If you’re in the market for a nice-looking watch that doesn’t cost a fortune, there are plenty of solid options to choose from: sleek Casios, Timex repros, burly G-Shocks. On your search, you’ll inevitably come across Seiko, whose reputation for crafting some of the highest quality watches on the planet has made the brand a perennial GQ favorite in the sub-$1,000 range. In the past, we’ve sung the praises of the Seiko 5 Sports, the Schwarzenegger-approved Arnie, and this budget-friendly alternative to the Cartier Tank—and that still doesn’t come close to covering all of the Seiko models worthy of a spot on your wrist. Case in point: the brand’s Presage Japanese Garden Collection SRPF51, a sub-$400 automatic dress watch that could easily pass for a timepiece quadruple the price.
Quietly announced in 2020 as part of a collection inspired by the art of Japanese landscaping, this model’s star feature is a pale gray dial intended to evoke the subtle texture of traditional paving stones. Paired with a polished 41mm stainless steel case, classical feulle hands, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and a workhorse automatic movement, it’s a textbook Seiko value proposition.
If you’re the type of watch nerd who keeps tabs on the latest drops from the world’s top luxury brands, you’ll notice that the SRPF51 bears more than a little resemblance to some of the choicest recent releases from Grand Seiko—the Lexus, if you will, to Seiko’s Toyota. Comparing the Seiko Presage to watches like the Grand Seiko “White Birch” SLGH005 isn’t entirely fair to either (watches from the latter are handmade, using a level of artistry and attention to detail comparable to elite Swiss watchmakers), but you can catch some of the same vibes here at a fraction of the price. It’s a combination that makes the Seiko Presage SRPF51 as easy to appreciate as the clean lines of a Japanese garden—and a small price to pay for your own little piece zen.