While the Seiko name is highly respected, it isn’t a luxury watch brand. But Seiko has a more high-end branch known as Grand Seiko. These watches cost a lot more, which begs the question, why is a Grand Seiko watch so expensive?
Grand Seiko is the luxury segment of the Seiko watch company. A Grand Seiko watch is hand-made with durable and exotic materials and utilizes an in-house movement. Furthermore, a Grand Seiko is made with incredible attention to detail and often includes precious metals.
A Grand Seiko is definitely a luxury watch, but does that alone justify the price? In this article, we’ll dive deeper into why a Grand Seiko is so expensive and how it weighs up against other luxury watch brands.
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Why Is A Grand Seiko Watch So Expensive?
Many factors ultimately come into play when it comes to pricing a watch, but there are a couple that stand out.
These include the materials used to make the watch, the manufacturing process behind it, and the inclusion of an in-house movement.
All of these factors play a significant role, and we’ll dive deeper into each one.
Grand Seiko Watches Are Hand-Assembled
Grand Seiko is the luxury segment of the incredibly popular watch brand Seiko. These Grand Seiko watches are hand-made with only the best materials.
Handmaking these watches can take a lot of time. Only the Spring Drive movement, for example, consists of 200 parts. And that’s just the movement. On top of that, there are tons of gears, screws, and other components.
In total, a Grand Seiko can take up to 17 days to make.
And all of that is done by expert watchmakers. This ensures that every single part of the watch meets Grand Seiko’s strict quality guidelines.
It is important to note that the quality and love that’s poured into a Grand Seiko definitely shows in the end product. A Grand Seiko is a true show of horological excellence.
Perhaps my personal favorite is Grand Seiko’s face design. Most Grand Seiko’s have such an interesting pattern on the face that makes it so unique and refreshing. The attention to detail here is incredible.
A Grand Seiko Is Made With High-End Materials
Other than the extreme craftsmanship poured into a Grand Seiko, the materials used to make the watch are also top-notch.
Most Grand Seiko’s are made with 316L stainless steel, the industry-standard stainless steel alloy.
While stainless steel is most commonly used, titanium and platinum are also two commonly found materials. Both of these metals offer a more lightweight version of what stainless steel offers while retaining a similar look.
Other materials Grand Seiko incorporates are:
- 18K rose gold
- Crocodile leather
Additionally, every Grand Seiko watch comes with a sapphire crystal. This is the piece of glass that covers the watch’s face, and it’s the best possible material.
There are three types of glass material you’ll typically see covering the watch face;
- Acrylic glass
- Mineral glass
- Sapphire crystal
Out of the three, a sapphire crystal is by far the best option. It’s so scratch resistant that it can only be scratched by diamonds. Nothing else will scratch it. Only a really, really hard impact will damage a sapphire crystal, but instead of scratching, it will shatter instead.
A Grand Seiko Includes An In-House-Made Movement
Another huge factor in the higher price is the fact that a Grand Seiko includes an in-house-made movement.
The movement is essentially the heart of the watch. It’s what powers the watch and makes it function.
Creating a movement in-house is very costly, as it’s a complex process that requires hundreds of hours of research and trial and error.
Most normal watch brands tend to outsource this part to well-known movement suppliers such as Miyota or ETA.
But Grand Seiko wanted to attain luxury status and made its very own movement. And a revolutionary one at that; the Spring Drive.
We’ll go into more details as to why the Spring Drive movement is so revolutionary later on, but for now, it’s good to know that creating a movement like that costs a lot of time and money, which is reflected in the retail price.
But when you compare Grand Seiko’s prices to that of other luxury brands such as Rolex or Audemars Piguet, a Grand Seiko is actually on the more affordable side. You can find a stunning Grand Seiko watch for around $3.000, and most Grand Seiko watches won’t cross the $7.000 mark.
There are a couple of limited editions, particularly in the Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection, that can be as pricey as $195.000, but in general, expect to pay around $4.500.
Now, $4.500 for a watch is still a lot of money, but compared to the luxury watch market in general, Grand Seiko is actually one of the more affordable options.
For example, Omega is an entry-level luxury watch brand. And one of their pieces tends to cost a minimum of $5000.
What Is A Grand Seiko Watch?
Grand Seiko is a luxury watch company. Now you’ve probably heard of the Japanese brand Seiko before, which is the parent company of Grand Seiko.
Grand Seiko is basically the upper echelon of Seiko watches, created to compete with the ever-so-popular Swiss luxury watches.
Until 1960, a Swiss luxury watch was unrivaled, but Seiko figured they could compete with their own luxury watch segment.
The very first Grand Seiko watch was introduced in 1960 on a relatively small scale; only 36.000 were produced. This didn’t mean, however, that the Grand Seiko was a flop. In fact, the opposite was true.
Four years after introducing the first Grand Seiko watch, a second model was released. This one came with a calendar function (want to learn how watches keep the date? Then you should go to this article here!).
Over the years, Seiko introduced many more models and complications, but in 2004, they introduced what’s arguably the most unique part of a Grand Seiko watch; Spring Drive.
Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive Movement
Spring Drive is Seiko’s unique mechanism that powers the watch and is basically a combination of mechanical and electronic watchmaking. The Spring Drive mechanism is ultimately responsible for the gliding motion of a Grand Seiko watch.
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 incredible accuracy.
This is a highly complex mechanism, but it adds to the luxury feel of a Grand Seiko watch. Of course, it also adds to the quality and the attention to detail.
Aside from looking amazing, the gliding motion also reduces the stress on the mainspring. And when the stress is taken away for a large portion, you’re left with a watch that will last you a very long time. It could even outlast you if you take proper care of it.
Aside from the Spring Drive movement, Grand Seiko also has a highly accurate quartz movement, the 9F. The 9F is precise to 5 seconds a year, and in the worst case, 10 seconds a year. This type of accuracy is rare in other quartz watches.
Lastly, the Grand Seiko mechanical movements are also top tier. The mechanical movements are reliable, accurate, and of excellent quality. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive movement is named 9R, the quartz movement is named 9F, and the mechanical movement is named 9S.
How Much Can You Expect To Pay For A Grand Seiko Watch?
Like with any watch brand, no one price fits all. But generally speaking, a Grand Seiko watch will cost between $2.200 and $9.500.
|Grand Seiko Collection||Caliber||Average 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|
|Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Collection||Spring Drive (9R) /Mechanical (9S)||$9.500|
|Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection||Spring Drive (9R)||$106.883|
The cheapest a Grand Seiko watch will come at is in the low $2.000’s, but Grand Seiko also offers watches for around $15.000. The numbers in the table above are just averages to give you an idea of the costs.
Recently, Grand Seiko released its Masterpiece Collection. These watches start at $52.800 and can go as high as $195.000!
Does A Grand Seiko Hold Its Value?
Grand Seiko typically depreciates by about 5-15% in the first few years. After that, the value starts to stabilize. While a 5-15% depreciation sounds bad, it’s actually one of the watch brands that holds its value relatively well.
A common misconception with luxury watches is that most people think they hold their value really well. But that’s simply not true.
It’s more comparable to when you buy a car.
The moment you walk out of the store, the watch has already depreciated.
But as mentioned, Grand Seiko is one of the few brands that typically holds its value relatively well. Expect the watch to depreciate by about 5-15% over the first couple of years.
The main issue with Grand Seiko’s is that they’re often associated with its smaller and more popular brother Seiko.
Seiko is a highly respected watch brand but not a luxury watch brand. The issue is that most people probably don’t even know the difference between Seiko and Grand Seiko.
That said, the people who know the difference will likely also know what an extreme step-up a Grand Seiko is. They will understand and appreciate the incredible timepieces made by Grand Seiko, and they will probably know that these watches are worth something.
A Grand Seiko watch isn’t as easy to sell as a Rolex watch simply because it’s a little less known. But that doesn’t mean a Grand Seiko watch doesn’t hold its value. It will simply take longer to find a suitable buyer.
Is A Grand Seiko Worth It?
Whether a Grand Seiko watch is worth it boils down to you. Is an expensive luxury watch worth it to you?
This can come down to many factors. Firstly, since these are expensive luxury watches, you should take a look at your finances. You have to be able to afford one of these watches. A watch is simply not worth going into debt over.
Secondly, if you really want the watch, and have the money for it, then, by all means, go for it. But if you’re not 100% in love with the watch, it might be best to look at some other options.
One thing to keep in mind with Grand Seiko watches is that these are of incredible quality. And on top of that, every Grand Seiko watch is made with a more ‘simplistic’ design compared to the more flashy Swiss luxury watches. This makes a Grand Seiko watch extremely easy to wear, as it will simply never look out of place.
Whether or not a Grand Seiko watch is worth it mainly comes down to you as a person. But a Grand Seiko watch is more than worth it when we’re speaking purely from a price-to-quality ratio.
This is a watch that can hold its own against the likes of Rolex or Omega, but for a more affordable price. Yet, a Grand Seiko is arguably more advanced with its Spring Drive technology.
Is A Grand Seiko Considered To Be A Luxury Watch?
Whether or not a brand is a luxury brand is always a little unclear. There are no clear-cut rules that determine exactly what is and isn’t a luxury brand. But there are some guidelines.
The main ones are the inclusion of an in-house movement, a manufacturing process where every watch is hand-assembled, and the inclusion of high-quality and exotic materials.
It’s safe to say that Grand Seiko ticks every box, making this a clear example of a luxury watch brand.
Everything from the careful manufacturing process to the inclusion of the legendary Spring Drive movement; Grand Seiko fits the bill.
The only thing Grand Seiko has against it is its connection to Seiko.
There are brands out there where everyone thinks it’s a luxury watch brand (examples are Hublot or TAG Heuer) that isn’t actually a luxury brand, and then there’s Grand Seiko, which is undoubtedly a luxury watch brand, but most think it isn’t.
Is A Grand Seiko Better Than Swiss Luxury Watches?
Now that you know that a Grand Seiko is classed as a luxury watch, how do they fit in with the better-known Swiss luxury watches?
Quality-wise, a Grand Seiko watch is on par with the popular Swiss luxury watch brands. Both Grand Seiko watches and other luxury watches are hand-made with in-house movements made with high-quality materials.
Just like a Rolex or Omega, a Grand Seiko is hand-made with luxurious materials such as titanium or rose gold. However, where a name like Rolex or Omega is immediately noticed, a Grand Seiko lacks in that regard.
A shame, really, as Grand Seiko actually outperforms some of these watches in certain regards.
Especially in the movements department. With the Grand Seiko Spring Drive movements, it’s safe to say that a Grand Seiko is even better than most, if not all, Swiss luxury watch brands.
And that’s simply because a normal quartz or automatic watch will never be as accurate as Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive movement. Although the difference will be slight, it is there. And every detail counts when we’re talking about luxury products with premium price tags.
In terms of quality, a Grand Seiko lacks nothing. It might even outperform some of the other luxury brands. The significant differences, however, are in the price tags. A Grand Seiko watch is very affordable compared to other luxury watch brands.
Paying around $5.000 for a quality timepiece is the standard for a Grand Seiko watch. At best, $5.000 for many other luxury watch brands would mean an entry-level watch.
Overall, a Grand Seiko is a watch that deserves more attention. If you’re a watch enthusiast, definitely give these watches a try. You might not get the same recognition as you would with a Rolex or Omega, but you will have a quality timepiece that looks and functions amazingly!