Is Seiko Just a Copycat Watch Brand?
Let’s be honest – many watches look similar. Most modern dive watches take major cues from the early days of dive watches, like the Rolex Submariner, or the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.
The discussions become more complex as creativity flourishes within the constraints of watchmaking. Not only are some of these designs (think dots as hour markers on a diver watch dial) very popular with watch enthusiasts, many are also functional as aspects of tool watch designs.
There's just not a lot of room for creativity for designers as they have to keep functionality in mind while trying to innovate on the form factor, finish, or other aesthetic aspects of a watch.
Is this not the image we all imagine when we say 'watch'? Source: Chrono24
Seiko sometimes gets put into the ‘copycat watch’ category as some of their watches look eerily similar to those from other brands. Let’s take a look at some of the Seiko watches that get compared with others a lot, and some that uniquely stand out!
Similarities Between Watches
Existing for over 100 years, the Seiko brand and image left its mark on the world of watchmaking. Whether it’s size, shape, materials, time-keeping, legibility, and affordability, Seiko designs established trends and inspired others to create their own variations.
However, there are other trendsetters in the watchmaking industry. Especially in luxury watches, bold designs create market trends.
Wears its gears on its sleeve. Source: WatchProSite
For instance, the Breguet La Tradition Reference 7027 broke convention by displaying major elements of the movement on the dial side and has inspired well-known pieces such as the Romain Gauthier’s Logical One.
It’s likely someone who primarily sees watches in their entirety will evaluate the similarity of two watches quite differently from someone who looks at the shape of the crown or the number of screws on the bezel, i.e someone who looks at the minutiae.
In the same way – it is easy to say that a Seiko watch like the SKX007 is a copy of a Rolex Submariner, but this overlooks the unique case shape of the Seiko watch, as well as the drastically different style of the bezel insert, dial, and hands.
Is Seiko a CopyCat?
It isn’t easy to pin down what a Seiko watch is – especially when it comes to design. Seino has created a full line of watches for many decades. With this huge selection of watches, it isn’t possible to say what a "Seiko signature design" would be in a holistic sense.
Let’s look at a few of the models that are sometimes called copycat watches, so we can see how much truth there is to the idea that Seiko just created copy watches from other designs.
Seiko SNZH57 and Fifty Five Fathoms Similarities
The original Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was designed for the French Combat Diving School, Maloubier and Riffaud in the 60s. Today, the Fifty Fathoms is a very expensive watch that few people know much about.
The Seiko 5 SNZH57 is seen as a tribute to this legendary piece. One side by side look and one can easily spot the similarities, but despite being inspired by the Fifty Fathoms, the Seiko 5 watch still has its own unique qualities.
Just... elegant. Source: Monochrome Watches
Seiko has used their workhorse automatic 7S36 in this super reliable watch and it is a great buy. The movement packs 41 hours of power reserve and operates at 21,600 BPH. Despite missing some modern features, like handwinding, it is a solid movement.
Similar to the original Fifty Fathoms, the hands of the Seiko SNZH57 are lumed with a nice gold edge on them, however, they are more sword-shaped than the simple hands on the Fifty Fathoms.
The Fifty Fathoms is a watch worth paying homage to. Source: Millenary Watches
While the original Fifty Fathoms has no date window, the Seiko has both a day and date complication. Talk about saving money while gaining useful features.
Clearly, while the Fifty Fathoms was the basis for the design of the SNZH57 – Seiko brought its own ideas to the table. And if you want to make your own mod that pays homage to the FF, you can check out these hands and bezel insert that will be perfect to capture that look.
Rolex Datejust and Seiko Datejust Similarities
When thinking about luxury watches, Rolex cannot be ignored.
For many people, a Rolex watch is the epitome of luxury watchmaking and an unmatched status symbol. However, not all people can afford to drop a cool $10,000, or more, on a Rolex watch.
If we're all rich though, these will be standard issue. Source: Chrono24
Luckily, Rolex’s iconic designs inspired many watchmakers to create similar models – and Seiko is no exception.
The Rolex Datejust is one of the most iconic models ever. For fans of the Rolex Datejust style who are not ready to pay more than $5000 for a used model, the Seiko Datejust will be a reliable, accurate model that will deliver solid performance for years to come.
A more functional Datejust on a budget? Source: Reddit
Just like the Rolex Datejust, the Seiko comes in very close to 36mm and also ships on a jubilee bracelet. The fluted bezel, a staple of Rolex watch design dating back to the 1920s, is also featured on the Seiko.
The difference in this watch is that it uses a quartz movement. The Seiko Datejust features both a day and date complication, whereas the Rolex Datejust only has a date. If you love quartz, and classic designs from Rolex, this Seiko is a must have.
Original Seiko Designs
Seiko is a lot more than a copycat watchmaker. It has created some of the most iconic watch designs in history. Let’s look at a few!
Seiko Tuna – A Polarizing Diver Watch
The very first diver’s watch that carries a name in Seiko was produced in 1965, named the 62MAS.
The Seiko Tuna 6159 came later after many years of research and development, and features a design that has never been matched. Saturation divers mentioned that Seiko divers had a problem with helium gas, and that Seiko needed a new model.
The shroud is both hated and loved. Source: Fratello Watches
Seiko engineers took over seven years and filed 20 patents, and finally sent the Seiko Tuna 6159 to market. It has a very interesting case design, which helped later models to achieve water resistance of 1000 meters.
Seiko SilverWave Cockpit – First of its Kind
This timepiece came from the Seiko Silverwave collection. In 1981, the Silverwave 2628-0040 won the Good Design award issued by the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry.
Square body and circular dial makes for a beautiful retro look. Source: Watch Charts
The watch face consists of four screws and a black rubberized surface similar to how cockpit instruments are designed. A tsunami logo on the case back of the original Silverwave. Also, its original thick rubber strap was inspired by aircraft design.
The Silverwave Cockpit looks great at 34mm, and has been a design success for Seiko although this form factor is now more commonly associated with Bell & Ross.
Seiko Quartz-Astron – Causing A Revolution
The Quartz Astron was the world’s first ever quartz wristwatch – and Seiko made it. Not only did it revolutionize the watchmaking industry, but the watch also is one of the most important design milestones in Seiko’s history.
The watch set a new standard in wristwatch precision with an accuracy rate of +-5 seconds per month which was made possible by several technological advances including the tuning fork-shaped quartz oscillator and the open type step motor.
The watch that almost single-handedly brought down the Swiss watch empire. Source: Seiko Watches
To date, the technology featured in the Quartz Astron is still standard in many quartz movements.
In addition, The Quartz Astron received the IEEE Milestone Award for its breakthrough contribution to technology in 2004. Overall, this model shows that Seiko is a company that can change the game, and improve technology across the entire globe.
Seiko: Not A Copycat Watch Brand
It should be clear that Seiko is a revolutionary watchmaker in its own right. From a simple Diver watch like the SKX007, to luxury watch models like the Grand Seiko line, Seiko provides watches for almost any budget.
In addition to amazing OEM models, there is a huge variety of aftermarket watch spare parts for many Seiko models that will allow you to make your own homage builds or completely unique ones. At namokiMODS, we offer a massive range of watch spare parts.
Just take a look at our online catalog to learn more, and discover the world of Seiko watch mods with namokiMODS!