Serious consideration for your mid-priced mechanical watch does not need to be reserved for Swiss watches alone. That would be to overlook the highly impressive contributions made by the likes of Seiko.
Seiko are perhaps most famous for starting the quartz watch revolution that came within a whisker of destroying the Swiss watch industry, but they have always harboured other more lofty ambitions too. And one of them was to create nothing less than the best luxury watch in the world set at a level higher than anything that Seiko had previously achieved, and higher than all international chronometer standards.
Starting in December 1960, this new line was to be known as Grand Seiko. It’s only in recent years that Grand Seiko watches have been available in the West.
Each and every Grand Seiko is as accurate, as reliable, as legible and as comfortable to wear as can possibly be achieved by Seiko’s team of watchmaking elite.
Grand Seiko is not about grandiose and fancy design; there is no unnecessary elaboration or undue decoration. Each watch is an exercise in near Zen-like minimalism. Just pure, simple and basic watchmaking raised to the level of an art form.
The watches cost considerably more than an average Seiko, starting at around £3,300. If you can admire a watch for its clean, high quality uncluttered simplicity, the Grand Seiko line is definitely a worthy contender.
Grand Seiko SBGRO51
A classically styled 39mm three hander typical of the Grand Seiko approach. This watch is perfect for anyone looking for a timeless watch with an excellent movement and a simplistic design. Designed to look as good with a suit as it does with a t-shirt. The automatic movement can be seen through a sapphire crystal case back. The date is at 3 o’clock. Water resistant to 100 metres. All materials are of the highest quality and are designed to be highly resistant to wear and tear. £3,300.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA001
The Seiko Spring Drive is currently the only commercially available wristwatch embedded technology capable of truly creating a continuous movement of the second hand, instead of the traditional beats per time unit as seen in quartz or mechanical watches. It takes elements from both mechanical and quartz technology to create a movement of excellent accuracy and reliability of just + or – 1 second a day. £4,000.
Grand Seiko SBGM023
This is a GMT watch with a 24 hour dial read by a blue steel 24 hour hand. The date is at 3 o’clock. The watch runs on an 9S66 automatic movement with hand-winding capability, the movement is visible through a sapphire window on the caseback. £4,200.
Grand Seiko SBGA031
A Grand Seiko Spring Drive Diver with 200 metres water resistance and a uni-directional bezel. The design conforms to the same clean, minimalist look, but with a black dial and luminous markers with chunky Seiko diver style hands. £6,000.
Blow the budget
Grand Seiko SBGW044 limited edition
Known as the 44GS Limited Edition, this new replica of the original 44GS is as faithful as can be to its predecessor. The 44GS is the watch that established the clean and sober Grand Seiko look in 1967. It uses a hand-winding movement, carries the emblem on the case back and is the same size. In the stainless steel execution, the dial, hands and indexes are identical. There are four models in the collection.
All use the 9S64 calibre movement, first launched in 2011. It is a high-accuracy 8-beat calibre (+5 to -3 seconds a day) with a 72 hour power reserve and 24 jewels. Three pieces are in gold (white, yellow and rose) and one is in stainless steel. The cases are 37.9mm in diameter and the sapphire crystals have Seiko’s proprietary anti-reflection coating on the inner surface. This new 44GS is exceptionally finished and remarkably beautiful, with wide set lugs and faceted dial markers that have a jewel-like shape.
Each model is limited to only 70 pieces being made. Assuming you can get your hands on one, expect to pay something in the region of £15,600, which takes it out of the realms of a mid-priced mechanical but is nonetheless an exceptional watch.