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Here at Fratello, we love compiling a good list as much as anyone. Some are plain fun, and some give a little more insight into a subject. Compiling several Seiko lists defined by a specific budget gives a pretty good overview of where the Japanese brand has the most to offer. As it turns out, creating a list of the best Seiko watches under €1,000 does not always mean your choices are at the top end of that budget. But there are still quite a few good options within the Seiko collection.
Not too long ago, we presented you with a Top-5 Seiko watches under €500. The crazy thing about this list of Seiko watches under €1,000 is that you tend to look at Seiko’s offerings within the €500–€1,000 price bracket. First off, because you want to avoid models making it onto both lists. Secondly, because you would expect Seiko has quite a few watches within that specific €500–€1,000 price bracket. As it turns out, there is not a great abundance of choices. I wouldn’t say your options are limited because there are some pretty great offerings. But maybe I expected a bit more.
Creating a Top-5 Seiko under €1,000
As I mentioned in my list of Seiko models under €500, there is an ongoing discussion about the rising price levels from Seiko. Compiling that list of entry-level Seiko’s proved, however, that there is plenty to find on such a limited budget. It’s one step above that, where you can see that Seiko has changed tactics. Let’s focus on the Prospex series for a minute because that’s where many Fratello team members find their preferred Seiko watches.
The price for an MM200, officially known as the modern reinterpretation of the Seiko 1968 Automatic Diver on a steel bracelet, is just above €1,000. The recently introduced SPB143-149-series, also known as the modern reinterpretation of the 62MAS, also doesn’t fit the budget for this list. Lastly, the SPB151 and SPB153, also know as the “Captain Willard” models, have also broken that €1,000 price barrier. And those are just a few of the more visible novelties.
Filling the price gap
When Seiko introduced the new generation Marine Master 300, we were collectively surprised to find out that it was priced at a steep €3,200. And for the new generation Sumo, Seiko also increased the price by over €800. Those are huge increases if you put them in percentages. But in absolute numbers, the gap is even more significant. And you could ask whether these price increases are justified considering the updates. Robert-Jan wrote an in-depth article where he did precisely that for the Marine Master 300.
Whatever your thoughts are on the actual price increases of both, we have also seen that Seiko has been filling the massive gap between the two. Because the strategy has not only been focused on raising prices on existing models. It’s even more about focusing on new offerings that are priced in between the two. And the previously mentioned MM200 and the 62MAS reinterpretation do precisely that.
The questions for the future
Where does that leave the €500–€1,000 price bracket? Good question. Will the brand further raise the prices of its entry-level models? Will they actively add more models also to bridge the gap at the top of their Prospex line of watches? And will there be more new offerings in this €500–€1,000 bracket?
Despite seemingly having fewer options from €500–€1,000, there are still some pretty great watches available for that budget. On top of that, there are always the options available under €500 — like the Turtle — that could easily be on this Top-5 Seiko watches under €1,000. But let’s not get into that as well and find out what our Top-5 Seiko under €1,000 looks like.
1. Seiko SPB103J1 Sumo
The Sumo was always going to be the first watch on this list. In a recent discussion with Mike about the Prospex line, he mentioned something interesting. The attraction of the Sumo lies in its original modern design. Unlike many of its peers, it is not a “modern reinterpretation” of a legendary Seiko diver from the past. And Mike was right. It makes the Sumo more interesting, and it is undoubtedly one of Seiko’s future classics. Instead of a reinterpretation one.
This is the best your money can buy from Seiko, or any other brand for that matter.
I own a previous generation Sumo SBDC001 — without the debatable Prospex logo on the dial — and I love that watch. My only “problem” with it has always been the cartoonish style of the numbers on the bezel. Seiko fixed that by updating the bezel design of the current generation Sumo that was introduced at Baselworld in 2019.
Next to that, Seiko updated it with the Caliber 6R35 and fitted the watch with a sapphire crystal. At €830, this is the best your money can buy from Seiko or any other brand for that matter. The only thing you need to do is choose between black or green. With a black Sumo already in my collection, the choice for me is easy.
2. Seiko Prospex SPB121J1 Alpinist
Another watch with a green dial? Well, green is the new black. It is no secret that the Seiko Alpinist is favored by many with a green dial on a brown leather strap. Many enthusiasts proudly own or passionately hunt the previous generation SARB017 JDM that doesn’t feature the Prospex logo on the dial. But Seiko decided to introduce the updated Alpinist worldwide as part of the Prospex Land series. And the brand has updated them in the process, equipping them with the Caliber 6R35 and a sapphire crystal.
Its history dates back to the late 1950s when the first Seiko Laurel Alpinist models were introduced.
Although Seiko doesn’t refer to them as Alpinist models, Mike said it perfectly in his hands-on review: we do, because they are. I have to say the introduction of the Alpinist is a smart move. Not only is it a great looking watch, but its history also dates back to the late 1950s when the first Seiko Laurel Alpinist models were introduced. Mike wrote a great article on his Laurel Alpininist not too long ago explaining more of the Alpinist’s history.
So next to boasting a comfortable 39.5mm case, a great aesthetic, and updated technical specs, the Alpinist has a very relevant spot in Seiko’s history as the brand’s first sports watch. The green-dialed version (SPB117) is accompanied by a white-dialed option (SPB119) that both feature Arabic numerals on the dial and come with a leather strap for €740. The version with the black dial (SPB121) doesn’t have the Arabic numerals on the dial and comes on a stainless steel bracelet for €760.
3. Seiko Prospex SPB079J1 MM200
Before you start typing ferociously in the comment section, hold your horses! I know the MM200 “Dark Green Sunset” pictured above is priced at €1,100, so it’s not eligible for this list. But at €950, the SPB079 with a blue dial on a rubber strap is. Why is it not pictured then? We have had the full black version of the “Baby Marine Master” (SPB077), and the green dialed SPB105J1 pictured above in for review and not the SPB079 on a rubber strap. So hopefully, you will forgive us as we will have to do with images of the watch on a stainless steel bracelet with a green dial for this list.
This was the Prospex I found hardest to send back to Seiko after reviewing it.
But at €950, you will get the same modern reinterpretation of the 1968 Diver with a black dial and metallic blue bezel. The most significant difference is that you will get it on one of Seiko’s comfortable rubber straps. But it doesn’t take much away from the overall power of the MM200’s design. If you like the original 6159-7001 from 1968, then this modern reinterpretation of the original is a great pick.
Many have criticized the design of the big hour hand. After having my reservations, I can say that it didn’t bother me one second when wearing the 44mm watch. If there would be one point of criticism, it is that the MM200 uses the Seiko Caliber 6R15. The more affordable Sumo is equipped with the improved 6R35 movement. But then again, the MM200 was introduced before the current Sumo, so there is a logic to it. I was really impressed with the MM200, and it was the Prospex I found hardest to send back to Seiko after reviewing it.
4. Seiko Prospex SNJ031P1 Urban Safari
The number four on this list is another Seiko cult classic. As a remake of the original Seiko H558 worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger, this recently released SNJ031 is an in-crowd favorite. But as Rob explained in his review of this green version and the sand-colored SNJ029, they are “an under-the-radar cult classic”. Just last year saw the release of the black SNJ025 as reviewed by Mike here. The green SNJ031 is not only a nice break from the usual black. I think it only looks a lot better than the black version.
If it’s good enough for Arnie, it sure is good enough for us.
The SNJ031 has a colossal 47.8mm diameter. With a 14.43mm thickness, this is a tool watch that will help you stay alive on your biggest adventures. Arnie wore a few variations of the H558-5000 line in classic movies like Commando, Raw Deal, Running Man, and Predator. And if it’s good enough for Arnie, it sure is good enough for us. The watch is part of what Seiko calls the Prospex Street Series, and, more specifically, it is part of the Urban Safari models. Which lead to Seiko enthusiasts quickly re-branding it the “Safarnie” models. Something that can only be considered an improvement.
The solar-powered and quartz-regulated watch offers a great set of functions with a chronograph function, power reserve indicator, a calendar, and an alarm. At €530, this is the only watch you need to get you out of any predicament you might encounter during your commute from your home to the office.
5. Seiko Presage SPB127J1 Crown Chronograph LE
The last watch on this list is the only non-Prospex model and the first limited edition. But with 1,964 available pieces of each of the different pictured dial variants, you might be able to still get your hands on a Seiko Presage SPB127J1 Crown Chronograph. The watch was introduced earlier this year to pay homage to the brand’s first chronograph from 1964, the Seiko Crown.
As Mike explained in his introduction article, the original Seiko Crown (ref. 5719) was a single pusher watch that featured a hand-winding column-wheel movement. The watch was not a chronograph as we know it today. Instead, the one pusher would activate the central chronograph seconds hand. After it would have completed a full 60-second round, you would have to keep track of the elapsed minutes by turning the black bezel manually for every expired minute.
The all-new SPB127 misses one vital element: the chronograph hand.
Despite being dubbed an homage to the 1964 original, the all-new 41.3mm SPB127 misses one vital element: the chronograph hand. This SPB127 is a simple three-hander that features the 6R35 Caliber. Sure, the central seconds hand could, in theory, help you count elapsed time as well. And you could still use the black bezel to set the minutes. But it kind of defeats to purpose of this tribute to the brand’s first chronograph.
Why is it featured on this Top-5 Seiko under €1,000? The all-new SPB127J1 is the version with the cream dial, and it still looks the part. Die-hard collectors will collectively curse the watch, but there is no denying that this is one good looking watch. And at €830, I would still prefer my version to be closest to the original, and that’s why I chose the SPB127 over the SPB129 (green dial) and the SPB131 (black dial). It seems likely a proper remake of the original will emerge at some point. Start your (manual) timers…
Thoughts on Seiko watches under €1,000
After wading through the extensive Seiko collection trying to compile a Top-5 Seiko under €1,000, I can say that it was more difficult than coming up with five watches for under €500. But, as we would expect from Seiko, the watches comprising this list all have a great deal of appeal and offer great value for money. I would happily wear each watch on the list, and it’s not always so easy to say. But, then again, there is a reason we collectively love the Seiko brand here at Fratello.
For more information, check out the official home of Seiko here.