“So, is Bulova or Seiko better in quality?”
You’re still asking that question, right?
Then let me tell you this.
Ask just about any watch-wearer for recommendations for a watch and they’ll probably mention either Bulova or Seiko.
These two brands have dominated the horology world for decades due to their functional, accessible, and stylish timepieces.
Both brands trace their roots back to the late 1800s.
And that legacy and longevity are just some of the reasons these companies are incredibly respected amongst enthusiasts.
In this article, we will match Bulova vs Seiko to see which brand is better.
Which one has higher quality?
Does one beat out the other?
Let’s find out right now.
(You can also check my Bulova watches review for more info)
- A Brief History Of Seiko Watches
- A Brief History Of Bulova Watches
- Strong And Weak Points Of Each Brand
- Comparison Of Notable Timepieces
A Brief History Of Seiko Watches
This watch company has been around since 1881 when a 22-year-old Kintaro Hattori opened a shop that repaired and sold watches and clocks.
After 11 years of operation in Central Tokyo, Hattori began to produce clocks under the name Seikohasha, which can be roughly translated to “House of Exquisite Workmanship”.
It was only until 1924 that the company began releasing its products under the name Seiko, which can roughly translate to “exquisite” or “success”.
Throughout the past century, Seiko has been providing people all around the world with functional, stylish, and innovative timepieces.
Which is part of the reason Seiko watches have adorned the wrists of so many people and gained incredible respect in the horological community.
Related: Bulova vs Movado
A Brief History Of Bulova Watches
Bulova started out as a jewelry, clock, and pocket watch store in New York in 1875 by Joseph Bulova, a Bohemian immigrant.
The company was first named the J Bulova company, which was later changed to the Bulova watch company in 1923 as the brand grew in popularity.
The company began manufacturing high-quality watches in 1912 when their first manufacturing opened in Switzerland, and soon after in 1919, Bulova released its first full range of men’s watches.
From that point on, Bulova was at the forefront of the watch world, paving the way for quartz watches with their Accutron watch, and also becoming known for their unique and loud designs.
In 2007, the company was acquired by Citizen while still retaining its reputation for functionality, accuracy, and style.
Related: Bulova vs Citizen
Strong And Weak Points Of Each Brand
While both these brands produce great watches, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses, which we’ll get into in this section.
Seiko watches are about as straight-forward as they come, which is to be expected from Japanese made timepieces.
The brand has gained incredible respect in the community because of how functional their timepieces are, with almost incomparable accuracy in its price range.
Which is one of the reasons Seiko watches are considered top-quality.
When it comes to designs, the brand is known for its classy, sleek, and traditional influences.
The timepieces released by the brand are very formal, perfect for business settings, or even gala events.
That being said, Seiko still experiments with their colors and faces, as seen on the orange face on the SKX011J1 model from the Sport Automatic Diver’s watch line.
Seiko’s commitment to traditional watchmaking can be a weak point as much as a strong point.
This traditional approach somewhat limits Seiko to a certain extent.
This is most prominent when compared to the more experimental approach that some other brands in the same range have taken.
You won’t find a plethora of functions on most Seiko pieces because their watches usually stick to what they do best: keep accurate date and time.
If you’re one who appreciates modern and innovative features such as Atomic Timekeeping, Seiko may not be the brand for you, however, if you like to stick to the more traditional type of watch, then this brand may need to go on the top of your list.
See more: Bulova vs Tissot
While Bulova is also known for accurate and functional timepieces, the true strength of the brand comes from its willingness to experiment.
One look through Bulova’s catalog and you’ll find incredible variety.
From watches with unorthodox colors, innovative designs, and even digital watches that look like nothing you’ve ever seen before such as the Bulova Computron.
This experimentation has also lead Bulova to be one of the top innovators in business.
This can be seen with the release of the Accutron in the 1960s, which completely revolutionized the way we think of watches.
The Accutron was one of the first models to use a tuning fork to keep time, which paved the way for quartz watches, which is one of the most popular and accessible movements today.
However, this willingness to experiment hasn’t achieved a 100 percent success rate.
A lot of people who don’t know a lot about Bulova might think of the brand as goofy, and that’s because some of their experiments didn’t work so well.
There are a lot of Bulova designs out there that are definitely not for everybody.
Some of their watches are packed with an incredible amount of functions that actually defeat the purpose of having the features as many users have actually found these watches incredibly complicated and confusing.
The same can be said about some of their design experiments.
It won’t be that hard to find a Bulova timepiece with colors that don’t exactly blend or complement each other.
While that may be the case with Bulova, a lot of these watches actually have their niche market, it’s just that it doesn’t resonate as well with the majority of the traditional watch community.
Comparison Of Notable Timepieces
Both of these brands have released watches that serve the same market over the years, and we put these timepieces head to head in this section.
Both of these timepieces are incredibly made dive watches with classic influences.
If you’re on the hunt for a new model with a timeless feel, either one of these pieces will be great for you.
Bulova’s Oceanographer comes with a more classic, 41mm dial which works as a great large watch for any wrist size.
The Oceanographer is water-resistant up to 666 feet, which is where it got the classic name, “Devil Diver”, which is arguably the most popular model in the line.
The Oceanographer is an automatic timepiece, which means the movement of your arm actually powers the watch and keeps it ticking, which is perfect for the “desk diver”, which is who this watch was advertised for.
This isn’t a timepiece known for pushing the technology forward, which is why it was advertised for the everyday man who appreciates the dive watch silhouette.
That being said, this timepiece can definitely handle a dive with no problem.
The Seiko Turtle on the hand is as classic as it gets.
From the design, all the way down to the automatic movement that keeps this watch accurate.
Perfect for everyday use, or even as a piece to complement a nice suit.
These are two of the best and most prestigious collections that these brands have.
The Precisionist is one of the most accurate collections in the world, which is just about right seeing as it was inspired by the Accutron movement that shook the watch world in the 60s.
By using a three-pronged tuning fork to keep time, Bulova was able to produce a line of watches that beats out all the competition in terms of accuracy.
With a chronograph that measures up to 1/1000th of a second, a perpetual calendar and a movement that is accurate up to a couple of seconds a month, it’s easy to see why even the most austere of connoisseurs respect this collection.
The Grand Seiko collection, on the other hand, can be considered Seiko’s Magnum Opus.
By combining the best features of electronic movements and mechanical movements, Seiko was able to revolutionize the watch world with the Spring Drive technology that powers the Grand Seiko collection.
Like a mechanical watch, it was powered by a spring which gave the watch the signature sweeping motion associated with mechanical movements, however, the electronic components of the watch kept the watch as accurate as any quartz movement out there.
And when it comes to the designs, it doesn’t get more classic and traditional.
So for those looking for an homage to the classic mechanical watch but don’t want to compromise precision, the Grand Seiko is the way to go, however, for those who want a more modern feel to their timepieces, you can’t go wrong with the Precisionist.
As these two brands mostly stay in the same price range, their automatic movements tend to be equal in quality and precision.
Bulova and Seiko use a variety of movements for different watches, however for formality’s sake the movements being compared in this section are the Miyota 9000 series, which can be seen in the Bulova 96A101, and the Seiko 5, which is seen on a variety of automatic Seiko models.
These two movements are very similar, as they both use 21 jewels to power the movement.
They are both also fairly new, only being utilized in the past decade, but they have both proven to be reliable movements for those who like automatic timepieces.
You can’t go wrong with either the Bulova or Seiko automatic movements, so it all boils down to your priorities when it comes to choosing watches.
As these two brands are both known for providing us with affordable and quality watches, it should come as no surprise that their premiere dive watches are just that.
The Marine Star is an incredibly stylish piece from Bulova.
It features a large, 43mm dial that looks great especially on larger wrists.
The blue dial really pops out and is perfect for the watch’s name.
For those looking for a stylish piece that can be worn in both formal and casual settings, the Marine Star is the way to go.
Seiko has a long history of dive watches, and throughout the years has become a really reliable source for dive watches.
But as Seiko is known for their commitment to tradition, their dive watches are very classic, and may not be the best for those aiming for a more modern look in their watches.
Bulova made history with their Lunar Pilot Chronograph, which is now more simply known as the “Moon Watch”.
This was the timepiece worn by David Scott during the Apollo 15 mission, being the first watch to make it to the moon.
Bulova recently relaunched this watch as a collector’s item, and it will make and horologist drool.
It features an incredible design that will certainly turn heads while also using a highly accurate quartz movement.
The Seiko Turtle, on the other hand, was discussed earlier and is a great classic dive watch for anyone looking for accuracy and simplicity in design.
The Moon Watch is definitely more for the collectors and those looking for a more recognizable piece but it may be a bit too much for anyone who doesn’t want to attract too much attention with their watch.
Now, this is a battle of the highest performing movements of the brand.
The Precisionist uses a three-pronged tuning fork which vibrates at a greater frequency than most if not all quartz watches available on the market today.
This results in a timepiece that is accurate to a couple of minutes a year, which is much better than the standard quartz movements that can lose up to a minute a month.
As this movement was inspired by Bulova’s Accutron, it’s easy to see why it has unparallelled accuracy in its price range.
The Spring Drive was a movement that revolutionized watches in a completely different way.
It was created with the aim of combining the best aspects of quartz watches and mechanical ones.
Seiko accomplished this by using a spring to power the watch, giving the Spring Drive movement that sweeping motion that gives most mechanical watches their character.
The difference being that they also combined that with electronic components to keep the watch as accurate as any quartz piece, eliminating the lack of precision that most mechanical timepieces have.
Anyone who needs unmatched accuracy would definitely find more use with the Precisionist movement, but those who want to have the character of a mechanical watch with the accuracy of a quartz watch should definitely go for the Seiko Spring Drive.
There isn’t a definitive and objective answer to which brand is better.
Watches are an incredibly subjective world, everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to design, functions, technology, and feel.
But it’s plain to see that Seiko is the obvious choice for those who want to play it safe with your timepiece while Bulova is more for those who want louder designs and more modern functions.
Whichever brand you choose though, the only thing that matters is that you personally love the watch.
And if you do, then there’s no question that you’re wearing the perfect watch.