Seiko 5 Watches - The Most Popular Affordable Watch Choice Out There?

People from all walks of life love the classic Seiko 5 watches. They seem to attract attention from collectors, elite sportspeople, celebrities, politicians, and even billionaires. But all Seiko 5 watches share one thing: they’re surprisingly affordable.

Seiko 5 watch with brown leather watch strap on soft surface table

Seiko 5 is a budget automatic watch, through and through. These timepieces are also prized for their shock-resistance, waterproof, and style credentials. But why are they so affordable? Wonder no more – we’ve compiled top reasons why SEIKO 5 watches are so cheap.

SEIKO Built Its Watchmaking Empire on Affordability

If you’re not new to the world of Seiko watches, then you know SEIKO 5 isn’t a single watch. Rather, it’s a line comprising hundreds of automatic, shock-resistant, and water-resistant watches. They actually come in an array of different designs intended for varying purposes and uses.

What they all have in common is 5 as part of the emblematic Seiko shield logo in the middle of the dial. You can find Seiko 5 (flagship), Seiko 5 Actus, Seiko Sportsmatic 5, and Seiko 5 Sports, amongst many other signature models. Aside from the number 5, any Seiko 5 is a budget automatic watch with characteristic accurate movements.

But it all started in 1963 when Seiko debuted the Sportsmatic 5. Although it is still subject to debate, the 5 in the Seiko watch design denote the five attributes:

  • Water resistance
  • Date/day display function
  • Automatic winding
  • The Diashock system – Seiko’s innovation as a response to the Incabloc system found in Swiss watches at the time
  • The Diaflex mainspring – the unbreakable mainspring that Seiko pioneered at the time

These five overarching qualities made Seiko 5 an instant hit with watch wearers and fans. It didn’t take long before the Japanese brand caused a seismic shock that was felt predominantly by the Swiss watchmaking industry. Their watches were not only very accurate but also stole users’ hearts with their surprisingly low price points.

It may be due to efficiency that Japanese companies have come to be known for, but Seiko managed to produce its Seiko 5 watches affordably. In addition to that, they used older watchmaking tooling and parts, yet their watches came out splendidly.

Seiko 5 Sports watch with blue bezel and red accented second hand

(Photography Credit: er Guiri)

SEIKO Uses In-House Automatic Movements

Since Seiko opened in 1881 as a watch retail and repair shop, it has always done most of the designs, fabrications, and assembly in-house. The same goes for the making of Seiko 5 watches. More specifically, the company designs and assembles all of the automatic movements for the Seiko 5 watches internally from start to finish.

It’s worth mentioning that Seiko has over the years grown to become a well-established company with many in-house factories and design labs. That means it is easier, more cost-effective, and more streamlined to make the movements in-house from top to bottom.

The advantage of doing so is that Seiko has control over every bit of the manufacturing of the movements. They can keep a close eye on the quality, wastage, and efficiency, all of which bleed into the cost factor. In other words, Seiko can indeed reduce the cost of making their Seiko 5 watches by doing the entire design and assembly process in-house.

At the end of it all that makes Seiko 5 a budget automatic watch. Movements for Seiko 5 sports watches are also built in-house. Not just that; the manufacture of Seiko 5 movements is almost completely mechanized, resulting in more cost savings.

Seiko 5 smart watch with black dial and silver hands

(Photography Credit: yoppy)

Old, Vintage Designs

As the old adage goes: old is gold, and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to Seiko 5 watches. You see, Seiko 5 watch designs are old. That’s not to say they are obsolete or dated.

The true appeal of Seiko watches is that collectors and fans love the same old designs. For the Japanese watchmaker, that’s like landing the jackpot several times with the same formula. Instead of going back to the drawing board each time they need to release a new version of Seiko 5, they simply use old parts and toolings that they created around two or so decades ago.

That means their tooling and manufacturing processes have paid for themselves a long time ago. They’re enjoying the bonus if you will. What do you do in such a situation to gain a more competitive edge?

That’s right; you dial down the price of the product simply because you can afford to do so. And that’s exactly what Seiko did and it paid off big time! Because people love Seiko with its classic qualities (and any drawbacks), Seiko just shipped their toolings to a different country where they can enjoy cost-effective labour, so they can continue to produce Seiko 5s cheaply and pass the savings on to the customers. 

Seiko 5 picture in black and white with metal bracelet

(Photography Credit: Endworld Shi)

People Love Seiko 5 Watches

Watch wearers do indeed fancy Seiko 5 timepieces, especially Seiko 5 sports for the athletic folk. And it’s easy to see why – they are plentiful, well-made, and easy on the wallet. This has led to a cyclic effect on the demand versus supply of the watches.

Just hop on Reddit and other watch forums online, and you will come across a myriad of threads about Seiko 5. Some people are looking for parts, modifications, or ways to repair, while others are searching for sellers, traders, and buyers.

Just scroll down the threads and you’ll find many proud Seiko 5 owners parading their new purchases. However you look at it, people who love the budget automatic watch are diverse, meaning that the demand for Seiko 5s is not slowing down any time soon.

It doesn’t hurt that Seiko 5 and Seiko 5 Sports watches come in an array of styles, including divers, dress, and even vintage watches. That means there’s something for every collector and watch fan out there. In fact, most of them own a couple if not more Seiko 5s.

At the end of the day, Seiko can sell their 5s at low price points knowing that economies of scale are on its side. The higher the demand, the more cost advantages they can reap.

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I have had my incredibly accurate as well as durable Seiko Argyle automatic since 1984 and it looks as well and keeps time as precise as the morning of my 10th birthday!The best watch i have ever owned for the price hands down!

Jay Anderson

I like my sports 5 a lot too.solid watch that’s not too big or chunky..stylin’


I had mine now for 31yrs with no problem

P mahinda

I had mine now for 31yrs with no problem

P mahinda

Bought mine in 2007, it’s still running perfectly fine with no maintenance. It’s been 15 years now !

Vee Jay

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