Grand Seiko Shopping: Hunting Down GS Gems Under 2K
Grand Seiko is one of my favorite watch brands. The history, the quality, the unique aesthetics, the fully in-house build — there is just so much to love. It is no secret that the brand is moving upmarket, and the prices of its new watches reflect that development. If you care to look, though, you can find amazing Grand Seiko watches at bargain prices.
Join me on the hunt for a Grand Seiko under $/€2,000. I know, I know, that is still a whole lot of money. But just compare the watches below to what you could get from similarly great Swiss brands. Trust me, this is one of the few realms of watch bargains that still exist in today’s market.
The rules of the game
I have given myself a 2K budget. Since the US dollar and euro are so close nowadays, I will not differentiate between them. I am going to cut myself one break — import duties. Since you, my dear Fratelli, are located all over the globe, I will ignore local import costs. So depending on where I find my treasure, and where you live, you may have to add a percentage to the quoted prices.
I will only use Chrono24 and eBay. I am not much of a forum-dweller, but I am sure you could find great deals there too. You will also find specialized vintage GS dealers, which can be very helpful and knowledgeable.
I am pretty confident I can still find some truly desirable gems while following these rules. I am actually writing this introduction before beginning the hunt, so let’s see if I eat my words later. Without further ado, let’s get stuck in!
A Grand Seiko SBGX261
Jackpot straight away! I admit that this one has been on my radar for a while, so it was low-hanging fruit. The SBGX261 comes with an RRP of €2,200. However, I am pretty confident that you could talk your dealer into a little discount. If not, you can find this model offered online, preowned, below the 2K mark. I found one in Japan (even with customs, it’s below 2K).
The SBGX261 is a real sleeper hit, as Adrian Barker recently described on his YouTube channel. It is a classically-styled 37mm steel Grand Seiko powered by a quartz caliber. Yes, one of those awe-inspiring Grand Seiko 9F quartz calibers. It is thermo-compensated, fully in-house, beautifully finished, and accurate to within ±10 seconds per year.
Between its subtle do-it-all styling, Zaratsu finishing, and watch-snob-proof quartz caliber, this watch can make you question your collecting habits. What more could you possibly need from a watch? Sell them all off and get one of these to cover all your needs. I really think this is a hidden gem that deserves more of our attention. Oh, and if black is not your jam, there are blue and light dials out there too.
If you want it bigger: Grand Seiko SBGP013
As much as I love a 37mm GADA (go anywhere, do anything) watch, I know some of you feel that’s too small. No worries. I have found you a pre-owned/worn full-set SBGP013 in Japan, coming in at €1,477. It shares its design language with the SBGX261, but this blue example measures 40mm across. With a lug-to-lug of 47mm, this size will surely please a large target audience.
The SBGP013 is also powered by a 9F quartz caliber. This means you get the same ridiculous accuracy. It is also water-resistant to 100 meters and comes on an Oyster-style steel bracelet. Do not expect this to be as tight as a modern Rolex Oyster bracelet, but it is very nice nonetheless.
I particularly like the contrast between the sharp hands and indices and the dark sunburst blue dial. This is a very dark royal blue that will be easy to pair with any attire. The clean dial, with only the GS logo, is a thing of beauty.
But you’re a globetrotter: Grand Seiko SBGN013
My next find actually makes a whole lot of sense. Let’s say you travel a lot, and you need a good watch for your journeys. This Grand Seiko SBGN013 is a quartz GMT watch — yes, a true flyer GMT. It is under the radar, so you will be safe in any dark alley you may inadvertently stroll into. It is water-resistant to 100 meters, so you can take it swimming. And last but not least, it is stylistically super versatile, so you only need to bring one watch on your travels for business and/or pleasure. What’s not to love?
The SBGN013 measures 40mm across. It is barely over 12mm thick and just under 47mm long. The 20mm lug spacing allows for maximum strap compatibility. The stark black dial is very similar to that of the previous two options. This time, we have a 24-hour scale and a red GMT hand added to the mix. Still, the overall aesthetic remains clean and coherent.
I have found a worn example in, again, Japan. Complete with box and papers, offered at €1,549.
Going vintage: 4522-8000 or 5722-9990
Another world altogether opens up if you start looking for vintage Grand Seiko. There is plenty to find under 2K if you love sizes around 36mm. It pays to do your research, though. As with all vintage watches, you want to be able to spot incorrect parts and poor restoration work. But hey, the research is 90% of the fun of the purchase!
If have spotted two models that I particularly like. The first is from an eBay listing in Korea. It is a 1971 ref. 4522-8000 manually wound Grand Seiko. I particularly love the case shape, which is reminiscent of the fabled 44GS. This one has been refinished, which is something to consider. It is advertised at US$1,070.
The second one is another Japanese listing from an eBay dealer that I have actually purchased from in the past. This is a ref. 5722-9990 automatic. The case is once again the main attraction. Just look at those massive lugs. They provide some modern wrist presence to an otherwise vintage-proportioned watch. The watch is offered at US$1,840, but the seller does recommend getting it serviced.
I just know you want Spring Drive
I know I am a bit of a tease. I have kept you waiting until my last listing before introducing Spring Drive. In case you do not know what Spring Drive is, Bert explained it very well here. In short, it is a high-tech combination of quartz and mechanical technologies to create a super-accurate movement with a perfectly smooth seconds-hand sweep.
Now, if you wanted to get a new Spring Drive watch from your GS boutique, the cheapest option would set you back a sweet €4,800. If, however, you don’t mind a scratch or two, you can actually get one below 2K. Seriously. I swear. I will show you.
Have a look at this Grand Seiko SBGA099, for sale in — you guessed it — Japan. It is a 40mm white-dial watch in typical GS styling. What the pictures do not show you is that the blued seconds hand will glide around the dial as smoothly as a maglev train. This reference has been discontinued, but you can find used examples right around our 2K mark. Expect to pay a little more for a sharp example, but this one is offered at US$1,913.
Take your pick
There you have it. I think I have pretty well succeeded in finding some absolute gems under 2K. For those of you who claim the watch market has been spoiled, GS is the place to be. You can still find amazing value and under-appreciated watches out there.
What would be your pick out of the above? Or do you know any other Grand Seiko references that are great under 2K? As always, let me know in the comments.