The seemingly eternal wait for that perfect Grand Seiko

There are few brands that receive more love and respect within the enthusiast community than Grand Seiko. Yet, when having to decide between any given model from GS and a somewhat comparable model from a direct competitor, you'll often hear from people (even those who aren't hard wired to preferring brands like Rolex) that it's really close but, nah, when hard pressed, the other watch would take the win. More often than not, I'm one of those people - even though I consider GS to be one of my favorite brands period. How come?

Here are my thoughts.

  1. GS is too perfect. While enthusiasts generally love the idea behind Grand Seiko's approach to finishing (zaratsu polishing, razor-sharp hands and indexes, both punching way above their price point), the sober austerity that comes with this minimalist interpretation of perfection often leaves people strangely cold when actually holding a GS in their hands. I dont know how to rectify this problem. Many get poetical about equally well finished dauphine hands on a Calatrava, but somehow on a GS, that poetry is lost.
  2. GS is too imperfect. Sometimes it may seem as if there was some kind of "meta wabi sabi" thinking going on at Grand Seiko's headquarters, intentionally flawing any given, seemingly ideal reference with one or two major drawbacks. "Oh my god, it's beautiful. Let's remove any form of micro adjust on the clasp to remind the buyer that nothing in this world can ever be truly immaculate."

3. GS is too intellectual. As I said, many love the idea of Grand Seiko, since it is a company that often derives its actual models from abstract ideas and design philosophies. And while - as with contemporary art - people like to present themselves as coinnosseurs who are in the know, secretly they prefer traditional depictions, like palm fronds, for example (**cough**), over repetitive and sometimes even pretentious explanatory paragraphs about lakes, trees and seasons. While I personally love that, many don't, even if they won't say it out loud.

4. GS is too iterative. Given the sheer iterative output across relatively few distinctive model lines, there is always a substantial chance with GS that a slimmer, smaller, better version of your favorite reference is already in the making. I can't imagine how many collectors wished they waited until last year, when we saw the repositioning of the power reserve indicator to the back of movement. Other brands don't give you that many reasons to overthink and postpone your buying descision till the cows come home.

Where does all that leave me? It leaves me waiting. Waiting for that smaller, thinner, better GMT Spring Drive on a bracelet with micro adjustment and sweaty-day extension. sigh...

Great post. I appreciate your methodical analysis. You bring up very valid points. In the end, get the watch YOU want and don't settle. I understand the brand on the dial is an important decision point (more or less for some). But if you don't smile like the Joker every time you look at your wrist, it's not worth it.聽

Cheers my friend and best of luck finding that Goldilocks GMT Spring Drive 馃憤

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The picture of the couple in bed made we laugh way more than it should have 馃槀. 聽Sadly, I can relate to it all to well. 聽I enjoyed reading your post. 聽I think there is really no such thing as a truly perfect watch. 聽That is way watch boxes have multiple slots!

I like to frame GS as dual edged sword in that 1) good news they have tons of iterations and 2) bad news, damn they have a ton of iterations.

I have been on a GS journey for years and through borrowing, trying on at GTG or just plain buying when a good deal and timing matched up. I've tried and enjoyed (to varying degrees) dress, sport, divers cases, a variety of sizes, too many dials to mention and quartz, his-beat, automatics and spring drive movements.聽

With so many, it's not unlike the proverbial needle in a haystack, however I balance that by saying based on my experience, there IS one for you out there. It may take a little trial and error, but I'm sure you will find the one for you.

And definitely worth the journey聽

SAIM_WATCH

Great post. I appreciate your methodical analysis. You bring up very valid points. In the end, get the watch YOU want and don't settle. I understand the brand on the dial is an important decision point (more or less for some). But if you don't smile like the Joker every time you look at your wrist, it's not worth it.聽

Cheers my friend and best of luck finding that Goldilocks GMT Spring Drive 馃憤

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SBGE201!!!

How is it? 聽I got the SBGJ237, and absolutely love it, but I've also been lusting after the SBGE201, because I can't get over how awesome the SBGJ237 would be if only it had spring drive.

HotWatchChick69

SBGE201!!!

How is it? 聽I got the SBGJ237, and absolutely love it, but I've also been lusting after the SBGE201, because I can't get over how awesome the SBGJ237 would be if only it had spring drive.

Haha! I've been lusting after the SBGJ237. Def one of my grails and I've yet to have a Hi Beat in the collection. Great pick sir!

I have the SBGE 001, the predecessor to the 201. Only difference is the double signed Seiko/GS logo. I love the watch! Spring Drive is truly amazing.

Your wish has been granted 馃槈...https://hypebeast.com/2022/1/grand-seiko-celebrates-complication-milestone-pair-snow-capped-limited-editions-sbge275-sbgc247

Bro, bro, I feel you, yo. 聽

For forever, I had a list of 20 different GS I lusted after online. 聽Made list after list after list. 聽Would head over to the local GS AD on multiple occasions, and peep into the case, and the moment a salesperson approached, I would mumble incoherently and scurry away, like some shamefaced onanist.

I would obsess over the SBGA427 (Soko Light), the SBGJ249 (Shosho), and the SBGJ251 (Shunbun), constantly on the verge of clicking the "purchase" button on the GS website, and then pull back from the brink, with the haunting thought, "But, what if they come out with another version that's 0.1mm thinner?" 聽Meanwhile, every new Omega that dropped, I would immediately purchase without a second thought.

Finally, I had a psychotic break, called the GS boutique, and provided them my shortlist of 20 GS. 聽Drove 3 hours to the boutique, and spent an entire afternoon fondling watch after watch after watch.

The SBGA427? 聽Kinda bored the crap out of me. 聽The Seasons GMTs? 聽Just didn't do anything for me whatsoever. 聽Instead, the massive, gaudy, thick as hell sports watches blew me away. 聽The blingy-er-than-Liberace's bedazzled robes White Birch was arresting. 聽The watches with the 44GS case really stuck out as special - I mean, come on, the case looks like a Tie-Fighter!

After that visit, in the course of 3 months, I have now added 5 GS to my collection.

So, yeah, do whatever it takes to hold off on purchasing your first, my man. 聽Otherwise, you'll end up like me. 聽

SAIM_WATCH

Haha! I've been lusting after the SBGJ237. Def one of my grails and I've yet to have a Hi Beat in the collection. Great pick sir!

I have the SBGE 001, the predecessor to the 201. Only difference is the double signed Seiko/GS logo. I love the watch! Spring Drive is truly amazing.

Your wish has been granted 馃槈...https://hypebeast.com/2022/1/grand-seiko-celebrates-complication-milestone-pair-snow-capped-limited-editions-sbge275-sbgc247

Oh, damn! 聽Even better! 聽

That is one fine ass watch!!!

They should have dropped Seiko and just called it Grand.

The "GS is too imperfect" reason really resonates with me. 聽

I greatly admire what GS is doing. 聽Their dial designs and case finishing is without peer and I feel like my collection is incomplete without at least one spring drive but I have yet to truly obsess over one of their watches enough to buy it.

It feels like every GS watch that I've considered has at least one fatal flaw and got shot down because (i) no lume, (ii) too big, (iii) too thick, (iv) poor bracelet design, etc. 聽聽

The closest I've gotten to pulling the trigger is the GS SBGE255 (grand-seiko.com/us-en/collections/sbge255g) but damn me, I couldn't get past the thickness and fact that the 24 hour bezel doesn't rotate. 馃槩聽

Like you, I'm waiting for that smaller, thinner, better GMT Spring Drive on a bracelet with micro adjustment and also a rotating 24-hour bezel.

Great write up.聽

I鈥檝e found myself in a similar position. I love the brand, but not any particular piece enough to purchase. Their dials are great (some are awe inspiring), but I haven鈥檛 found a case design right for me. Their movements are robust, but the finishing is adequate, but not inspiring (Their new high beat movement does not fall in this category as it is gorgeous and innovative). Their bracelets are just plain lazy.聽


One day they will create my watch. It just hasn鈥檛 happened yet.聽

I think a lot of what you said is true but at the same time, one can view GS as giving its customers multiple options in the form of let鈥檚 say having the power indicator on the dial and on the movement with spring drive models.聽
Since people have varied tastes, GS ensures that it makes enough different designs to cater to that variety.
It also appears that GS follows Tanaka鈥檚 design philosophy in which all the elements must match to create the watch rather than following the perfecting the one watch philosophy.聽

Having said that, even I don鈥檛 understand the lack of micro-adjust.