Grand Seiko's lack of lume...

I know I'm probably tempting the wrath of the watch gods/whatever from high atop the thing...but am I the only one who's come SO close to pulling the trigger/fall in love with a GS, only to be turned off by the lack of lume? 

Hear me out (because my gripe is complex and long-simmering): 

1. Point: Many have told me that Grand Seikos are "dressier" and don't need lume, and that they're supposed to be for "serious collectors" and "appreciators of craft."  Counterpoint: Why should I have to use my phone--the "watch killer" to tell time in the dark? (I hate having my phone b/c of the awakening effects of blue light around at night and regularly sleep with a watch on because of it). 

2. Point: The craftsmanship would be compromised by lume/the light plays with the surfaces. Counterpoint: If that's the case, why are there grooves and spaces where lume would fit perfectly? Why does GS have lume on their divers but not their steel sports watches?

3. Point: GS would add lume if the market supplied the demand. Counterpoint: Seiko is known for having some of the best lume on their watches, and even Rolex/Patek/AP include lume on their watches. Why doesn't GS follow suit and make the best/brightest lume?!

I welcome your thoughts, and still haven't heard a valid reason behind what seems like a deliberate choice on the part of GS. 

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I think I have an answer, but it's going to be wholly unsatisfying:  "Why mess with success?"  Alternately known as, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

This is captured perfectly in the photo below, from the following Fratello article:

https://www.fratellowatches.com/grand-seiko-fratello-paris-event-photo-report/

OaKEmWuQxZzNcxeo1BFMg9RQELbsk31MSpc1cQrT.jpeg?h=320&ixlib=php-3.3.1&s=325d492b8d0212b339d1d74b53d157f3

Grand Seiko was in 24th place, in terms of market share in the U.S. as measured by revenue in 2016.  They jumped to 5th by end of 2020.  (The charts on the screen omit Rolex as the pie charts would be entirely dominated by the company if they included Rolex in the graphic.)

In spite of all the feedback they've gotten about needing to add lume to their watches, from us enthusiasts, GS continues to grow at breakneck pace.  They went from selling 40,000 watches a year to 80,000 in just a few short years.  They've raised prices through the roof for their new releases, and even in spite of a $9,100 price tag for the White Birch, waiting lists are still something on the order of ~6 months.

In the meantime, if you want lume on a GS, you either have to get a Sports model, like this:

NWJJtqpd2TYGnfYpTY6kz8Y2Pblb4f41Nliw3jGa.jpeg?h=320&ixlib=php-3.3.1&s=2237b4a90496b8237d977c7c591e11b5

Or you have to try to find an available Heritage line SBGJ255 - which I got because a) 44GS case, b) titanium, and c) lume:

02BTg1vdNJEJ8un5FcGTaostG12o1RtRXI55va6S.jpeg?h=320&ixlib=php-3.3.1&s=9a3730e1968e9e4b5c9a35d3a15bad87

I think, ultimately, all of us enthusiasts want them to do it.  But, the enthusiast community is a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the watch buying market, and we're an echo chamber.  If GS could maximize revenue by doing so, I'm almost certain they would.  After all, people become executives at multinational corporations, because they LOVE money.  And I trust that Seiko's executives are as greedy as executives the world over.  And I don't say this to be pejorative - I, myself, am one of these greedy executives.  😜

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Aside from dive watches I feel that lume is way overemphasized by many people. Some watches these days look like children’s toys glowing in the dark. Give me the subtle classic lume of a Speedmaster or a Grand Seiko non diver any day. Just one man’s opinion. 

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Watchme1

Aside from dive watches I feel that lume is way overemphasized by many people. Some watches these days look like children’s toys glowing in the dark. Give me the subtle classic lume of a Speedmaster or a Grand Seiko non diver any day. Just one man’s opinion. 

Fair enough—so would you say you prefer that GS doesn’t have lume? Would you pick a dress watch—say the SBGR261—over another dress watch that HAD lume? 

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It depends. My GS is the SBGN005 GMT and it has nice lume that does the job well but does not overwhelm. My current dress watch is a Hamilton Intra-Matic 38mm and true to its 60’s styling it has no lume which is perfect for this watch. I have a Citizen Promaster diver that basically lights up the room, but that is appropriate for a dive watch. They key for me is that the lume, or lack thereof, match the style and purpose of the watch, not just light up the night for the sake of doing so. Just me. 
 

Here is the SBGN005 GMT. The lume is just right IMO. The hour, minute, and GMT hands have lume as well as the indices. 

Image
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What do you need lume for?  How often are you looking at your watch in pitch darkness, and you don't have a phone handy?

Lume degrades over time, starts to look a bit manky, and then falls out.  Ditch the lume and you've got a 'forever' watch.

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My GS does not have lum, but unless it's perfectly dark, I can see the time due to the reflections being so good. If I am in a situation where I need to read my watch in pitch dark, I probably have the wrong watch on :)

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I happen to have both a GS with lume (SBGN003) and a GS without lume SLGA009.

I can echo what @Watchme1 said about the SBGN003 having adequate lume. But more importantly I can completely echo what @Jeremy is saying.

I previously owned the iconic Snowflake and I can say in full confidence that for their higher end watches such as the Snowflake and White Birch Spring Drive SLGA009, just the slightest of light allows you to see what time it is simply due to the way light reflects off the hands and high polish markers. 

So for example if I were in a cinema, I've had other watches with lume become incredibly hard to read by the end of a 2+ hour movie, whilst the GS I can just use any hint of light - even that being emitted from a cinema screen to see the time as the reflections make it easy. It's a strange unintuitive observation, though!

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It would make sense for a minute repeater GS than throw lume on those sexy hands. A minute repeater GS priced sub 10k would be a killer... the waitlist would include every man women and child who are into watches. 

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Im another lume cynic - I think its super overrated and is something people like to focus on because its easier than talking about design, look and feel.  ie - "I don't know how to express my feelings about a watch's aesthetics but LOOK AT THE LUME......."

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watchaddictwt

I happen to have both a GS with lume (SBGN003) and a GS without lume SLGA009.

I can echo what @Watchme1 said about the SBGN003 having adequate lume. But more importantly I can completely echo what @Jeremy is saying.

I previously owned the iconic Snowflake and I can say in full confidence that for their higher end watches such as the Snowflake and White Birch Spring Drive SLGA009, just the slightest of light allows you to see what time it is simply due to the way light reflects off the hands and high polish markers. 

So for example if I were in a cinema, I've had other watches with lume become incredibly hard to read by the end of a 2+ hour movie, whilst the GS I can just use any hint of light - even that being emitted from a cinema screen to see the time as the reflections make it easy. It's a strange unintuitive observation, though!

Perfectly said!  

Funny enough, this just arrived in my inbox this morning:

https://grandseikogs9club.com/chronicle-9/legibility-sbgj201-sbgj203/

GS's philosophy on legibility, and how they choose to polish or brush their hands to ensure light plays off them properly.

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HotWatchChick69

Perfectly said!  

Funny enough, this just arrived in my inbox this morning:

https://grandseikogs9club.com/chronicle-9/legibility-sbgj201-sbgj203/

GS's philosophy on legibility, and how they choose to polish or brush their hands to ensure light plays off them properly.

Thanks! This was a pretty cool read. Now I've got questions about the membership perks of the GS9 club...

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KyleC93

Thanks! This was a pretty cool read. Now I've got questions about the membership perks of the GS9 club...

I think mostly you just get advertisements masquerading as emails?  Not really sure!  😜

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I’m wishy washy - totally agree with most of the points pro and con.  

No lume has a simple elegance and those awesome hands work in very dim light.  BUT I want to read it when I glance at 3am if something woke me. I don’t want a GSGMT or GS diver.  
The GS Heritage line and seasons line, I love!

My Prospex lume easily lasts all night, I’m sure GS lume does as well.

I’m trying to visit the GS studio in June (tour is currently shut down due to Covid).  If I’m able, will try to discuss it  while I’m there.  🙂

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Jeremy

My GS does not have lum, but unless it's perfectly dark, I can see the time due to the reflections being so good. If I am in a situation where I need to read my watch in pitch dark, I probably have the wrong watch on :)

Agreed. this is hard to describe but the finishing on the markers and hands are so crisp that they reflect even the slightest variation as you move your wrist even a bit. Definitely something from that has to be seen In person.