Both Grand Seiko and Rolex are excellent watchmakers, known for their quality and luxurious timepieces. But is a Grand Seiko better than Rolex?
Grand Seiko and Rolex are on par in terms of quality. Both offer durable, reliable, and high-quality timepieces. However, a Rolex tends to be slightly more expensive than a Grand Seiko, making the latter essentially better value for money.
Both brands have their pros and cons. Even though there is no clear winner objectively, there are subjective differences. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into whether or not Grand Seiko watches are better than Rolex watches, and we’ll discuss some of the differences.
Table of Contents
Grand Seiko And Rolex; Is There A Difference In Quality
Grand Seiko is a luxury watch brand that had some difficulty establishing itself.
See, Grand Seiko partly shares its name with the much-better-known watchmaker Seiko. And while Seiko offers fantastic watches, they’re in the market for more affordable watches.
The average Grand Seiko watch will cost you around $5.000, so you can imagine that a watch with the Seiko name and a price tag of a few thousand dollars can easily be ignored.
A shame because Grand Seiko is miles ahead of Seiko in terms of quality and craftsmanship. Grand Seiko is definitely a luxury watch brand.
Of course, we’ve all heard about Rolex.
Rolex is arguably the most popular and sought-after luxury watch brand, but how does it stand up against the quality of Grand Seiko timepieces?
In terms of quality, this is actually a fairly even match. Let’s take a look at some of the critical factors that make or break a watch; the movements, the materials used, and the manufacturing process!
The movement used in a watch is of incredible importance. It’s what makes the watch function.
In order for a watch to be a luxury watch, it has to have an in-house movement, meaning the brand itself makes the movements.
Otherwise, you could purchase a watch for a few thousand dollars that uses the same movements as a watch that only costs $100. This would feel like a rip-off, and rightfully so.
In-house movements are incredibly expensive to produce, but with luxury brands, it’s expected that they don’t cut any corners.
On top of that, designing your own movement also gives you more control.
Bulk manufacturing leaves room for error. But a hand-made, in-house movement, made by an expert whose sole job it is to make the best possible movement system does not.
Luckily, both Grand Seiko and Rolex watches contain in-house movements. Both of these luxury watch brands make their own high-quality movements, ensuring that the quality of the movement is the best possible.
In fact, Grand Seiko even created a revolutionary movement system called the Spring Drive.
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive is a unique mechanism that powers the watch and combines electronic and mechanical watchmaking.
Seiko Spring Drive is powered by a mainspring, making it self-sufficient in its power needs, which ensures the gliding motion of a Grand Seiko watch.
Furthermore, a tri-synchro regulator regulates the speed at which the mainspring unwinds, ensuring accuracy not seen in other automatic watches.
This complicated mechanism is made in-house and adds to the value and luxurious feel of this watch.
When compared to Rolex, Grand Seiko may even be ahead, thanks to the Spring Drive.
The materials used to make a watch are essential. After all, no one will buy a $5000 watch if it’s made with cheap plastic.
In the case of Rolex and Grand Seiko, both always use the best possible materials.
Think of materials like gold, platinum, diamonds, titanium, and the like.
However, while both brands use only the best of the best, there are some differences between the two.
See, Rolex watches tend to be ‘flashier’. They more commonly use the classic ‘luxurious materials’ like gold and diamonds, whereas Grand Seiko tends to be more grounded.
A Grand Seiko is commonly made of titanium, platinum, or high-end stainless steel. While still incredibly luxurious, they’re more grounded in design.
Rolex, on the other hand, often incorporates gold and diamonds within their designs. This makes the watches look more extravagant while not really increasing the overall quality.
This is really where the subjective differences come into play.
Some may like the flashiness of Rolex more. And others may enjoy the more grounded and classic Grand Seiko look.
One point where Rolex stands out is the isolating qualities of its materials. Rolex watches are known to be extremely silent.
This is achieved by having both a great movement and quality materials that isolate the ticking sound.
That being said, Grand Seiko is also extremely quiet. Just not as quiet as Rolex.
But whatever way you spin it, both companies do a great job of including high-end materials. There really is no winner here.
Lastly, let’s discuss the manufacturing process of both of these watch brands. This is yet another step in the watch creation process that could be outsourced to cheaper countries.
However, both Rolex and Grand Seiko make their watches in-house, by hand.
Handmaking these watches ensures the best possible quality and allows the watchmakers to go into incredible detail. A Grand Seiko watch, for example, can take up to 17 days to make.
But there is a difference in output. Whereas Grand Seiko makes about 35.000 watches annually, Rolex produces about a million.
That’s an incredible difference.
Does it matter, though?
Not really. But the lower production rates do mean that a Grand Seiko is more exclusive.
Really, the only reason Rolex is able to produce this many timepieces annually and keep their luxury status is because Rolex is the embodiment of luxury watches.
That said, both brands are perceived as luxurious. And both are still exclusive, thanks to the high prices.
What About The Price To Quality Ratio
One part where Grand Seiko easily outperforms Rolex is in the price to quality department. Compared to Rolex watches, Grand Seiko watches are much more affordable.
When you want to purchase a Grand Seiko watch, you can expect to pay between $2.000 and $7.000.
When you want to purchase a Rolex watch, your entry-level options will already run you $5.000. And the higher-end models could cost you $40.000 or more.
|Grand Seiko Collection||Caliber||Cost|
|Grand Seiko Heritage Collection||Mechanical (9S)||$4.529|
|Grand Seiko Elegance Collection||Mechanical (9S)||$5.992|
|Grand Seiko Sport Collection||Spring Drive (9R)||$7.836|
As you can see, although Grand Seiko watches are costly, they’re actually on the more affordable side when it comes to luxury watches.
And despite that, the watch is still of incredible quality. They’re hand-assembled, include an in-house movement, incorporate luxurious materials, and fall under the luxury watch category.
When you compare these average prices to the average prices of Rolex watches, you can see a clear difference:
|Rolex Oyster Perpetual||3230||$6.000|
|Rolex Date Just||3235||$13.000|
|Rolex Day Date||3255||$40.000|
As you can see, even an entry-level Rolex watch, such as the Oyster Perpetual, is almost as expensive as the more expensive Grand Seiko watches.
And considering that both watch companies create very similar watches in terms of quality, Grand Seiko is a clear winner when it comes to price-to-quality ratio.
Are These Watches Worth Purchasing
Whether or not a luxury watch is worth it or not really depends on you. Do you think a watch is worth a few thousand dollars?
If yes, then a watch like a Grand Seiko or Rolex is definitely worth it.
If you don’t think so, maybe look at some more affordable options.
Also, know why you’re purchasing such a watch.
If you’re doing it for the namesake, then you’re probably best off going for a Rolex. Rolex is a universally renowned name of luxury and success.
Grand Seiko, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as popular. In fact, it’s actually very rare to see a Grand Seiko watch.
Most people associate Grand Seiko with the more affordable name of Seiko, skipping over them because they don’t want to pay a few thousand dollars for what they think is a Seiko watch.
However, when you ask any watch enthusiast, they’ll always say that a Grand Seiko is a unique and beautiful timepiece.
With their Spring Drive movement and beautiful designs, a Grand Seiko watch will be appreciated by those who love watches the most.
So if you’re mainly looking for a watch for the sake of the name and brand, a Rolex is probably your best bet.
However, if you’re looking for a true piece of craftsmanship or just something that’s generally more unique (nowadays, it seems like everyone has a Rolex), definitely give Grand Seiko a try.
Do These Watches Hold Their Value
Luxury watches are fairly expensive, ranging anywhere from $2.000 into the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Due to these high price tags, people often wonder if their watches hold their value.
Luxury watches such as Grand Seiko and Rolex typically hold their value pretty well. These watches are of extremely high quality, have a rich history, and are always sought after by collectors.
Overall, a Grand Seiko watch will hold its value fairly well. As mentioned before, Grand Seiko watches are appreciated mainly by those who dearly love watches, as they know just how fantastic the brand is.
With a rich history, an innovative movement, and overall fantastic quality, a Grand Seiko will hold its value relatively well. They might even rise in value after some time!
The same can be said for Rolex watches. Most Rolex watches gradually rise in valuation, mainly because they’re such luxurious and high-quality timepieces.
As a general rule of thumb, though, the older the watch, the more it will appreciate in value.
Older watches are in lower supply, and often, they’re out of production as well. This makes them a collector’s item, something that will always be valuable.
Comparing Popular Rolex Watches With Popular Grand Seiko Watches
Now that we discussed whether or not Grand Seiko watches are better than Rolex watches, let’s take a look at some models of both companies.
Please keep in mind that there’s no actual ‘better’ choice.
It really all comes down to your personal preference, as both Rolex and Grand Seiko are pretty similar in terms of quality.
The only main difference is found back in the name. Rolex is known as a sign of wealth and success, whereas Grand Seiko is often linked back to the cheaper Seiko watches, even if that’s not at all the case!
Now, let’s take a look at some models of both of these watch brands. For Rolex, we’ll discuss the Oyster Perpetual collection, as it’s most in line with Grand Seiko prices, as well as the Day-Date, one of the more popular Rolex models.
As for Grand Seiko, we’ll discuss the Grand Seiko Snowflake, the most popular Grand Seiko watch, as well as the Heritage collection, another popular choice among Grand Seiko buyers!
Grand Seiko Snowflake
The Grand Seiko Snowflake is one of the most popular and sought-after watches from Grand Seiko. This is a beautiful-looking watch with a titanium case and bracelet.
Officially, this watch falls under the Grand Seiko Heritage collection, but this watch truly stands out from the rest.
In fact, it used to make up nearly 75% of all Grand Seiko sales!
One of the main reasons this watch is so popular is because of the beautiful and elegant look.
The color of the dial is a mixture of light gray and white, resulting in the name ‘Snowflake’. The color represents the color of freshly fallen snow.
Additionally, every aspect of the watch is polished to reflect the outside colors. So if you’re sitting inside a store, the watch appears more yellow thanks to the overhead lights.
But if you’re walking outside, the watch will reflect the sky’s blue, giving it an icy look.
Aside from a beautiful look, this watch makes use of the earlier mentioned Grand Seiko Spring Drive movement. This is a sophisticated movement that ensures a gliding movement of the hands.
Overall, this is a wonderful watch. It’s of high quality, looks amazing, is made by hand, and is made with amazing materials.
For this watch, you can expect to pay around $6.000. This is expensive, but well worth it!
The Rolex Day-Date collection is one of the more popular collections among Rolex lovers. A Day-Date is almost like the upper tier of Rolex watches and carries with it a feeling of prestige and success.
A Rolex Day-Date is available in many different materials, such as white gold, yellow gold, platinum, and the Rolex signature Everrose gold.
Along with the many different materials, there’s also the option of adding diamonds to your watch.
Aside from a stunning aesthetic, a Rolex Day-Date is also very functional.
These watches have a perpetual hour work, which means that these watches will be able to display the date correctly, even through gap years.
The movement of this watch is the in-house made mechanical movement by Rolex, ensuring it’s of the best quality possible.
When you combine all these features and the exotic materials, you’ll come down to a price of around $40.000, which can go even higher if you decide to add some of those diamonds!
Grand Seiko Heritage
Earlier, we mentioned the Grand Seiko Snowflake as a beautiful Grand Seiko timepiece. However, this watch falls under a much larger category, the Grand Seiko Heritage collection.
The Heritage collection is a beautiful collection of high-quality watches, made with high-quality stainless steel or titanium. These are high-quality materials with a sleek and elegant look.
The face of these watches come in multiple different colors. Of course, you have the snow-white dial from the Snowflake, but you can also get these with a black, blue, or gray face.
As for the price, the Grand Seiko Heritage collection will come in at an average of $4.529. Now, some will be more expensive, ranging into the $ 7.000’s, and some will be cheaper, even as low as $2.200!
Rolex Oyster Perpetual
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual series is the most affordable series of Rolex and is often seen as an entry-level Rolex watch.
Nevertheless, these watches are still of fantastic quality.
These watches are made with oyster steel and contain a perpetual calendar. The movement in this watch is mechanical with a power reserve of around 70 hours.
Just like any Rolex, this is a true piece of quality and success. Aside from the signature oyster steel case and bracelet, a Rolex Oyster Perpetual comes with many different colored dials.
There’s the classic silver, black, or blue look, but in 2020, Rolex launched a series of more ‘out there’ colors.
Bright yellow, green, turquoise blue, or even pink dials are now available.
A Rolex Oyster Perpetual might be an entry-level Rolex watch, but it’s still as expensive as a Grand Seiko Snowflake, one of the more expensive Grand Seiko watches. These Oyster Perpetuals come in at around $6.000!