Pre-owned Grand Seiko quartz watches come with Rollie-beating Zaratsu-polished greatness at no extra cost. So, where’s the catch? There is none. I know many of you are still on the fence about even considering quartz for your collection, and I understand you. I was there myself for years until the charm of budget-winning meca-quartz got to me. How about pure, in-house quartz power?

From dressy sports watches to rugged divers, the Grand Seiko SBGX range covers the time-only and three-hand categories well. If you want an accurate quartz chrono, look at lower-tier Seikos. You won’t find a pilot’s watch here either. Instead, you’ll find a deep focus on hand-polished everyday wearability, a classic vibe that balances dressy, Oyster-ish looks with, oftentimes, a thicker case than you’d expect (for a reason). Solidity is a key feature of all GS designs, even if the glittering Zaratsu polish will make you feel in the presence of a higher power of craftsmanship.

The 37mm charmers, SBGX263 and SBGX265

Having bought one recently, this is an easy choice for me and a worrying addition to any existing collection. These models are that good, and they are what gave me the impetus to write this story. I’d even say that these babies are good enough to make you forget about the rest of your wrist stash. And yes, their 10mm case thickness wears much better than the 13mm+ of the automatic models, easily. In my case, I was smitten by the SBGX265 recently after at least a year of procrastinating over the Q word.

The Grand Seiko SBGX265

It’s my third grand Seiko, and although my SBGW283 takes the top spot for glamour, the SBGX265 is rather perfect. Watch lovers and non-learned colleagues and friends alike always notice it, and it has the same — some say (ahem) even better — finishing than a 36mm Rolex OP. Plus, it is slimmer. The champagne dial of the SBGX263 has a very difficult and time-consuming finish to achieve. Yet the sparkle can be yours for less than €1,500 (excluding tax) on a platform like Chrono24. Search for an older, double-signed (Seiko/Grand Seiko) SBGX063 or SBGX065, and you’ll find them for even lower prices.

The big-boy divers, SBGX335 and SBGX337

Before snagging a great-value SBGX265, one of these was my goal, and it’s still on my list. You’ll find them big and beefy but comfortable with either a black or fresh blue dial, both with a cheeky touch of yellow. And they are discontinued, making them even more desirable if you’re in the know. Quartz divers, in general, are all gone from the GS catalog, and so is this aggressive, angular case design. The odd-shaped and overlapping brutalist handset is polarizing, sure. But the design language is proudly Japanese, just like the acquired taste of angular Lexus design details. And that, for me, is a huge part of the hyper-legible charm of these brutes.

Image: Gressive

These days, a large 43.6mm case with a 49mm lug-to-lug gives you at least a 300m depth rating. But while you might be disappointed with these watches’ less-than-amazing 200m spec, they come in at only 13mm thick. So, considering that neither you nor 90% of your buddies will dive while wearing a watch anytime soon, it makes perfect sense. Plus, as with any Seiko or Grand Seiko, the size is what it is, but it will surprise you with its studied ergonomics. In general, you’ll find the SBGX335 and SBGX337 for €2,500–3,500, with the blue one sometimes just above €2,000.

The 40mm goodness of the SBGV series

What if you like the evergreen design and bracelet of the SBGX263/265 but have a bigger wrist?  There is a slightly larger 40mm version with the same Heritage case design. Newer versions like the SBGV225 will set you back about €2,000, but the ever-perfect monochrome of matte black is less. You’ll find the SGBV223 for about €1,500 and the older SBGV025 with its blue dial for around the same plus tax/shipping. For me, the 37mm SBGXs wear more like 38–39mm watches, but this 40mm version gets you some big Zaratsu bang for your buck and is equally sublime for comfort.

grand seiko quartz

Titanium and gold with the SBGX269

This reference crept up on me as examples are rare and not often available for sale (at the time of publishing, there’s one here). With the Grand Seiko quartz SBGX series, gold details are usually set within the darker tone of titanium, except in some limited editions. With the 9F62 caliber and the same dimensions as the SBGX263/265 watches, titanium’s light weight will make this easily the most comfortable piece in this article. And if you’ve had titanium watches before with reservations about the case finishing, remember this: titanium is harder to work on than steel by quite a margin. If you can’t find an SBGX269, the older SBGX069 seems to be a bit more available. Expect prices in the ballpark of €1,500 for that one.

grand seiko quartz

An honorable mention of angularity

My colleague Lex is a connoisseur of Japanese design and has a great Grand Seiko to his name (of which I am quite jealous). It is the fiercely angular SBGX341. Its value seems to hold up well, so it might not be the huge bargain some others here represent. But that doesn’t take away a millimeter of its fresh, cool vibe.

The angular design is now discontinued, like the SBGX337/335 43.6mm divers, which is a shame. It represents a strictly Japanese design language, even with the un-GS-like trait of a big, flat brushed bezel. It is something we associate with Swiss Genta-designed grails, and with its sharp beveled edge, it is prone to dings. But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look incredibly fresh with that polar-white dial and a touch of orange. You’ll find this one pre-owned for €2,000–3,000 on Chrono24. Being antimagnetic to 40,000 A/m, it is Grand Seiko’s quirky alternative to the Milgauss and simply a great 40mm sports watch.

The quartz cult of the 9F caliber

All watches above are powered by a version of the lauded 9F62 movement, and I’m with my colleague Mike Stockton, whose quote says it all: “If ever there were a quartz movement sitting on some mythical throne of a battery-powered kingdom, the 9F62 would likely wear the crown.” Recently seen in the SBGX355 “Quartzflake” (I’m coining that term), it is perfectly made metal for any battery-power fan. And sometimes you’ll even find it decorated behind a display case back, for God’s sake!

Fratello Tropic Strap

There are plenty of reasons for Grand Seiko’s flaunting, including the accuracy of ±10 seconds per year. That is a fun fact that never gets old, especially when combined with the backlash auto-adjust feature that makes for beautiful viewing as the ticking seconds hand lands precisely on each marker. And yes, Seiko and Grand Seiko have perfected their lab-grown quartz crystals. This is the stuff of everyday-wearability legend indeed.

What about my Fratelli brethren? Are you still quartzkeptical (another term coined), or do you see the temptation? For me, the SBGX265 has become scarily easy to put on. Its role as a time-setting guide for every other piece in my 20-something-piece collection says a lot. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.