Do Seiko Watches Hold Their Value? We Find The Truth


We could all probably agree that luxury watches such as Rolex do this well in the world of watches. But what about Seiko? Do Seiko watches hold their value?

Seiko watches, in general, do not hold their value. However, specific models are not just retaining their value but are rising in price. Watch collectors and enthusiasts hunt for these models, further raising the price. Some models such as the SKX series are popular with watch modifiers.

Do Seiko Watches Hold Their Value

This means if you have the original unmodified version of these watches, the price can be high as well.

However, Seiko also makes a lot of generic, very affordable watches. These, unfortunately, will not hold value well.

The key with Seiko is to buy and hold the right kind of watches. You could potentially enjoy an incredible ROI of your investment if you get this right. 

ALSO READ: Where Are Seiko Watches Made?

Does Anyone Buy Old Seiko Watches?

Yes. In fact, some of Seiko’s more recent line of older watches are holding their value well. Models such are SARB033, SARB 035, SARB017 (Alpinist), SBDA003 (Orange Monster) are great examples.

Do Seiko Watches Hold Their Value
King Seiko High Beat, 1960-70s vintage currently high in demand.

As for vintage Seiko watches, Grand or King Seiko watches tend to have high demand. Expect to shell out 4-5 figures for these watches. 

What Makes Watches Hold Their Value?

Whether a watch holds its value ultimately depends on one thing – demand vs. supply.

The higher the demand and the lesser the supply, the more valuable the watch will be. 

Many factors influence this, so let’s look into each possible factor. The list is not exclusive.

Established Models

A watch model with excellent resale value is usually an established model. 

These models have been in production for a long time or are at least one of the most well-known models from the watchmaker. 

Great recognition helps the watch value, as higher recognition usually comes with higher demand. 

For example, think about the Rolex Submariner. Long in production and well recognized by many, it is one of those ‘sure thing’ watch to invest your money in.

Comes From A Strong Brand

A watch with solid resale value is almost exclusively from a strong brand. 

The brand has long history of producing good, quality watches.

The idea is simple, strong brands make solid and quality watches, which means they are likely to work well long term.

The best thing about a ‘strong brand’ is it does not have to be a luxury watch brand. 

Some strong brands less associated with luxury watches are Seiko, Citizen, Orient, Bulova, or Vostok, with plenty more out there for you to find out.  

Celebrity Wears Them

Specific watch models are also keeping value well because they have been seen on the wrist of celebrities or influential people. 

For example, most of the watches worn by James Bond in his movies keep value well. The Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing wears a Citizen Attesa, and that watch is also popular. 

Do Seiko Watches Hold Their Value
Steve Jobs’s old Seiko Chariot reissued as Seiko Nano Universe

Steve Jobs’s famous Seiko Chariot 6431-6030 were sold for over $42,500 in an auction, and that model is now hunted down by collectors. Seiko even re-issued them for the Japanese domestic market.

Has A Community Of Collectors

Certain watch models/series have a strong and large group of collectors. These guys single-handedly pushed the price of these watches up. 

Collectors drive up watch prices in many ways. By holding these watches, they reduce the supply of the watch in the market. When they eventually sell, they trade the watches with each other, further raising the price. 

Many people collect Seiko watches, especially its dive watches such as the Samurai, Sumo, Tuna, or the SKXs. This is due to the pricing. With the price of one Rolex Submariner, you can probably build a decent collection of Seiko dive watches. 

This means more people are collecting affordable watches, helping their resale value.

No Longer In Production

If a watch model is no longer in production, you can pretty much bet the price will go up.

This goes without saying, as supply will drop significantly – only a finite amount of watches will circulate in the market. Plus, as time goes, many will also deteriorate and stop working. 

The Alpinist SARB017 (Left), and the new Alpinist SBDC091 (Right)

Sometimes, watchmakers notice the demand for a particular watch model and actually create a re-issue. But these re-issued watches tend to carry markings that made it known as one, so buyers are more likely to go for the original.

Unique Features/Limited Edition

Suppose a particular popular watch has a unique feature or has a limited edition released on them. In that case, the holding value might be more robust. 

This goes back to, again, supply vs. demand. The supply is much lesser, and the uniqueness might drive up demand. 

These features might not even be functionalities. It could be something as simple as different day and date window position or exhibition caseback. 

For example, Seiko released a limited edition Alpinist with a blue dial (SPB09) in 2020, which was snapped up in little time. 

Which Affordable Seiko Watches Are Holding Their Value Well?

Now that we have talked about how watches hold value and all, let’s look at several Seiko models that have proven to hold value well.

Price guidance was obtained by observing offers and transaction prices from Amazon, WatchCharts, Jomashop, and eBay.

SKX007

Do Seiko Watches Hold Their Value

This legendary dive watch first came out in 1996 as an affordable, ISO-compliant dive watch. The watch is currently discontinued and lives on as a Seiko-5 dive watch.

The watch is currently available on Amazon at close to $600 (Malaysian/Singapore made), with Japan-made models close to $800. In 2015 while still in production, the price was only around $150. That’s at least 300% ROI!

SARB033

Do Seiko Watches Hold Their Value

Seiko SARB033 is a dress watch, well loved by many. The price for this watch is also high as it is a Japanese Domestic Model (JDM). This means it is only on sale in Japan.

A JDM Seiko tends to fetch an excellent resale price, so does this SARB033. The SARB035 is a similar watch, with a while dial.

This watch is also longer in production since 2018. You could still find a SARB033/035 for $300-$400 a few years ago. Depending on the condition, prices could fluctuate around $600 to $1000 currently.

A brand new SARB033 is still available directly from Japan. However, supplies might be limited since they are no longer in production.

SARB017 (Alpinist)

Do Seiko Watches Hold Their Value

The Alpinist is probably as iconic and as hunted down as the SARB033. The green dial with a leather strap is instantly recognizable by watch enthusiasts.

The watch was discontinued in 2018. Its ‘spirit’ lives on a new generation of Alpinists, released under the Prospex line, with a larger diameter (SBDC091).

The MSRP before discontinuation is at $470, and just in a few years, the prices have climbed to around $750. The watch is expected to rise in value as it becomes less and less available.

SKX781 (‘Orange Monster’ 1st Generation)

This iconic dive watch has a similar fate as the Alpinist. It was launched in 2000 discontinued in 2007, with the release of the 2nd Generation.  

The Orange Monster has since been re-released as part of the Prospex dive watches lineup (SBDC075). 

The orange dial made the watch instantly recognizable by its enthusiasts. People who wear it can be expected to be seen as Seiko connoisseurs. 

The watch can be bought for around $200 a few years ago, with current prices could be as high as $550 for well-conditioned watches.

SBDA003 (‘Samurai’ 1st Generation)

SBDA003 first came on in 2004 as a more premium dive watch above the SKX line. The name ‘Samurai’ was given to it because of the shape of the hands resembling the weapon. 

The watch model has also been discontinued. The current generation of Seiko Samurai is also part of the Prospex line (SRPB51)

The watch retails close to $350 at its launch, and the resale price these days hovers around $700. Not bad for a 100% ROI.

Do Grand Seiko Watches Hold Their Value?

Yes. Like many luxury watches, Grand Seiko does hold its value well. In general, expect depreciation at the earlier years of ownership, with prices rising later as demand slowly outstrips supply. 

Do Seiko Watches Hold Their Value
Grand Seiko ‘Snowflake’ (SBGA411)

It also helps if you purchase more highly sought-after Grand Seiko timepieces such as the ‘Snowflake’ (SBGA411). The watch is so highly sought after that Seiko cannot meet the demand. 

In return, people started searching for it on the used market. At times, you can see people pay more for used Snowflakes than wait for the brand new one. 

How To Increase Resale Value Of Seiko Watches?

If you currently own a Seiko watch and would like to ensure you at least protect the resale value of your watch, these are some of the suggestions you can take. 

Do Not Modify

One of the fastest ways to destroy your watch’s resale value is to modify it. 

Some watch enthusiasts like to do things such as changing the watch crystal. Some also love to change the color of the bezel or dial. There are also those that added holes to their leather strap, for example. 

These made the watch more pleasing to the owner, but they severely damaged its value to a collector.

The watch loses the original appeal, and without original parts, it will be harder to convince other people of its genuineness.

Keep All Documents & Parts Sealed

Another way to ensure your watch at least retains its resale value is to keep and preserve all the materials that come together with the watch. 

Suppose you can include things such as documents, original receipts, price tags, boxes, and pillows. In that case, your watch will command a higher resale price. 

These things add value to the watch and give a collector a more substantial reason to purchase your watch instead of others.

Consider laminating the receipts and price tags and vacuum seal the boxes and additional accessories to fully preserve it. 

Only Service At Seiko

One of the things old watch buyers worry about is the watch’s genuineness. That means you should not modify the external appearance of the watch.

On top of that, you should also do your best to keep the inside as original as possible. 

How do you do this? By keeping your service record entirely with Seiko. 

Suppose you can show complete service history with Seiko. In that case, the buyer can be convinced that the watch has been serviced by the official Seiko watch master and uses only genuine Seiko parts. 

Watches that can prove this will definitely fetch a higher price used. 

Take Care Of It

Keep your watch in great condition, and it will fetch a great resale value. That means as little dents, dings, and scratches as possible.

When possible, do not wear these watches daily, but keep them only for ‘special occasions. Have a beater watch for everyday wear instead. The kind that you abuse until it breaks throw it away, and buy new. 

Buy & Hold The Right Seiko

Seiko produces too many models of watches, from the cheapest plasticky quartz all the way to the luxury Grand Seiko. 

This means not all Seiko models will appreciate in price in the future. Therefore it helps to buy and hold on to the right Seiko. 

As a start, consider the five models we suggested and explore from there. 

Wrapping Up

In general, it could be said that Seiko watches do not hold on to their value well. 

However, if you pick a suitable model, they can not just keep their value, but actually increase over time.

It also pays to take steps to preserve the value of your watches, such as protecting the originality and taking care of the watch. 

Do you own any of the five Seiko we listed above? Do you intend to hold on to them forever or sell them someday? Leave your comments below, and let’s interact!

Nigel Ignatius

Nigel is the principal creator of WatchPursuits.com, a website dedicated to watches. Inspired by the dedication and effort of watchmakers now and old, Nigel has a passion for watches and looks forward to share his passion with the world.

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