Grand Seiko 44GS Limited Edition Watch Hands-On

Grand Seiko 44GS Limited Edition Watch Hands-On

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While I'm far from the first to say it, Grand Seiko remains a true oasis of watchnerdery, a special arm within Seiko that seems to exist just to pose the question "is this the best we can do?" Grand Seiko is more than just the Lexus to Seiko's Toyota.  The idea is less about a luxurious alternative to your SKX007 diver and more about Seiko having the outlet to make some truly fantastic watches which inevitably fall above the price point that many consumers often associate with Seiko.

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While at Baselworld, we got a chance to see most of the new Seiko lineup, including the Grand Seiko 44GS Limited Edition. While the 2013 44GS is technically a new watch, it certainly doesn't have the wrist presence of a modern Grand Seiko. This is because Seiko has gone to every extent possible to make this new model feel as old their roots. The 44GS you see here is actually a modern recreation of the 44GS from 1967, a watch that effectively set the look and feel of Grand Seiko watches for the past 40+ years.

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Seiko is pretty serious about the way that light interacts with the many facets on the case and the finishing on dial. This new 44GS is exceptionally finished and remarkably beautiful, with wide set lugs and faceted dial markers that have a jewel-like shape. The case is 37.9 mm by 11.5 mm thick and can be had in steel (SBGW047), or in your choice of white, yellow or rose 18k gold (SBGW043, SBGW044 and SBGW046, respectively). Essentially a replica of the original 44GS, it seems that Seiko subscribes to the "if it ain't broke" method of thinking, and we totally agree. Grand Seiko models carry not only Seiko's best movements, but also their best finishing and detailing, and the 44GS was spared no level of attention in the finishing executed on its case and dial... (more »)

  • Ulysses31

    People will say it’s boring and not worth the money.  It is expensive, but then it is for that peculiar type of person who recognises quality without the watch screaming it out loud.

    • MarkCarson

      Ulysses31 I won’t say it isn’t worth the money. But I will say it’s B-O-R-I-N-G. 
      Refined, restrained and classic don’t have to result in boring looking watches. But they have in this case. I admire the material and workmanship of the GS but I can’t get excited with the results of all of the effort.

      • Ulysses31

        MarkCarson Ulysses31 Fair enough.  It’s to be expected.  It looks like a vintage Seiko and I love some of those, so it’s natural i’d like this too.  Trouble is, you can get real vintage Seikos on eBay for around a thousand bucks (they hold their value well, people compete for them like crazy) so if I wanted this look I wouldn’t have to pay through the nose for it.  Now, that “budget” Patek that was here recently bored me to tears – it’s trying to sell itself on the reputation of the name alone, but I can see why a lot of people would still love it.

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  • Grinnie Jax

    Watches possess a certain powerful charge of the vintage 70’s style. This powerful charisma captivates and coats the observer with its magic, but not the every one. It is only for connoisseurs, for true watch lovers.
    It’s like an old Cuban pulled out of his cellar an unremarkable at bottle of rum for you, but after trying a bit you understand that its better than those presented on a silk cushion…

  • DG Cayse

    A time piece that functions in a simple and elegant manner. Unlike the garish watches that seem to be de riguer today.

    And, Mr. Stacy, if that is your hirsute appendage pictured, it looks like a perfect fit on your wrist.

  • LapYoda

    Would you say this watch looks better in person than it appears in photographs? I just don’t get the sense of how the light plays with the facets on the markers and case.

  • Spaceguitar

    Gorgeous. Speak from a different era, don’t they?
    I could see having fun mixing these up with aftermarket straps too (something I learned from you Mr. Stacey).

  • Zeitblom

    They can make watches all right. They just don’t know how to design them. I don’t find the price excessive for what you get technically, but I don’t want to wear the watch grandpa wore at his funeral.

  • https://www.dropbox.com/sh/v7yngj8mczvkwmo/tyAa6k-B0u hobycook

    Clunky case design.  Handsome? Maybe, if I force myself to disregard the unremarkable-ness of the look.  I’d go for a Campanola minute repeater at 1/30th the price and have a much more ambitious and beautiful timepiece even with the partly-quartz movement.

    • Panagiotis

      hobycook The Campys… now, THAT’s the right way to do it…And talk about design!!!

  • Sherif

    Love Grand Seikos and hope to have one some day.  My one gripe, and it’s minor is the redundant “Grand Seiko” under the “GS”.  I think the watches would look so much better without it.  Just my $0.02

  • Ryan B

    Does anybody else find it insulting when a company doesn’t make a particular model in several different case sizes? 
    It’s
    as if they assume we all have the same size wrists. I’ve seen many many
    models that I’ve taken a particular liking too only to find out they
    come in only 38 to 40mm which to some people looks rather awkward given
    certain physical features such as long arms or wider wrists. One would
    thank they are limiting the success of their timepieces by only
    attracting the little people and pissing off the rest of us. Size of a watch is just as
    important in the decision making process as is the movement, color etc
    and companies seem to forget that. This is especially annoying when they
    say something will not only be one size, but also limited to only “x”
    number of pieces.

    Long story short, many collectors feel
    cheated when they don’t have the option for bigger case size and a
    standard “default” size is forced upon them. The Grand Seiko is a superb
    timepiece but even if I could afford it, it sadly has to fall into this
    category.

    • LapYoda

      Ryan B I have the same complaint, only about the monster case sizes currently en vogue.  Watches that are over 42 mm often look cartoonishly large on my wrists, which can only adequately be described as “girly.”  For me, 38-42 mm is the sweet spot, and my perception is that many of the watches I like nowadays are just too large.

    • Ulysses31

      Ryan B If it’s a JDM model then i’d understand why it was so small.  The Japanese are generally insular, and since men in their home market aren’t usually of immense stature, creating a larger version probably didn’t even cross their minds.  If it’s intended for the international market then I don’t know.

    • MID

      Ryan B Actually, I don’t find it insulting.  In fact, there are larger Grand Seiko watches, larger than 42 mm, including dive watches, GMTs, and chronos.  The automatic version of the GS 44 is 40 mm, as is the Snowflake (SD), and the Hi- Beat, for example.  And, remember, the GS 44 is limited — only 700 in steel (70 each is red, yellow, and white gold.)  Seiko does not need to offer this particular model in a range of sizes.  (I think it’s perfect the way it is.)

  • Kris C

    Ryan B snapped the words off my keyboard 10 minutes before I got here today. I would certainly consider one of these were they to also be offered in a more modern case size. I don’t need 46mm, but 42 would be about perfect for a watch like this.

    • Ryan B

      Kris C  agreed, 42 to about 44 is my preference as well

    • https://www.dropbox.com/sh/v7yngj8mczvkwmo/tyAa6k-B0u hobycook

      Kris C Also add my two cents on 42 – 44.

    • Ulysses31

      Kris C I’ve often stared at my Seikos wishing they were just 4mm larger :(

      • Kris C

        I have 2 vintage 6138 Seiko automatic chronographs, and I love them. I had them properly serviced and they serve me very well (I would add running seconds if I could make but 1 update). One is a bullhead @ 44mm, and the other is in a standard configuration @ 42mm, and both wear very nicely. They are also both from the mid 1970s, but they don’t look old – the sizing and the styling are both fine for today’s watch wearing guy.
        I get that these GS models are dress watches, not casual/sport affairs, but I have a 42mm dress watch that is just as classy as anything else. It is a totally appropriate dress watch size.

      • Fraser Petrick

        Ulysses31 Kris C Only watch nerds would carry on an internet conversation on 42 vs 44. That’s okay. We of the skinny wrist set  envy those who can wear the big bling wrist clocks.

  • Fraser Petrick

    Of course I would want a Grand Seiko. Who wouldn’t? However, it does look like a Bank Branch Manager retirement gift from 1970. My late father-in-law would have worn a Grand Seiko if his 1942 Timex or whatever graduation gift  from Med School at the University of Western Ontario hadn’t kept on ticking.

  • MID

    The GS 44 is an elegant, sober, and tasteful watch.  The size, I think, is perfect for this piece.  (Bear in mind that Patek recently introduced an “enlarged” 5227 Calatrava at 39 mm.)  When I’m not dressed up — that is, wearing something elegant and sober, — I can wear an Ananta chrono or an MM300 (beautiful watches to be sure, but they have their place.)  When I want to look like an adult with good taste, then I want something like the GS 44.  Put another way, the Grand Seiko will never be popular in Vegas, Hollywood, or the NBA.  And, that’s OK.  Leave Grand Seiko for the grown ups.

  • Lesthepom

    The design of this watch is as old as me and I think it has weathered better than me it still looks like a new watch it is a bit on the plain side for me but if it has survived this long it must be good I think it is only the Seiko name that stops me really wanting it may be that makes me a watch snob
    Rolex make a cheaper watch called Tudor but Seiko make an expensive watch called Seiko may be that is the thing that bothers me

    • MarkCarson

      Lesthepom Yeah, the thing about names is that an expensive brand has to have a different brand name for a cheaper line so as to not lessen the prestige ($$$ value) of the original brand. And a lower brand that does not create a new higher end brand name and instead uses its own name runs the risk that no one will take them seriously in the higher priced segment. Seiko should have made a new brand name – “Grand Seiko” as a brand is still Seiko in people’s minds.

      • Ulysses31

        MarkCarson Lesthepom They have the “Credor” brand which would fit perfectly for high-end stuff but as usual, they don’t market it properly.

  • Fraser Petrick

    Is a $60,000 Lexus twice as good as a $30,000 Camry? Is a $30,000 Rolex automatically 100 times better than a $300 Citizen? It’s all got to do with jewelry store lighting. Ooo so sparkly!
    (The pathetic words of an inverse snob.)

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