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.
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.
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.
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.