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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.


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 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.

In this video: Grand Seiko SBGH273 Four Seasons “Fall” 

In this video: Grand Seiko SBGA413 Four Seasons Spring

The 20th anniversary of Spring Drive is celebrated this year with a new design in Grand Seiko’s sport collection that showcases the watches’ capabilities to withstand the most demanding sport environment. The design brings a new edge to the collection with its sharp corners and bold case and today, a new creation celebrates the anniversaries of both Spring Drive and Japan’s iconic monster, Godzilla, in a striking commemorative edition.

Continue reading “Introducing the new Grand Seiko Godzilla 65th Anniversary SBGA405”

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