The Collector’s Crossroads: My inner battle with Grand Seiko’s 9F movement The Collector’s Crossroads: My inner battle with Grand Seiko’s 9F movement

The Collector’s Crossroads: My inner battle with Grand Seiko’s 9F movement

Ricardo Sime

Quartz Snob. The catch-all term for anyone who looks down on quartz-powered timepieces. It used to identify a small sub-set of collectors that would be condescending in their approach of the technology. But now, it’s wielded as a weapon against anyone apprehensive about spending thousands on a quartz piece. It’s as if everyone forgets that for many of us, our collecting started and/or was driven by a love of mechanical movements. So, it’s no surprise to me that an internal struggle emerges when a $3000 quartz watch is staring us in the face. That is why for today’s collector’s crossroads, I wanted to share my recent inner battle with Grand Seiko’s 9F.

Movement Picture
Grand Seiko’s 9F86 Quartz Movement

It started when I began looking at GMT watches a few weeks back. As part of my admittingly crazy research process, I scour the internet for every GMT watch out there. It was while making my way through the options, that I came across Grand Seiko’s SBGN005. It’s a beautiful GMT watch in their Sport Collection that has many of the elements I am looking for. It has a nicely sized 39mm case. The case thickness is 12.1mm, which is small when compared to other Grand Seiko watches. The bezel was steel, something I truly love in a sports watch. Finally, with it being a Grand Seiko, I wouldn’t have to worry about the fit and finish.

Grand Seiko SBGN005

But one thing stuck out. Something that as hard as I tried to ignore, I just couldn’t. That was the fact it ran on Grand Seiko’s quartz movement, the 9F.

Rarely has a movement been the deciding factor when I’ve looked at a watch. In those rare occasions a low power reserve tends to be the main culprit. But here I was, ready to dismiss this watch from my list because it was powered by a quartz movement. Before I moved forward, then and there, I tried to understand why I felt this way.

One of the biggest asks of Grand Seiko’s 9F powered watch is the price. Chances are, for anyone looking at such a watch, it will be the most you’ll ever spend on a quartz. And once your mind reaches a certain level of pricing, it starts to bring the idea of value into the picture. For some reason, we continue to equate a watch’s value to the movement within, placing an imaginary cap on the value of a quartz watch. Never mind that the 9F is to quartz what Rod Laver is to Australian Tennis.

Grand Seiko SBGE269 Caseback

What’s even stranger is the fact that we don’t bring this viewpoint to mechanical watches. We’re extremely understanding when we have to spend five times more for an in-house movement when compared to an ETA powered watch. Factors such as production, fit and finish all make sense to us then. Yet, it’s so hard for us to transfer that thought process to Grand Seiko’s 9F, even though technically, it sits within the upper echelon of quartz. Grand Seiko has, in the past, done an all-out blitz of education on 9F to combat this. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched their National Training Manager Joe Kirk expand on the amazing tech behind the movement. However, people still struggle to accept the message.

As I continued thinking about my relationship with 9F, I came to the realization that really, my issue was not with the movement or the watch. I was perfectly fine spending the requisite $3200 USD for the SBGN005 and was accepting of the value proposition it was offering. My issue is that one of my requirements for my next GMT is an automatic movement. What I had lost sight of in this inner battle is something every collector has a right to and that is choice. I let the idea of being labelled a Quartz Snob overcomplicate what was a simple decision. At the end of the day, just because I want an automatic GMT doesn’t mean I can’t see the merits of 9F or that I look down on anyone who owns one. It just means that right now, that is not what I want.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

P.S. Grand Seiko, can you do me a solid and re-release SBGM027 with the new single signed dial? Just asking for a friendly neighborhood watch collector on the hunt for a GMT.