Seiko vs Citizen Watches: Which Brand Is Better?

seiko vs citizen

The two wristwatch greats of Japan – Seiko and Citizen – have competed with each other not only on the domestic market but also on the world stage. Both brands boast high-class watches with renowned durability and innovations, which has made them sought-after among watch wearers. But when it comes to choosing between the two, many find themselves at crossroads. Which one’s better and more suited to specific needs? This Seiko vs Citizen watches comparison aims to direct those individuals who cannot make up their mind. 

seiko vs citizen

We’ll cover various aspects, from technologies and materials to prices and styles in order to help in the decision-making process.


History Comparison


A Brief History Of Seiko

Seiko is the oldest watch company out of all the Japanese watch manufacturers, dating back to 1881. The brand produced its first pocket watch in 1895 and Japan’s first-ever wristwatch – the Laurel – in 1913. Seiko’s thrive towards quality and reliability that we are used to these days got an ignition from their introduction of Diashock in 1956 – a shock-proof device that protected the movement from mechanical shocks.

In the 1960s, Seiko introduced the first chronograph and diver’s watch in Japan – the latter becoming the flagship of the company.

In 1969, Seiko became the pioneer of quartz watches when Seiko Quartz Astron was introduced to the world. With the technology in their hands, they were able to develop many other innovations, with the most notable being Kinetic movement – a combination of mechanical movement and quartz timekeeping. 

In 2005 and 2012, the brand presented the first multi-band solar watch and GPS solar watch, respectively. 

A Brief History Of Citizen

Citizen, on the other hand, started to produce watches much later. The company was established in 1918, and it took them a couple of years to come out with their first watch – Citizen.

The same year Seiko presented its shock-proof device, Citizen introduced their own innovation – Parashock. By showcasing in numerous ways of how reliable the technology was, one of them was dropping a watch from a helicopter in front of the eyes of thousands of spectators, the brand gradually raised the public’s awareness and started to close the gap with Seiko.

In 1966, Citizen produced Japan’s first electronic watch. Four years later, another innovation – the world’s first titanium watch – brought even more attention to the brand. In the 1970s, the first-ever solar-powered analog quartz timepiece was introduced, later becoming the brand’s trademark. 

Citizen produced the world’s first atomic watch in 1993 and has remained the pioneer of this field ever since. In the same decade, Eco-Drive solar technology was introduced. These days, nearly 80% of the watches carry the technology. 


History: Head-to-Head

Established: 1881
First wristwatch: 1913 (Laurel)
Shock-proof device: 1956 (Diashock)

Seiko’s firsts:
1913: Japan’s first wristwatch
1964: Japan’s first chronograph
1965: Japan’s first diver’s watch
1969: World’s first quartz watch
1988: World’s first Kinetic watch
2005: World’s first multiband solar watch
2012: World’s first solar GPS watch

Established: 1918
First wristwatch: 1924 (Citizen)
Shock-proof device: 1956 (Parashock)

Citizen’s firsts:
1966: Japan’s first electronic watch
1970: World’s first solid titanium watch
1976: World’s first solar analog quartz watch
1993: World’s first atomic timekeeping watch
1996: World’s first solar atomic watch

Seiko vs Citizen Technologies 

As the watch features play one of the most significant roles in persuading customers into buying a watch, let’s look at the different innovations that Seiko and Citizen provide.

An innovation unique to Seiko is Spring Drive. The traditional escapement is replaced by a totally new regulator that delivers silent and smooth glide motion hands and accuracy of one second a day.

The movement uses a conventional power train as in traditional mechanical watches, but rather than an escapement and balance wheel instead features the Tri-Synchro system, in which power delivery to the watch hands is regulated based on a quartz signal.

Seiko kinetic stainless steel watch with plain black dial
Seiko Kinetic SRN045P1

Another unique technology that only Seiko provides is Kinetic movement. A watch with that feature uses a wrist’s motion for a self-winding movement and possesses a quartz timekeeping mechanism. Only a handful of models possess the technology, which makes it singular among the timepieces. 

Citizen also has a significant development in their ranks – Super Titanium. By treating the metal with surface-hardening technology, called Duratect, it adds strength, hardness and beauty, making it way more superior to stainless steel.

Due to the fact that Citizen was the first brand to introduce a watch with solid titanium, it’s no surprise they’ve taken the path in enhancing the technology to even greater depths. 

The two unique technologies that both brands share, however, are atomic timekeeping and solar power.


Citizen Satellite Wave vs Seiko Astron

Atomic timekeeping through multi-band is available in both brands’ collections; however, the pioneer of the technology is Citizen.

The further development of the technology in receiving time adjustment signals from satellites is also present in Seiko’s and Citizen’s watches. They are called Seiko Astron and Citizen Satellite Wave.

Citizen Satellite Wave vs Seiko Astron
Citizen Satellite Wave vs Seiko Astron

Both Citizen and Seiko use the same technology to figure out the local time. Around 40 timezones are available, and a high-quality Japanese quartz movement powers the signal.

The satellite acquisition speed, however, has slight differences when Citizen’s watches tend to adjust the time much quicker than the majority of Seiko’s equivalents – in three seconds. Lately, though, Seiko introduced 5X caliber that matches Citizen’s time adjustment speed, thus making them on par in this matter. 

When in overall Satellite Wave and Astron are very similar, they still have distinctive differences. For example, Astron watches come with a ceramic bezel, while Citizen timepieces feature a metal bezel. The anti-reflective coating on the Seiko Astron is much better than it is on the Satellite Wave. It is also notable that the Astron makes updates to the time at least once a day when the Satellite Wave adjusts once in 72 hours. 

As you may have already suspected, the mentioned advantages make the Astron more expensive than the Satellite Wave.

Considering the virtues, we take the courage to give a slight edge to Seiko Astron in this comparison. 


Seiko Solar vs Citizen Eco-Drive

Solar watches have become popular in recent times due to the convenience and eco-friendliness they offer. Citizen has an advantage in this technology when the majority of wristwear come with solar-powered Eco-Drive technology.

The brand came out with its first solar watch in 1976, while Seiko presented its equivalent a year later.

Citizen Eco-Drive vs Seiko Solar
Citizen Eco-Drive vs Seiko Solar

The main discrepancy between Seiko Solar and Citizen Eco-Drive technologies lies in the longevity of a secondary battery. When Eco-Drive’s cells last up to 20 years, then Seiko’s battery has a typical lifetime at 10 years. 

Although Seiko has put quite a lot of effort into the technology, the longer expertise and broader commitment to producing solar-powered timepieces give advantage to Eco-Drive watches.

Since both brands have a long history of manufacturing solar-powered timepieces, it’s no wonder the list of the top solar watches is made up of mainly Citizen’s and Seiko’s models. 


Technology-wise, Seiko and Citizen have much in common. Both offer fantastic quality in their solar and multi-band/GPS watches, and both brands are the market leaders in these two fields. What sets them apart, though, is Seiko’s dedication to developing and pioneering different watch movements, while Citizen is committed to enhancing their solar and quartz technology. 


Seiko vs Citizen Movements

Since we already touched the topic of movements, we should have a closer look into the various clockworks that make Seiko and Citizen watches tick.

And here comes probably the most noteworthy difference between the brands.

Despite being the pioneer of the quartz mechanism, Seiko has placed greater emphasis on producing mechanical movements, whereas Citizen relies heavily on solar-powered quartz timekeeping.

Seiko 5 Sports
Seiko 5 Sports

Seiko’s automatic watches are regarded as top-class among watch enthusiasts. The movements are available in many collections, boasting well above the average accuracy of less than +/- 10 seconds a day.

What makes Seiko automatics so irresistible is the attractive price compared to the Swiss equivalents. The cheapest ones are available for as little as $100.

Although Seiko manufactures lots of wristwatches with reliable and precise quartz movements, the clear winner here is Citizen. The brand has caught attention with its High-Accuracy Quartz (HAQ) watches that have a staggering time accuracy of +/-5 seconds per year.

Citizen even introduced Caliber 0100 that possesses an accuracy of one second a year, making it the most accurate quartz movement in the world.

Full metal Citizen Promaster watch with blue dial
Citizen Promaster Diver

Despite becoming slightly inferior in terms of quartz advancements, Seiko, on the other hand, boasts with the highest number of watch movements. Besides widespread automatic, quartz, and solar-powered quartz mechanisms, you’ll also find timepieces with manual mechanical movement, and unique Kinetic and Spring Drive technologies.


Seiko vs Citizen Watches Quality

Comparing the two in regards to reliability is almost impossible due to uncountable factors and preferences that need to be considered, making the task pointless. However, what we CAN say is that both Seiko and Citizen are known for their high-quality timepieces with recognized durability. 

Japanese movements, both quartz and mechanical assure every buyer that they’re accurate, long-lasting, and up to the standard. Stainless steel and titanium cases ensure resistance against knocks and scratches that the daily use often sees. Sapphire crystal, another high-end material, is also present in both brands’ timepieces. 

The only difference in terms of materials is in the mineral glass. Citizen employs standard mineral crystal in most of its diver’s wristwear, whereas Seiko has its proprietary Hardlex crystal in use. Seiko claims the enhanced mineral to be more scratch-resistant than the ordinary crystal. 

Style And Design Comparison

Appearance-wise, Seiko has collections that attract more classic style admirers, while Citizen’s watches dare to show a bit more flare. Of course, some examples contradict with the rule, but the overall pattern suggests the trend.

Both brands offer a variety of styles, from sports and active lifestyle to formal dress wristwear. 

Seiko vs Citizen
Seiko Presage dress watch

For being more oriented towards classic appearance, Seiko has wider options for dress watches with their Presage and Premier lines. Their sports styles you’ll find from Seiko 5 and Prospex collections have equivalents available in Citizen’s Promaster and Brycen lines.

One distinguishing fact between Citizen and Seiko is that the latter has a luxury line in their collection – the Grand Seiko. Recently, however, the line went entirely independent, aiming to challenge the Swiss powerhouses. 

Citizen, on the contrary, doesn’t possess that kind of collection and concentrates entirely on providing affordable lower-premium watches.


Seiko vs Citizen Prices

When it comes to comparing the prices, the winner out of Seiko vs Citizen is the latter. One of the reasons for that is the extensive use of quartz timekeeping in Citizen’s watches, which is cheaper than employing mechanical movement in wristwear.

Citizen’s watches usually start from $100. When adding a feature or two, the price typically reaches to $300-$500.  

Are Citizen watches good
Citizen Promaster Nighthawk

Despite the extensive use of automatic movements, Seiko has been able to sell their cheapest self-winding watches for as little as $100, which is a very attractive price for that type of movement. More advanced yet affordable pieces can cost anywhere between $300-$700.

Out of the flagship lines of the brands, Seiko Astron has a heftier price tag than the Citizen Promaster does. 


Seiko vs Citizen: Head-to-Head Comparison

Seiko vs Citizen


Why Choose Seiko Over Citizen?

A person should choose Seiko over Citizen for the brand’s more comprehensive options in automatic timekeeping. If you’re into the movement and don’t mind the relative inaccuracy in comparison to quartz, then Seiko provides one of the top automatic pieces on the market. 

The more of classic apparel is another factor that should persuade a person into buying a Seiko. If you’re not after flashy wristwear but instead prefer elegant and formal watches, then Seiko is a good fit. 

If you wish to discover more about the brand and its collections, visit our post on Seiko Brand Review.

You can also check the list of the best Seiko wristwatches for men where we’ve combined the timepieces with the most positive reviews from actual buyers.


Why Choose Citizen Over Seiko?

A Citizen watch should be a choice for those who admire the accuracy of quartz and the convenience of solar power. Citizen’s Eco-Drive watches are, without a doubt, the best option for these purposes. And considering the affordable prices, Citizen wristwatches suit better for price-sensitive persons.

Also, if you prefer flashier watches with detail-rich dials, then Citizen pieces greatly outclass Seiko counterparts.

For a thorough analysis of the brand and its specific collections, visit our dedicated post on Citizen Watch Review. You can also check out our list of the best Citizen timepieces that have received high reviews from actual buyers.  


Conclusion

Seiko and Citizen offer watches for various tastes. While Citizen is best known for their solar Eco-Drive watches, then Seiko is an expert in automatic wristwear. In general, the two Japan’s powerhouses are very different from each other, but, on the other hand, very similar too. Both offer similar technologies but in various design and apparel. Both have achieved a high reputation for their innovations and remarkable quality, but excel in different types of movements. No matter what, the ever-present Seiko vs Citizen comparison is the best fuel for both of the brands in achieving even greater results.

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