Naughty, Naughty: Grand Seiko USA Tries To Sneak Out Some Delicious Special Editions Without Telling Europe
How very dare you, Grand Seiko USA! This morning, I got an email from Nick Roberts at Lawrence & Co PR (thanks, Nick) informing me that three new limited-edition (obviously) time-only Grand Seikos would be debuting in the US market. It’s just as well Nick had the wherewithal to let me know otherwise I might never have learned of these beauties. And they are beautiful. First things first, book yourself a flight to the States or tap up your long-lost cousin to pick one up for you. Once you’ve done that, come back and read about the Grand Seiko SBGW273, 275, and 277.
Look, I know Fratello is based in Europe and we are a team of almost exclusively Europeans, but this is 2021. This is the internet. It’s everywhere. Region-specific models are really cool in my opinion because they add an extra wrinkle of endeavor when it comes to acquiring said timepiece, but is there any need to be so secretive? I get that markets occasionally need the boost a dash of exclusivity here or there affords but does it really matter who buys these pieces? Are these three green-dialed models a present to the American people? Well, as much as I doubt that’s what GS intended with this drop, they certainly do look like gifts…
COVID makes region-specific models actually region-specific
In a cruel twist of fate, however, hopping on a plane to pick up the latest region-specific model you simply have to add to your collection is not as easy as it once was. Last time I checked, getting into the US without quarantine was a tad tricky for anyone driving a clapped-out Renault, wearing lederhosen, or drinking enough vodka to blind a horse (so basically anyone from Europe — I think that covers 90% of us at least).
There will be 140 pieces each of references SBGW273, 275, and 277. That at least means there is a chance you can snare one if you like the serene shades of green chosen here. The price will be $4,900 before taxes. You might have noticed that Grand Seiko watches are often priced very attractively in the States in comparison to the sticker prices in Europe. Case in point, yesterday’s release (the sumptuous SLGA007) had a European price of €9,100. In America, the same watch retails for $8,700. Today’s exchange rate means that the US model costs the equivalent of €7,402. Wow.
Taxes are fun
Of course, the US price is without applicable sales taxes, which vary from state to state. But sales tax is a funny old thing. Retailers use all kinds of tricks (from straight-up over-the-counter discounts, which isn’t illegal) to shipping to an address in another state.
You then need to pay the taxes of the destination state unless there is no branch of the same store in that state. In that case, you can avoid sales taxes entirely…theoretically. Remember, however, the IRS is very likely to ask you if you’ve made any out-of-state purchases, so bear that in mind. If there is a store in that state, you can still save money if the taxes are lower there.
While shipping the watch to another location is legit, it is actually illegal to wear the watch out of the store and ship an empty box, which I’ve seen people do before. And then there are the five states that actually have no state-mandated sales tax (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon), but, perhaps uncoincidentally, GS doesn’t have a boutique in any of them (rude).
A relative “bargain”, limited, and oh-so-green
So what we’re looking at here are three models that would likely be priced at over €5,000 in Europe, with incredibly beautiful green dials in three different shades. While they all like the appropriate color for a kitchen wall to me, I think they are bang on trend given this recent fascination the industry has with pastel colors. My favorite color is probably the darkest of the three (it is almost a metallic teal), but I think the most special is the SBGW277, which is the “greenest” of the trio and an almost sage-like shade.
The “teal” one is reference SGBW275, while the palest of the three (which is the only one to sport a blued seconds hand) is reference SBGW273. Again, Grand Seiko experiments with a special texture to great effect. Powered by the manually-wound 9S64A movement, these compact and wearable pieces come in at 37.3mm wide cases that stand 11.6mm tall on the wrist with a 44.3mm lug-to-lug length. Learn more about Grand Seiko here.