The Most Popular Grand Seiko Watches According to Grand Seiko

The Most Popular Grand Seiko Watches According to Grand Seiko

 Mario Ivanov





Recently we visited the Grand Seiko boutique in London, and we saw some of their best-selling models. I don’t own a Grand Seiko and to be honest, up till now I hadn’t found their watches all that appealing BUT my visit to their new boutique completely changed that perspective. If you look at their photos or videos online, the Grand Seiko magic is almost lost, however, in person their watches are much more impressive. I highly recommend checking out one of their boutiques or a dealer so you see their timepieces in the flesh.   

SGBA211SBGA 211 - Credit Grand Seiko

For a long time the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake with reference number SBGA 211, was their bestselling watch. The Snowflake was the model that appeared in people’s heads when someone mentioned Grand Seiko. But in the past couple of years, things have changed and there is a new reigning champion, the SBGA 413.  

The Shunbun Spring Cherry Blossom

SGBA413SBGA 413 - Credit Grand Seiko

The Shunbun Spring Cherry Blossom is a peculiar watch when seen in person, because of that pale pink dial. The dial colour and pattern are inspired by the cherry blossom season and how the blossoms fall into the water and create flower rafts. In real life the dial appears to change from Pink to Silver, it’s hard to describe in words. The dial is stamped and hand polished, so it plays with the light in a mesmerising way. But what is more captivating is the second hand. The 9R65 Calibre features Seiko’s Spring Drive technology which gives you the best of the mechanical and quartz watch worlds.  

We won’t go into huge detail about how the Spring Drive mechanism works but in essence you have a mechanical movement which is regulated by an electronic braking system. Instead of the typical Swiss Lever escapement, Seiko uses a tiny magnet, wires and a quartz crystal and they’ve created a frictionless regulator that uses an electromagnetic brake. Not only can you perceive no tick but also, as parts aren’t rubbing against each other, you have a more durable mechanism. 

SGBA413SBGA 413 - Credit Grand Seiko

The Shunbun cased is based on a 62GS version from 1967, preserving the heritage of Grand Seiko. But what shocked me was how light the watch was because the case and bracelet are well polished and shiny, so I thought it must be stainless steel but I was wrong, it is a high grade titanium. Grand Seiko has designed their own special titanium which offers superior scratch resistance and the polished surface catches the lights in that Grand Seiko way, similar to the dial.  

I am now beginning to understand why these watches are so popular with watch enthusiasts, the level of engineering and attention to detail is mind-boggling.   

The Lake Suwa Before Dawn

SLGA021SLGA021 - Credit Grand Seiko

This watch was impressive but it wasn't my favourite from our visit. My favourite was the SLGA 021 colloquially known as Lake Suwa Before Dawn. That stamped blue dial is gorgeous. The watch has the 9RA2 calibre which is the highly accurate Spring Drive movement but somehow they’ve fitted a bigger power reserve in a thinner case. Grand Seiko must somehow be by-passing the laws of physics to create this watch.  

This Grand Seiko has the stainless steel 44GS case, keeping with Grand Seiko’s heritage but the original design has evolved a.k.a Evolution 9. We won’t go in depth here about how things have changed since 1967 but basically Grand Seiko have refined and refined the 44GS design, so it looks more contemporary and wears more comfortably.  

Another thing that impressed me was the screw-down crown. When you un-screw it, you can’t see the thread. All you can see is a smooth metal rod, it’s a little detail but often the little things make a watch special.  

There is a power reserve indicator at the back of the watch and people are split on this topic – some want to see the indicator on the dial, other prefer a clean and minimalistic dial. As a day-to-day watch, I prefer having a clean and tidy dial, to me a power reserve indicator on the dial just ruins the symmetry.    


SLGA015SLGA015 - Credit Grand Seiko

With the next Grand Seiko, I’ll concede to the idea of an indicator on the dial. The SLGA 015 or else known as Ushio or Tide, is a Spring Drive Diving watch. I don’t know how many people would go diving with a 10-thousand-pound watch but if you do, then it is vital that you know how much power reserve you have left.  

The SLGA 015, just like the SLGA 021, has that impressive 9RA2 calibre movement with 120 hour power reserve and comes in with the evolved 44GS case. The diving watch is thicker and comes in titanium so despite the bigger size, it feels light on the wrist.  

SLGA015SLGA015 - Credit Grand Seiko

The dial is like a deep black ocean, it looks like a sea you’d want to avoid diving into. Grand Seiko have made the texture style by hand and then are using a special stamp to create these stunning dials and I have to repeat myself, but a photo or video doesn’t convey the magic when you have the watch in the flesh.  

Night Birch Hi-Beat

SLGH017GSLGH017 - Credit Grand Seiko

Finally, I want to talk about the SLGH 017, known as the Night Birch Hi-Beat. This isn’t a Spring Drive model but the calibre 9SA5 inside is a very impressive automatic movement with an 80hour power reserve. The watch has the evolution 9, 44GS case in high intensity titanium which is Grand Seiko’s special titanium alloy which won’t scratch as easily as regular titanium. 

The textured black dial is inspired by the moonlight darkness of the highland birch forests near Grand Seiko studios in Japan. This model as well as the rest we’ve seen, all seem more than the sum of their parts. Grand Seiko not only make stunning watches but from an engineering perspective, their in-house movements are just as impressive.  

The Night Birch has a 10 beat seconds hand, compared to a lot of other luxury watches which are 8 beats a second. Grand Seiko’s dual impulse escapement is efficient, and they’ve also made the whole movement slimmer that before. Not only you get an incredibly smooth seconds hand but the double barrel gives a solid 80 hours of power reserve. You can take of your watch on Friday and then pick it up again on Monday and it will still be ticking. 

SLGH017SLGH017 - Credit Grand Seiko

All of these watches vary from just under 6 thousand pounds to just over 10 thousand pounds so they aren’t really ‘affordable’, they are pretty much a luxury product BUT I can wholeheartedly say that they’re worth it. High quality case, stunning dials and incredible movements. Grand Seiko are definitely a watch enthusiast’s watch brand. I admitted at the start of the video that they weren’t my cup of tea but seeing them in person and getting to know Grand Seiko’s philosophy and their level of engineering, I have changed my mind. Would I now buy one – I am giving it serious consideration.  

Have a look at our video here: 

Latest Articles

 Mario Ivanov

About the Author: Mario Ivanov

About the Author: Mario Ivanov

As a filmmaker and horology enthusiast, I have found my dream job at WatchGecko. Being on the forefront of the watch industry, I get to discover unique timepieces and share my findings with anyone willing to listen!

More Articles by Mario Ivanov