13 of the greatest Grand Seikos yet, and why they matter 13 of the greatest Grand Seikos yet, and why they matter

13 of the greatest Grand Seikos yet, and why they matter

Jamie Weiss

It’s fair to say that Grand Seiko is the watch geek’s watch brand – but as the brand has grown and expanded internationally over the years, more and more people are discovering the distinct nature of what this special Japanese brand has to offer (pun entirely intended). From colourful and textural dial finishes to Zaratsu finishing and unique movements such as their famed Spring Drive calibres, their oeuvre is massive. This is why it’s so hard to pin down what I am about to do… So, at the risk of offending the many diehards out there, I have assembled what we believe are 12 of the best Grand Seiko references of the modern era.

#1: Grand Seiko SLGH005 “White Birch”

Grand Seiko SLGH005 18 e1613153390619 1

Let’s start with one of the most well-known and acclaimed Grand Seiko pieces: the SLGH005 “White Birch”. The winner of the 2021 GPHG Men’s Watch Prize as well as the Red Dot Design Awards ‘Best of the Best’ in 2022, its dial is evocative of the white birch tree forests that surround the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi, where all 9S mechanical Grand Seiko watches are manufactured and assembled.

Why it matters: the White Birch isn’t just one of the most acclaimed watches Grand Seiko has ever produced, but one of the most acclaimed Japanese watches, period. It also demonstrates one of Grand Seiko’s calling cards: incredibly detailed dial textures. It’s also significant in that it was the first steel production model to utilise the 9SA5 calibre – the pinnacle of 9S calibre design, which boasts a ground-breaking dual impulse escapement and an 80-hour power reserve.

Price: A$13,600

#2: Grand Seiko SBGA211 “Snowflake”

Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA211 55

Grand Seiko’s darling amongst watch collectors the world over, the SBGA211 “Snowflake” gets its name from its delicately decorated dial, which resembles freshly fallen snow. It’s also incredibly precise thanks to its smooth, sweeping Spring Drive movement, which pairs the “soul” of a mechanical watch with the accuracy of quartz.

Why it matters: The quintessential Spring Drive watch, the SBGA211 “Snowflake” is a cult favourite for a reason. The Snowflake is the watch that put Grand Seiko on the map internationally; its winning combination of a beautiful nature-inspired dial and its Spring Drive movement helped the broader watch-buying public cotton on to what makes Grand Seiko so unique. It embodies everything that makes Grand Seiko different and special to watch geeks. Its high-intensity titanium case is also typical of Grand Seiko, with its combination of brushed and Zaratsu-polished surfaces.

Price: A$9,250

#3: Grand Seiko SLGT003 “Kodo” Constant Force Tourbillon

best grand seiko watches SLGT003

Named after the Japanese word for ‘heartbeat’, the SLGT003 “Kodo” Constant-Force Tourbillon is the most visually dramatic (and technically impressive) watch in Grand Seiko’s repertoire and spent almost a decade in development. The first watch in history to combine a tourbillon and a constant-force mechanism as one unit on a single axis, its openworked construction and the musical quality of its constant-force carriage’s rotation make this watch a sight to behold.

Why it matters: Simply put, this is Grand Seiko’s first mechanical complication watch, so it’s incredibly significant. Its in-house calibre 9ST1, an evolution of the impressive T0 concept calibre, has set new standards for accuracy for the already uncompromising brand, all while introducing a horological world first. It’s also significant as it’s the first watch to emerge from Grand Seiko’s new Atelier Ginza studio, the smallest of Grand Seiko’s production facilities that will focus almost entirely on mechanical complications – it’s set the stage for an ongoing legacy of high complication masterpieces.

Price: A$500,000

#4: Grand Seiko SLGC001 Tentagraph

best grand seiko watches SLGC001

It wasn’t until 2007 that Grand Seiko first introduced a chronograph into the collection, and it took another 16 years for them to unveil their first mechanical chronograph – but it was well worth the wait. The SLGC001 Tentagraph’s name refers to how its 9SC5 movement features TEN beats per second, has a Three-day power reserve, and how it’s an Automatic chronoGRAPH. The really impressive thing about that power reserve is that it’s inclusive of the chronograph continuously running… Great if you love to leave your chrono running all day.

Why it matters: Grand Seiko is known for its somewhat restrained, conservative aesthetic but the Tentagraph shows they’re more than capable of making a conventionally handsome sports watch. It perfectly epitomises Grand Seiko’s current Evolution 9 design language, too, with its angular form factor that blends ergonomics with boatloads of style.

Price: A$20,500

#5: Grand Seiko SBGA413 “Shunbun”


A modern re-interpretation of the celebrated 62GS from 1967, the SBGA413 “Shunbun” (sometimes also called the “Cherry Blossom”) is inspired by an overwhelmingly Japanese seasonal experience known as hana-ikada – the moment soon after the spring equinox (shunbun in Japanese, hence the moniker) when cherry blossom petals scattered by the wind cover the surface of a river. Its subtly textured pale pink dial is unlike any other in high-end watchmaking.

Why it matters: Originally a US market exclusive, the Shunbun became such a fan favourite that Grand Seiko introduced it to the range worldwide – which should go some way to explaining just how popular and significant this watch is. Like the Snowflake, it also epitomises many of the things that make Grand Seiko so special: a high-intensity titanium case with Zaratsu polishing, a delightful dial texture in a unique colour inspired by nature, and a Spring Drive movement. It’s also been influential in getting men to appreciate pink in luxury watches, as well as helped kickstart the broader trend towards pastels and lighter dial colours we’re seeing in the watch industry right now.

Price: A$9,850

#6: Grand Seiko SBGY007 “Omiwatari”

Grand Seiko SBGY007G 17257

Inspired by the waters of Lake Suwa to the southeast of the Shinshu Watch Studio, where all Spring Drive watches are made, the SBGY007 is a classically handsome, restrained piece. A manual-winding, time-only Spring Drive dress watch, it features an incredibly light blue dial inspired by a phenomenon where Lake Suwa freezes over and a long ridge appears in the ice from one side of the lake to the other, which tradition holds is the Omiwatari – or a bridge where the Shinto gods walk out over the ice.

Why it matters: as our editor Zach has noted, a lot of Grand Seiko fans have noted that while they think the SBGA211 Snowflake is fabulous, they’d rather if it came in a time-only configuration, sans power reserve indicator. While it is not exactly a Snowflake dial, the SBGY007 scratches that itch. It’s also arguably the most interesting Grand Seiko dress watch: that light blue dial is a masterstroke in subtlety.

Price: A$12,400

#6: Grand Seiko SBGH255

best grand seiko watches SBGH255

An uncompromisingly serious dive watch, the SBGH255 is the biggest watch Grand Seiko produces, weighing in at a robust 46.9mm in diameter. Designed to withstand pressures encountered in saturation diving down to a depth of 600 metres (without a helium-escape valve, mind you) and featuring a dial made of pure iron in order to protect the movement from the harmful effects of magnetism, this big daddy piece ain’t messing around.

Why it matters: Parent company Seiko is well-known for its professional-grade dive watches – and while Grand Seiko has long produced its own dive watches, this is the very first professional-grade dive watch to bear the GS moniker. It’s a slightly incongruous yet masculine piece that demonstrates that exceptional finishes, top-grade movements, and extraordinary dials needn’t be reserved for only the surface. This is the ultimate expression of a Seiko dive watch.

Price: A$14,950

#8: Grand Seiko SBGP017

best grand seiko watches SPGP017

An exemplary example of Grand Seiko’s quartz offerings, the SBGP017 is powered by the Calibre 9F, which is proudly on display behind a sapphire crystal caseback. This is no run-of-the-mill quartz movement or watch: entirely hand-assembled by two expert craftsmen, the Calibre 9F in the SBGV238 is good for at least ±5 seconds per year; accuracy made possible by the selection of in-house-made quartz crystals that are first “aged” for three months, with only the best selected for use in the calibre. The star on the delicious light blue cloud-textured dial at 6 o’clock denotes its high-accuracy quartz movement.

Why it matters: While many luxury watchmakers don’t like to show off their quartz movements, Grand Seiko’s Calibre 9F treats quartz with the respect it deserves – a reflection of Seiko’s legacy in introducing the world to quartz watches. Beautifully finished and impressively accurate, the Calibre 9F dispels the notion that quartz is something to be ashamed of. Quite the opposite, actually. Simply put, the SBGP017 is the coolest Calibre 9F: the star on the dial and the blued GS logo, as well as the characteristically lovely dial, mark it out as something special.

Price: A$5,995

#9: Grand Seiko SGBZ009

best grand seiko watches SGBZ009

A limited-edition “holy grail” creation of Seiko’s Micro Artist Studio – an exclusive department that’s responsible for only the highest-end Grand Seiko and Credor watches – the SGBZ009 features a hand-engraved platinum case and dial in Grand Seiko’s “White Birch” pattern, and represents the ultimate finishing of the manufacture. The Grand Seiko logo, dial text and minute track are also hand-engraved, while the indices and hands are made from 14ct Zaratsu-polished white gold. The in-house, manual-winding Spring Drive Micro Artist Studio calibre 9R02 that powers the SGBZ009 is the crème de la crème of Grand Seiko movements.

Why it matters: It matters because it shows the full might of the Micro Artist Studio; not only how they can finish a movement to a level that Philippe Dufour would be impressed by but they can also finish a case in a way that no other watchmaker is doing. Platinum is a difficult metal to work with, so the fact Grand Seiko can present it with such immaculate hand-engraving is masterful. But let’s not overlook the movement: the movement Calibre 9R02 is GS’s configuration of the 7R14 that’s in the much-lauded Credor Eichi II, but has the added value of their torque system, which boosts the power reserve by 24 hours. It also has more rounded bevelling, which to my taste, is even more appealing to the eye and even more impressive. This is Seiko at the height of its power.

Price: A$117,950

#10: Grand Seiko SBGJ269 “Pink Flannel Flower”

best grand seiko watches SBGJ269

The first-ever Australian limited edition Grand Seiko has ever introduced, the SBGJ269 “Pink Flannel Flower” is inspired by the eponymous blossom, which only blooms after bushfires – a poignant tribute to the 2019–20 bushfire season that devastated Australia. (Grand Seiko even raffled off a model to support the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife.)

Why it matters: the Pink Flannel Flower is noteworthy not only because it reflects how much care Grand Seiko pours into its regional exclusives, but also because it’s a great example of the brand’s Elegance GMT watches, as well as how GS isn’t afraid to experiment with off-beat colours. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t hurt that this was Australia’s first limited edition Grand Seiko. Australia, as a small and remote market for most luxury watch brands, is usually overlooked when it comes to doling out special editions. That Australia received such consideration – and a particularly considered limited edition at that, which pays homage to a distinctly Australian flower – demonstrates how Grand Seiko really cares about its fans.

Price: A$10,600

#11: Grand Seiko SBGD202

best grand seiko watches SBGD202

Another rare creation of Seiko’s Micro Artist Studio, the diamond dust dial of the SBGD202 is both subtle and demanding of attention – as is its Zaratsu-polished rose gold case. What’s really special, though, is the manually-wound 9R01 movement inside, which features an eight-day power reserve while maintaining a remarkable precision rate of 10 seconds per month.

Why it matters: Grand Seiko doesn’t make many gold watches, but when they do, they’re knock-outs, and this timepiece is a case in point. Its impressive 9R01 movement isn’t just Grand Seiko’s very first manually-wound Spring Drive movement, but it boasts the longest power reserve of any GS, too. The diamond dust dial of the SBGD202 shouldn’t be overlooked, either: produced via an exclusive process that features both plating and painting, it’s intriguingly three-dimensional (photos don’t do it justice); even more three-dimensional than gold flux dials produced by some of the world’s highest-end watchmakers.

Price: A$66,000

#12: Grand Seiko SLGW003


If we’re talking manual-wound Grand Seikos, the new SLGW003 (and its rose gold SLGW002 sibling) unveiled at Watches and Wonders 2024 definitely needs to be in the discussion. Only 9.95mm thick, it features a unique take on a White Birch dial with a horizontal texture rather than a vertical one, and is crafted from Brilliant Hard Titanium: a proprietary Grand Seiko alloy that’s brighter and more corrosion-resistant than traditional titanium.

Why it matters: The 9SA4 in the SLGW003 is the first high-beat manually-wound movement Grand Seiko has made in half a century, and it’s a gem of a movement. Boasting an 80-hour power reserve thanks to its dual impulse escapement and twin barrels, it’s technically highly competent. The best thing about the 9SA4, though, is that its click is shaped like a wagtail – a bird commonly seen around the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi – with the click appearing to peck as the watch is wound; an uncharacteristically whimsical touch. It’s also just a cracking dress watch that proves Grand Seiko’s mastery of titanium isn’t only reserved for sports watches.

Price: A$15,950

#13: Grand Seiko SBGA405 Godzilla 65th Anniversary Limited Edition

best grand seiko watches SBGA405

Finally, we have the limited-edition SBGA405, first introduced in 2019 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Spring Drive as well as the 65th anniversary of the iconic Godzilla movie franchise. Fun fact: in the first Godzilla film, the kaiju rampages through Tokyo’s Ginza and destroys the clock tower of the Wako store, the luxury department store that serves as Seiko’s head office and marks the birthplace of Seiko. It features a red dial inspired by Godzilla’s heat ray beam, a black and red shark-leather strap that re-creates the tone and rough texture of the monster’s skin, as well as a graphic on the caseback that shows Godzilla destroying the Wako store. It’s a fun and unusual piece that revels in its Japanese-ness.

Why it matters: Grand Seiko (wrongly) has a reputation for being somewhat conservative, but the Godzilla proves that they know how to have a bit of fun, too – as well as how they’re in touch with the brand collaboration zeitgeist. That said, it’s a very subtle and tastefully executed collaboration – on the wrist, it’s not immediately apparent that it’s a collab, with its secret only being revealed by looking at its caseback. It’s also a premier example of Grand Seiko’s chunky and angular Sport (or ‘Lion’) case design: GS isn’t just about traditional watch shapes. Finally, red is a rarely used colour in luxury watchmaking, and this radiant red dial is a real knock-out.

Price: A$16,000