Guide To Buying Used & Vintage Watches In Tokyo, Japan pg. 3

Guide To Buying Used & Vintage Watches In Tokyo, Japan

Guide To Buying Used & Vintage Watches In Tokyo, Japan Watch Buying

Locations In Tokyo To Shop For Watches

I’m really only able to mention those places that I’ve personally explored for watches around Tokyo, but I am hoping that in the comments below our audience will fill in the gaps offering more specific store names and areas of Tokyo to look for watches. I’ll start with the major areas that I found to be the most useful.

Most people associate Ginza with luxury shopping in Tokyo. While there are luxury stores throughout the city, Ginza is the most popular high-end shopping district in Tokyo, especially for foreigners. It is a nice area to go, but it lacks a lot of the more interesting stores. With that said, there are some must-see places in the Ginza area such as the Wako department store that has the best selection of high-end Seiko watches. Look for the better department stores and watch shops in Ginza to browse. You won’t find amazing prices, but you might find stuff that you won’t find anywhere else.

Guide To Buying Used & Vintage Watches In Tokyo, Japan Watch Buying

Around Ginza, things start to get more interesting, ranging from the charming and yuppie-friendly Shibuya, all the up to the amazing vintage watch stores and other hidden gems you’ll find in Ueno. Of course, you’ll also need to explore around the famed Akihabara district known for its assortment of electronics stores and other shops with men’s-interest items. I actually didn’t find Akihabara to be the best place for vintage or pre-owned watches, but there are enough good deals at electronics stores, and again some good used-watch locations to make the district worth walking around.

Also in this area is Tokyo Station which has a lot of the same types of pre-owned watch stores as well as some vintage specialists. In order to best canvas a region, look for the main shopping arcades and walk down them making sure to peek down side streets and look for shopping malls where the best stuff isn’t located on street level.

Guide To Buying Used & Vintage Watches In Tokyo, Japan Watch Buying

You can’t really go modern pre-owned watch shopping and not stroll around Shinjuku. The area’s Shinjuku station is reportedly one of the busiest in the world, which means that the surrounding area has an intense level of commerce. What makes Shinjuku a bit unique is the mixture of street and high-street shopping culture. Here you’ll find high-end shopping as well as low-key street ramen all within a few minutes of each other. There are mostly the “used watch and purse” stores around here, but there are enough of them to make shopping worth your time. Shinjuku also has a lot of electronics stores as well as nicer department stores to make it a rather well-rounded area for shopping. Look for stores such as Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera (chain stores around Tokyo and Japan, but not all of them have good watch departments), as well as department stores such as Daimaru and Mitsukoshi.

About 15-20 minutes from Shinjuku via train is the Nakano station that is another must-see part of any well-rounded watch shopping experience. Look for the long covered shopping arcade, and if you walk down it for about 5 minutes, you’ll be able to travel up to the second and third floors. Up there, you’ll find the famous Jack Road watch store as well as a host of other smaller ones in the same shopping building. Note that none of this is obvious from street level, and if you don’t read Japanese, there are few if any hints that there is some amazing watch shopping right upstairs.

Guide To Buying Used & Vintage Watches In Tokyo, Japan Watch Buying

Final Thoughts

You need at least two or three full days to have an even remotely well-rounded vintage and pre-owned (as well as new) watch shopping adventure in Tokyo. Between the amazing quality, rare models, cool JDM items, fair pricing, and incredible variety, Tokyo is easily one of the best places in the world to shop for watches both new and used. It isn’t easy, however, and you could spend a full week or more looking at watches for 10 hours a day and still not feel like you’ve seen enough. While luxury lifestyle watches are of course a part of Japanese consumer culture, pre-owned and vintage watches really aren’t sold that way in Tokyo, from what I saw. More, they are sold as valued collectors' items for men.

The used watch and purse stores are perhaps more about getting that luxury watch you want for a good price, but the other places are more nerdy in their appeal with quiet, comfortable stores and little pretentiousness. A lot of energy and legwork is required to fully survey the many available watches you can find in Tokyo, but the effort seems worth it. Japan isn’t exactly a bad place to travel, and if you are just there for a few days or planning a longer trip, it is nice to include some extra time in Tokyo to look for timepieces if you are any type of serious watch lover.

Last, please do include your own personal tips and experiences in the comments below to help others get the most out of shopping for pre-owned and vintage watches in Tokyo.

  • Lovely article!! I miss Japan…

  • SuperStrapper

    Wow, great article. It’s like you were a kid in a mall of candy stores. What did you see in terms of Japanese brands that are relatively obscure? Hajime Asoka, etc.

    • Ariel Adams

      I actually did see one Hajime Asoka tourbillon watches. It was new and presented in an easy to miss case at the WAKO department store in the Ginza.

      • SuperStrapper

        Awesome. What a treat that would be. I’m also trying to remember another Japanese brand that may not even exist anymore, I’ve not seen or heard of them in so long. The brand name eludes me at the moment, but they had a very clear design ethic, and had many square-cased watches with an almost Gotham-inspired design that made careful use of unique colourways. They also had a few tourbillions, one of which may have been the first tourbillion watch you ever owned Ariel, (a round dive watch I think…?) trying to remember an article from many years ago. Ring any bells?

        • Ariel Adams

          You might be thinking about the brand Longio – which is Chinese. I really can’t think of any Japanese tourbillon watches (aside from the Hajime). In fact, I would say for the most part the Japanese watch market has little interest in tourbillon watches. I can only guess why (I think it is because they don’t add functional value) but you see very, very few of them.

          • SuperStrapper

            Longer is correct, and now that ivre-research them I am doubly reminded they are Chinese. So nevermind. They still had some interesting designs though.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Great article. Sometime later this year, I am planning a trip to various cities on Okinawa for exacty this reason.

    “Akihabara district”….heh heh heh.

  • Scott Baughman

    Great article. I bought my Seiko Shogun last year on the top floor of a store called “Big Camera” in the electronics district which was a compact building that was 5 or 6 stories high. The exchange rate was in my favor as well.

    • Ariel Adams

      Was it “Big” camera or “Bic” camera? The latter is a popular chain of electronic stores but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “Big Camera” too.

      • Scott Baughman

        It could very well have been Bic Camera. They carried Grand Seiko if that helps.

      • Scott Baughman

        Your comment about keeping things in excellent condition is spot on. I noticed this the most with automobiles. I never saw a clunker on the road, everything was so clean. Their semis were washed too.

  • Marius

    I find this to be a very thorough and informative article. Of course, myself, I only buy from the brand boutiques as I trust absolutely no one (for me, watch dealers are on the same footing as drug dealers). However, for those who appreciate buying vintage and pre-owned watches, this article provides a lot of useful information, as well as some important tips on etiquette and cultural differences. I traveled once to Tokyo, and I only wish I had read this article in 2013.

  • WolverBilly

    This stuff is always so interesting in terms of what you can find in Japan. There’s even shopping district where the best in motorcycle gear can be sampled in shop after shop. One of these days. . .

  • Benjamin Mercury Vetaas

    I’ll study in Japan for six months starting january next year. So this article is really helpful to me. I’m going to look for vintage GS with a japanese day/ date, I’m not 100% sure about which model I want yet, I guess I’ll have to go for the watch that speaks to me the instant I see it.

    I’ll make sure to walk around in Tokyo for at least two weeks before I decide to buy anything, so that I get the opportunity to check out A LOT of places before I decide what to get.

    My school is in Shibuya, so I expect there to be some good stores nearby. I’ll make sure to look for electronic and camera stores.

  • gt0279a

    Jack Road in the Nakano plaza is probably my favorite. Huge selection of vintage watches and most major brands of new as well. Bought new and vintage there and the prices are reasonable. No upcharge for credit cards either. Also, Nakano has so many shops in it dedicated to about most everything. The toy shops are amazing.

  • HectorAsuipe

    Spot on. I go to Japan once or twice a year (Osaka, Fukuoka, Tokyo, Kyoto) and can confirm Ariel’s impressions. Maybe the best approach is to find, befriend and follow a Japanese watch enthusiast to help you out a little. My wife was in Tokyo a few weeks ago and did the watch store circuit around Ginza and Shinjuku, sending me pictures of cool stuff she found.

    Yodobashi and Bic Camera stores also will have credit card discount deals (e.g. -4% if you use your Visa card), as well as the instant duty tax credit if you have your passport with you (-8%), and they will usually give you a little more than that if you buy multiple items. So I got a Seiko Cocktail Time, a Field Master, and a Junghans Max Bill for a nice rounded down package price after applying all those discounts at Yodobashi in Fukuoka. But then I hunted down the actual Azabu Tailor shop on the same trip to locate their own signature model Seiko and they looked at me like I was speaking Dutch.

    The prices are indeed fair in most venues, although they might have a more highly-valued market for some models than you would expect, so while what may be an undesireable – by Western tastes – watch will be “overpriced,” something on your list may be surprisingly well priced and in beautiful condition.

    I’ll be in Kyoto in April and hoping to find something interesting there, but it is not the strongest of the Japanese watch shopping locales.

    • CryptoReporter

      Thanks for the great info. I have a brother living in Osaka for 15 years now and heave yet to visit him 😐 Can you recommend any specific shops or general locations in Osaka I could visit when I go there? Thank you!

      • HectorAsuipe

        Your brother will know much better than me! If you want regularly available by retail watches, then the big camera stores or department stores will be good sources. Osaka is such a “new” city that I do not think it will yield streets full of watch dealers like Tokyo.

  • otaking241

    I lived in Japan a bit over four years and can confirm that haggling is not part of the culture. I once listened in on a (Japanese) guy trying to negotiate a reasonable discount on an Omega at Yodobashi Camera. After an eternity of hemming and hawing the salesperson grudgingly offered a 1% discount. Interestingly, if you can’t get the tax-free discount at Yodobashi you may be able to get them to give you a discount in lieu of the store points (3-10% depending on the item), but YMMV depending on who you talk to.

    The best watch deals I found over there were, as Ariel mentioned, in the second-hand shops around Shinjuku station. But wherever you happen to be you should be able to find a local branch of the Daikokuya chain of stores, which tend to have some interesting finds at bargain prices. Hard Off is another one with branches nation-wide.

    In Yokohama there is a chain of stores called Rodeo Drive the resells luxury goods but has a great selection of watches. The main branch is in Motomachi. The shopping area around Yokohama station also has a number of similar stores worth checking out.

    I also second the recommendation to check out Nakano. “Nakano
    Broadway” is the name of the mall there and it’s home to dozens of tiny,
    highly-focused specialty shops, including ones selling only erasers
    shaped like action figures, Japanese movie posters, coins, stickers,
    darts etc. There are also some great antique shops where you can find
    some really unique items. I bought my dad a Seiko pocket watch previously issued to a Japan
    Rail engineer for the equivalent of about $70.

    • James

      Agree on the lack of haggling. I haven’t bought watches but I’ve bought a number of cameras in Japan over the years and instead of negotiating a discount, it’s much more common to negotiate to see if you can get something extra for your money – so you pay the price on the tag, or very close to it, but you get some packs of rechargeable batteries and an SD card, or a camera bag, or a small tripod or something similar thrown in for the same price. I bought a decent Canon EOS some years back and ended up with a Canon camera bag and a detachable flash thrown in for good measure, plus a good whack of “store points” that I later used for a discount on a lens (but, unfortunately, you usually can’t use the points on the same day – you have to come back another day to redeem the points on another purchase).

    • Ryan Russikoff

      Hi! Thank you this is great. Do you know of similar stores but for handbags? Or do you know of any physical auctions and their schedules?

      Thanks!

  • egznyc

    Thanks for a great article. I am very interested in going to Japan and this sounds like it’d be a lot of fun – the quest for vintage watches in a foreign land! I’ll be sure to consult it again when an actual trip materializes.

  • Adam Young

    What a great article. Oh boy I’d love to visit japan. The amazing watch and pen stores would be worth it alone. The amazing sights, food, and culture would just be gravy 🙂

  • gerald_d

    Fantastic article – thanks Ariel. Hoping to go on a serious buying trip soon. Just need to sell a couple of watches first!

  • Richard Baptist

    Thanks Ariel, I went to Japan about 10 years ago and it left an impression on me. Best food I ever tasted and just so interesting in terms of the clash of the futuristic and the traditional. You walk around that place going “why don’t we have this technology in America?” With that said I’ll hold on to this article so that when I go back I can hit up a few places. I may have to drag my wife along as she speaks some Japanese. She won’t be happy!

  • Chris

    It’s good to read! I’ve been here in Japan for few years but still it worth to read.
    I knew about Nakano area. There’re many watch retailers as Ariel wrote.
    My favorite shop is Housekihiroba in Shibuya, though. I bought only once there but they sell like, thousand watches. I think it’s one of must go place.

  • Pingback: Seiko Marinemaster 300M SLA015 Limited Edition Watch For Europe Only | aBlogtoWatch()

  • A_watches

    just read this great article again as i’m going on hols in Japan soon. Will be sure to do plenty of watch shopping/browsing missus permitting! from those pictures, and from the article, i’m hoping to get some success in getting a little dressy/office three hander

  • Chaipod Yusakon

    I want to find a seiko bullhead 6138 blue chronograph watch in NOS condition or otherwise.Can anyone help me?

    • Matt Mcsweeney

      Hello chaipod, I am along term Tokyo resident ( 16 yrs ) I speak Japanese and an definitely help you find whatever model you want. I will charge you a finders fee but will also find the lowest price for that particular watch…you can pm me on Facebook ( Matt mcsweeney ) you can see a photo of me and my two daughters. Yup that’s me…
      Anybody else need help?? I will be advertising/ setting up an online business to offer watches from Japan to customers oversees / I will not be charging high prices but a more reasonable finders fee , I will be on the buyers side and help you get the best price. My fee is fixed…if anyone has any requests etc just please get in touch
      Thank you

      • Raf Sanchez

        Hi there Matt – interested to see your offer of watch searching in Tokyo in return for a finder’s fee. I used to live in Hong Kong and was frequently in Japan but now unfortunately I am back in the UK and no longer have easy access to Tokyo watch shops…I am interested in a watch would you be interested in finding it for me?

  • Chaipod Yusakon

    Sorry , one more thing I live in Bangkok

  • Pingback: Traveled to Japan and bought a GS!()

  • Ivan Dimitrov

    Many people from Tokyo buy watches from Europe from dealers like Buzzufy.com
    He have perfect prices for resale and very good timepieces – Heuer Monza, Omega Seamaster, Venus and Landeron chronographs and other

  • Eric C. Whiteway

    Just came across your great article from last year on buying vintage watches in Tokyo. Excellent.
    In 1974 I became a Dad and on Fathers’ Day my wife bought me a Seiko LCD digital watch, I believe the world’s first; “06LC Seiko the world’s first lcd digital circa 1974”. Long story short, the watch was left in Japan some years later and never found again. Every Father’s Day, I think of the treasured timepiece and wish I could find one. Any suggestions?
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1–feB0QhwRY1pYjmDCjV6rgzN_jFDAYzso4H0NmhncY
    I will be eternally grateful for any leads of where I may find one.
    Thanks.

  • Jeffrey Co

    hi.. do you also have suggestions on where to shop for vintage watches in Osaka?

  • Mr_Mink

    I saw this article before I headed off to Japan for 11 days from Sydney at end of Aug.2017. This was the 6th time I have been to Tokyo, 2 being only really overnight stops, the other 4 being 3-4 week jaunts all over Japan. This article inspired me to try out the used market in search of something cheaper than retail ex-tax here in Sydney or buying from grey sellers in US, which I have done before for an Oris BC complication. I decided to make it easier by limiting myself to either a Tudor Black Bay red or a North Flag on black leather strap, so no obscure Rolexes for me, which I cannot afford anyway.

    I did have a look in Akihabara of course, but more for electronic nick-nacks. However I did end up buying there a basic Orient automatic (pic att.) there with a very distinct design element which appealed to me (very YMMV for others?). This was a sandwich dial with turquoise under, a pink ring with date cutout in same colour – the minute hand in white, the second in pink, but the hour hand changes thru 3 cutouts to turquoise and pink. I had seen it first in an orange and red colour combo but preferred this one, Very much JDM I am sure and price was a pretty fair 14,800Y (170AUD) with 8% tax off. It even has a tinted blue exhibition case back.

    This was an accidental prize before I left Tokyo for some regional touring. I had a day back in Tokyo before my night flight home so decided that was going to be a trip to Nakano and hopefully a Tudor day. (Bizarrely it happens to be more on the end of the line that goes past the Yasukuni shrine which houses the graves of some Japanese class A war criminals, which I did not find, but you will likely need to be able to read Japanese).

    So on to Nakano and basically you just head North out of the station into a long narrow covered arcade-like shopping street which I recognised from one of Ariel’s pics. That runs out at a cross street, you cross the road then head up into a 3-4 level building Nakano Broadway which has all these individual shops in it. (If you use Google Maps they highlight the rough location of JackRoad in English which helps). The little pictures of watches on small posters downstairs gives you a bit of a clue (pic att.). Well it all starts happening on Levels 2 and 3. I found my Black Bay with red bezel (new version with house MT5602 movement) in the first shop Ginza NJ Time. Found out the tax free credit card price (Ariel correctly identifies there might be 4 price variants) then decided to move on just to check (never buy the first one you see etc). Second shop had same model 500Y cheaper (dealer card stamped Cologne 4/17 – the other was Bonn 1/17 – why all in Germany?). With box and papers etc, but the wrong” jacquard strap, black not red – a deal breaker for me as I absolutely wanted the red. They could get it in an hour, but I had to get to the airport via my hotel, so sorry.

    So back to Ginza NJ (hand bill pic att.) to finalise the deal. Do not expect to run in an out of these shops, usually only one persons speaks good enough English to deal with you. They are very thorough with the documentation and in my case the Black Bay looked virtually unworn/unmarked. Tax free price with credit card was 287,400Y, which came to 3275AUD. The local retail here is about 4600AUD incl. 10% tax so a good saving. Yes I could buy from USA for 2800USD or slightly less, but add currency, shipping, not to mention 10% Goods and Services Tax here + customs charges. This was ultimately a safer and cheaper deal I think.

    Hope this helps anyone as much as the original helped me!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb294ba711417d795231ebe76f4aa2cb54b63c58d4c1231a48d2d1d5fc95c37b.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/87b960d56a8947facc468a62763c9a0d849803a8689abe86cc697bbead77fe0b.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/47d51bf326f56cf579371cf7623a89c6b7e080c097cdfc48ae76d25d641c2d2b.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/987379fc435ed81248bcdf194389c9a3d26e26044817e87725202445b42cffdd.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/989d9f66fc3cba9929e03ff0e315808f64f94d1a2779971c01f3b6f0c7cfb8d2.jpg

  • Mr_Mink

    I stayed in Shinjuku in Tokyo for a couple of nights in my recent stay in Tokyo as per earlier post. I did identify what looked like a potential used watch joint in a side street but it never seemed to be open when I was around. I did of course check out both Bic Camera and Yodobashi in Shinjuku as these electronic warehouses are full of surprises. There is a very full on hifi dept in Bic in particular if you want to buy some bespoke JBL speakers and suitcase sized amps etc! But the watch dept of Bic had some surprises. Yes there were made in Japan Seiko divers and some interesting fashion watches as per att. pics. However the bigger surprise was the apparently half price Frederique Constant GMT watches in pics att. At that price they looked very reasonable even though they ultimately did not appeal to me. The rather strange green and black symbol on the dial, with a word I cannot make out even on my own original photo, also confuses. Maybe they were used collectors items, as nothing on the current FC site has anything approaching this. Interesting. Better rush there if interested as this was 3 weeks ago now! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1d1ec34a1ddfbf0bb1931f0f1c5c77eb22f3089e8154a157e12e258dcbcfff3f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/15871b540f6495946329082674eb7290ba37dee3d5cd777d207c2c7bf6231428.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e944b8e1149e3c781969846747013476f3d6ba962e325cf6cb47699692751117.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4b2c3a860ad0d3312f6cb1954f4a061eb20fbf43a5b0feb92eba2ca842f39c19.jpg

  • Pradeesh

    You could also try some online auctions here, especially if you’re worried of buying a fake. I used timepeaks.com and they were really helpful, and what is most important, they speak perfect English. Definitely recommend for both busy people or non-japanese speakers!