, it makes sense to look at them side by side. 

We’ll kick it off with the overarching question:

seiko watch and citizen watch

Which is Better: Seiko vs Citizen?

Again, both build great watches. However, Seiko is a heritage brand with a story that’s expressed in its market-ranging sublines. Citizen was founded by investors and has a workhorse approach to watchmaking, resulting in technological innovations, awards for environmentalism, and overall more affordable timepieces.   

Let’s take a look at both, starting with Citizen.

Citizen: A Closer Look

Citizen Watch Co. was founded in 1930 when Japanese and Swiss investors took over the Shokosha Watch Research Institute. They’re known for a heads-down approach to watchmaking and their focus on minimizing environmental impact.

They’ve contributed many advancements to the watch industry including the first multi-band atomic timekeeping watch in 1993, the first voice-recognizing wristwatch in 1987, and their famous Eco-Drive technology which catapulted Citizen into commercial markets in 1990.

Citizen Eco-Drive is powered by light energy from any source. Energy is stored in a titanium lithium-ion battery that doesn’t stop running, creating no need for a traditional battery. Thanks to a special lubricant, their Eco-Drive watches can last up to 20 years!

Seiko has since debuted Seiko Solar, an excellent light-charged watch. Citizen, however, is the pioneer of this technology and has more Eco-Drive offerings when it comes to styles and models than Seiko’s Solar offerings. 

Seiko Solar uses a traditional solar cell behind their dial, so they must build the dial with specific materials that won’t block light from getting in. Citizen’s solar ring, on the other hand, sits on the outer periphery of the dial, allowing them more flexibility with designs and dial materials.

Relatedly, Citizen has won Japan’s Econ Mark, an award given to environmentally-minded innovations.

One thing Citizen doesn’t focus much on is a streamlined brand identity, which makes them far different from Seiko.

Citizen: The Brand Collaborator

Collectors who enjoy the culture and lore of a brand may not love this, especially since so many different models share the same name (always check the reference number!). However, Citizen has used this blank-slate brand approach to create lasting partnerships, most notably with Disney.

With Citizen, Disney has implemented impressive brand collaborations involving many of their properties, including Star Wars and Marvel.

Citizen provides the top-notch product that meets Disney’s famously high standards, while Disney provides the branding.

Do you ever get nostalgic for that children’s Spider-Man or Mickey Mouse watch you had as a kid? Well, count on Citizen to build a fully functioning version of it suited for a grown man!

They also bought out Bulova, acquiring some of the world’s most accurate quartz watches, and they own Miyota, one of the biggest movement factories out there. 

Seiko: A Comparison

Unlike Citizen, Seiko has a legendary story behind its founding. Started as a watch and jewelry shop by a 13 year-old clockmaker’s apprentice in 1881, Seiko eventually grew into the esteemed brand it is today. 

They literally have their hand in every movement, every style, and every innovation. Impressively, they’ve become that rare master of all trades.

Thanks to their unwasteful Japanese efficiency, the Seiko 5 line offers affordable automatics to those interested in horology. Through their detail-oriented professionalism, they serve up the Prospex line for those who need certified sport watches

Most notably, their proficiency in quartz movements, automatic movements, and genuine artistry has given us the astoundingly beautiful Grand Seiko line. Citizen has nothing in this range.

Most, if not all, of Citizen’s best-sellers fall into their diverse and excellent Eco-Drive line. Seiko has recognizable best-sellers in all of their sublines.

Since they have one foot in history, they’ll have far more than Citizen in the way of classic mechanical dives, hand-made luxury timepieces, and small old-fashioned dress watches. In fact, most of Citizen’s watches are huge.

If you’re looking for a timeless high-quality automatic watch outside of Switzerland, Seiko is one of your best bets.

Comparing Citizen and Seiko Watches

Let’s compare some Seiko and Citizen models in the categories of budget, sport, dress, and luxury watches:

Budget Watches: Citizen Avion AW1361-10H vs Seiko Solar Sport SNE331

Citizen Avion AW1361-10H

This 45mm throwback features actual layers to its charmingly retro face. The slick industrial case is connected to sharply-angled lugs and a textured leather strap, all reminiscent of the jetset age. It’s an Eco-Drive quartz watch boasting an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month, and 100m of water resistance.

Citizen Eco-Drive Avion AW1361-10H
$124.75

This watch features a bezel that is smooth and pocketwatch-esque, and the leather strap is a worn brown, both contributing to this watch’s retro charm.



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Seiko Solar Sport SNE331

This military-inspired beater has several design highlights. These include the generously-sized stencil hour-markers for a cool look and legibility, the rugged-looking tread on the side of the bezel, and its durable woven nylon strap. It’s slightly smaller than the Citizen at 43mm, and has a 10-month power reserve and 100m of water resistance.

Seiko Solar Sport SNE331

This military-inspired beater has several design highlights. These include the generously-sized stencil hour-markers for a cool look and legibility, the rugged-looking tread on the side of the bezel, and its durable woven nylon strap.

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In the case of these two comparable solar watches, Citizen wins as far as movement, battery life, and sophisticated design. We may have put the ball in Citizen’s court by comparing budget solars, but at the end of the day your taste is the most important. If you prefer a smaller, simpler military-style timepiece, the SNE331 is an excellent choice. 

Aside from these two models, if you want a budget automatic, Seiko is the way to go.

Sport Watches: Citizen Promaster Diver BN0150-28E vs Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51

Citizen Promaster Diver BN0150-28E

The Promaster line is Citizen’s collection of professional sport watches. The BN0150-28E is a more visually robust take on the classic diver, and has 200m of water resistance, a screwdown crown, rotating bezel, and luminous hands and markers.

Citizen Promaster Diver BN0150-28E
$221.25

This Citizen stainless steel ISO-compliant water-resistant diving watch features a one-way rotating elapsed-time bezel, a strap with adjustable buckle closure, a luminous three-hand display with quartz movement, and a date-display window.

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As expected, its Eco-Drive movement is accurate and reliable.

Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51

From Seiko’s professional Prospex line, this Samurai is a more traditionally streamlined diver, also featuring 200m of water resistance, rotating bezel, lume, and a screwdown crown. Collectors will recognize the trademark samurai hands, comprising a long sword for the second and a short dagger for the hour hand.

Seiko Prospex SRPB51 "Samurai"
$393.70

This Samurai is a more traditionally streamlined diver, also featuring 200m of water resistance, rotating bezel, lume, and a screwdown crown. Collectors will recognize the trademark samurai hands, comprising a long sword for the second and a short dagger for the hour hand.

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If you want a quality classic diver, Seiko hits all the marks with the Prospex Samurai. It’s a high-value automatic with an excellent and recognizable design. The Citizen’s quartz movement is definitely more accurate though. If that, or its chunkier design, is more appealing to you, then go for the Promaster by all means.

Dress Watches: Citizen Corso AW1236-03A vs Seiko Tank SUP880

Citizen Corso AW1236-03A

The Citizen Corso is a simple, modern watch with clean lines and a smooth finish. It features a stainless steel case and a shiny metallic dial with rose gold accents.

Citizen Corso AW1236-03A
$110.00

The Citizen Corso is a simple, modern watch with clean lines and a smooth finish. It features a stainless steel case and a shiny metallic dial with rose gold accents.

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The Roman numerals and croco-embossed leather strap infuse this contemporary 40mm timepiece with some old-world refinement.

Seiko Tank SUP880

When it comes to dress watches, you can’t go wrong with a classic, delicately-sized tank. This 28.5mm stunner boasts a timeless and sophisticated design. It has a gold-colored case, stately Roman numerals for every hour on top of an understated pinstriped background, and a leather strap.

Seiko Tank SUP880
$140.94

You don’t get more classic than the Seiko SUP880 when it comes to dress watches. It comes in a black embossed leather strap, a gold-toned tank case with a white face and Roman numerals, and it wraps around your wrist with a mostly uninterrupted silhouette. This checks all the boxes of a traditional, yet timeless, dress watch to suit any formal dress code.

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If you want a more modern dress watch, the unconventionally large Citizen Corso is a fine choice. If you want a classic and refined tank, then go for the Seiko.

The Seiko Tank is like an elegant pre-war home, rooted in one specific architectural tradition, while the Corso is a new, recently-built fancy mansion. Depending on your tastes, either is a fine choice.

Luxury Watches: Citizen Satellite Wave CC7000-01L vs Seiko Astron SAS032J1

Citizen Satellite Wave CC7000-01L

This high-functionality watch sports an eye-catching design that combines a clean smooth silhouette with an exceedingly busy, multi-layered face.

Citizen Satellite Wave CC7000-01L
$2,150.00

This high-functionality watch sports an eye-catching design that combines a clean smooth silhouette with an exceedingly busy, multi-layered face.

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The case is made of durable and lightweight titanium, and some functions include satellite timekeeping for 40 time zones, a chronograph, and a perpetual calendar. The blue leather strap matches the exquisite face and hands.

Seiko Astron SAS032J1

This Seiko Astron combines a modern gadget style with an old-world gentleman’s aesthetic, topped off with a modern and shiny finish. It achieves this through its sophisticated and intellectual-looking world map background, robust three-dimensional accents, and gold-plated finishing throughout.

This art sculpture of a watch boasts a sapphire crystal, a chronograph, and GPS among other fun features.

Seiko Astron SAS032J1

This Seiko Astron combines a modern gadget style with an old-world gentleman’s aesthetic, topped off with a modern and shiny finish.

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Again, Citizen gives us a cool, futuristic tool aesthetic, while Seiko gives us a refined and worldly design. Citizen wins at trying something completely new on the design front, while Seiko wins for creating a timepiece that’s loud and classy at the same time.

And if you want something even more luxurious, Grand Seiko offers Swiss-level timepieces far beyond what Citizen can offer at a price, of course!

Citizen vs Seiko Verdict

Again, both Citizen and Seiko clearly have horological chops. 

However if you’re looking for large future-minded pieces that veer from tried-and-true templates to an almost irreverent degree, Citizen is your guy. Both brands also offer solar watches, but Citizen offers them in far more styles and is the more eco-minded brand of the two.

If you want affordable and high-end automatics, a wide-range to choose from, and esteem from the watch community, Seiko’s got it. It’s definitely the more horologically-inclined brand, showing reverence to tradition while still looking to innovate. 

Both have fun with their designs, but Citizen definitely takes it further left field, while Seiko respects the classic art of watch designs.

Do you have a preference between Citizen and Seiko? We hope this was helpful!