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Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains

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Why Grand Seiko? That’s probably the most common question we hear at Timeless. Grand Seiko is probably the single most disruptive brand in the entire luxury watch industry, and it seems like every watch collector has a strong opinion on the topic. We have an opinion on it too: we are obsessed with GS. In fact, we are so fascinated with the brand that we’ve written well over 20 articles about them, not including this one. We hang out on Seiko forums. We host parties with Grand Seiko where a master GS watchmaker assembles watches in front of an audience. We’re even building an independent website that will be the ultimate resource for Grand Seiko and will put all information about the brand, past and present, into one convenient place.

But that doesn’t really answer the question. Why Grand Seiko? To really appreciate why we, and a huge number of other watch collectors, love GS, I think you’ve got to consider at least a few separate factors: the history, the movements, and the craftsmanship.

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The History

Grand Seiko is seen as something of a newcomer in the luxury watch world, having only entered the US a few years ago, and rising to fame in English speaking countries largely via internet forums. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, GS was just as controversial all the way back in 1960 as it is today.

Back then, despite their commitment to quality since Kintaro Hattori’s first shop in 1881, Seiko was not seen as a major player in the luxury watch market. They’d had their successes and awards, but they had yet to leave a permanent mark on the high-end watch industry. Seiko decided to have one of their major divisions, Suwa, produce a Grand Seiko. They meant that in a literal sense — the original model was to be the absolute best wristwatch they were capable of making at the time.

And so they did. The original model was merely called the Grand Seiko because, at the time, it was just a model — not a collection. The classic three hand, no date, manual wind watch made waves. It was truly a world class watch, but it was only a starting point. It wasn’t long before the Grand Seiko’s success warranted an expansion — it became two models, then three, then more. They added watches with dates, with automatic winding, with different frequencies — it was a complete collection on its own.

Seiko competed internationally by entering wristwatch movements into Neuchatel chronometer testing starting in 1964. The Neuchatel observatory not only rated watches but also gave their corresponding rank relative to other movements that were tested, making it possible to see who was making the most accurate pieces. It was in this arena that Grand Seiko would determine its success, and from 1964 until the end of the Neuchatel chronometer trials, GS would enter movements for competition.

The initial results were mediocre — there was a lot of room for improvement. By 1967, movements supplied by Seiko had moved from the 144th place into the top ten, thanks largely to their advancements in high-frequency calibres. The stage was set for Grand Seiko to finally take their first place finish in 1968 when the Neuchatel chronometer trials were abruptly abandoned. It is often speculated that this was to avoid declaring Seiko the winner of a Swiss chronometer competition. Regardless of the reason, Grand Seiko, as well as the other watchmakers, were undeterred, and simply went to the equivalent Geneva competition where they were once again competed.

This time, Seiko achieved its mission. Grand Seiko received 4th through 10th place, beaten only by a prototype quartz movement which took 1st through 3rd. This made Grand Seiko’s movements the most accurate mechanical wristwatch movements in the world. GS had proven that they could compete with anyone.

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That’s just one of my favorite stories from Grand Seiko’s illustrious history, but there are many more. Suffice it to say that history, as well as tradition, plays a crucial part in understanding why GS is the phenomenon it is today.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

The Movements

One of my favorite things about Grand Seikos is their accuracy. With the vast majority of watch brands out there, you’ve got a wide range of potential accuracy ratings and that’s true of Grand Seiko as well, but with one major difference — the worst Grand Seiko has a better rating than almost every other brand’s best. That’s very convenient, not merely for bragging rights, but because it means that the collector can buy any GS at random, without any knowledge of movements, and end up with a watch that’s extremely accurate. You literally can’t go wrong.

But although the specs are very impressive, there’s so much more to Grand Seiko’s movements than numbers on spreadsheets. Those are great in a sales brochure, but you need to understand the soul of GS, of Seiko generally, and to some degree perhaps even Japan, to adequately explain, “why Grand Seiko.”

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More specifically, that nature is this unusual, yet elegant, combination of tradition and technology. No other luxury watch brand so seamlessly weaves watchmaking traditions that predate the entire company with next generation movements that literally no other company in the world can replicate. Grand Seiko is always staying true to their heritage while managing to advance the technology of movements at the same time.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

No movement more eloquently expresses this philosophy than the spring drive. This revolutionary movement, now almost synonymous with Grand Seiko, manages to integrate the fine finishing and assembly of a mechanical GS from the 1960s with an exceedingly unique, high tech tri-synchro regulator. This allows them to fuse the old with the new, creating a movement that has no batteries at all, stores the entirety of its energy in a mainspring, and is almost completely mechanical, but with accuracy that exceeds most quartz watches. The spring drive allowed the watch collector to enjoy the beauty of a traditional watch with the accuracy of a high tech one. It’s an almost perfect mirror for the company.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

On either side of the spring drive you’ll find supremely advanced quartz movements and remarkably refined mechanical ones. Most luxury brands also offer quartz movements these days, but extremely few of them actually even make those movements. They’re typically offered as an also-ran for those who don’t want to spend more money on a mechanical watch and they’re very rarely, if ever, a subject of pride.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

For Grand Seiko, this is completely the opposite. Grand Seiko takes great pride in their quartz movements for mainly two reasons: their quartz movements are easily among the best ever made, and owing to their Seiko heritage, they are the father of quartz movements generally. Indeed, the same division that made the first production quartz watch makes Grand Seiko quartzes today, 46 years later. I could go into the fine details about what makes these movements (namely, the 9F) so great, but you can read our other articles for that — suffice it to say that the least accurate 9F is rated for 10 seconds per year, and the most accurate, 5 seconds per year — this, and a host of other technical improvements, mean that the quartz line of Grand Seikos is anything but an afterthought.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

Finally, we have mechanical movements, GS’ oldest division. Grand Seiko movements are very thoughtfully and elegantly designed with an aim for simplicity, reliability, and accuracy. Today, the least accurate Grand Seiko movement is +5/-3 seconds, easily near the top of the mechanical watchmaking world, and some movements are even certified to +4/-2 seconds. The design of the movements themselves is very interesting because it demonstrates Seiko’s dualistic nature with regard to tradition and technology. You won’t find any silicon components in a Grand Seiko. GS stays true to their traditional materials, yet finds new and innovative ways to make those materials surpass even contemporary competition. For instance, the pallet fork and escape wheel are steel but are made using a MEMS manufacturing process that offers vastly superior precision. To reduce the weight of these parts, they are finely skeletonized.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

The hairspring and mainspring are another great example. Seiko actually developed their own metallic alloys for this use, variations on what they call SPRON, which have enhanced properties over the competition. The material stayed basically the same, yet the way it is made was greatly improved by technology.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

Another great tradition that is honored in their mechanical movement making is the legendary Hi-Beat, the mechanical movement most closely associated with Grand Seiko. GS was determined not to let it be just a nostalgic throwback, and set about making a Hi-Beat for the 21st century. Towards that end, they used special oil retaining grooves that reduced the increased wear associated with high frequency escapements, along with the many other advancements they had already made in their 9S5 and 9S6 lines of movements.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

The Craftsmanship

The final aspect that’s crucial to understanding the love of Grand Seiko is the brand’s craftsmanship. Few brands have stayed quite as true to traditional watch polishing, assembly and adjustment as GS has. For instance, every part of a Grand Seiko is polished by master watchmakers using what is known in Japanese as the “zaratsu” technique. Indeed, to say that this is traditional is underselling it by quite a bit.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

Historically, Japanese sword polishing was taken quite seriously. While most assume that the swordsmith would also be the one to polish a blade, this job was actually so specialized that the blade was usually given to a “togishi” who performed this task exclusively. Why does this matter? Well, zaratsu polishing is a technique derived from precisely that — the fine art of sword making. When you buy a Grand Seiko, every surface of the case was polished – by hand – using this technique.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

Beyond the aesthetics of extremely fine finishing is the functionality of actually assembling a watch, which is also done entirely by master watchmakers. Those watches are then adjusted, not in the 5 positions required for the COSC, but in an additional 6th position, to best compensate for the effects of gravity. This is a feature of a few elite watchmakers, most notably, Jaeger-LeCoultre. The testing and adjustment of a Grand Seiko takes 17 days.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

The reason Grand Seiko is so treasured, then, cannot be simplified into a bunch of impressively tight tolerances on a spreadsheet. Nor can it be reduced to a long list of technical achievements. No, if you really want to understand Grand Seiko, you must appreciate the human element that goes into every watch.

Why We Love Grand Seiko: Timeless Luxury Watches Explains Featured Articles

The Conclusion

I hope that gives a little insight into why we hold Grand Seiko in such high esteem. Of course we could go on for hours about any of these attributes or more, but hopefully these three examples help to explain why so many watch collectors, especially those of us at Timeless Luxury Watches, have a special place in our collection for Grand Seiko. Grand Seiko Watches at Timeless

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  • Younas Hazrat

    How much

  • We love Grand Seiko because it’s the best kept secret in horology….
    And because somehow, Seiko always feels like an underdog…

  • Jessie Cagara

    Mano y Mano with the swizzle stick

  • JohnCreed

    Amazing quality and value for money…I have the SBGH035 (Hi-Beat Special) and its just a lovely watch…

  • JubJub

    There is nothing not to love about Grand Seiko.  We’re talking about watches that are 100% in-house, have exceptional finishing worthy of watches well above their price point, are tremendously accurate and are very reliable.  You get the entire package from a legendary watchmaker for a very reasonable price.  Without a doubt, a GS represents the best value in mid-priced watches.  

    I’m fortunate enough to have some pretty nice watches, but my GS is easily my favorite and would be the one that absolutely would not go if I had to do a sell-off.

  • JubJub

    Panagiotis Agreed, and I think the only reason for that is because it has “Seiko” in the name.  If GS watches were renamed and made in Switzerland, they’d be priced at a substantially higher price points than they currently are.  
    For this reason, I think my lucky stars that “Seiko” is in the name and the watch is made in Japan.

  • thornwood36

    Really boring…………………………………..but timeless simple elegance

  • JubJub

    thornwood36 I’ve heard this criticism before — and I can see why people would say that — but I wouldn’t agree.
    I think GS simply represents a different design ethic and in many ways reflects Japanese values.  What GS is attempting to do is perfect something that is already tried and true rather than come up with a completely new design.  Most GS designs — although not all — are relatively conservative.  What Seiko is doing is essentially telling the word, “We’re going to take something that you think you already know, but then improve it and make you reevaluate your understanding of it.”  
    I think what GS is doing is a lot more challenging that simply coming up with new designs.  It’s relatively not difficult to come up with new and attractive designs, as evidenced by the fact that a lot of micro brands are out there doing terrific design work — often times better than the big boys.  Modern CAD programs and globalization have allowed a lot of people to design a lot of great things.
    But exquisite finishing is another story entirely.  Although many people with a decent sense of taste and some technical skill could design a watch, relatively few could finish a watch well — and far fewer could do it the way GS does.

  • IanE

    I like some of the GS models a fair bit.  But, there are two things I don’t understand about Grand Seiko :-
    i) Why must they have Seiko, GS and Grand Seiko on most of their dials?
    ii) Why are their recommended service intervals lower than virtually every other serious watch maker? (e.g. Hi-beats 2 to 3 years!).

  • iamcalledryan

    IanE Yes I would be more attracted to them if they just said Grand Seiko.

    It’s like putting your company’s legal chart on the dial

  • Ahmed Sajeel

    I absolutely love Grand Seiko and fully concur from personal experience that my GS trumps all my Swiss watches – Rolex, AP, JLC, Omega etc. – in terms of precision, build quality and finishing. And I just love the Katana cases

  • Marcelo Dietrich

    Seiko, FTW!

  • JubJub thornwood36 I agree with both of you. Most of the GS designs are conservative which is the right call for the Japanese home market. But in other world markets they are sometimes perceived as boringly styled. I wish Seiko would turn up the creative juice on more of the GS pieces. Naming the watches Gran Seiko is a double edged sword. The “Seiko” part roots them in many people’s minds as well made but affordable watches – not luxury items. Sort of like a “Gran Kia”, even if built like a BMW 7 series would have an image problem. On the other hand, Seiko builds these as halo products so they need to have “Seiko” in the name as opposed to using a separate brand name like Credor (which is barely known to most people) which does not add any “cred” to Seiko unless you know who owns Credor. GS is the Rodney Dangerfield of the watch world – “I don’t get no respect”.

  • iamcalledryan

    One hundred million zillion

  • thornwood36

    JubJub thornwood36 

    I may have been a little hasty in describing this piece / brand , boring.  but to say “” I think GS simply represents a different design ethic and in many ways reflects Japanese values.”  is a bit crazy………..there , i said it ,

  • DanW94

    While I love the Grand Seikos , I think the Presage line offers you a far better value proposition. They have some beautiful models in a more agreeable price range. (at least for my budget)

  • nateb123

    MarkCarson JubJub thornwood36 GS tends to photograph considerably worse than its counterparts.  Often the finishing is so finely grained on the movement that it causes interference of the light it reflects, creating a sudden rainbow.  Similarly, the polishing just can’t be understood from a picture where it looks flat.

    In person, these techniques make each piece look exceptional.  The problem is that pairing these techniques with a more complicated design would lead to a very busy look.  With a GS, my biggest problem is that every time I want to check the time, I forget what I’m doing and just stare at the hands.

  • Colin101

    I bought my first GS a month ago. I went with Quartz, which was unthinkable two months ago. I was seduced by the technology and the crazy great accuracy. Even more, the build quality is beyond stunning. Photos do not do these watches justice. The depth of finish on the (black) dial is amazing and provides a deep mirror showing a perfect, undistorted image of the hands. Look closely as the second hand passes over the hour markers you see a perfect reflection in the hand-polished indexes. I love looking at this watch. I’m officially obsessed with Grand Seiko. Why used to be my “watch money” is now Grand Seiko money. I think anything else would be a waste.

  • socabaptist

    One of my all time favorites! Lusting after the GS snowflake. One of these days!

  • jakeman1

    It’s hard to get excited by the designs.  I really want to like them, but if you already have a nice dressy watch, it’s hard to fall in love.  Look, I’m lucky enough to have a GMT-II, Speedy Pro, Saxonia in WG, 118F Ti, 5167 with the bracelet, and a 5227G.  Where does this fit in?  I’d rather have a new Seamaster reissue.  Or even a green Sub or the Batman GMT-II.

    Sorry to gloat, but even when it was just the GMT-II and the Saxonia, I’d be hard pressed to fall for the GSs.

  • mui_richard

    never developed any love for the Grand Seiko…yes everything is made perfect but the sum of the parts never intrigued me. I mean, you look at an Omega, a Jaeger, a Rolex or a Cartier or an AP they have unmistakable character. Cover the name on the dial and you still see the DNA that made these names famous in the design and execution of these timepieces. With the Grand Seiko, You cover the GS marque ans all that’s left is an extremely well made, but blend piece. But that’s just me.

  • jandrese

    Love GS, I have two and my wife has one. Fantastic watches that punch way above their weight. The other day as we left the Omega boutique my wife said “they all felt so cheap compared to my Seiko”. She knows nothing about her watch so that meant a lot to me who spent a lot of time finding the right one for her.

    Want to mention something about the polish. Polished like a Japanese sword is marketing hype. The polish is phenomenal with very crisp lines and contrasting surfaces, but that is where similarities end with swords. Swords are made from carbon not stainless steel, in particular, a type of traditional steel called tamahagane. The main thing about tamahagane is that it is not good steel. The swordsmith must refine it to make it good steel. Then the polisher, the togishi, must bring out everything the swordsmith did while conforming to an aesthetic appropriate for the type of blade, era it was made, and smith or school who made it. Watches are stainless steel so traditional polishing techniques cannot be used. There is an uniquely Japanese approach, but similarities with a sword polish are few.

  • Rouven Geis

    Understatement at its best.

  • DG Cayse

    I like Seiko. The more I’ve learned about it recently has only deepened that appreciation of the brand.
    I will probably purchase one of their offerings soon. They have the bragging rights and the technological build.
    Having said that, while appreciating the technology and build and stated craftsmanship of the GS line – it just reminds me too much of Japanese whisky. 
    Technically it is spot-on. Well made and crafted to meet all of the whisky standards. But still…souless. It still lacks the depth that is found in Scottish or Kentucky or heck, even Irish or whisky from Wales (surprisingly good).
    Don’t get me wrong, Japanese whisky or watches do all that one would, and should, expect. They just seem to lack the elusive “soul” factor.
    I’ve discussed this with a few others and it seems to be an elusive quality that is recognized. I know about the “togishi/zaratsu polishing” techniques. And their use of specially made dials also with special coatings that can only be done by a dedicated “Master” and require special education to fully appreciated – I get it.
    But the end result – which is an exceptional timepiece – is still, to many, essentially “too perfect.”

    Just my US$0.02 worth. Nice watch, but I ain’t buying one. 
    I know, that’s not breaking any hearts, but that my opinion – Fine watch, just nothing all that special.

  • jouhl

    DG Cayse To each his own. 🙂 But here’s my take. The GS is a product of Japanese culture. Thus, to say that there is no soul in a GS is to say that there is no soul in that quintessential Japanese philosophy — Zen. Both possess a silent beauty that flows from the grand, daring art of the reductive. When we strip ourselves of adornment, truth is revealed. “Too perfect” is perhaps a valid sentiment, but not necessarily disadvantageously, even in this most inconsequential of hobbies. The contrast of the GS’s excess of perfection with other manufactures’ excess of prettification, may perhaps impart a more profound way of looking at life. That sentiment, in this case, resonates with the man who also abides by that Exuperian adage: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

  • DG Cayse

    jouhl DG Cayse Mr. Jouhl, well said. And this, is what makes a horse race.
    Knowing how much rock to remove is what makes a statue. 

    Best to ya.

  • Grinnie Jax

    nateb123 MarkCarson JubJub thornwood36 @”With a GS, my biggest problem is that every time I want to check the time, I forget what I’m doing and just stare at the hands.” – best compliment to GS masters! And I totally agree.

  • watchbandfan

    Such a pity that  a watch that is so well built can look so mediocre.  The designs shown in this article are indistinguishable
    from cheap budget watches. The Rolex Explorer may be an example of a classic watch has that timeless design aesthetic. Surely, there must be some watch designers that can help improve their styling ?

  • DanW94

    DG Cayse
    Good point with the whisky reference as Japanese whisky’s are named among the Worlds Best.  The Japanese have a knack for taking an existing technology or process and perfecting it and engineering it to the ent degree. There is no doubting their craftsmanship, work ethic and attention to detail.  I wouldn’t say the product has no “soul”, perhaps it’s lacking in character. The intent of the Japanese whisky industry while in it’s infancy 100 years or so ago was to recreate the style of Scottish whisky. Fast forward to today and it looks like the student has become the master.  What they can’t reproduce is the intangibles, the human element, born of history and tradition present in the Scottish variety.  Technically the Japanese are as solid as a rock, but just maybe the product lacks a bit of character.

  • JubJub

    DG Cayse An articulate but ultimately nonsensical post.  Whenever people start speaking of “soul” in inanimate objects, you know they’re talking foolishness.  It’s very simple: objects don’t have a soul.  When we simply like something but can’t identify why, we use a cheap device like saying it has a “soul” to elevate it.  
    Really, this is just silly.  If you don’t like GS, no problem — to each his own.  But to create this laughable distinction between this stuff over here that has soul and that stuff over there that doesn’t have soul is just crazy talk.

  • JubJub

    watchbandfan The Rolex Explorer is the quintessentially dull watch, and given that it’s nowhere near as finished as a GS, they really don’t belong in the same conversation .

  • JiYuan

    Dang…the last picture of Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT…the grail watch!
    Nicely written sponsored post that make me lust even more for GS…[email protected][email protected]

  • DG Cayse

    JubJub DG Cayse “An articulate but ultimately nonsensical post. ” – Is that a compliment? I’ll take it.

  • JubJub

    DG Cayse JubJub All of my compliments are backhanded.  I’m generous in that way.

  • DanW94

    JubJub DG Cayse
    I have to disagree, maybe soul is not the right word but some inanimate objects do have character or a “spirit” to them.  These are the items made by the craftsman’s hand, furnished through a time tested and revered process, that evoke strong emotions in the creator and ultimately the owner.  These items have the “soul” of the maker, as opposed to an item molded and stamped out by a machine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t rightly know if watches fall into this category, but there are certainly some items that do, albeit less and less these days.  The words we use to describe that intangible is semantics but there is a difference.

  • SteveBowden

    JubJub DG Cayse Interesting, I am working with a publisher and we are  creating a shared setting where people’s souls can be stored in inanimate objects for later consumption. Maybe I will write a short story where a soul is stored in a watch. Then the watch would have ‘soul’.

  • JubJub

    DanW94 JubJub DG Cayse I don’t disagree, Dan.  But we’re not talking about something metaphysical here.  What we’re talking about something is very basic: care. Both a GS and, say, a Fossil are products that are developed for the consumer market, and yet there is still a world of difference between them.  The Fossil is nothing but an easily disposable consumer product.  The GS is a consumer product, but also an expression of engineering, craftsmanship, artistry.  One need only handle a GS to see that it is a tremendous manifestation of a great deal of care.

  • mui_richard

    You’re right, no Grand Seiko belong in the same sentence with the Rolex Explorer…the Explorer has history. And while you might say boring I think it’s one of the most versatile designs in timepieces. Plus you see it once and you remember it.

    Name one Grand Seiko style that you can say the same?  I agree their workmanship is top notch for their price point but their designs? Definitely not their strong suit and not my cup of tea.

  • Ulysses31

    These watches are pretty attractive, even if they’re subtle.  There’s a mix of different finishes and dial textures that lift the pieces.  If you were to suggest such changes to designers at Rolex, they’d shove a revolver in their mouths and pull the trigger.  There’s a difference between a design being “classical” and just being “old”.  

    In the West we expect great achievements to be very conspicuous, for people to make a shameless, indecent boastful display so there can be no doubt as to how great those achievements are.  If you think these watches look like run-of-the-mill cheap models, you need to take a closer look, preferably with a loupe.  Seiko is a leader in producing quality that doesn’t boast.

  • JohnCreed

    Beautiful answer ! The essence of zen is to strip everything to its bare essence and we see this in Japanese culture…Brilliant observation !

  • JubJub

    mui_richard History?  You do realize that Seiko is actually an older company than Rolex, right?  Rolex was founded in 1905; Seiko dates back to 1881.  The original Rolex Explorer, which looks NOTHING like the 2010 version that we’ve been referring to, dates back to 1953. And again, take a look at the original explorer compared to the 2010 version; they only thing they have in common is the “Rolex” on the dial.  GS dates back to 1960.  There’s your history. 
    With respect to design, please.  The Submariner was a nice design, and Rolex has been living off that for decades.  The Datejust and Day-Date are boring.  The Sea Dweller is a modified Sub, as is the GMT Master.  The Daytona is just plain ugly, but not quite as ugly as the Milgauss.  The Yacht-Master II is actually quite nice.  
    Rolex doesn’t sell a lot of watches because they’re well-designed.  Rolex sells a lot of watches because they have Rolex on the dial, and the typical yuppie who has more money than brains and knows nothing about watches will buy a Rolex because that’s the thing to do. 
    Rolex is the perfect watch for the lazy, ignorant, pretentious slob.  That certainly doesn’t describe every Rolex owner, but it does apply to a large percentage of them.  GS is the perfect watch for a true watch-lover.  
    Really — this debate is tired and worn out.  If the Rolex fans out there had any decency, they’d acknowledge that comparable GS watches are superior and that if “Rolex” was swapped out on the dial for “GS,” then all of the Rolex fans out there would cream their pants.

  • JubJub

    Ulysses31 That, good sir, is a VERY accurate post in every way.

  • CG

    There is something comforting in viewing the GS. It seems I am back in the late 50’s/early 60’s and life is good…. Suntory has not yet bought up all of Scotland’s distilleries and purity still lives in a bottle of Auchentoshan.

  • mui_richard

    JubJub mui_richard

    Wow, no need to get so jumpy dude, to each their own.

    But it’s funny though, as to how you’re able to name so many Rolex styles, can you name one Grand Seiko style that has similar history? And since you seem to know Rolex so well you must know that the Submariner was introduced in 1953?

    Zenith has their El Primero, JLC has their Reverso, Cartier has their Tank, Tag has their Monaco, Omega their Speedy, and the list goes on….now that is the history I’m referring to and I think these styles more or less carry their design language quite well. And they were and are still appreciated around, whether you are a watch snob or not.

    I’m not a Rolex fan in particular although I have to admit that I do own a couple. But to me they are tool watches that I can wear everyday everywhere whether I’m outdoor on a photoshoot or having a lazy afternoon at the beach. And quite honestly I think their precious metal models with diamonds and what not are a joke, completely deviated from their tool watch origin. And when I do need to dress up I’ll go Cartier or Jaeger…can’t afford Richard Mille or AP on what I make and two kids.

    And as for GS, sorry no love there.

  • JubJub

    mui_richard JubJub Honestly, Richard, what difference does it make in terms of brand recognizability?  I’m buying a watch; I couldn’t care less about brand.  
    Of course I’m able to name a lot of Rolex styles.  We’re all watch fans here, and Rolex is the most popular watch brand.  Just by virtue of spending time on these discussions, we’re all going to know about Rolex watches.  
    But brand recognition in and of itself doesn’t make a better watch.  There are plenty of watch brands out there that are well-known and produce mediocre watches.  There also are a lot of small watch brands that are out there producing terrific stuff, and yet no one has heard of them.  Again, buy the watch, not the brand.  
    Right now, I”m wearing a Pequignet on my wrist.  Virtually NOBODY has heard of this watch, and yet it is just one hell of a watch with an in-house movement that is terrifically finished and looks like a work of art.  I could not possibly care less that it doesn’t have an iconic design and zero brand cachet.  I bought the watch for me and for no one else.  
    Finally, I think there’s more value in perfecting something tried and true than there is in simply making something new that is far from perfection.  No, GS designs aren’t going to dazzle you, but that’s not the point.  The finishing is what’s meant to get you, and the finishing of GS is just remarkable at the GS price point.  That’s what makes a GS a GS. Compare a watch to a suit, for example.  The well-tailored pinstripe suit will never go out of style.  It basically has maintained the same fundamental design for decades, and there is no need to redesign it.  Why?  Because if great care is taken in making and finishing that suit, then the design doesn’t matter.  Some things simply are timeless.

  • Renault Evans

    Absolutely beautiful watch.

  • Colin101

    No one ever asks me if my Grand Seiko is real…

  • Colin101 While this is not a very fair analogy, no one ever asks if an Invicta is real or not.
    The point being, if a watch is effectively never faked, no thinks to ask.

  • Colin101

    That’s my point. Rolexes are faked so much most people assume the one you’re wearing is a fake.

  • Colin101

    That’s my point. The vast majority of “Rolex” watches in the wild are fake, so those who wear a Rolex must bear the awful brunt of the assumption from onlookers that their Rolo is fake too. I’d rather have a relatively obscure brand that doesn’t get faked or has so many “homage” designs patterned after it. Being an icon is not necessarily a good thing.

  • SteveBowden

    Colin101 For the first time I want to make a “fake” watch. I will make my own ‘Grand Seikos’. And only the most discerning fan of Horology will be able to tell my fakes from the real thing; my Grand Seikos won’t look like unimaginative shit.

  • mui_richard

    JubJub mui_richard 
    “GS designs aren’t going to dazzle you, but that’s not the point.  The finishing is what’s meant to get you, and the finishing of GS is just remarkable at the GS price point.  That’s what makes a GS a GS”. This is exactly why I don’t care for GS, why should I even care how well it’s finished when I don’t even want to look at the darn thing? This is plain stupid, let alone having to pay some good money for it?

    And as for your suit analogy, it’s the same thing. Should I care how well a particular suit is sewn, or how nice the fabric drapes if it’s not tailored to look good on me? 

    Basically what you’re saying here is since you like the suit (GS watches) so much I should like it and instead of whether I’m comfortable or look good in the suit, I should be focusing on how well it’s put together? Jeez get a life…

  • mui_richard

    Colin101 no one ever asked whether my Cartier or JLC, Zenith, Rolex are fakes too…and why should I care if someone asks? I wear the watch, the watch doesn’t wear me.

  • JubJub

    mui_richard JubJub Yup, you told me.

  • DG Cayse

    SteveBowden JubJub DG Cayse R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me…
    I was raised on MOTOWN and George Jones…I do know a leetle bit about SOUL…;)

  • SteveBowden

    DG Cayse SteveBowden JubJub

    Still Doin’ Time – George Jones

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7n20NsFXy8

  • egznyc

    Dan, do you have particular favorites to recommend?

  • mui_richard

    JubJub mui_richard oh btw just read your comment on the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms….really? Bashing them on bad resale value?

    A watch is supposed to be worn and enjoyed, never meant to be an investment in any sense of the word.

  • egznyc

    What a fantastic discussion your comment brought about! Thank you to everyone who participated so passionately. I certainly don’t have an answer other than to say “soul” might be the wrong term – in a literal sense – but I’m right with you in understanding what you mean. That said, I disagree that GS lacks this quality. Can’t comment on Japanese whiskey, though, as I’ve never tried it. Saki is more what I associate with Japan, of course, some of which is excellent.

  • egznyc

    Perhaps it is just not possible to produce a “fake” GS, insofar as there is no way to fake fine finishing.

  • egznyc

    So … Speaking of the Japanese home market, any advice on where to look for Seiko models that are only marketed for the Japanese home market and not the U.S.? I’ve heard of a couple of websites that do sell some of these models (eg, sarb, sard, sarx, etc.), but it’s hard to get a complete picture of the options – and the differences can be subtle, short of scheduling a visit to Japan or maybe another country in the region. There’s an idea …

  • Tomasina Covell

    I just want them to sell me the parts I need to restore watches, that’s it!

  • egznyc Well, since Timeless Luxury sponsored this post, you could start with them: http://ablogtowatch.com/buying-watches-frisco-texas-timeless-luxury-watches/
    I’m sure Dan of Timeless Luxury will be most helpful.
    Another source might be Arizona Fine Time: http://ablogtowatch.com/buying-watches-in-phoenix-arizona-fine-time/

  • egznyc Hey! Are you talking stink about the $7 “Rolex” I bought in Bangkok back in the day? I think the finishing was on par with its dead beat seconds movement (aka quartz). The shitty bracelet did pinch my wrist a bit. So much for buying gag watches.

  • Grinnie Jax

    egznyc Most trusted online shops for JDM-watches: SeiyaJapan, Higuchi, Chino – need to send them enquiry – may figure the best price for you.

  • DanW94

    egznyc
    I do….check out the SARX017 model. Someone I know has one and it’s even nicer looking in person than the photos.

  • egznyc

    Thank you. That’s a good idea – I had assumed that businesses in the U.S. were not able to sell these particular models (hence the label Japanese domestic). I will check!

  • egznyc

    Thanks for these suggestions!

  • egznyc

    DanW94 egznyc Now this is one more reason to love ABTW – I can get helpful advice!  I have actually thought of the SARX017, based solely on photos on the web.  I THINK it looks identical to the SARX015, except the 017 comes on a strap and the 015 comes on a bracelet?  Or is the 017 dial black and the 015 is dark gray?  I’m not sure.  But I know it has vertical stripes, right?  That’s different from, say, the SARB021 and the SARB033, which appear to be solid black dials.  Like the 021, the 017 appears to have somewhat faceted lugs, unlike the 033, which has more typical, smooth lugs/case.   

    Long story short, sometimes you have to see a watch in person to really know what you’re getting and whether you like it more or less than another similar (but different) model.  What did you like about the 017 in particular, and do you know if your friend had considered some of the other ones I’ve mentioned and what led to his choice?  Thanks so much!!!

  • JubJub

    mui_richard Are you stalking me, Richard?

  • dahcd

    You took the words right out of my mouth, until you own a high end Seiko 
    all this commenting does not mean anything. Rolex, Omega, AP and the 
    host of them are all fine time pieces, i own them, i wear them, GS is right
    there as a stand out watch.

  • SteveBowden

    JubJub mui_richard I think making fun of the Grand Seiko is perfectly all right., even if you don’t own one. Especially if you don’t own one, or can’t afford one. Why not make fun of things?

  • JubJub

    SteveBowden JubJub mui_richard Doesn’t really matter to me what you make fun of. I guess I just don’t see your point.

  • JubJub

    dahcd I have two Omegas, a Zenith and Girard Perregaux.  My brother owns Panerai, Rolex, Cartier (yuck), Hublot (double yuck) and a Breguet.  With the exception of the Breguet, my GS is better-finished than any of my watches or his watches.  GS finishing is simply awesome and is worthy of a much higher price point.  You’re getting a hell of a lot of value with a GS.  My watches come and go, but the one watch I know I will absolutely never sell is my GS Snowflake.

  • DanW94

    egznyc DanW94
    Don’t take my response as gospel, but from what I can gather the sarx017 comes on a leather strap and the tip of the second hand is red as opposed to the sarx015.  The dials on the 015 and 017 are black, but looks different in different lighting. The sarb033 has a solid dial while the sarx017 is textured stripes. 
    And I totally agree with you, being a relatively new watch enthusiast, I try to put my hands on any watch I can. You really get a different take when you can physically examine the details of the watch and try it on.  Of course that’s extremely hard to do when there’s no authorized dealers or re-sellers of the higher end watches  we see on ABTW in your immediate area. (as is the case with me)  I really like the leather strap on the 017.

  • mui_richard

    Sorry that was a reply on a wrong thread and as I can’t delete it I edited with no text

  • SteveBowden

    JubJub SteveBowden mui_richard This book explains the concept of making fun of things better than I ever could. I suggest you read it, and join in the fun.

    http://www.amazon.ca/Internet-Playground-Irreverent-Correspondences-Online/dp/1585428817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1437679740&sr=1-1&keywords=the+internet+is+a+playground

  • JubJub

    SteveBowden JubJub mui_richard Too advanced for me.

  • Sevenmack

    JubJub DG Cayse Whenever anyone talks about soul in a context unrelated to religion or R&B music, they show their intellectual inanity. Enough said.

  • Sevenmack

    DanW94 JubJub DG Cayse No they do not. Whatever appeal an object may have is one endowed by the owner or someone who covers it. Objects don’t have soul because they can’t think, move, or even operate without an outside force. This especially includes watches. Let’s use more brain and less sentimental posturing.

  • SteveBowden

    Sevenmack JubJub DG Cayse No it’s not enough someone else should say more.

  • JubJub

    Sevenmack JubJub DG Cayse When the man is right, the man is right, ya’ll.

  • DanW94

    Sevenmack DanW94 JubJub DG Cayse
    Yea, I think we’re all pretty aware of that in an existential kind of way. If you’re not looking past that and into intent of the post, then you’re definitely not understanding what I was trying to say. Don’t take my words so literal, look for the deeper meaning. I explicitly say that an item can retain the “soul” of the maker as it’s a extension of his passion and craftsmanship. I never said the item retains a soul on an astral plane kind of way. I’m sorry you couldn’t see the figurative meaning behind it.

  • Sevenmack JubJub DG Cayse You sayin’ horology ain’t a religion? Blasphemy!

  • Sevenmack

    DanW94 egznyc The SARX015 is especially lovely. The teak dial alone is understated yet stunning at the same time. Certainly it isn’t a Cocktail Time. But the SARX015 and SARX017 deserve consideration by any watch collector.

  • DanW94

    Sevenmack DanW94 egznyc
    Good taste –  the SARB065 (Cocktail Time) is a classy looking watch. I’ve only seen it in photos but I’m guessing it looks better in person.

  • Sevenmack

    DanW94 Sevenmack JubJub DG Cayse Again, it’s balderdash. Pure marlarkey. Absolute crapola. You can no more say that the Grand Seiko has less craftmanship than a JLC PanoLunarTourbillon or a Rolex Explorer. Again, watches can’t have souls. They can represent the craftsmanship of the watchmaker. But whether or not the watch appeals to you is merely a matter of preference, one informed both by cultural surroundings (such as Eurocentric versus Japanese norms) as well as other influences. One’s preferences determine whether they enjoy the craftsmanship of a watch or another object on a personal subjective level.

    The issue for you is that you don’t find a Grand Seiko appealing. I do. You may find the Rolex Explorer appealing; I so disdain the watch that I gave the one my grandfather left me to my sister. [I kept the Seiko 5.] These preferences are fine.. But they are just that: Preferences. Your preference doesn’t mean that a watch isn’t a representation of the craftsmanship of the watch. It doesn’t mean that a watch has a soul or lack thereof. It just means you have a preference. Period.

  • Sevenmack

    DanW94 Sevenmack egznyc Words don’t do the watch justice. The two photos below do their best.

  • egznyc

    Thanks, Dan. All very helpful! I tend to prefer getting watches with a bracelet and then separately purchasing a strap. Seems more options are available this way and for less money than trying to get a bracelet later on.
    Now, what was it that your friend liked about the Sarx017 that led to his buying it over the other, similar choices Seiko offers? Did he prefer the textured stripes over the solid black dial, or perhaps the shape of the hands? What did you think of these elements? (I’m not sure if like the stripes as much as a solid black.)
    Thanks so much for all your input!

  • egznyc

    Thanks! I really am impressed by the cocktail time. I just don’t have a black dialed dressy watch and I do have a silver one. I also wish the cocktail time had 100m water resistance like most of the other Seikos.

  • egznyc

    Great photo! So it’s actually teak then? It looked black. I’m not sure if I would prefer this style but without the textured stripes. They seem kind of distracting. Maybe I’d like it more in person. I do prefer these hands over that of the Sarb033. That watch’s hands’ lume seems a little too much for a dress piece, while the 015 seems more understated.
    But you’re right about the cocktail time being amazing looking. I just think ill get a black dialed one first. Any advice you have there based on what you’ve seen would be fantastic. For example, everyone seems excited about the Sarb021, but while the case is great, the markers seem a little too much.

  • Sevenmack

    egznyc It’s a brown dial. But it is a dark brown, so it can be hard to photograph. But the dial color allows for it to go well with anything you wear — if versatility (in the mind) matter to you. So it will go well with a suit or a tux.

    On the SARB033: It isn’t my cup of tea, either, mostly because I prefer textured dials. Having seen it in person, I can attest that it is a rather handsome watch. Same with the SARB021 (which also isn’t a preferred watch for me).

  • Sevenmack

    egznyc I’d also try Amazon, if you don’t mind gray market. It tends to have many JDM Seikos, including the Cocktail Time and the SARG007 (which, by the way, is a better-looking field watch than the Hamilton Khaki). In many cases, Amazon already has the watches in its warehouses, so you will save on delivery time.

  • Sevenmack

    thornwood36 JubJub That’s better. Again, you don’t have to like the watch at all. I’m not a fan of Rolex’s design language in general, and save for the Cellini Prince (which is gorgeous), I have no interest in ever owning any of the firm’s other watches. Heck, I gave an Explorer my grandfather left me to my sister (who loves it). But I appreciate that others enjoy Rolex’s offerings and are fans of them. The brand doesn’t fit my sensibilities, but it doesn’t mean the watches don’t deserve respect on their own terms.

  • Sevenmack

    JubJub Exactly. Wish my grandfather didn’t sell off his two Grand Seikos. But he did it to leave a bequest to a Boy’s Scout Troop he ran for decades. So the watches were sold for a good cause. Guess he was telling me to buy my own.

  • DanW94 Sevenmack JubJub DG Cayse Just I should never again call a watch “cool” as that implies it exists outside at a lower energy state than its surrounding thermal environment. Too bad that we “have” to be so literal. Is this the death of figurative speech?

  • egznyc

    It includes a lot of faith and quirky, irrational beliefs, so maybe you’re on to something here. What are the main denominations? Big vs. small? Complications vs. simplicity? European vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. (gasp) American vs. you-fill-in-the-blank? Rolex lovers vs. bashers? Hublot bashers vs. apologists?

  • Sevenmack

    MarkCarson DanW94 Sevenmack JubJub DG Cayse No. You can call a watch cool. What it does mean is that we should think about what we say and write, especially when what we are trying to do is express preference that is inherently subjective. Saying that you find a watch to be cool because of whatever appealing elements is one thing. Saying a watch has a soul? Juvenile-level WIS chatter. You’ve been around long enough to know that.

  • Sevenmack MarkCarson DanW94 JubJub DG Cayse Some may feel a given watch has “soul” (whatever that means to the individual) and another person feel it has none. Same as a “cool factor”. So that’s all opinion and impression to my mind and not hard facts or a “feature”. Cheers.

  • egznyc I think this whole conversation has gone on too long. After all this is not a Rolex, Apple or Hublot post! LOL

  • egznyc

    Sevenmack egznyc Thank you for all of this information.  I really appreciate it!  Dark brown is like dark chocolate … mmmm.  I’m still not sure how I’ll like the textured/patterned nature of the dial, but glad to hear you’re a very big fan of this watch.  Interesting that DanW94 has seen it and thought it looked black — I guess it’s a very dark brown (he also noted a red tip on the seconds hand with the 017 vs. 015; I’ll have to watch for that).  If you don’t mind, what did you not like about the 021?  For me, the hour markers look a little too prominent.  But I do like the hard surfaces/angles on parts of the case.

    As for the cocktail time – which I’ll have to get one day but not as my next purchase – it has the beautiful domed crystal, which is a nice retro touch.  Are there others in the SARB/SARX etc. collection that have a more retro vibe?  I recall one similar to the cocktail time, with Roman numerals at XII and VI, but I’m not sure what else might have taken some vintage styling cues.

    Thanks also for the Amazon suggestion.  They have a few of these but it’s only a small subset of all the offerings, I think.  Something to return to from time to time, no doubt.

  • Sevenmack

    egznyc Sevenmack You’re welcome! As for why I’m not enamored by the SARB021? As with so many matters of preference, hard to pin down in words. Like the SARB033, it lacks a textured dial, which is something I like in my watches. As I said earlier, both are handsome watches (the dial work on both are superb, as usual with every Seiko) and I can appreciate how others enjoy the two. It’s just that the SARB021 just doesn’t do it for me. 

    As for other retro Seikos? Among the SARBs, there is the infamous SARB066 (which is part of the Cocktail Time collection to which the SARB065 belongs). I use the word infamous because Seiko got so much correct with the watch (including the dial), but mucked it up with a yellow gold case that is just ghastly to the eye. A step below the SARBs are the Seiko Recraft watches, which use the 7S26 movement found in Seiko 5 watches. The Recraft lineup takes its cues from Seiko’s 1970s watches. [ABlogToWatch wrote a piece about the line http://ablogtowatch.com/seiko-recraft-mechanical-1970s-style-watches/.%5D 

    Further up in class are the Seiko Brightz. This includes the SDGM003 and SDGM001 “Grand Cocktail” watches, which have dials similar to the Cocktail Time, but in an oyster case. Handsome watches, though not as gorgeous as the Cocktail Time to my eye; save for the SARX015, I have little interest in oyster cases and chapter rings (and think on something similar to a Cocktail Time, actually takes away from the dial work). But many WIS oriented toward Seiko like them because the watches have sapphire crystal and, under a loupe, are better-finished than the SARBs. [Note I said under a loupe or magnifier; neither the average person nor a WIS can tell the difference with their naked eyes. There are little differences between a $200 watch and a $1,000 one.]

    No matter which watch you choose among the Seiko collections, you will do great. Enjoy what you buy in great health.

  • DanW94

    egznyc
    Not so much a friend but a work acquaintance.  We talk watches occasionally. I was just admiring his watch from afar and happened to ask him about it. (I do that often to people….lol)  Didn’t get into details as to why he chose it though.  As for me I definitely prefer the textured stripes over the solid dial.

  • DanW94

    Sevenmack egznyc 
    Thanks for info….you’re definitely a wealth of Seiko knowledge.  I just looked up the Seiko Brightz.  Didn’t know much about it, but man it’s a good looking watch.

  • joshgraves

    Great article/advertisement. I appreciate getting a bit of an education in an ad.

  • Grinnie Jax

    After seeing tens or hundreds of watches from all brands I always get back to thinking that Grand Seiko has something special of other kind. They demonstrated that there is not necessary a need to for shouting with their design (straightforward approach), but still GS are very different to anything I have seen. It is matter of much thinner and less obvious domination: after feeling where GS are strong, you understand that their approach is actually much more forward in direction to haute horlogerie (like grands, Patek, Vaceron et al), than all this bunch of mass-market luxury like Rolex, Omega, Panerai. While the latter ones may shout much stronger from a side, you will always know that the execution of your GS and possibly the caliber inside is a bit higher level, little by little, detail by detail.

  • egznyc

    Wow – I hadn’t known anything about those Brightz models before. And the black-dialed one with the cocktail time texture looks awesome! It’s patterned but very subtle given its blackness. The chapter ring on this one doesn’t bother me (though it does just a little on the lighter dialed variation). I’m not sure what you mean by oyster case – I e heard the term a lot on here but it’s never been explained – as I assumed modern watches having a decent water resistance and, say, a screw-down crown, would all be considered an oyster case (yeah, I get the Rolex connection with their history but is it something else about the case design that leads you to call it an “oyster” case?). Further, the hands are exquisite and while I ordinarily love my lume, these watches look great without any.
    Thanks so much for suggesting these! They are a few hundred bucks pricier than the Sarbs but may well be worth it in terms of really getting what I want! Oh, and I remember the recraft post a couple of months back – I like the funky 70s vibe but not what I’m currently craving.
    So what does WIS stand for? (I really ought to know by now.)
    Thanks again for your super-helpful expertise!

  • egznyc

    You and Mr. Seven Mack are two birds of a feather, loving those textured dials ;-). Truth be told, I like many textured dials, too, but I’m more of an equal-opportunity dial lover: some textures are great, some not so great, and I also love some non-textured dials.
    Wonder what range of reactions you get when you boldly go where few of us go, in asking people about their watches. I’m the sort who’ll often say something when I admire a watch (or anything else) being worn by a complete stranger, but not as often as I’d like. My wife – if she’s around – will cringe in embarrassment if I do. I don’t really understand why this has that effect on her. I think she doesn’t like bothering strangers with such matters.

  • D Howard

    What went wrong? My Grand Seiko is five years old and already the hands are showing signs of deterioration. Blemishes have appeared and their so called Customer Satisfaction department has done nothing but ‘stonewall’ me. I am deeply dissatisfied with my watch and the company.

  • Blaine Cole

    I enjoyed your article, especially as I recently purchased a Grand Seiko automatic. Although the article was originally written in 2015, the Grand Seiko web site appears to dispel some myths regarding “zaratsu” polishing.
    https://www.grand-seiko.com/us-en/special/9f9s9stories/vol2/2/

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