Seiko is one of those brands that many of us start looking at when we get into this hobby. However, it took me a while to appreciate Seiko, and as always, it started with some vintage pieces. I think my first model was a King Seiko that I got after seeing RJ’s a good few years ago. When Grand Seiko became a separate brand and slowly started to claim space in the industry on its merit, I was eager to see what would unfold. Over the years, I got closer and closer to owning a GS but never pulled the trigger. It took me years of lurking around, two trips to Tokyo, and my followers on Instagram to finally push me over the edge. What I landed on might not be the funkiest Grand Seiko model, but I love my new SBGA439, and here’s why.

Grand Seiko has so much to offer in terms of technology and craftsmanship for a great price that it boggles my mind. Yes, words like this may be overused in the watch industry, but it does not make them less accurate. I suggest you visit your nearest Grand Seiko retailer and check out the vast collection. And no, this article is NOT sponsored by the brand. It only shows my enthusiasm.


What made me choose a Grand Seiko

Around the end of last year, I started to feel the need to add a modern watch to my vintage-heavy collection. I have a few Speedies, a Doxa, and some other watches from smaller brands, but I really wanted a true time-only piece. I wanted a watch that was not a chronograph, had no bezel, and looked good with a T-shirt as well as with something dressier. If you are a listener of Fratello On Air (and why wouldn’t you be?), you might have heard my never-ending banter about the Ming 17.09. It checked most of the boxes for me (size, color, looks, and price), and Mike already had one that I could try on, so I had firsthand experience with the watch. Then came November with my second trip to Tokyo and the Seiko Museum, as well as the Grand Seiko boutique, and everything changed.

Seeing the Japanese people’s support and respect for Seiko and going to all the Seiko shops in Ginza put the Grand Seiko brand back into my head. Not only that, but the idea of owning a GS climbed higher and higher up my mental ladder, but it still needed to be on Ming’s level. A few months after I came home, I met a friend who showed me his GS SBGA373, which blew me away. This was the tipping point, and I was already on the hunt for a candidate the next day. Finally, I ended up with the SBGA439 or the SBGA375. Both looked great, and the price was similar, but I was more drawn to the 439. When it comes to watches, as you know, there’s only one test that counts — Instagram. I posted a poll in my story — Grand Seiko vs. Ming — and the result spoke for itself.


Most of my followers voted for the GS, and that was enough for me to go with that watch (don’t worry, Ming. At some point, I’ll also add you to my humble collection). I managed to source a barely used example. It was six or seven months old and practically new. The watch came straight from Japan (thanks to my friends who helped; you know who you are) with a box and papers, the whole nine yards. I was over the moon with it, a feeling that I must admit I still feel. The bracelet and I had a love/hate relationship in the beginning, though I must admit, this is often how I feel with bracelets that lack micro-adjustable clasps. Eventually, I made it work and could finally wear my beautiful blue-dial Grand Seiko SBGA439 on the bracelet.


Do I like it? I LOVE it!

Wearing a watch, to me, is about the overall feel. I did not spend hours looking at the Zaratsu-finished case or admiring the deep blue dial. I tested it by wearing it nonstop for about a week. The watch is comfortable at 40mm wide and 12mm thick, and it does not feel top-heavy. With a 45mm span from lug tip to lug tip, it is not overly long (not that my wrist could not accommodate that). The bracelet is also extremely comfortable once you find the proper size. The SBGA439 is the budget model compared to its big brother, the SBGA375. Mine has no display case back, no 44GS-style case, and the power-reserve indicator is also printed, not recessed with a stamped pattern. Regarding retail prices, the 375 is €500 more than mine, which currently sells for €5,000 (after a recent price increase).


To be frank, I never really cared about these differences. I love my SBGA439, and I’m okay with what it offers. Besides, the movement inside both is the Spring Drive 9R65, and for many, this is the most critical part. That said, so many things stand out about Grand Seiko. We could focus on the case finishing, the polished hands, or the beautiful color of virtually every Grand Seiko, regardless of the tone. For me, next to all of these is the movement. The 9R65 offers a 72-hour power reserve, which is okay. It’s not the longest, but it is certainly good enough if you wear the watch. But the accuracy of ±1 second per day is just excellent. All of the above for under €5K (the retail price was €4,800 retail last year when I bought the watch) has to be a fantastic deal.


Am I hooked on Grand Seiko forever?

My answer is “probably not.” I appreciate the brand even more now and enjoy exploring its latest releases. At some point, I’d like to add a GMT and maybe a watch with a fullymechanical automatic movement. There are so many to choose from in terms of shapes, sizes, colors, and prices. Still, I’m good for now. I wanted a modern, everyday piece that is dressy and sporty at the same time, and I’ve found it. I’ll always be a fan of GS but not exclusively. The watch industry offers way too many beautiful timepieces to settle on only one brand. However, if you want to start looking for that first nice watch, Grand Seiko is a brand you should consider. Please take my advice, and thank me later.

You can also find and follow me on Instagram: @ferenczibazs