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Grand Seiko vs Seiko

You would be forgiven to think that Grand Seiko and Seiko are the same watches. Seiko is a popular brand but many people confuse it with the watch’s big brother – the Grand Seiko. Seiko watches have the reputation of being reliable, durable, and affordable. They are the watches to go for when looking for a quality and luxurious watch on a budget.

People who have been fortunate to come across both Grand Seiko and Seiko watches understand that although the two watches may look similar, there is a world of difference between them. The Grand Seiko came to cement Seiko’s place as a solid luxury watchmaker that commands the industry’s respect while still producing affordable watches. It is no shock then that the Grand Seiko is ten times more expensive than a normal Seiko (such as the Presage).

The lingering question here is: Why? What makes the Grand Seiko so unique? What is the difference between this watch and a Seiko watch you can grab off a street vendor for a few hundred bucks? This is what we seek to demystify here. Read on to learn the difference between the Grand Seiko and the Seiko watch so that you can make an informed decision the next time you think of buying a watch from the Seiko Company.

Seiko as a company – brief history

Before we compare the two watches, let us explore more about the company that manufactures these incredible watches. Seiko is among the oldest watchmaking companies in the world. The company traces its root to Tokyo, Japan, when Kintaro Hattori, a 21-year-old entrepreneur opened a shop selling watches in 1881. The company started producing and selling wall clocks before evolving into the production of pocket watches in 1895.

Kintaro was inspired to start the watchmaking company by the abandonment of the old ways of timekeeping in Japan. People needed a more reliable and accurate way of keeping time.
The pocket watches from Seiko paved the way for the production of the first wristwatch – the Seiko Laurel – in 1913. The first Seiko watch was produced in 1924 under the brand name ‘Seikosha’.

It was an instant hit and this was the watch that would shape the company’s heritage and establish dominance in the watchmaking industry. Over time, after a lot of improvements on the Seikosha watch, the first Grand Seiko model was manufactured in 1960. This was the company’s signature piece and it cemented Seiko’s place as a premium watchmaker.

Other models were released over the years, including Japan’s first wristwatch to have a stopwatch in 1964, and the first Japanese Diver’s watch in 1965. For over a century Seiko has continued to rebrand itself, adopting emerging technology to create fascinating timepieces that resonate with the masses. In 2017, Grand Seiko became an independent brand, setting itself apart from the company to mark its uniqueness and superiority as the best Seiko watch model.

As an independent brand, the Grand Seiko was able to penetrate other markets beyond Japan and establish itself as one of the best and among the most affordable luxury watches one can buy.
In the ensuing paragraphs, we shall compare the two watches deeply to understand what makes the Grand Seiko unique and more pricey than the Seiko watch.

Which watch should I go for – Seiko or grand Seiko?

Seiko creates watches that match almost every customer segment. Whether you can afford a Seiko or Grand Seiko, you will be proud to own either. The price point is what will eventually determine which watch you go for. But do not be fooled. There are distinct differences between a Seiko watch that you can purchase for several hundred dollars and a Grand Seiko that commands thousands of dollars.

Comparison of Grand Seiko and Seiko Movements

The Grand Seiko uses spring drive technology. The spring drive technology revolutionalized the watchmaking industry, placing Seiko on the same level as its competitors – The Swiss luxury watchmakers. This technology was invented by Yoshikazu Akahane, one of the world’s highly skilled watchmakers, in 1977. His main goal was to combine the best system from a quartz watch and a mechanical watch and create a unique product.

History tip: To understand how spring drive watches work, let’s quickly explore the evolution of watchmaking. The first batch of watches made in the mid-20th century were mechanical watches. These watches utilized a system where the movements inside worked through a distribution of stored energy via a gear train.

The main spring (located inside a barrel in the watch) was wound to coil tightly and then with the help of the barrel it could pass small releases of energy through the unwinding process. Despite the obvious advantage of not needing an external power source to keep this watch working, any disturbance to the oscillation (temperature, friction, etc) could make the watch gain or lose time easily.

In 1969, Seiko came up with the quartz-powered watch. This battery-powered device solved the limitations contained in mechanical watches. The quartz watches were more accurate than mechanical watches and they could be manufactured en masse easily. A simple quartz watch could outperform an expensive mechanical watch.

The spring drive technology idea came to tap into the super accuracy of the quartz watch with the endless power supply of the mechanical watch. 28 years later and with over 600 prototypes, the first batch of spring-drive watches was available for sale to the public in 2005.

Similar to mechanical watches, the spring drive is powered by the uncoiling of the mainspring that gradually releases energy. However, instead of the typical escapement, these watches have a revolutionary tri-synchro regulator component installed.

The tri-synchro regulator does 3 functions;

  • It helps to control the release of energy from the mainspring
  • It assists in the conversion of the mechanical power from the mainspring to electrical power energy to the quartz
  • It generates a magnetic force to act as a frictionless brake to ensure accuracy in timekeeping

The electrical charge generated in the glide wheel is sent to the quartz crystal to create a vibration and then sent back to the integrated circuit. Instead of the constant locking and unlocking mechanism found in a quartz watch, we get a quartz oscillation frequency. Free rotation of the glide wheel allows for the beautiful movement of the second hand. The hand seems as if it is floating.

Quality, style, and build of Seiko Vs Grand Seiko

When you place the Seiko watch and the Grand Seiko watches side by side, you will notice several craftsmanship differences. The Seiko watch was designed to be an incredibly accurate yet affordable timepiece but it has nothing over the Grand Seiko. The casing does not have the luxurious look or feel of the Grand Seiko. We shall explore these structural differences between the two watches briefly in the preceding paragraphs.

Grand Seiko watch parts are handmade

There is a certain level of sophistication that comes with creating a product by hand versus using a machine. Seiko watches may be reliable but the company does not put much effort (or money) into designing these watches. And the price point reflects this. You can pick a Seiko watch for approximately $500 from a street vendor.

Grand Seiko watches demand a higher price point (with some selling for over $15,000 a piece). Why the huge price variation? Many components of the Grand Seiko watches are made by hand. Japanese watchmakers have an unrivaled reputation for being legends in their business.

It is not uncommon to find a person working on a single watch component for over a decade. Combine several experts, each with a ton of knowledge and understanding of how a particular component works, and what you get in the end is a masterpiece. The devotion that goes into making every component of a Grand Seiko watch is astonishing.

The Grand Seiko case and bracelets are well-polished

In some instances, both Seiko watch models are made from stainless steel. The difference is that the Grand Seiko watch is made from a higher-quality stainless steel material. In other cases (such as in the creation of custom pieces) higher-quality materials – such as titanium and platinum- are used.

Although stainless steel is the standard material used by almost every watchmaker to design cases, you can instantly tell there is a big difference in the quality of the material used on a Seiko and a Grand Seiko.

when you place the watches side by side. The Grand Seiko SBGA211 watch, for instance, has a high-intensity titanium case. It has a diameter of 41mm, a lug-to-lug distance of 49mm, and a thickness of 12.5mm. The back of the watch is made of a see-through, screw-back case with dual-curved sapphire glass and an anti-reflective coating on the inner surface.

This titanium case is highly polished to deliver a mirror-like finish and to create beautiful, sharply defined edges. For comparison, the Seiko SARY 147 has a diameter of 38.3mm, a lug-to-lug distance of 43.6mm, and a thickness of 11.2mm. It is a mechanical watch with a stainless steel case and a beautiful texture. The second timer is painted blue, unlike in the Grand Seiko watch where the blue color is heated into the second timer.

The movement of the timer on the Grand Seiko is also incredibly smooth, thanks to the spring drive technology. Seiko has a logo and elongated diamond markers polished to a mirror shine and mounted to a pale blue sunray dial. The date enclosure also gets a polished metal frame.

The Grand Seiko’s markers are rectangular and they are polished to the hilt. The date marker also gets a polished metal frame. The logo is engraved on the surface of the dial and the words GS are well-polished and sit squarely above the engraved name.

Accuracy comparison between Grand Seiko and Seiko

The spring-drive technology in the Grand Seiko watches gave fair warning to the watchmaking industry that Seiko was here to stay. The company was constantly evolving. The spring drive movements have over 500 parts depending on the watch’s caliber and specifications. The combination of mechanical and quartz technology makes the spring-drive watch one of the most accurate watches in the world.

The Grand Seiko SBGA011 titanium-case watch that debuted in 2005 uses a 9R65 movement that has a plus/minus 1 second per day with a 72 hours power reserve. Continued modification and development have seen these watches record better results over time.

For instance, the SLGA001 (2020) Grand Seiko watch with 9RA5 movement has a 120 hours power reserve with an accuracy of plus/minus 0.5 seconds per day. The Seiko SARY147 watch has an average deviation of minus 15 seconds to plus 30 seconds per day. The movement is reliable and easy to service.

The snow-white face of the SBGA211G Grand Seiko watch

The SBGA211G is among the best diving watches from the Grand Seiko line. It has a bright white dial and polished clock hands. Unlike most watches, the white dial on the Grand Seiko watch is not painted. The brilliant color is made of a special silver plating process that creates snow white texture.

A long and complex process is involved in the creation of the stunning snowflake dial. After silver plating, machining, drilling, and printing the letters follow. The logo and indexes are set by hand by a highly skilled watchmaker.

Watch band types

You have unlimited options when it comes to watch band types for both Seiko watches. You can have both clasp and strap bands on your Seiko watches. The width of the wristband in SBGA211G Grand Seiko is 20mm thick and 193mm long. The clasp type is a three-fold clasp design with a push button release.
Seiko watches have 3 band choices; a metallic band, a silicone band, or a polyethylene band.

Although none of these bands gives you a luxurious feel, they are practical and can easily be replaced when they get damaged. The metallic band is a standard stainless steel band. It is not polished and it features a simple three-fold push-to-release button. The different band parts have not been treated to withstand rust.

Water resistance of the Seiko watches

The degree of water resistance of your Seiko watch is indicated by markings on the back of the case. A watch’s water resistance is not permanently guaranteed because it can be affected by factors such as deformation, age, and damaged parts. That said, Seiko watches still give an incredible performance underwater. Seiko SARY147, for instance, has a 5 bar (50m) water resistance rating. While diving, follow these instructions;

  • Ensure that you wear the watch within the water depth specified on the dial. If you dive deeper than the recommended depth, water may seep into the watch
  • Do not operate the buttons or the crown underwater as this may create spaces for water to seep into the watch
  • Avoid rocks or hard surfaces that may damage the watch underwater
  • After diving, rinse the watch with fresh water and then wipe it thoroughly dry. While rinsing the watch do not pour running water directly from a faucet. Rather soak the watch in a container and wash it clean before drying it.

You may notice that the rotating bezel of your Seiko diving watch becomes tougher to rotate while underwater. This is not a malfunction. It is the pressure of the water working against the watch’s movement.

Most watches are not designed to withstand warm water, and Seiko watches are no exception. They may withstand an occasional shower but continued exposure will certainly damage them in the long run. And this applies to dive watches too. There is no such thing as a waterproof watch.

Other top features

To achieve a top-notch distortion-free design, Grand Seiko uses a concept called Zaratsu. This is a combination of the hairline and mirror-like finishes on the hardy titanium shell. This ensures that there are no distortions and light and shadow reflect evenly on the surface of this watch. The markers also undergo Zaratsu polishing which makes them crisp, distortion-free, and stunning to look at.

To emphasize the level of craftsmanship that goes into these watches, a Seiko watchmaker needs about 5 years of Zaratsu training before they can work on watch cases that will eventually be sold to the final customer. The indexes and hands are diamond-cut.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do the numbers behind a Seiko watch stand for?

The numbers behind a Seiko watch are used to date the watch. You can tell when your watch was manufactured from the serial numbers you see on the back of your watch. The dating format is as follows;

The first number indicates the last digit of the year your watch was manufactured
The second number indicates the month the watch was manufactured
The last 4 numbers are special production numbers that are unique to every watch. You can use these numbers to get any production information about any watch.

Is Seiko better than Rolex?

Both Rolex and Seiko are great names in the watchmaking spectrum. It would be hard to narrow down and offer an opinion on which one is better because each watch is unique. Rolex is synonymous with luxury and you will find that the price point agrees. Seiko watches are more affordable, but this does not mean that they are inferior to Rolex watches in terms of craftsmanship.

It all boils down to your taste and how much you are willing to spend on a good masterpiece. Both brands have a great history that goes back to over a century. They pride themselves on creating excellent timepieces. Rolex is from a Swiss company while Grand Seiko is from a Japanese company.

What are the different Grand Seiko collections?

We have 3 unique Grand Seiko collections namely;

The heritage collection (such as the 44GS and 62GS watches)
The sport collection (such as the SLGA015 and SBGH293 watches)
The elegance collection (such as the SBGY013 and SBGW263 watches)

Do Grand Seikos hold value?

Yes, if the latest craze is anything to go by. They are excellent timepieces that offer a lot of value for the money. Other luxurious watches offering similar value command mind-boggling prices. Watch enthusiasts who appreciate the value of the Grand Seiko can vouch for the longevity of the company and the watches. The Grand Seikos can only get better with time.

Conclusion

Seiko and Grand Seiko watches are excellent pieces manufactured by highly skilled craftsmen. No matter what you choose between the two pieces accuracy and reliability are guaranteed. Seiko watches are valuable to people seeking a good timepiece on a budget. They will deliver as required and having paid a few hundred dollars for the watch, you would certainly get value for your money.

Grand Seikos on the other hand belongs to the caliber of people seeking a certain level of luxury and sophistication without breaking the bank. Sure, they are approximately 10 (or more) times more expensive than standard Seiko watches but they are way more affordable than other watches at their level (such as Rolex and Patek Phillipe).

The design of the Grand Seiko is meant to dazzle, and it does that perfectly. This is a watch you will enjoy wearing to whatever occasion you wish. The Grand Seiko is powered by a spring drive system, as opposed to the quartz system powering the Seiko watches. This is what makes the Grand Seiko truly the ‘Grand’ of the two watches. Irrespective of what you decide to go for, you will not be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a true classic and are willing to spend extra, the Grand Seiko is the watch to buy.

Are Grand Seiko Watches Worth the Money

It’s true that not all timepieces are worth their price! But what about the beauties from Grand Seiko? Are they worth your money? Do Grand Seiko watches hold their value? Are Grand Seiko watches just as good as Rolex? This post has all the answers you need!

Grand Seiko is a Japanese watch brand that was started in 1960. Both the Seiko and Grand Seiko brands existed under one umbrella until 2017 when the Grand Seiko became an independent brand. A good comparison would be the automobile manufacturer Toyota Motor Company.

Both the Toyota and Lexus brands are owned by Toyota but are two distinct entities. Just as the Toyota brand appeals to the everyday driver, the Lexus brand is a higher-priced luxury offering for a more sophisticated consumer. Think of Seiko as Toyota, and the Grand Seiko as the Lexus.

The Seiko watch corporation has accomplished much during its rich history. From Seiko’s inception in 1895 to the introduction of its first mechanical watch in 1913, the company set out to manufacture highly precise timepieces.

In the 1960s, Seiko beat out many high-end Swiss brands at Observatory Competitions in Switzerland, often placing in the top five for mechanical accuracy. 1960 also saw the launch of the Grand Seiko collection. A collection conceived with the goal of crafting a superior timepiece and reflecting the finest materials, finishes, technology, and accuracy.

The First Quartz Watch

First quartz Watch

In 1969, Seiko invented the very first quartz movement. The original model was the Seiko Quartz Astra. The accuracy of these movements was +-5 seconds per month. Far more accurate than the mechanical wind and automatic movements that were being produced. This level of accuracy in a wristwatch was unprecedented. The other great draw to the brand was its affordability.

The quartz introduction would provide a great challenge to the established Swiss watch brands. The follow-up introduction of the Twin Quartz and the Superior Twin Quartz models would further Seiko’s success in delivering highly accurate movements.

The “Twin” refers to the two quartz oscillators that were incorporated into the movement, one compensating for the other during temperature changes. The Twin Quartz introduced in 1978 was accurate to +-10 seconds per year and the Superior Twin Quartz to +-5 seconds per year.

Continued Innovation

Over the past sixty years, Seiko has improved upon many previous watch manufacturing processes. In 2020, Grand Seiko created the T0 (T-Zero) movement which was the world’s first. Amongst the innovations achieved, a totally different approach was applied to the manufacture of the movement’s gears. Gears are vital in the precision of the movement.

Whereas previously gears were machined, Grand Seiko employed a process known as MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems). This technique is employed for making semiconductors. Metal films are layered like plating to produce perfect gear teeth. Gear teeth precision is measured in microns. This process was also used to manufacture Grand Seiko’s pallet fork and escapement wheels.

The T0 movement features a fully integrated constant-force tourbillon on the same axis in the movement. Constant force preserves power in a small spring called a constant force spring which is different from a mainspring. It uses the repulsive power of the small spring to power a pendulum or balance. The constant force mechanism ensures stable torque which increases accuracy.

The Grand Seiko

The Grand Seiko

The Grand Seiko collection is comprised of five sub-collections. These are Masterpiece, Elegance, Evolution 9, Sports, and Heritage. The starting retail price for a Grand Seiko is $2200.00. All stated prices are suggested retail prices.

Every Grand Seiko watch houses one of three types of movements The “9S” is a mechanical movement that offers Grand Seiko Specification Standards of the accuracy of +4/-2 seconds per day. These standards are achieved over seventeen days of testing in six different positions and at three different temperatures (exceeding COSC testing criteria).

The “9S5A” movement is the automatic version with an accuracy of +8/-3 seconds per day. The second movement is the “9S”. This movement is based on the unique technology of a spring drive. This technology combines electronic and mechanical watchmaking methods within one movement.

Watches carrying these movements are accurate from a minimum of +-.5 seconds per day to +-15 seconds per month. These movements are also highly resistant to magnetism, changes in temperature, and shock.

Lastly is the “9F” which is a hand-assembled quartz movement. Most quartz movements are machine manufactured, so this is a very unique feature. These watches also boast accuracy readings of +- 10 seconds per year.

One of the questions this article will seek to address is whether the Grand Seiko is a worthwhile alternative to purchasing a Swiss-made luxury brand such as Rolex. To answer this query, I will provide some background information on the Rolex brand.

Rolex’s History

Rolex, surprisingly, has been around for a shorter time than the Seiko brand and compared to many other luxury Swiss brands. As mentioned earlier, Grand Seiko has been developing its higher-tier niche for just over sixty years.

Rolex is probably the most recognized Swiss luxury watch brand in the world and is an even greater testimony to the marketing success of the Rolex brand and the reputation the company enjoys today. Much of this success is attributable to Hans Wilsdorf, the English entrepreneur responsible for the creation of the brand.

Though conceived in England, Wildorf created the Rolex brand in 1908 and would ultimately move the entire operation to Geneva, Switzerland, where he would create the first water-proof self-winding wristwatch with a perpetual rotor. A patent was issued to Rolex in 1926 for the world’s first waterproof watch, which today is the oyster case.

500 Patents and Counting

Rolex has filed for more than 500 patents over the history of its existence. These patents showcase their innovations that range from internal movements to their exclusive Cerachrom bezels and bezel inserts. Cerachrom is a ceramic material that is virtually impervious to scratches and its color is unaffected by the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Rolex today is a completely vertically integrated company with every step of the watch’s conception to completion performed by the Rolex team. To assure the continued success and commitment to producing the highest quality timepieces, Rolex has an exclusive training center that educates, trains, and acclimates every employee to their culture of excellence as well as one of the most rigorous testing labs to ensure the integrity of every watch.

There is even a department of tribology where the scientific study of friction, wear, lubrication, and how moving parts interact in every aspect of a watch’s movement and physical parts exists to continue Rolex’s constant perfection in watchmaking.

Another attribute of the Rolex collection is its commitment to precision and accuracy. In this aspect, every Rolex is not only a certified chronometer but a superlative chronometer as reflected by the certificate and green seal that accompanies each wristwatch. The parameters of accuracy exceed those required by the COSC. which are -4/+6 seconds per day. The superlative identification reflects a deviation of -2/+2 seconds daily.

Grand Seiko vs. Rolex

Both brands offer excellence in both watchmaking processes and innovation. Grand Seiko has made significant technological strides in incorporating semiconductor manufacturing practices in the production of its watch components and materials. Also, in the field of combining both mechanical and electronic movement technology, Grand Seiko has achieved world-class results for accuracy.

Grand Seiko is also one of the only watch brands that offer a hand-assembled quartz movement. This coupled with a virtually “Blink of an eye” date change function are significant advancements. In most watches, when the date is going to change at midnight, the numeric function is either gradual or can be viewed in real-time.

The Grand Seiko anticipates the coming midnight hour and changes at the precise moment the day turns over quietly and with seamless aplomb. In the discussion of high-end complications, Grand Seiko has made contributions and advancements concerning the incorporation of the tourbillon with its T0 (T Zero) Constant Force Tourbillon. For the most part, both Rolex and Great Seiko are not necessarily renowned for their complications.

When comparing both brands for technical prowess, you have a long history of Swiss movement development and innovation juxtaposed with a virtual newcomer to the watch world in the Grand Seiko brand.

I believe the Japanese work ethic and ability to approach watchmaking with a new and fresh mindset have contributed to their success in producing watches that have the ability to compete and even exceed many Swiss luxury brands based on technology, accuracy, and aesthetics.

Both of these brands have built reputations for producing high-end luxury timepieces, but Rolex is miles ahead in brand recognition and has a greater perceived value in the marketplace.  I believe a consumer seeking a Rolex will choose to stay on that path and not consider a Grand Seiko as an alternative choice. The Grand Seiko, though an excellent watch, does not offer the allure of a Rolex.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference between Seiko and Grand Seiko?

As referenced in this article, Seiko and Grand Seiko have existed together under the same roof, so to speak, until recently when the Grand Seiko brand became its own distinct entity. Each may share the Seiko name but they are distinctly different.

You can purchase a Seiko for as little as $100.00 at retail. Given their massive distribution and easy availability, prices may vary considerably. If you are in the market for an accurate everyday watch that looks good and tells time, then this brand fits the bill. If you don’t care if your watch is of Swiss or Japanese origin, any Seiko watch is a good choice. 

Grand Seiko would be your choice if you wanted a more sophisticated timepiece that reflects the highest level of Japanese watchmaking. The finishes and materials, as well as the quality of the movements position these models in the luxury watch market.

Is Grand Seiko a luxury watch?

I believe Grand Seiko is a luxury watch. Albeit a more fair question would be, what level of luxury? Unfortunately, the luxury watch market is dominated by Swiss brands that have been around for far longer than Grand Seiko, and have built brands and names that are highly sought after and in demand.

I will also make the assumption that when wearing a Grand Seiko, anyone noticing the watch might have the immediate observation that they are looking at a much more luxurious Seiko watch. In the U.S. market and others, the name Seiko would not elicit thoughts of luxury.

A consumer needs to be educated that the Grand Seiko, though carrying Seiko in its name, is unlike the Seiko of their father’s generation. No one mistakes the prestige of a Rolex or an Omega, for instance. These brands are easily recognizable and reflect the wearer’s taste and success.

Which is More Popular, Grand Seiko or Rolex?

The Grand Seiko collection offers far more sophisticated movements in many of its models. The Rolex models house movements that are manufactured in-house and are high quality in their own right but lack the sophistication of Grand Seiko’s complicated models. Both brands look and feel luxurious. 

Rolex, in large part, is not only in high demand for its watch designs but because the brand has had great success carefully building a successful luxury brand name. Through high-end sponsorships in sports such as golf and the equestrian community and targeted advertising towards a wealthy and sophisticated consumer, Rolex enjoys a status other brands do not.

Grand Seiko would benefit greatly from a targeted campaign promoting their brand as the iconoclast’s choice rather than trying to compete head-to-head with the various Swiss luxury watch brands available. Grand Seiko suffers from a lack of visibility to a wider audience who may appreciate the quality of their timepieces.

Are Grand Seiko Watches as Good as Rolex Watches?

Both are quality timepieces. Both use the highest quality materials and are impeccably finished. Each brand is completely vertically integrated producing all of its components and movements and assembling its watches. The Rolex collection is distinguished by its oyster case whereas the Grand Seiko watches offer more variety in styles.

In comparing quality, I believe each is as good as the other when it comes to quality. The allure of a Rolex is not so much the quality comparison but the statement it makes for the wearer. The Rolex name on the dial of any one of the company’s models speaks quality, expensive, and luxury and I have arrived at a certain station in life.

Is Grand Seiko a Good Investment?

Most watches should not be purchased as investments. There are models amongst collectors and watch experts that have appreciated in value over time as evidenced in the secondary market and at auctions, but this is an area of speculation that you should not merely gamble in. Values tend to fluctuate with economic booms and busts and changes in consumers’ tastes.

That being said, some watches do hold their value better than others. Two such brands are Rolex and Patek Phillipe. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of depreciation that occurs after the purchase of a Grand Seiko watch. If you want to purchase a Grand Seiko for yourself, a well-cared-for used timepiece might be a prudent decision if you can appreciate the quality of one of the watches and don’t have an indiscriminate budget.

Do Grand Seikos Hold Their Value?

As mentioned in my answer to the previous question, Grand Seikos experience a measure of depreciation after purchase. The secondary market for Grand Seikos is not as strong as Rolex for instance. There is a better chance of retaining value with a Grand Seiko if one purchased a limited edition piece, but there is no guarantee of this either.

Why Should I Buy a Grand Seiko Over A Swiss Watch?

If you are not searching for a brand that people will easily recognize on your wrist, then a Grand Seiko is a great choice. Wearing a Swiss-made luxury watch typically makes a statement as to the wearer’s success in life. Sophisticated taste, class, and wealth are words used in describing the wearer of a fine Swiss-made timepiece.

If you do desire superior accuracy, this is an area where the Grand Seiko models excel. You will not find this level of accuracy in either Rolex or most high-priced Swiss luxury brands. What you do get with the purchase of a Grand Seiko is great value for exceptional watchmaking and craftsmanship. You may even get some people to ask about the watch you are wearing and you can sing the praises of an alternative choice to the luxury brands that they might be more familiar with.

Why are Grand Seiko Watches so Expensive?

This is an interesting question because when it comes to luxury brands, the high cost is a subjective decision for the purchaser. Luxury brands exist so that a statement can be made by the one who purchases the item.

Whether it be automobiles, watches, neighborhoods people desire to live in, or anything that is not affordable to most individuals, they exist to reflect a person’s success and class in life. If a brand is successful at crafting an image of luxury and exclusivity, there is then a margin of value that will often exceed the cost of making that item. A customer will pay a premium to own the item.

There are many Swiss-made luxury brands that people will willingly pay that premium to own a watch. This is not to say that there are also many handmade watches where countless hours of watchmaking, research, and design as well as the use of costly materials have been invested and these costs become quite expensive. 

Grand Seikos are crafted from the finest quality materials and are superbly finished. The research and design reflected in any of the models of the collection are worth a premium. You must ultimately determine for yourself if these attributes are worth spending the extra money on or just getting an inexpensive watch to merely tell the time. What you get in a Grand Seiko will most likely be less expensive than what you would pay for in a comparable Swiss luxury brand.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both the Rolex and Grand Seiko brands are of the highest quality. Rolex has a distinct edge because of its successful advertising and marketing and the reputation it has built over time. The Grand Seiko timepieces are great reflections of superior Japanese watchmaking but lack the cache and luxury brand recognition that Rolex enjoys.

If you do not have your heart set on a particular brand and are open-minded about your next luxury watch purchase, make part of your due diligence a trip to your jeweler or watch shop to try on and learn more about what the Grand Seiko has to offer. You might pleasantly be surprised by the Grand Seiko collection.

Best Grand Seiko Hi Beat watches

Anytime class and precision are required, Grand Seiko is instantly the name that comes to mind. Grand Seiko produces some of the best watch movements. Additionally, the brand produces timepieces that are as unique as they are superior to others.

Although all Grand Seiko wristwatches have excellent movements, one that has caught our eye is the Hi-Beat. One may ask, what is a Seiko Hi-Beat? We will tell you everything you need to know about the best Grand Seiko Hi-Beat watches and what they mean to watch lovers. 

What does Hi-Beat Mean in Watches?

Hi-Beat movements, like all others, were discovered due to the watchmakers’ zeal to attain supreme accuracy. The Hi-Beat movement was first introduced in the 60s when its frequency was about 18,000 BPH. Nowadays, watchmakers have refined the movement to enhance precision. Thus, you will find that Grand Seiko Hi-Beat wristwatches have a frequency of 28,800 BPH. 

What is a Seiko Hi-Beat?

The Hi-Beat is a type of mechanical movement like the spring drive watches. However, Hi-Beat automatic watches give rise to fast-ticking timepieces. Consequently, Hi-Beat movement watches have higher precisions compared to spring drive timepieces. 

The mechanism of Hi-Beat wristwatches resembles that of chronographs. As well all know, chronographs are mostly used by pilots, astronauts, doctors, and race drivers. All these people have one thing in common; they depend on time. Hence, you can also use Seiko Hi-Beat watches because they offer excellent precision. 

Although it was not Seiko that pioneered these Hi-Beat movements, the brand has adopted the movement and customized it since its adoption. The 5740C was the first Seiko Hi-Beat movement. This movement powered the renowned Lord Marvel, released in 1967. Interestingly, the timepiece vibrated at 36,000 BPH. About a year later, Grand Seiko released its first Hi-Beat timepiece called the 61GS with a 6145 automatic Hi-beat Caliber.

Now that we know what the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat movement is and how it came about, we can proceed to look at some of the best Grand Seiko Hi-Beat timepieces. Read on to find out some of the best timepieces with the Hi-Beat movement from Grand Seiko.

10 Best Grand Seiko Watches

Many Grand Seiko high-beat automatic watches perform better than Rolex wristwatches. Here are the ten best Grand Seiko watches with Hi-Beat movements you can count on.

  1. Grand Seiko (Mt. Iwate) SBGJ201
  2. Grand Seiko SBGJ237
  3. Grand Seiko (White Birch) SLGH005
  4. Grand Seiko SBGM221
  5. Grand Seiko SLGH009
  6. Grand Seiko SBGH001
  7. Grand Seiko SBGJ227

1. Grand Seiko SBGJ201

Grand Seiko SBGJ201

The Mt. Iwate timepiece or Grand Seiko SBGJ201 is a great choice if you pick your first wristwatch from Grand Seiko. The wristwatch has several unique features that make it one of the best Hi-Beat wristwatches. This affordable high-beat Seiko watch resembles other models but stands out differently.

One main thing you will notice about this timepiece is its blue GMT hands. Additionally, you will notice the little structure in the dial. The watch stands out even further because it has that design from Grand Seiko’s 44GS. Inspired by Shizuku-Ishi’s Mt. Iwate, this timepiece has a thick diameter of 40mm. 

The watch has a stainless steel bracelet matching the GMT function and adding some thickness to the watch. The Hi-Beat movement makes the timepiece perfect for those who love accuracy in their timepieces. The wristwatch has a white dial with a date window at the three o’clock dial marker. You will also find the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 inscribed just above the six o’clock hour marker.

2. Grand Seiko SBGJ237

Grand Seiko SBGJ237

The Grand Seiko SBGJ237 has unparalleled functions, making it one of the best Hi-beat movement watches you can obtain from Grand Seiko. The timepiece has a 24-hour bezel that displays three different time zones simultaneously. Additionally, the design gives off a traditional yet classic outlook.

This round-shaped timepiece has an analog display type and an anti-reflective sapphire dial window, making time-telling easier. The stainless steel case matches the silver band color and blue dial. Furthermore, the blue and white sapphire-made bezel makes the watch one of the most attractive on the market. 

This timepiece has a case diameter of 44.2mm,, making it suitable for persons with big wrists. Thus, if you have a small wrist, you may have to choose another wristwatch. The Grand Seiko SBGJ237 has a date calendar at the three o’clock marker and a power reserve of approximately 55 hours. You also stand to enjoy a water resistance of 200m, which makes it enough for swimming and showering. 

3. Grand Seiko SLG005

Grand Seiko SLG005

This timepiece takes its name from its brilliantly deep-textured dial. Watchmakers were inspired by the white birch trees near Grand Seiko’s studio in Shizukuishi. This timepiece has an Evolution 9 style that gives off a practical and sporty vibe. Interestingly, the timepiece also has a refined and elegant design introduced to celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary.

The brand used its new Hi-Beat 9SA5 movement to mark this special edition. Thus, this watch has a dial impulse with better efficiency compared to a Swiss lever. Consequently, the watch has an increased 80-hour power reserve. 

While you may argue that the silver indices do not contrast properly with the silvery-white dial, the brushed and polished finishes make the watch one of the best. Moreover, the wristwatch has a sporty case and a water resistance of 100m. Hence, this unique timepiece can withstand swimming and light showers. 

4. Grand Seiko SLGH009

Grand Seiko SLGH009

Grand Seiko released this timepiece to celebrate its 55th anniversary. The brand got the design inspiration from the 1967 model and made a few modifications. Moreover, this timepiece has a 40mm case and an 11.7mm height. You will also find large shoulders and polished surfaces typical of the 44GS.

One interesting feature of this wristwatch is its Ever-Brilliant Steel alloy. This steel is resistant to corrosion, thus extending the timepieces’ durability. Furthermore, the brilliant-white hue matches the finely polished Zaratsu-treated surfaces. 

Like most Grand Seiko Hi-Beat wristwatches, this timepiece has a sapphire crystal dial window. The anti-reflective coating on the see-through sapphire crystal makes it easier to see the elements in the dial. 

5. Grand Seiko Hi-Beat SBGJ219

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat SBGJ219

Grand Seiko’s SBGJ219, otherwise known as the Grand Seiko Elegance, incorporates the Caliber 9S86 movement. This high-level movement offers the same accuracy (-5 to +3 secs a day) and power reserve (55hrs) compared to the core Caliber 9S85. What makes this timepiece superior is its GMT function. 

First introduced in 2019, this timepiece has made an everlasting impression. The wristwatch has a round anti-reflective sapphire window that houses an analog display dial. Furthermore, the timepiece features a three-fold clasp that contains a push button release that fits perfectly with its stainless steel case. This timepiece is perfect for you if you have a small wrist. The case diameter is 39.5mm, while the thickness is about 13.9mm. 

Grand Seiko’s SBGJ219 houses a date calendar at the three o’clock hour marker. Also, the timepiece has an automatic movement with a manual winding capacity. This timepiece is your surest bet if you need a low-budget, high-performance luxury watch.

6. Grand Seiko SBGH001

Grand Seiko SBGH001

If you don’t like unnecessary decorations on your wristwatch, Grand Seiko’s SBGH001 is for you. The timepiece is an embodiment of simplicity and elegance. This timepiece comes with a stainless steel case and a Seiko 9S5B 37-jewel movement. 

Grand Seiko uses a dual curved Sapphire with a high-quality anti-reflective coating. Furthermore, the wristwatch has a tri-hand analog display function and a date window near the three o’clock marker. This analog display and its engravings sit graciously on the white dial that contrasts with the stainless steel case. 

7. Grand Seiko SBGJ227

Grand Seiko SBGJ227

The Grand Seiko SBGJ227 was first introduced in 2017 with 700 pieces. This Hi-Beat GMT timepiece comes from Grand Seiko’s Heritage collection and has a normal movement and case style to other timepieces in the collection. However, what makes the wristwatch stand out is its peacock-inspired dial. 

This timepiece has stamped pattern and green lacquer color, allowing it to utilize light beautifully. The colors from the dial almost resemble those on a peacock, hence the color description. Furthermore, the timepiece has a 40mm casing and a unique zaratsu finishing.

What to Consider When Buying Grand Seiko Timepieces

Buying the right Grand Seiko Hi-Beat wristwatches could be confusing even for enthusiasts. We have outlined a few things to help you pick the best Grand Seiko Hi-Beat timepieces.

Dials

While most modern timepieces spot sunburst or matte dials, Grand Seiko watches usually have different dials from each collection and model. Before purchasing any wristwatch, you must check for the textured dial that suits your taste. Something you can check from the dial is the indices.

Some models have Roman numerals for hour markers, while others have Arabic numerals. It is best to choose the dial markers that sit right with you. Additionally, you can check if the dial has a date window or other features like the GMT function, which you may need. 

Check Your Budget

While you may find several Hi-Beat wristwatches on the market, your budget is one factor you cannot ignore. Thankfully, Grand Seiko has the cheapest Hi-Beat watches. With Grand Seiko, you will find the cheapest 28,800 BPH watch, and even a 36,000 BPH watch at an affordable price. Ensure that you go for a wristwatch you can afford to avoid financial issues in the future.

Finishing and Movement

Several brands have different finishings. For Grand Seiko, their trademark Zaratsu polishing is rampant. Although you will find other finishings, this is the most common among Hi-Beat wristwatches. Additionally, you will find several movements when purchasing a Grand Seiko wristwatch. However, the Hi-Beat mechanical is one of the best and offers accuracy like none other. To enjoy accurate time-telling, utilizing the Hi-Beat movement timepieces from Grand Seiko is best.

Conclusion

Grand Seiko has some of the best and most affordable Hi-Beat wristwatches. Our review has outlined ten of the best wristwatches with Hi-Beat movements. You can use this list and our buying guide to pick the wristwatch that corresponds with your taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are high-beat watches more accurate?

High-beat wristwatches have higher frequencies, allowing you to enjoy more accuracy than lower frequencies. Summarily, the higher the frequency of your Hi-Beat wristwatch, the more accurate its time-telling capabilities.

Which is the cheapest Hi-Beat watch to buy?

Many brands offer affordable Hi-Beat wristwatches. However, Grand Seiko offers some of the best and most affordable Hi-Beat timepieces. To enjoy classic designs, you need to consider this brand.

Does Grand Seiko have Hi-Beat watches for all wrist sizes?

Yes. Grand Seiko has Hi-Beat watches for small and big wrists. We have listed the best Grand Seiko Hi-Beat watches for big and small wrists. You can visit our list to see which of the timepieces matches your wrist size.

grand seiko vs omega brand comparison

An overview of the Grand Seiko brand

Grand Seiko is a Japanese watch brand that was started in 1960. Both the Seiko and Grand Seiko brands existed under one umbrella until 2017 when the Grand Seiko became an independent brand. A good comparison would be automobile manufacturer Honda Motor Company. Both the Honda and Acura brands are owned by Honda but are two distinct entities.

Just as the Honda brand appeals to the everyday driver, the Acura brand is a higher-priced luxury offering for a more sophisticated consumer. Think of Seiko as Honda, and the Grand Seiko as the Acura. The Seiko watch corporation has accomplished much during its relatively short history. From Seiko’s inception, they were manufacturing highly precise mechanical timepieces.

In the 1960s, Seiko beat out many high-end Swiss brands at Observatory Competitions in Switzerland, often placing in the top five for mechanical accuracy. In 1969, Seiko invented the very first quartz movement. The original model was the Seiko Quartz Astra. The accuracy of these movements was +-5 seconds per month.

Far more accurate than the mechanical wind and automatic movements that were being produced. This level of accuracy in a wristwatch was unprecedented. The other great draw to the brand was its affordability. The quartz introduction would provide a great challenge to the established Swiss watch brands.

The follow-up introduction of the Twin Quartz and the Superior Twin Quartz models would further Seiko’s success in delivering highly accurate movements. The “Twin” refers to the two quartz oscillators that were incorporated into the movement, one compensating for the other during temperature changes. The Twin Quartz introduced in 1978 was accurate to +-10 seconds per year and the Superior Twin Quartz to +-5 seconds per year.

Over the past sixty years, Seiko has improved upon many previous watch manufacturing processes. In 2020, Grand Seiko created the T0 (T-Zero) movement which was the world’s first. Amongst the innovations achieved, a totally different approach was applied to the manufacture of the movement’s gears. Gears are vital in the precision of the movement.

Whereas previously gears were machined, Grand Seiko employed a process known as MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems). This technique is employed for making semiconductors. Metal films are layered like plating to produce perfect gear teeth. Gear teeth precision is measured in microns. This process was also used to manufacture Grand Seiko’s pallet fork and escapement wheels.

The T0 movement features a fully integrated constant force tourbillon on the same axis in the movement. Constant force preserves power in a small spring called a constant force spring which is different from a mainspring. It uses the repulsive power of the small spring to power a pendulum or balance. The constant force mechanism ensures stable torque which increases accuracy.

The Grand Seiko collection is comprised of five sub-collections. These are Masterpiece, Elegance, Evolution 9, Sports, and Heritage. The starting retail price for a Grand Seiko is $2200.00. Every Grand Seiko watch houses one of three types of movements The “9S” is a mechanical movement that offers Grand Seiko Specification Standards of the accuracy of +4/-2 seconds per day.

These standards are achieved over seventeen days of testing in six different positions and at three different temperatures. The “9S5A” movement is the automatic version with an accuracy of +8/-3 seconds per day. The second movement is the “9S”. This movement is based on the unique technology of a spring drive.

This technology combines electronic and mechanical watchmaking methods within one movement. Watches carrying these movements are accurate from a minimum of +-.5 seconds per day to +-15 seconds per month.

Lastly is the “9F” which is a hand-assembled quartz movement. Most quartz movements are machine manufactured, so this is a very unique feature. These watches also boast accuracy readings of +- 10 seconds per year.

3 Grand Seiko Watches

The Omega watch brand

Omega is a Swiss luxury timepiece that is counted amongst the ten most recognizable brands worldwide. Omega was founded in 1848 by Louis Brandt in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. The watch company did not incorporate the “Omega” name until 1903 and even then it was known as a combination of Brandt and Omega. 

The major feature that distinguishes Omega watches from other brands is that each is a master chronometer. To achieve this classification, the movements are not just certified chronometers by the COSC (Swiss chronometer testing institute) for accuracy, but they are then put through more precision testing by METAS. METAS is the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology.

The movements are put through eight additional tests and must fall within certain parameters of accuracy. Whereas the COSC accepts results of -4/+6 seconds per day after the METAS tests the range is 0/+5, 0/+6, and 0/+7 seconds per day depending upon the caliber size of the movement. The Omega watch line offers over 500 models and has a starting retail price of approximately $5000.00.

A basic “Rail Master” is about $4900.00. and a basic divers watch will run you about $5100.00. Women’s watches start at approximately $6000.00. There is great depth to the women’s selections with styles ranging from classic models to models adorned with diamonds and gemstones in solid gold. There are four distinct subgroups within the collection. Seamaster, Speedmaster, Constellation, and Deville.

These groups are also made up of subgroups of assorted styles with choices that most would find appealing. Omega has many notable inventions and patents it has acquired during its history. The company created the first Master Chronometer Tourbillon and presently offers four models that range from $137,000.00 to over $700,000.00 retail.

These handcrafted watches come with either manual winding or self-winding movements and range in case size from 38.7 mm. to 44 mm. These models are inspired by the first tourbillon wristwatch caliber Omega created in 1947. Unlike the conventional tourbillon movements where the cages rotated once every minute, the Omega rotated once every 7.5 minutes. This provided greater accuracy leading to the movement being recognized as the most accurate recorded timepiece in 1949.

Another iconic chapter in Omega’s history was the development of the “Moon” watch. This watch was launched in 1957. In 1962, it was the first watch in space when Wally Schirra wore it for the Mercury Mission on Oct. 3, 1962.

Nasa subsequently qualified the watch for manned missions in 1965, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore it when he walked on the moon on July 21, 1969. Thus Omega became known as “The First Watch on the Moon.” Omega offers a five-year warranty on all of its timepieces making it comparable to Rolex in this respect.

Is the Grand Seiko watch technically better than Omega?

Both brands offer excellence in both watchmaking processes and innovation. Grand Seiko has made significant technological strides in incorporating semiconductor manufacturing practices in the production of its watch components and materials. Also, in the field of combining both mechanical and electronic movement technology, Grand Seiko has achieved world-class results for accuracy.

Grand Seiko is also one of the only watch brands that offer a hand-assembled quartz movement. This coupled with a virtually “Blink of an eye” date change function are significant advancements. In most watches, when the date is going to change at midnight, the numeric function is either gradual or can be viewed in real-time. The Grand Seiko anticipates the coming midnight hour and changes at the precise moment the day turns over quietly and with seamless aplomb.

In the discussion of high-end complications, both companies have made contributions and advancements concerning the incorporation of the tourbillon. Omega with its Master Chronometer Tourbillon and Grand Seiko with its T0 (T Zero) Constant Force Tourbillon. When comparing both brands for technical prowess, you have a long history of Swiss movement development and innovation juxtaposed with a virtual newcomer to the watch world in the Grand Seiko brand.

I believe the Japanese work ethic and ability to approach watchmaking with a new and fresh mindset have contributed to their success in producing watches that have the ability to compete with many Swiss luxury brands based on technical features.

Omega Aqua Terra vs Grand Seiko Sports collection

Omega Aqua Terra vs Grand Seiko Sports

The Aqua Terra is part of the Omega Seamaster collection. These models are water resistant to 150m. (approximately 500 ft.). Cases are constructed of 316L stainless steel and available in either a 41mm. or a 38mm.cCase. They house a caliber 8900 self-winding (automatic) movement with a power reserve of 60 hours with transparent case backs. These watches are highly shock resistant and are tested with results that are equal to 5,000g (1g is equal to the force of gravity at the earth’s surface).

Each Aqua Terra also benefits from the best antimagnetic resistant rating among all watches. Omega had set the new standard for this measure in a wristwatch. These watches are antimagnetic to fields reaching 15,000 gauss. A quick overview concerning this feature is as follows.

The International Standard (ISO769) defines basic magnetic resistance for watches as they must resist exposure to direct magnetic fields of 4,800 A/m (Amperes per meter). This is a minimal level and equivalent to about 60 gauss. Gauss is a measure of magnetic resistance that takes into consideration the magnetic permeability of the material being tested. Technically, this is called magnetic flux density.

The Aqua Terra is rated at 15,000 gauss (1.2 million A/m). To put that measure in perspective, it is the magnetic field given off by an MRI scanner. The starting retail price for the Aqua Terra is $5400.00 for a strap model or $5700.00 for a model with a stainless steel bracelet. There are also several styles available for women starting at $5700.00.

For the Grand Seiko collection, I have chosen to use the SBGE201 model from the Sports styles. Granted, this is a GMT model but I wanted a model with a comparable price point and features. This model boasts 20 bar or approximately 660 ft. of water resistance. The case measures 44mm. and is outfitted with a 30 jewel caliber 9R66 SpringDrive movement (see above for the definition of a spring drive movement) with a power reserve of 72 hours.

It has a sapphire crystal and offers an accuracy of +-15 seconds per month (approximately +-1 second per day). Magnetic resistance comes in at 4800 A/m. A vast difference when compared to the Omega. I believe Omega holds a slight advantage over the Grand Seiko when comparing features. The Omega, as a Swiss luxury watch, has a more prestigious cache attached to its name. The Grand Seiko is a solid quality watch but has less perceived value than the Omega brand.

Difference between Seiko and Grand Seiko

As referenced in this article, Seiko and Grand Seiko have existed together under the same roof, so to speak, until recently when the Grand Seiko brand has become its own distinct entity. Each may share the Seiko name but they are distinctly different. You can purchase a Seiko for as little as $100.00 at retail. Given their massive distribution and easy availability, prices may vary considerably. If you are in the market for an accurate everyday watch that looks good and tells time, then this brand fits the bill.

If you don’t care if your watch is of Swiss or Japanese origin, any Seiko watch is a good choice. Grand Seiko would be your choice if you wanted a more sophisticated timepiece that reflects the highest level of Japanese watchmaking. The finishes and materials, as well as the quality of the movements position these models in the luxury watch market.

Is Grand Seiko a luxury watch?

2 Grand Seiko Watches

I believe Grand Seiko is a luxury watch. Albeit a more fair question would be, what level of luxury? Unfortunately, the luxury watch market is dominated by Swiss brands that have been around for far longer than Grand Seiko, and have built brands and names that are highly sought after and in demand. I will also make the assumption that when wearing a Grand Seiko, anyone noticing the watch might have the immediate observation that they are looking at a much more luxurious Seiko watch.

In the U.S. market and others, the name Seiko would not elicit thoughts of luxury. A consumer needs to be educated that the Grand Seiko, though carrying Seiko in its name, is unlike the Seiko of their father’s generation. No one mistakes the prestige of a Rolex or an Omega, for instance. These brands are easily recognizable and reflect the wearer’s taste and success.

Omega vs. Grand Seiko vs. Rolex

For this answer, I deflect back to the sentences at the end of the last paragraph before this question. Rolex is the most recognizable of the three brands with Omega second. Both of these brands have built solid reputations for producing high-end Swiss luxury timepieces. I believe a consumer seeking a Rolex or Omega will choose to stay on that path and not consider a Grand Seiko as an alternative choice. The Grand Seiko, though an excellent watch, does not offer the allure of a Rolex or Omega.

How does Grand Seiko compare to Tudor?

For those that are unfamiliar with the Tudor brand, Tudor is essentially the sister company of the very successful and popular Rolex brand. Based in Switzerland and founded by Hans Wilsdorf, both continue production today managed by the Wilsdorf Foundation. With this in mind, both collections share many of the same attributes and innovations exclusively developed by Mr. Wilsdorf and his team of artisans.

For many years, Tudor was viewed as a poor man’s Rolex. Tudor, at the time, seemed to be more of a stepchild than the sister company it truly was. There seemed to be somewhat of an identity crisis. Fortunately, with the relaunch of the Tudor brand in the United States approximately ten years ago, the brand has made great strides to present its uniqueness and appeal.

With the addition of exclusive in-house movements manufactured by Tudor and not customized ETA movements, the move towards a more distinct brand identity is well underway. The Tudor brand offers a wide array of choices for both men and women. The entrance price at retail for a gents watch is $2475.00 and $1750.00 for a basic lady’s timepiece.

All of the Tudor watches have self-winding mechanical movements and are COSC Swiss-certified chronometers, with most movements exceeding the COSC standards. There are some very unique pieces within the Tudor collection that have movements that are  Master Chronometer Certified (METAS Certified) just like the Omega collection and as explained earlier in this article. These models are also antimagnetic to 15,000 gausses.

The Grand Seiko collection offers far more sophisticated movements in many of its models. The Tudor models house movements that are manufactured in-house and are high quality in their own right but lack the sophistication of Grand Seiko’s complicated models. The Grand Seiko also looks and feels more luxurious. In this respect, the Grand Seiko has the edge over the Tudor brand.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both the Omega and Grand Seiko brands are of very high quality. Omega has a distinct edge because of its long history and the reputation it has built during that time. The Grand Seiko timepieces are great reflections of superior Japanese watchmaking but lack the cache and luxury brand recognition that Omega enjoys.

If you are not pre sold on a particular brand and are open-minded about your next luxury watch purchase, make part of your due diligence a trip to your jeweler or watch shop to try on and learn more about what the Grand Seiko has to offer. You might pleasantly be surprised.

grand seiko vs rolex

Grand Seiko and Rolex are both big names in the global watchmaking industry. The two brands compete in the luxurious watchmaking segment. However, this is not enough to make a comprehensive comparison between the two brands. Grand Seiko and Rolex both offer different value propositions to their buyers. Rolex rules when it comes to brand awareness, while Grand Seiko takes the crown in craftsmanship, so the Grand Seiko vs Rolex debate becomes difficult to crown a winner.

Having a Rolex watch goes beyond just wearing a luxurious watch. The brand represents a celebration of professional achievement and a declaration of one’s social status. Owning a Rolex watch goes just beyond having an elegant timepiece, but it is more related to what the brand describes as “living an experience.” The brand has several partnerships, which support challenging scientific innovations and endeavors. These scientific innovations have been significant milestones in watchmaking history. The brand describes their collections as “Every Rolex tells a story.

When looking at Grand Seiko, you see a different approach. This Japanese watchmaking brand focuses more on confidence attributed to offering the best craftsmanship in the watchmaking industry. Grand Seiko hasn’t hired any brand ambassadors or influencers. Instead, the brand has been primarily focusing on coming up with the best watch for its buyers. The Grand Seiko uses a specification sheet as its number strategy when marketing its collections. With a foundation dating back to the 1960s, the brand has worked hard at coming up with great innovations and creations in watchmaking craftsmanship.

 

Grand Seiko vs Rolex: History

What is the history behind Grand Seiko and Rolex?

 

Grand Seiko

Grand Seiko Brand

Grand Seiko made its debut in 1960. The Japanese brand had a determination to excel in all segments of the watchmaking craftsmanship. Seiko, the parent company, had already gained much popularity at the end of the quartz crisis. With the ability to specialize in quartz movements, Seiko was able to achieve affordability to most of their models. When coming up with watch models for the Grand Seiko collection, Seiko focused on easy to wear models, durability, and values of precision. The Grand Seiko Caliber 3180 movement used in the first Grand Seiko model was the first to meet the standards of excellence and be compliant with the Bureaux Officiels de Contrôle de la Marche des Montres. Since 1960 the brand has shown ever-improving mechanical skills in watchmaking, winning awards in Geneva and the Grand Seiko calibers, becoming some of the world’s best watch movements.

 

Rolex

Rolex Logo

At the young age of 24, Hans Wilsdorf had a vision for the Rolex Company, founded in 1905. Hans Wilsdorf wanted to prove to the global watchmaking industry and watch connoisseurs that his watches were elegant in style and promised reliability. Wilsdorf equipped his models with innovative movements, which were manufactured by a Switzerland Bienne-based watchmaking company. In 1910, Rolex got the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. Nine years later, the company was based in Geneva, and its dials were encrypted with the brand’s iconic crown logo. Rolex created its first waterproof watch in 1926. Shortly after, it created the first timepiece to have an automatic date on the dial. Rolex has continued to set the standards of excellence high for other Swiss luxurious watchmaking brands.

 

Grand Seiko vs Rolex: Style & Design

It’s crucial to have a detailed analysis when looking at the two brands’ styles and designs. Grand Seiko has a classic looking luxurious timepiece, but when you look at Rolex, the brand screams of luxury and elegance in every essence. However, a closer look at the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat and the Rolex Datejust, you will notice varied aesthetic and technical differences, making the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat superior in craftsmanship. Both of these brands produce very high-end and exquisite watches.

Grand Seiko 9S86 Hi Beat Movement
Grand Seiko 9S86 Hi Beat Movement

Grand Seiko has been exploring new designs and styles. Recent models come in new styles and are introduced with fantastic new dials. The brand has been fully utilizing the Shizukuishi Watch Studio, which has a savoire-faire in watchmaking craftsmanship, far superior to Rolex’s. The Grand Seiko production stage can be described to be at the stage of a boutique level. The brand enjoys tens of thousands in production.

The models produced by Grand Seiko offer the highest refinement when it comes to mechanical performance and case finish. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive technology and Zaratsu polishing are just some of the top tier design and styling hallmarks, making the Japanese brand stand out as a luxurious watchmaker. This has shown the brand’s long-term commitment to offering watches that target the finest watch connoisseurs.  Grand Seiko models’ build quality exceeds many luxurious watchmaking Swiss brands and is at par with some of the top Swiss high-end luxury watches.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Movement
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Movement

Over the years, Rolex has upgraded and updated its models. They communicate even minor product changes to continue being the best at making luxurious watches. Omega seems to be the other brand that has followed this strategy of revolutionized communication. Rolex is a large scale high-end manufacturer with in-house calibers that are not only aesthetically less refined but technically competent as well.

Grand Seiko vs Rolex: Pricing

With as little as $5,300, one can buy a Grand Seiko watch mode like the Grand Seiko ref: SBGR055, which has automatic movement. Grand Seiko also has mid-ranged luxurious models like the Grand Seiko Snowflake, which costs around $5,000. The top-end models from Grand Seiko have higher price tags, like the Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch ref: SBGC221 priced around $9,300 and a more costly Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 Professional 600m Diver’s watch ref: SBGH255 priced at around $12,000.

Grand Seiko Snowflake SBGA211
Grand Seiko Snowflake SBGA211

Compared to the Japanese brand, Rolex has more expensive watches. Most of the models from Rolex cost double or triple the price of top-end Grand Seiko models. In the 1960s, Rolex became a status symbol, and it was when the Grand Seiko sub-line was being born. Lower end models from Rolex like the Air-King and Explorer (ref: 214270), have a much higher price tag when compared to the Grand Seiko’s Sport watch collection, which has durable cases and rugged aesthetics. The most expensive Rolex watch retails at close to $30,000. 

Rolex Explorer 214270
Rolex Explorer 214270

Indeed, the two brands are priced differently depending on their buyers’ various value propositions. The Rolex vintage models have a higher demand compared to the Grand Seiko vintage models. This has caused the Rolex vintage models to have very high prices, both new and pre-owned, unlike their Japanese counterparts. This immense popularity and demand for vintage Rolex models have increased the Rolex brand’s desirability in the global market. Grand Seiko is a young brand. It’s hard to predict which of their first collections will be highly sought after in the future. This will be greatly determined by how much the Grand Seiko brand is willing to invest in this watch collection sector.

 

Grand Seiko vs Rolex: Conclusion

Grand Seiko has worked hard to attain its current status as a top global luxurious watchmaking brand. This can be attributed to the fact that Seiko (the parent company) had created an extensive portfolio of affordable watches since it was founded in 1881. Seiko models have varied price range, spanning from simple models priced at just a few hundred dollars to prestigious designs found in the Grand Seiko collections, which cost thousands of dollars. Therefore, it’s evident that Grand Seiko, a luxurious brand of Seiko, would be compared to a bigger luxurious global brand, the Rolex.

Grand Seiko and its Swiss counterpart, Rolex, have both specified in refining their art of manufacturing their in-house mechanical movements. These two brands have very popular models, which offer very impressive features to buyers: Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 Professional 600m Diver’s watch, Grand Seiko Snowflake, Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Spring Drive Chronograph GMT, Rolex Daytona, Rolex Submariner, and Rolex Datejust. You can buy all these watches at Exquisite Timepieces. You can buy both new and pre-owned models of Grand Seiko and Rolex watches at Exquisite Timepieces.

Rolex Daytonas

Depending on a buyer’s preference for style and functionality, the two luxurious brands stand out. It narrows down to what you prefer as a collector, if you are more inclined to the refined state of the art in-house movements presented by Grand Seiko or if you like the prestigious and luxurious status brought about by owning a timepiece like the Rolex Paul Newman Daytona. Whether you prefer Grand Seiko or Rolex, you can purchase both new or pre-owned models of your preferred brand at Exquisite Timepieces.

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