5 minutes

Is Tokyo the best place for watch lovers? Our Favorite Spots

By Thomas Hendricks

Konnichiwa! Konnichiwa! We recently celebrated the opening of our new Chrono24 office in Tokyo and took the opportunity to sit down with some Japanese watch enthusiasts. Today, we’re giving you a quick run-though of the Tokyo watch shopping experience; covering both places to go and things to keep in mind. Let’s hit it! 

1. Ginza Neighborhood: The Center of Tokyo 

We’ll start with Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood, since there is a lot of horological activity going on there. For some quick background, Ginza is the luxury shopping epicenter of Tokyo, similar to 5th Avenue in New York or Rodeo Drive in LA. The route back to our hotel involved walking past the Gucci store and taking a left at Givenchy… You’ll see plenty of Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Lamborghinis lining the streets, even some left-hand drive versions – the sign of an even higher level of luxury, seeing as cars with left-hand drives have to be imported into Japan.  

We moved around town on foot, which is fine, since Ginza and Tokyo as a whole are very walkable. All the brand boutiques are here; you can hit Lange, Omega, and the Grand Seiko flagship, for example, one after another. Not everyone speaks English, but the Rolex employees have certainly learned the words “display only.” We did see someone buying a watch in the Rolex boutique, but the guy was wearing a rose gold Daytona, so it’s safe to assume he had some purchase history to help him secure the new acquisition.  

Overall, the brand boutiques are fairly standard, and a Zenith store in Tokyo isn’t that different from one in the US or Europe. But one boutique that was quite unique was the Nicolas G. Hayek Center housing Swatch Group brands. Here, you walk into what is essentially a courtyard with glass rooms scattered around. Each glass room is branded Omega, Longines, Tissot, etc. Each room is actually an elevator that takes you to the individual brand boutiques that are located above and below you.  

As you’d expect, customer service in Japan is impeccable, which is a nice relief when compared to some authorized dealers in the US and Europe. We chatted it up with an Omega sales associate, and when we got on the elevator to return to street level, he did a full bow and did not move until the elevator was out of sight.  

Ginza neighborhood
Ginza neighborhood

2. Nakano Broadway: Classical Icons  

OK, that’s enough about Ginza. There are a few other boutiques that I’ll shout out in a rapid-fire list later on, but let’s talk about Nakano Broadway. Nakano Broadway is kind of like Tokyo’s equivalent of 47th Street in New York. It’s a four or five-story mall with lots of comic book stores and tons of gray market/pre-owned watch stores. Jack Road, for example, has multiple storefronts in this same complex.  

You won’t necessarily find any deals here, even with a weak yen, but you will find plenty of inventory. We’re talking Rolex Submariners, Rolex Daytonas, Cartier Tanks, Speedmaster variations – you name it. One warning though: Japanese customers do not like scratches, so polishing is common, even on vintage stuff. Many boutiques that I’ll mention later on are more aware of the dos and don’ts of polishing, but it’s something to look out for if you’re shopping at Nakano Broadway.  

I’ve heard a writer at Fratello say that camera stores secretly have the best watch deals, and you’ll find some here and there, but we didn’t strike any gold during our quick overview of the stores. That said, if you are looking for vintage Ultraman figurines, Nakano Broadway has you covered.  

Nakano's watch boutiques
Nakano’s watch boutiques

Location List: Chrono24’s Favorite Places 

Now for a quick rundown of other stores to check out before we get into our list of tips and tricks for watch shopping in Japan. We either visited each of these stores ourselves or spoke to a local enthusiast who recommend it to us: 

  • The Ginza neighborhood for luxury shopping and brand boutiques.  
  • Nakano Broadway for more gray market finds.  
  • Chrono24 dealers like Gem Castle, Jewellix, and Ippuukishi, the most prolific dealer on the platform.  
  • There’s a very cool boutique called Chrono Theory that specializes in independent brands. The decor is inspired by Star Trek, and there’s a bar there, so you can have a drink while you try on an Ophion or Urwerk. We shot an interview there with Chrono’s Japan Editor-in-Chief Masayuki Hirota. So if you like independents, check that out.  
  • You also have Razin, Kame-Kichi, Eguchi, and a place called Private Eyes, which one of our interviewees highly recommended.  
  • And, finally, you must go to as many Seiko and Grand Seiko boutiques as you can while you’re in Tokyo. We even filmed a video tour of the Seiko Museum.  
Watch shopping in Tokyo
Watch shopping in Tokyo

Tips and Tricks 

OK, let’s wrap this up with some dos, don’ts, and things to keep in mind when watch shopping in Tokyo.  

  1. The yen is weak, so watch prices in Japan are advantageous right now. That said, everyone has the Internet, so pricing doesn’t deviate far from market rates.  
  1. If you’ve ever chatted with a Japanese dealer on Chrono24, perhaps you already know that negotiating isn’t really a thing there. It’s easy to find competitively priced, well-maintained watches in Japan, so you shouldn’t expect a discount on top of that.  
  1. That said, if you’re not a Japanese citizen, you can often purchase a watch tax-free, which instantly saves you about 10%. 
  1. Cash is king in Japan, but you can use a credit card to buy a watch. Be sure to select yen as your payment currency, at least as long as the dollar and euro are stronger.  
  1. Every store is tiny, but you can hit a bunch back to back (to back).  
  1. Have a translation app on hand to help you communicate with store staff. 
  1. Be on the lookout for over-polishing. If you’re shopping online, it can help to ask for more details about the status of the case.  
  1. All in all, Japanese dealers are transparent, friendly, and easy to work with. Also, the notion of taking care of your things is deeply ingrained into Japanese culture, which makes it easy to buy a great watch from a trusted source.  

That’s all for now. As always, if there’s anything we missed, please drop a comment below to help out the community. Be sure to like, subscribe, and take a look at our other Japan videos hitting the channel. I’m Thomas Hendricks with Chrono24 – enjoy your watches, y’all! 

About the Author

Thomas Hendricks

I didn’t grow up a watch guy, but a few years after graduating from university, I landed a job at the online publication Watchonista as a writer and marketer. “Welcome to the watch world,” my colleagues told me half-jokingly, “no one ever leaves!” Now at Chrono24, I work as a private client advisor, helping people find the perfect watch for major life moments.

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