First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

For Baselworld 2017, Grand Seiko made the announcement that they are now independent from Seiko as an autonomous brand. They are marking the occasion and honoring their history by rereleasing their first watch line from 1960 as well as a brand-new modern reinterpretation for 2017. The Grand Seiko SBGW251, SBGW252, and SBGW253 are rereleases of the simple three-hand watches that were made in gold and platinum, but Grand Seiko is fortunately also releasing one in steel (which you'll see here). And, looking to the future, we also have the Grand Seiko SBGR305 which uses a more modern movement, date window, and a brand-new material proprietary to Grand Seiko - Brilliant Hard Titanium.

No longer do Grand Seiko owners have to deal with the head-scratching curiosity of reading "SEIKO" at 12 o'clock and "GS Grand Seiko" at 6 o'clock, so let's see what the two bookends of the brand's history look like so far.

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On
The rerelease of the original 1960 Grand Seiko (in platinum, 18k yellow gold, and steel)
First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On
First Grand Seiko watch from 1960
First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On
Grand Seiko SBGW253

The SBGW watches are quite simple three-hand dress watches that, while not one-to-one replicas of the original, look absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Done in 38mm-wide cases rather than the original 36mm, each of these three pieces has a distinctly applied Grand Seiko designation on the dial. The Grand Seiko SBGW251 is the version in Platinum 999 which has the text engraved into the dial, the Grand Seiko SBGW252 is the 18k gold model and has the text affixed to the dial, and the Grand Seiko SBGW253 steel model also has affixed text, but the blue seconds hand is the distinguishing factor here.

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

These watches use the 9S64 manual-wind caliber that has a 72-hour power reserve and helps to create the slim profile of the 10.7mm-thick platinum and gold models, and the 11.2mm-thick case of the steel model. The dual-curved sapphire crystal helps create the same graceful watch profile of the original 1960 models. We've got images of the steel model here but I have to say that I'm usually very ambivalent about reissues and re-editions of historic pieces, but I think the new size and the quality of the finishes looks so incredible that I'm really free of a lot of criticism - aside from the fact that, even as limited editions, these are quite expensive.

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Moving on to the new Grand Seiko SBGR305, this being billed as a complete modern reinterpretation of the watches from 1960. With a 40.5mm-wide and 13.6mm-thick case, we see the debut of the aforementioned Brilliant Hard Titanium which Grand Seiko claims to be as light as titanium but twice as hard as steel - which negates the primary drawback of standard titanium which is that it scratches easily. Yeah, there are going to be comments about how Grand Seiko should have left the date out like the original 1960 watches but, you know, it looks pretty attractive to me. This watch is water-resistant to 100m, which is a significant upgrade from the 30m water-resistance in the re-releases.

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

The movement inside is the self-winding Caliber 9S68 movement which has been incorporated in many modern Grand Seikos and has a 72-hour power reserve. A big change from the original that's featured in the Grand Seiko SBGR305 is an exhibition caseback, as opposed to engraved casebacks for the three rereleases. The highly polished and intricately finished 9S68 looks as meticulous and refined as anything you'd expect from Grand Seiko let alone the first original watch released under their now autonomous brand.

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

The dialwork, the blued seconds hand, contemporary size, and just how natural that Grand Seiko insignia looks without the Seiko title above it together make for a striking impression. I'm not sure how this repositioning of the brand is going to affect sales or perception but it's a decidedly commonsensical move, allowing Grand Seiko independence to distinguish itself as a luxury brand in non-Asian markets.

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

First 1960 Grand Seiko Rerelease & Modern Reinterpretation SBGR305 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

There will be 136 pieces made of the Grand Seiko SBGW251 platinum watch which will have a price of 38,500 euros, 353 pieces of the Grand Seiko SBGW252 in 18k gold with a price of 21,700 euros, and 1,960 pieces of the Grand Seiko SBGW253 in steel which will cost 7,200 euros. There will be 968 pieces of the new Grand Seiko SBGR305 which will have a price of 8,800 euros each. Again, these watches are quite expensive but I can't imagine that there aren't collectors who are going to go absolutely crazy for these. What I'll be interested in is seeing how Grand Seiko moves forward as a newly autonomous arm of Seiko because, speaking for myself, there's nothing I'd like more than a deeper appreciation for Grand Seiko here in the States. If that's going to happen is a whole other question, though. grand-seiko.com

What do you think?
  • I want it! (56)
  • Classy (27)
  • Thumbs up (16)
  • I love it! (12)
  • Interesting (4)
  • IanE

    Lovely things – but I do wonder if they are trying to move up the pricing pyramid at the wrong time!?

    • Beefalope

      That seems to be exactly what’s happening.

    • I thought so too at first, but I’ve noticed a move towards more subtle displays of wealth lately — plus, I think they are offering another alternative to those who like to stand out, and can afford to do so.

      For some people (myself included) It’s cool to point out that your seiko costs more than the new rolex that the person you are speaking to is wearing — when the situation calls for it of course 🙂

  • IG

    38 Gs for a GS LOL

  • ProJ

    SBGW253 = life goals

  • ??????

    SBGW253 in steel is just awesome: so pure and handsome.

  • SuperStrapper

    Nice watches, insane prices.

    • Sevenmack

      All watches are “overpriced”, especially in the age in which a smartphone and a $5 Paw Patrol-branded digital can tell time more-accurately than any mechanical. Once that is accepted, all we are debating is which ‘insanely-priced’ watch each of us wants to buy.

  • Julian Chan

    Such amazingly beautiful watches. The price is starting to get too premium for my liking. One thing GS needs to improve on is the thickness of their watches. They make such beautiful timepieces but it is always so thick! Time to work on that thickness guys!

    • Beefalope

      True. 12mm and under would be better.

      • ProJ

        The SBGW25x is only about 11mm though

        • Sevenmack

          Meanwhile the SBGR305 has 100 meters water resistance (which dictates the thicker watch). It is also made of titanium, which means it will be lighter than any of the SBGW25x watches and likely easier to wear as a result. There’s more to a watch than either thickness or diameter.

  • BNABOD

    certainly better without the superfluous co-branding. very dressy but very well made and timeless

  • Marius

    Grand Seiko is one of my favourite brands, but to be honest, their latest releases are rather underwhelming.

    The SBGW 251-253 (the 1960`s inspired watches) are very elegant and refined timepieces, but I find them too old-looking. They really look dated, and appear to be the watches that my grandfather would wear, not me. Also, all three versions are very expensive. For instance, the steel reference costs over €7,000, which is a lot considering that you can get a similarly-complicated watch from JLC, Blancpain, or GO for less.

    On the other hand, the SBGR 305 is very attractive and modern-looking. It has a very technical titanium case; a beautiful dial with the typical GS highly-finished hands; and a modern and nicely-finished movement. Nevertheless, at almost €9,000 is quite expensive. Keep in mind that a JLC Geophysics True-Seconds is slightly cheaper and also offers the additional dead-seconds complication.

    The new releases are certainly nice watches, but Grand Seiko seems to be radically changing their pricing policy. Grand Seiko used to offer high-quality watches at “reasonable” prices, knowing that their brand name was not as strong as Rolex and co. The new models continue to be high-quality timepieces, but at prices that are as high, or even higher than those of much more prestigious brands like Rolex, JLC, and the rest. Personally, I wouldn’t buy a GS at these prices — Swiss and German prestigious watch brands are offering simply too many good watches at this price point.

    • ProJ

      I am not sure if the Geophysics has the same level of finishing as these offerings from GS. I would probably compare GS now more with H. Moser.

      • IG

        LOL Visit your optician ASAP.

        • ProJ

          Well, I did actually handle an SBGW047 (one of GS modern Historical pieces), as well as a JLC Geophysics. The GS was certainly better finished.

          • Beefalope

            It is — it’s not even close.

        • Beefalope

          Wrong.

          Of course, Moser movement finishing is clearly superior. Then again, Moser movement finishing under $20k may be better than anybody’s, including Patek and ALS.

          Dial finishing on a Moser is not better at all than GS. They’re equally exquisite.

      • Marius

        Personally, I find that the JLC Geophysics and the Grand Seiko SBGR 305 are at a very similar level.

        You’re right, the hands and dial of the GS are better finished than the JLC. However, the cases appear to be pretty much on par. Also, the movements are equally nicely-finished. In fact, I would say that the JLC caliber is more attractive thanks to the solid gold rotor, and the blued screws. What’s more, don’t forget that the JLC offers a true-seconds complication as well.

        • Beefalope

          As much as I love GS, movement finishing on the JLC is better, which makes it all the more puzzling that they hide some of their fine movements behind solid case backs.

      • Beefalope

        I find the Geophysic is inferior to GS. Movement finishing in the JLC is better, I’m sure, but it’s a solid case back so it doesn’t matter. Geophysic dial finishing is very underwhelming. One of the JLC dress watches makes more sense.

    • Luciano

      Fully agree. The price is totally wrong. In the 7,000-9,000 EUR range you have beautiful options from Jaeger-LeCoultre, Glashütte Original, etc.

    • Beefalope

      I mostly agree. I love Grand Seiko so much that I have three GS watches. A big part of the appeal for me was that they were offering clearly superior watches at comparable or lower prices.

      What GS appears to have done at this Baselworld, though, is keep the designs and quality mostly the same while boosting prices substantially. That’s a move out of the Swiss playbook. Out Swissing the Swiss is not what I want from GS.

    • riposte

      It’s rare to see dead-seconds complication lover… Agree for JLC. But it needs refinement on the mechanical side. The hands still moving just a little. Hebring does better than JLC to implement dead-seconds (this is pure opinion from the every macro-shot videos, not looking at AD, maybe JLC fix it later). If the movement is perfect, I would praise it anyday alongside GS

  • Jon Han

    Nice watches. Think it’s a good move that GS is now autonomous, but the prices…

  • wallydog2

    Grand Seiko : pure watch.

  • Word Merchant

    Needs new fonts.

  • Concerned1

    I feel like it’s mostly semantics, but for many people perception is reality. If it helps to distinguish Grand Seiko as a superior brand, I’m all for it. That said, I’ll be keeping my “double-branded” Snowflake… 😉

  • Luciano

    Nice, but not 7,200 EUR nice.

  • Yan Fin

    Hmm, Seiko for the price of two Tudors… Or a Rolex…What would regular one watch buyer pick?

    • I don’t think that Grand Seiko is aimed at the average watch buyer, any more that Hublot is.

      They are aimed at those who can afford them and will buy them *because* they are not Rolex.

      • Beefalope

        Yup.

      • Yan Fin

        There are so many ” *because* they are not Rolex”, why to pick the least attractive/ borderline boring?

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I think Seiko are getting ideas above their station.

    • Lindsay

      Those pesky Orientals amirite?

  • thecouchguy

    I quite like it. Out of my price range though. The prices have gone full swiss, we shall see if GS are flying too close to the sun in time. For that money there might be a sexy German watch that steals my heart.

  • sfbaydawg221

    Cannot tell the difference between a GS Auto and a Seiko auto. Doesn’t make sense to buy a GS Auto at these prices, even a hi-beat one. Some of these are more expensive than a Spring Drive GS.

    • ???

      Take them in your hands and you will find the difference(if still not, put on a loupe). The Hi-Beat collections were already expensive than the Spring Drive ones before Seiko made the GS independent.

  • Ulysses31

    Pretty, very well made, and unfortunately boring. For that much money I want something truly stunning.

  • I’ve come to terms with Grand Seiko: Beautifully executed, boring as all get out.

    It’s like Caravaggio’s “Still Life with Fruit.” You can appreciate the artistry, but it’s not why you went to the museum.

    • BNABOD

      Tend to agree I had up until yesterday a GS in my collection and while the model sbgm027 to me was one of the few that would not put a rhino to sleep I find the other offerings dull. I don’t dress up at work so I have no need for a dress watch . Was actually looking forward to ceramic models in human size but no such luck

  • Gokart Mozart

    I know everybody seems to be going on about the price and finishing or that it looks boring, at the moment I do not care about that, and for the record it does not look boring or old fashioned.

    I like this watch, because it does not look like a japanese version of a Rolex like most GS’s. The GS SBGR305 has a lovely dial and the hands finally suit the watch. The case design is excellent and no offence but it does not look Far Eastern.

    This looks more like a mini Credor, rather than an Oriental Rolex or upmarket Seiko. Design and styling wise it is much more European. compare to the

    The first and only Grand Seiko I would consider to get.
    http://www.seiko-watch.co.jp/products/images/sbga029/main.png

    http://www.seiko-watch.co.jp/products/images/sbgj003/main.png

  • BRIAN

    Ok plenty of posts saying the finish is better so somebody explain WHAT is better? What is lacking on the other watches mentioned? I don’t walk around with a lope all day long so are we saying this difference is that noticeable?

    Actually when you get a watch so well polished it can become a negative as it has to be sent back to the MFG to reproduce the finish. Also the more finished it is the more it shows imperfections.

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