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Guide to Buying a Watch in Japan

Travelers often seek out unique souvenirs to commemorate their journeys. When visiting Japan, travelers often stick to the classics: sake, matcha tea, chopsticks, and other traditional Japanese treats like uniquely flavored Kit-Kats. However, one often overlooked, but truly remarkable way to commemorate your trip to an incredible city like Tokyo is buying a watch in Japan. Join me on this journey as we dive into the allure of buying a watch in Japan, uncover the perks of tax-free shopping, explore some of the top Japanese watch boutiques, and discover the fascinating history of Japanese watch brands. We will also take a closer look at my personal experience of watch shopping in Japan.

Why is buying a watch in Japan a great idea?

When my wife Lauren, brought up the idea of us going to Japan in January of 2024 to celebrate our second wedding anniversary, I knew that buying a watch in Japan was high on my to do list. I am a watch nerd and an avid watch collector. I read watch websites like Hodinkee and Fratello Watches daily. Even my social media is filled with watch content. Over the years, I have collected watches from brands like Rolex, Cartier, Omega, Tag Heuer, Panerai, and Movado. Since I spend a lot of my time each week keeping up with watch news, once we booked our trip to Japan, I knew I was about to go down a rabbit hole of Japanese watches.

I have always been told that in Japanese culture, people tend to take excellent care of their belongings since they are very prideful of what they own. When buying a pre-owned or vintage watch, condition is everything. Condition is honestly more important than price in many people's eyes. I watched many videos on YouTube from popular watch YouTubers like Menta Watches, Theo & Harris, and Hodinkee. They have all said that Japan has some of the best condition of pre-owned and vintage watches. Besides the condition of used watches, buying a watch in Japan seemed like a no-brainer due to how strong the U.S. Dollar (USD) is against to the Japanese Yen right now. The Japanese economy has been shrinking for some time, so discretionary spending on things like watches has dropped. As a result, the Japanese watch market has softened. Lastly, buying a watch in Japan as a souvenir of my trip to Japan was high on my list since I like to buy a souvenir when I travel. In my eyes, what better way to remember a trip and the memories you made on said trip than by looking at the watch you purchased from your trip? 

Tax-Free Shopping in Japan

One of the greatest perks of buying a watch in Japan, which I have yet to mention, is the availability of tax-free shopping for tourists. On a large purchase, like a watch, saving money on taxes can add up to a significant savings. Just be certain to declare any purchases made over $800 USD to customs when returning back to the United States and be prepared to pay any potential duties on your purchase(s). The tax-free shopping program in Japan is designed to provide international visitors with a tax exemption on their purchases. Japan's VAT rate is 10%. So if you are eligible, you can save 10% on your purchase with Japan's tax-free shopping scheme.

Many retailers, especially in popular tourist areas and including the watch boutiques mentioned in this article, participate in this initiative. To qualify for tax-free shopping, tourists need to present their passport (it cannot be a copy of your passport) and make a minimum purchase amount of ¥5,000 in a single transaction (there is a maximum of ¥500,000 on consumables, i.e. foods and cosmetics, for the purchase to qualify). Participating stores display a "Tax-Free" logo, and the tax refund is processed at dedicated counters within the store.

Please note that items purchased tax-free must be taken out of Japan with you. You cannot qualify for tax-free purchases if you intend to use or consume the items while still in Japan.

Prior to your departure from Japan, you will need to scan your passport in customs if you purchased any tax-free items during your visit. The process is quick and straightforward, taking only a minute. Follow the signs for Japan Tax Free at the airport or seaport that you are departing from and a customs agent will be there to assist you. For more information about tax-free shopping in Japan, please check out this tax-free shopping guide from Live Japan.

A Brief History of Japanese Watches

If you are considering buying a watch in Japan, you have to at least consider Japanese watches. There are three major Japanese watch brands: Seiko, Citizen, and Casio. You cannot tell the history of Japanese watches without these three brands and it would be an injustice to go through the motions of buying a watch in Japan without first talking about the Japanese watch market itself.


In 1881, the tale of Seiko begins with a young and ambitious 21-year-old entrepreneur named Kintaro Hattori, who opened a shop in Tokyo dedicated to the sales and repair of watches and clocks. In 1892, Seikosha was formed and they began producing the first clocks for the brand. (In Japanese, "Seiko" means exquisite, minute, or success, while "sha" means house.) In 1924, Seiko produced its first Seiko-branded timepiece; and, in 1960, Seiko launched its first Grand Seiko model. The intention behind the creation of this Grand Seiko watch was to showcase Seiko's pinnacle of expertise in mechanical watchmaking, aiming to provide unparalleled accuracy, legibility, and durability unmatched by any other timepiece or brand around the world. 

Seiko House 2

However, Seiko truly cemented its legacy in the watch world in 1969. In 1969, Seiko introduced the world’s first quartz-powered watch called the Seiko Quartz Astron, which revolutionized and disrupted the watch industry. Seiko used a quartz crystal for their watch’s movement's power source. A quartz movement uses a battery to power the watch movement. The battery sends an electric charge to the quartz crystal that vibrates and moves the inner workings of a watch movement. When this technology first came out, the Seiko Quartz Astron  was able to keep accurate time, as accurate as ±5 seconds per month, while the battery lasted for about a year. Meanwhile, mechanical automatic watches and mechanical hand-wound watches were as accurate as ±25 seconds per day and had a power reserve of 40-44 hours.

This created what would come to be known as the Quartz Crisis. Seiko was the first to the market so this provided a huge competitive advantage against the Swiss watch industry. Seiko also marketed quartz watches as being more accurate, had a longer power reserve, had less service cost since there were less parts in the movement and cost less to produce than mechanical watches. This sent shockwaves throughout the Swiss watch industry. Overnight the term "Swiss Made" didn't mean as much since the watches weren't as accurate as the Quartz watches. Brands like Omega, Cartier and Rolex ended up producing Quartz watches to stay relevant, but since they were playing catch up from Seiko, Seiko was able to take a lot of the market share. The “quartz crisis” lasted for approximately 20 years. Within that time frame, the number of watchmakers in Switzerland went from some 2,000 down to 600. 

Today, Seiko is known for producing great quality watches for the money, while most Swiss watch brands try to market themselves as producers of expensive luxury watches. Seiko watches are generally priced between $250 - $2,000 USD and you can get a phenomenal watch from their collection, brand new, for around $500 USD. My favorite model is the Seiko SPB453 which is a remake of the 1965 Prospex dive watch that costs $1,300 USD.

If you are in the market to buy a Seiko watch in Japan, definitely check out Seiko Dream Square in Ginza, Tokyo. Although the Seiko House serves as the brand's primary flagship boutique, it primarily showcases the luxurious Grand Seiko and Credor lines. Conversely, the Seiko Dream Square is dedicated exclusively to Seiko timepieces.


If you really want to dive in to all things Seiko during your trip to Japan, then I would be remiss to mention that there is a Seiko museum! Located in Ginza, Tokyo, The Seiko Museum Ginza has been in operation since 1981. We ran out of time during our trip to visit, but if you want to visit one of the more refined museums in Tokyo, dedicated to all things watches, then a visit to The Seiko Museum Ginza is a must! Admission is free, but you do need an advance reservation. Reservations can be made online via The Seiko Museum Ginza website.


Grand Seiko

As previously mentioned, Grand Seiko made its debut in 1960. Seiko wanted to build a watch that would be as precise, durable, easy to wear, and as beautiful as humanly possible. The "Grand Seiko Style" is a design language centered on the idea of “sparkle with quality.” In doing so, Grand Seiko’s design team came up with three guiding design principles that are still used today in all of their watches. 

Grand Seiko's Guiding Design Principles:

  1. The design should have flat surfaces and two-dimensional curves. Three-dimensional curves are generally not utilized. 
  2. The flat surfaces of the case, dial, and hands should be as wide as possible.
  3. Every surface should be distortion-free and have a mirror surface. 

In 1988, Grand Seiko developed their 95GS Quartz movement, this quartz movement was revolutionary since it was accurate within +/- 10 seconds per year. Grand Seiko was able to achieve this groundbreaking level of accuracy by manufacturing every component in-house, including growing their own quartz crystals.

Grand Seiko's next achievement came after 20 years of development and over 600 prototypes. In 1998, Grand Seiko and Seiko debuted their patented Spring Drive movement at BASELWORLD, a trade show of the international watch, jewelry and gem industry, in Basel, Switzerland. A spring drive movement combines a traditional mainspring with an electronic regulator (quartz crystal) so it provides the best of both worlds. This allows the watch be more accurate then a normal mechanical watch with an accuracy of +/- 1 second a day (a Rolex is accurate to +/- 2 seconds a day), enables the second hand to truly sweep across the dial without any stuttering, and be more reliable than a mechanical watch. 

Aside from the Spring Drive movement, Grand Seiko is know for Zaratsu polishing. Zaratsu polishing is a special polishing technique that creates a distortion free mirror-like polish that reflects light evenly throughout the surface. Most Grand Seiko models have this special polishing on the case, hands, and markers. However, Grand Seiko became the powerhouse it is today due to its decision in 2010 to go global and no longer limit itself to just selling watches exclusively in Japan. 

Credor Spring Drive


Seiko established Credor in 1974, initially crafting exquisite high-end gold luxury timepieces under the brand. When Credor was founded by Seiko it was actually called CRÊT D'OR, a French word that translates to Golden Crest in English. However, it was not until 1978 that Seiko spun CRÊT D'OR off as an independent brand and renamed it Credor. Credor today continues to make high-end luxury watches. They make a few hundred watches per year and they are sold exclusively in Japan. Credor is renowned for its superior quality compared to Grand Seiko, embodying the epitome of Japanese watchmaking excellence. 

In 2000, Credor developed their Micro Artist Studio for their super high-end, limited production watches. This division of Seiko produces some twenty watches a year for Seiko and Credor combined. This division is composed of the top 10 watchmakers in the Seiko company. Together, they are responsible for creating Credor’s most famous - and most popular - model, the Credor Eichi II. The Credor Eichi II is true haute horlogerie. It is a handmade watch that is only produced in precious metal. The Credor Eichi II has a hand-painted porcelain dial and both the indices and lettering on the dial are also hand-painted. Every part of the watch case and movement is hand-polished and bevelled, even down to the screws of the watch movement. Credor gives brands like Patek Philippe a run for their money when it comes to luxury finishing and decoration. If you want to see what this watch model is all about, then I highly recommend you check out Hodinkee’s video series: A Week on the Wrist with Credor Eichi II.

Obviously if money was no object, and waiting lists did not exist, this would be less of a guide to buying a watch in Japan and instead be about my personal experience buying the Credor Eichi II in Japan. However, considering my wife's likely reaction to a splurge on a watch of that magnitude would be less than pleasant, here I am! 😜

If you are considering buying a Grand Seiko or Credor watch in Japan, you have to check out the Grand Seiko flagship boutique - also known as Seiko House - in Ginza, Tokyo. It is housed inside the iconic Wako Building. For those seeking Ginza-exclusive Grand Seiko models, look no further - as this is the only destination to purchase them.



Citizen was founded in 1930 by Kamekichi Yamazaki. In 1931, Citizen produced its first men’s manually-wound wristwatch called the Model F. In 1935, they followed-up the success of the Model F with the Model K, Citizen’s first manually-wound watch for women.

In 1976, Citizen came out with the world's first light powered quartz watch, also known as a solar powered quartz watch, using Citizen’s proprietary Eco-Drive technology. The model was named the Crystron Solar Cell watch. This technology would be a game changer for Citizen as their Eco-Drive technology would be on the forefront of Citizen innovation. Citizen watches are pretty affordable with most models priced between $225 to $2,000 USD, while a few of their watches can cost up to $4,000 USD. My personal favorite Citizen watch is the Promaster Fujitsubo for $1,195 USD.

If you are looking at buying a Citizen watch in Japan, Citizen's flagship store is located in the luxury Ginza Six shopping complex in Ginza, Tokyo.


If visiting Tokyo is not in the cards for your trip to Japan, Citizen also has a Citizen Flagship Store in Osaka. It is located in Shinsaibashi, Osaka's main shopping district, north of Dōtonbori.



The Casio brand was founded by Kashio Seisakujo in 1946 in Tokyo, Japan. At first, Casio did not produce watches, but produced other things like calculators and typewriters. In 1974, Casio made a groundbreaking leap in watch technology with the introduction of their first timepiece, the Casiotron QW02. This innovative electric watch featured an automatic calendar function that effortlessly adjusted for shorter months, eliminating the hassle of manual date resetting.

In 1983, Casio released their now word-famous model line the G-SHOCK. The G-SHOCK line is a quartz watch that has shock and vibration resistance technology and is made out of rubber so it is extremely durable. To this day, the G-SHOCK line is Casio’s most popular watch line. Most of Casio’s watches range from $22.95 to $700 USD, while a few select models are priced as high as $5,800 USD. Most of their popular watches retail for only a few hundred dollars. My favorite Casio watch is the G-SHOCK GA2100-7A for $99 USD. Both my wife and father-in-law are lovers of G-SHOCK watches, often donning them during their scuba diving trips and while participating in various water sports activities. Their passion for the brand has made me quite well-versed in the world of G-SHOCK timepieces. They will also attest that G-SHOCK watches are nearly indestructible. Talk about a great bang for your buck! 

Unlike Seiko and Citizen, Casio does not have a main flagship boutique in Japan. However, they do operate a few G-SHOCK stores across the country, including two in Tokyo. The boutiques in Tokyo are located in Marunouchi and Ginza. There are also G-SHOCK stores in Fukuoka, Sapporo, and Sendai

Buying a Watch in Japan: So Many Options to Choose From

Once I had my heart set on buying a watch in Japan, I knew I needed to narrow down what type of watch I wanted to purchase. In the concrete jungle of Tokyo, a watch lover could get lost with all of the options. I started to think of what type of watch I wanted, the brand of the watch, the type of metal of the watch, the age of the watch, and how much I wanted to spend on the watch. After doing an intense amount of research and soul searching, I realized that since I never owned a watch from a Japanese brand before, nor have I ever owned a vintage watch, I would use those two criteria as my guiding light while searching for the perfect watch to buy in Japan. Once it became clear to me that I wanted a watch from a Japanese brand like Seiko, Grand Seiko, Credor, or Citizen, I started doing a lot of research into the history of the brands and certain models. 

Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) Watches 

My research eventually led me to the Japanese domestic market (or JDM) watches which was an entirely different rabbit hole. JDM watches are watches produced and sold exclusively for the Japanese market. Seiko and Grand Seiko are known for doing this with a few of their watch models. Normally JDM watches have a different color date wheel, a special dial color or design, a different color second hand, or something minor that unless you know what you are looking at, you would not know that it was a special release for the JDM. I thought there was a special type of romance of going to Japan, buying a watch in Japan from a Japanese watch brand, and buying a model that you could only get in Japan. I knew finding a used JDM watch would have been hard to plan and I would have had to find one while looking at used watch stores. So, I started looking into new JDM watches and I came across a few options to consider.

The first option that I considered was from Grand Seiko. As I previously mentioned, Grand Seiko is one of Seiko’s higher-end brands. Three days before leaving for our trip in January, Grand Seiko released the Grand Seiko SBGH317. This watch was limited to 500 pieces and sold only in the flagship Grand Seiko boutique located in Ginza, Tokyo. If I could get my hands on the Grand Seiko SBGH317 that could be the perfect souvenir from my trip. However, I was not completely sold as I still felt the need to explore what Credor had available. I knew the myth of Credor watches. It was Grand Seiko’s higher end brand, they only made these watches in limited batches, and you can only buy these watches in Japan.


Upon arriving in Japan, my plan was to explore numerous watch stores, peruse both pre-owned and brand-new timepieces, and carefully examine any JDM watches that caught my eye. Ultimately, I aimed to let my heart guide me towards the perfect choice that truly spoke to me.

Exploring Ginza & Visiting Seiko House

Our first stop in Japan was Ginza, Tokyo. It felt like it was a combination of 5th Avenue in New York City and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Within less than 1.5 square miles, any and every high end luxury brand you could think of had at least one boutique (Gucci has three, but that is a story for a different blog post). These high-end luxury stores included the top watch brands from around the world. Among the luxury boutiques that caught my eye in Ginza were renowned names like Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Cartier, IWC, Omega, Grand Seiko, Seiko, Credor, Panerai, Bulgari, Richard Mille, Tudor, Tag Heuer, Bovet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Piaget, and Breitling. Additionally, many watch brands also had counters in the major department stores like Takashimaya and Wako. 

Grand Seiko  Seiko

Since I knew I mainly wanted a watch from a Japanese brand, I did not pay much attention to most of the non-Japanese watch brand boutiques. In fact, I spent the most time in the Grand Seiko flagship boutique in the famous Seiko House building. The Seiko House has been Seiko’s headquarters and flagship store since 1932. This building is home to the famous and historic Seiko Clock Tower on the top of the building. This building is an eight-story building. The Wako Department Store occupies the first four floors. (Do not worry, there are plenty of watches to see!) The fifth floor is home to offices and event space for Seiko, the sixth floor is the Seiko House Hall that hosts different art exhibitions and has some Seiko artifacts, the seventh floor is only accessible via personal invitation from Seiko. The seventh floor is rumored to be home to a workshop where Seiko produces some of the most complicated watches. These complicated watches are those made in the smallest batches, like the 20 piece limited edition Grand Seiko SLGT003 “Kodo” Constant Force Tourbillon which retails for $350,000 USD. 

I obviously did not get an invitation, or try to get an invitation for that matter, to visit the seventh floor of the Seiko House building, but if you are interested in learning more about it then you should definitely check out Time & Tides article about their tour. The Seiko House’s rooftop is also invitation-only and is home to the Seiko Sky Garden, where you can take a photo with the famous Seiko Clock Tower up-close and personal. If you are lucky enough to be invited that is! 

Seiko House Dragon

Since we visited Japan in January, it was right around the Lunar New Year, and with 2024 being the year of the dragon, Seiko House had a 15-foot paper mâché-like dragon in the window of the store. (The Seiko House is known for its window displays. You can see a history of displays on their website.) When you first walk into Seiko’s flagship store, you are greeted by a warm and friendly staff member. On the first floor, about half of the floor was Grand Seiko watches and the other half were watch counters from brands like Panerai, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, and Breguet. (This should not be too much of a surprise since this is a Wako Department Store, in addition to the Seiko flagship, afterall.) This is where I saw my first JDM watch. Right in the middle of the store they had the Grand Seiko SBGH317. This watch was absolutely beautiful, but I decided that it was not exactly the right watch for me to buy in Japan. I made the decision that my purchase at the flagship Grand Seiko boutique had to be a timepiece with a Spring Drive movement. This choice was driven by the fact that Seiko's Spring Drive technology is their exclusive and innovative feature that truly sets their watches apart.

In the back right corner of the store, I saw an elevator and a sign saying Grand Seiko was on the second floor. I was confused since the first floor had a bunch of Grand Seiko watches, but I figured that since I am already here, I might as well go check it out! Oh boy, was I glad I checked out the second floor! I walked out of the elevator and I realized that THIS was the Grand Seiko flagship boutique. It was an entire floor of Grand Seiko watches with a bar (yes, a beverage bar) and a huge lounge area. 

As I walked around I saw the normal Grand Seiko watches that you would expect to see at any Grand Seiko boutique. However, they also had a showcase of vintage Grand Seiko watches that were restored by Grand Seiko which caught my eye. I spent some time looking at them and thought that they were all really beautiful. Since I do not know much about vintage Grand Seiko watches, I did not think I would be able to fully appreciate one. (These vintage Grand Seiko watches were available to purchase.) There was also an area on the second floor, by the bar, where you can customize your own Grand Seiko watch, but they were out of my price range for a souvenir on this trip. Just as I was about to leave, in the corner of my eye, I saw a Credor sign. 

I only knew of Credor as the mythical and pinnacle Japanese watch brand but I never expected to see them in person. I obviously had to go check them out and I was instantly drawn to the Credor Kuon collection. The sales associate (SA) told me that the Credor Koun GCLX999 and the GCLX997 were only recently released. I was in awe! They had everything I wanted in a watch and more. They had a Spring Drive movement and it was a JDM watch since Credor can only be purchased in Japan. The cherry on top was that not only was it a Credor timepiece, but it also had a beautiful porcelain dial. The SA let me try on the two models. In that moment, I could not decide which one I wanted, but I knew that I was going to get one of these!



I should mention that I have a rule with myself for a big purchase, particularly when it comes to buying a watch. I always make myself think about the purchase for a minimum of 48 hours before buying it. That way I can be really sure I want to pull the trigger and make the purchase. However, my wife and I also have a rule when we are traveling that if you see something you want, buy it then and there since you do not know if/when we will be coming back to the store/market/etc. Since I really did not know which Credor Koun watch I wanted, I decided to think on it, especially since I knew we were coming back to Ginza on the last day of our trip before heading back home to Florida in a little less than two weeks. 

Fast forward to the last full day of our trip to Japan… I headed back to the Grand Seiko boutique with my passport in hand (as I mentioned earlier, Japan offers tax free shopping for tourists) and my decision was made. I was going to get the Credor Koun GCLX999. The watch would be the souvenir to end all souvenirs from an amazing trip to Japan! Unfortunately though, the SA informed me that they were sold out of both the Credor Koun GCLX999 and GCLX997. I looked around the flagship store one last time to see if anything else caught my eye, but ultimately, I left empty handed. I did not want to buy something just for the sake of it and nothing was going to ultimately compare to the Credor Koun GCLX999. After leaving the store, I met up with Lauren, my wife, for dinner and drinks neary. She immediately asked me to see the watch I got. I told her that they did not have either model in-stock, so we would just need to come back to Japan again so I can purchase one. Thankfully, she loved Japan just as much as I did and cannot wait to visit again soon. We are currently busy planning our travel for 2025 and are desperately trying to figure out a way to come back to Japan then!

Looking to visit Seiko House in Ginza? The flagship showroom is open daily from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. For the most up-to-date opening hours and list of holiday closures, be sure to visit the Seiko website.

While I ultimately did not get a watch on my trip, I did an immense amount of research about buying a watch in Japan that I want to share with you so hopefully you can get the perfect piece on your trip!

Vintage & Pre-Owned Watches in Japan

Even though my main focus on this trip ended up being the purchase of a new timepiece from either Grand Seiko or Credor, I still dedicated a significant amount of time to exploring the world of vintage and pre-owned watches in Japan. Through my research, I found the following stores in Tokyo catering to a variety of brands and price points when it comes to buying a vintage and/or pre-owned watch in Japan. If you are looking at buying a watch in Japan, but are more interested in vintage and pre-owned watches, definitely check out the following stores in Tokyo!  


Jackroad is located inside of Nakano Broadway, a three-story shopping mall that is a collector’s paradise. Nakano Broadway is filled with all things collectable, including watches, Pokémon cards, toys, and comic books. Jackroad is located on the third floor of Nakano Broadway. Based on what I saw online, Jackroad has a curated collection of vintage and newer watches. Their newer watches are competitively priced with only a slight discount compared to the U.S. market, but their vintage watch prices and selection is top notch. With a selection of over 100 brands to choose from, Jackroad offers a range of watches at reasonable prices, from Seikos and Citizens to luxury brands like Rolex, Patek Phil, and Richard Mille. Unfortunately I ran out of time to visit in-person, but if I had another half-day to shop and explore Tokyo, a visit to Nakano Broadway and Jackroad would have been a must-do on my list.


Private Eyes

I heard about Private Eyes from one of my favorite watch YouTubers Adam Golden from Menta Watches. Given Adam's reputation as a highly regarded vintage watch expert in the watch community, his endorsement of Private Eyes instantly piqued my interest and prompted me to include it on my list for consideration. Private Eyes has been around for over 30 years. It is located approximately 30 minutes north of Ginza in Kita City in Tokyo and is a 5-minute walk from Itabashi Station on the JR Saikyo Line. Private Eyes is a curated vintage watch shop that has an amazing selection of vintage watches from brands like Breitling, Omega, Cartier, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Jaeger Lecoultre, Vacheron Constantin, and Heuer. Their prices are quite reasonable, possibly influenced by their location slightly away from the bustling heart of Tokyo, making their offerings even more enticing. While they may not boast the largest array of timepieces in Tokyo, Private Eyes is a the top place to go for those seeking exceptionally rare watches dating from the 1920s to the 1980s. A visit to Private Eyes is a definite must for enthusiasts looking to explore these unique and historic timepieces. Although we were not able to explore this part of Tokyo on our recent trip, I am eagerly looking forward to visiting Private Eyes on my next trip to Japan.


Watch CTI

If you are looking for vintage watches from Japanese brands like Grand Seiko, Seiko, and Citizen, then Watch CTI is definitely a store you need to check out. I learned about Watch CTI after a conversation with Brandon Menancio, a famous watch influencer who has done work with Hodinkee and Crown & Caliber. Watch CTI has a beautiful collection of vintage watches, but they particularly specialize in Grand Seiko, Seiko, and Citizen. If you are specifically searching for a vintage Japanese watch in Japan then do yourself a favor and check out Watch CTI.


AMORE Gentleman

My wife and I visited AMORE Gentlemen together after stumbling past it while walking from our hotel in Shibuya to another vintage store in Harajuku. AMORE Gentleman is in the Harajuku neighborhood of Shibuya. They sell a huge assortment of men's luxury items, ranging from clothing to bags, jewelry, wallets, and watches. AMORE Gentleman is part of the AMORE brand of luxury second-hand stores in Tokyo. (Their other two locations cater more towards women's luxury items and they even have an entire boutique dedicated to all things Chanel.) While I was in AMORE Gentlemen, I fell in love with a solid yellow gold Cartier Tank AMÉRICAINE that I ALMOST purchased. I ultimately felt like it was slightly too large for my wrist (I personally feel like Cartier, especially Cartier Tanks, should be understated). I also saw a gorgeous yellow gold quartz Audemars Piguet Royal Oak from the early 2000s. I loved that watch too, but there was a mark on the dial which made me nervous  about the overall condition of the watch. Since condition is everything when it comes to purchasing a vintage or used watch, I passed on it.


AMORE Gentleman had some interesting pieces and their prices were reasonable. Since it is not a watch-specific boutique, the staff were not as helpful or well-versed in watches as you would find in other pre-owned watch shops in Japan, but they were still friendly. AMORE Gentleman does not have their own website, but you can shop some of their inventory online at AMORE



I kept seeing WATCHNIAN throughout Japan, so when we were in Shibuya I figured I had to go in and see what they had since there was one down the street from our hotel. (They do have multiple locations, but for our purposes here, I will just cover the boutique I visited in Shibuya). The Shibuya location had about 200 watches from brands like Rolex, Cartier, Tag Heuer, Patek Philippe, Omega, and Zenith. Most of the watches were less than 15 years old. WATCHNIAN’s website shows that they sell other brands in other locations around Japan, as well as on their website. There were two watches that I liked that I had not tried on previously: the Rolex Submariner 116610LV (the Hulk) and a yellow gold Rolex Presidential reference 18238 with diamonds and emeralds.



They were both stunning watches, but I ended up passing on buying either piece. Unfortunately, WATCHNIAN could not tell me the service history of the watches and their prices were very comparable to what I could have paid back home for those models. I decided that if I were to purchase one of these models, it should be from a trusted watch boutique in the U.S. that could provide the full history of the timepiece. Additionally, I still had set my heart set on buying a watch in Japan from a Japanese brand during this particular trip.


Buying a Watch in Japan: Outside Tokyo

This blog post is centered almost exclusively on watch stores and boutiques in Tokyo, solely because that is where we spent the most time on our trip and where I had the opportunity to do the most shopping. However, watches from all brands in both new and pre-owned conditions can be found throughout Japan. Tokyo is the Mecca of the Japanese watch world because it is home to Seiko, Citizen, and Casio. However, if your trip to Japan does not take you to Tokyo, but you are still in the market of buying a watch in Japan, I highly recommend you check out these other stores in the following cities.


Most major watch brands can be found in Kyoto, available for purchase at both boutiques and department stores.

If you are looking for a Japanese watch microbrand, check out Kyoe Kyoto, during your time in Kyoto. Their watches feature a vintage-inspired design and are priced reasonably, ranging from $263 to $736 USD. They use either Seiko and Miyota movements in all of their watches. While they can also be purchased online, their only storefront is in Kyoto. 


Seiko has a large boutique in Kyoto carrying both Seiko and Grand Seiko models - Grand Seiko Boutique / Seiko Boutique Kyoto Shijo. This location, as of our visit in January 2024, does not carry Credor. It is located near Nishiki Market.

If you are looking for a one-stop shop for watches in Kyoto, the Daimaru department store has an impressive Jewelry & Clock Salon on the sixth floor. Daimaru sells a wide range of brands across varying price points, including Seiko, Grand Seiko, Credor, Casio, Citizen, and even Patek Philippe. The staff were very friendly and helpful, but we did find it hard to locate English-speaking staff for assistance. 


Similar to Kyoto and Tokyo, pretty much every big-name watch brand will have a presence in the city. There are also a number of second-hand and vintage boutiques carrying watches. 

As previously mentioned, Citizen has a large, Citizen Flagship Store in Osaka. It is located in Shinsaibashi, Osaka's main shopping district, north of Dōtonbori. Grand Seiko and Seiko also have large boutiques in the same neighborhood. 


If you are on the hunt for second-hand and vintage watches, a lot of watch publications recommend HOUBIDOU x Bluek Watch Company which is also located in Osaka's Shinsaibashi neighborhood.



Sogo Yokohama is a large department store in Yokohama, Japan, with a large selection of watch boutiques on the second floor. Some of the brands represented at Sogo Yokohama include: Bvlgari, Rolex, Tudor, Zenith, and Omega. 


If you are visiting Yokohama, another popular store for buying a watch is Common Time. Common Time sells about 20 different brands, including Cartier, Omega, IWC, Panerai, Zenith, Glashütte Original, and Tag Heuer. 



Similar to the Daimaru department store in Kyoto, the Daimaru Sapporo location has a plethora of watch boutiques inside of it, including Seiko, Grand Seiko, Rolex, Hublot, Chopard, Tudor, Panerai, Citizen, Casio, and more. Watches can be found on the fifth floor. Daimaru Sapporo will be your best bet for watch shopping in Sapporo. 

Buying a Watch in Japan: Final Thoughts

As you have probably learned from my experience, buying a watch in Japan can be an overwhelming experience, solely based on the sheer number of options available to you. While I deeply regret being so indecisive about which Credor watch I wanted, at the same time, I am grateful I did not jump to buy the first watch that caught my eye. I also really enjoyed researching Japanese watches and learning more about Grand Seiko and Credor both before my visit to Japan and while I was there. As a result, the next piece I add to my collection will undoubtedly come from one of these esteemed brands.

If you are planning on buying a watch in Japan make sure you ask the following questions, particularly if you are buying a pre-owned or vintage watch.

  • Does this watch come with a box and/or papers to ensure its authenticity? 

    Not all vintage watches will have a box and/or papers, but if they do it is a good sign. Always make sure you are purchasing from a reputable boutique or dealer. If a vintage or pre-owned watch does not have papers, ask how the boutique verified the watch's authenticity. Japan, in particular, has very strong anti-counterfeiting laws, so it is unlikely that a watch purchased from a reputable boutique or dealer in Japan is a counterfeit, but you should always still do your due diligence. If the price seems to good to be true, it probably is! 
  • Is there a warranty on this watch? If so, for how long and is the warranty valid outside of Japan? 

    All new watches should come with a factory warranty, good anywhere from two to eight years, depending on the brand. Some second-hand shops and jewelers will offer their own warranties, particularly on pre-owned pieces. However, it is your responsibility as the buyer to understand the specifics of the warranty, such as: duration, coverage, and validity outside of Japan. 
  • For used and vintage watches, can you tell me the service history on the watch? 

    Understanding the service history on a pre-owned or vintage watch allows you to understand the extent to which the watch has been restored and the next time the watch will need servicing. 
  • Can you give me an estimate as to what the servicing costs will be for this watch when it needs service? 

    Every watch, no matter whether it is quartz or mechanical, will have servicing costs. Whether it is for a new quartz battery or replacing a broken mainspring, there are servicing costs involved. The intricacy of a watch movement directly correlates to the maintenance expenses, a crucial factor to consider when making your purchasing decision. 

Also be certain, before buying a watch in Japan - or anywhere for that matter - to ensure that the watch is in an acceptable condition to you, that it is priced appropriately given the market, and that it is a watch you want to wear! It is so easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and buy a watch impulsively - especially on vacation. So, take a moment to reflect and make sure that the watch truly speaks to you. Trust me, it is perfectly fine to return empty-handed if you do not find the perfect timepiece! Exploring the world of watches through window shopping can be a delightful experience in itself - particularly in a new country!

After exploring Japan for two weeks and seeing what seemed like at least one watch store on every block, I definitely understand why so many people love buying a watch in Japan. The selection, particularly of used and vintage watches was unmatched! I saw a number of rare models, in pristine condition too. While I ended up not coming home with anything, I am already planning my next trip back to Japan and you can be certain that I will be coming home with a Credor or a Grand Seiko after my next visit!


Are you looking for more information on Japan? Check out our Japan Travel Guide for everything you need to know before you jet-off to this incredible country!