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Should you invest in Grand Seiko watches?
Generally, regular Seiko watches like the popular Seiko 5s retain their value but never really go up in price compared to their original retail price.
This is great if you’re looking for a daily watch that you can sell for the same price that you got it for, but not if you’re looking for watches to flip or timepieces to invest in.
The Grand Seiko line, on the other hand, makes for a compelling Rolex alternative.
Similar to what Lexus is to Toyota, the brand started to prove that Japanese timepieces could be on par with their Swiss counterparts. As with many Japanese-engineered goods, Grand Seiko was able to prove its point and has earned respect among the watch community worldwide.
Let’s explore what Grand Seiko is and why you should consider investing in their timepieces.
When it comes to higher-end watches, many beginners will have no idea that among the Swiss greats Rolex and Omega is the Grand Seiko line.
According to Watchcharts.com, the median selling price of a Grand Seiko watch is around $3,000. Compared to the average price of around $12,000 for a Rolex, Grand Seiko comes at quite a discount with similar quality.
More comparable in price to a brand like Tudor or Omega, the Grand Seiko is perhaps the only Japanese brand that is mentioned in the same breath in a horological conversation.
However, not every Grand Seiko watch has the same amount of popularity.
If you want to invest and maximize your chance for profit potential, the four models you should target are:
- Vintage models
- Limited-edition models
- Models with innovative movements
- Historically significant models
Grand Seiko Watch Values: What you should know about Seiko’s luxury brand
There’s a big difference between Grand Seikos and regular Seiko watches. Grand Seiko was started in 1960 to compete with luxury Swiss watches. While regular Seikos are a normal person’s timekeeping tool, Grand Seiko timepieces are undoubtedly a part of luxury horology.
Grand Seiko started as a luxury Seiko sub-brand until recently: they were spun off and made an independent brand in 2017.
These timepieces are renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship and precision through their uniquely engineered watch movements, which might be best showcased in a model like the Spring Drive SBGA211 “Snowflake” .
The fact that the name is not as well known as other brands in terms of status signaling, luxury goods in pop-culture means that it often attracts purists and the if-you-know, you know crowd.
Grand Seiko timepieces generally have a much higher potential for price appreciation compared to regular Seiko watches.
The appreciation rate varies between modern and vintage models, with the latter often fetching higher prices due to their scarcity and historical significance.
Although many modern Grand Seikos may depreciate in value, it is still possible to arbitrage the price difference on the aftermarket for a decent profit because a higher price means more spread to work with: for example, you can find a Grand Seiko Spring Drive for a fair price of around $4200 and sell it for $4500, which will profit you $300 if you do the deal locally.
Another tip is that automatic Grand Seikos are more desirable among collectors than their quartz counterparts. However, you should not overlook Grand Seiko quartz timepieces since they’re still engineered to be top-of-the-line timepieces that have their own share of fans.
Let’s go over some specific examples of Grand Seiko models that have historically appreciated in value.
4 Grand Seiko timepieces that appreciate in value:
1. Vintage Grand Seikos
Vintage Grand Seiko timepieces have seen substantial appreciation in recent years. This is especially true for Grand Seikos from the 60s and 70s.
The word has spread of Grand Seiko timepieces, especially among younger buyers, so the demand is increasing. Grand Seikos were always produced in smaller numbers compared to regular Seikos, so the number of vintage Grand Seikos floating around on the market is always going to be somewhat limited, especially if someone is seeking a specific model.
2. Limited-edition Grand Seikos
One thing that makes Grand Seiko watches valuable is their low production numbers.
Every year, the brand will produce roughly 30,000 watches total across models compared to Rolex’s whopping production of 800,000.
Limited-edition Grand Seikos are produced in extremely limited quantities on an infrequent basis. These timepieces feature unique designs or collaborations and can go through remarkable price appreciation.
Some limited-edition Grand Seiko timepieces are limited to batches of less than 10.
The SBGD213 pictured above is carefully crafted with 112 diamonds set in platinum, powered by the 8-day Spring Drive Caliber 9R01 movement. Its total production worldwide is just 8.
For the right collector, the price of $260,000 will not matter, and in the future, there is a chance that this model can go up even more in price.
3. Special and innovative movements
Grand Seiko is respected as an innovator in the world of horology–this is largely because of its breakthrough with the Spring Drive technology movement, which, according to experts, is more accurate than the Rolex Chronometer Superlative.
Earlier iterations of the Spring Drive, which was released in 2004, are highly collectible and valuable.
Even the plain old quartz-powered Grand Seiko watches are known for their superior accuracy and certain models like the SBGV line have quite a demand on the aftermarket.
4. Historically significant models
Grand Seiko timepieces that are associated with significant events or milestones in horological history appreciate in value over time. Watches that mark important anniversaries or have pioneering innovations become highly desirable for collectors which drives up their prices.
2004 marked the Spring Drive debut, and 2019 marked the debut of Grand Seiko’s Elegance movement.
Models such as the SBGK Elegance line pictured above have historic significance as a debut and thus command high prices on the aftermarket, such as around $30,000 today for the rose gold SBGK004 pictured above.
Keeping an eye on models that are associated with the release of a new movement or style is a good practice when it comes to making sure the watch you buy can potentially increase in value.
What makes Grand Seiko different from regular Seiko watches?
Grand Seiko timepieces are the luxury offerings of the Seiko brand. While regular Seiko watches are mass-produced, Grand Seiko timepieces are assembled by hand by master craftsmen in Japan who meet stringent requirements to ensure each timepiece is of the highest level of quality. Grand Seiko timepieces are made in lower quantities with higher retail prices.
Why are Grand Seiko watches considered luxury watches?
Grand Seiko watches are considered luxury watches because of their high quality (premium materials, hand-assembly by skilled craftsmen), their notable watch movements such as the Spring Drive, and their low production rate which is roughly 5% of that of Rolex.
Are all Grand Seiko timepieces automatic?
Grand Seiko timepieces are offered with a variety of movements, including mechanical, automatic, and quartz. The Spring Drive movement, which the company is best known for, is a hybrid of mechanical and quartz movements. All movements are prized for their superior accuracy, and are considered by many to be among some of the most accurate watches in production.
Are Grand Seiko and Seiko Grand Quartz the same thing?
No, they’re not. While they share a similar name, the Seiko Grand Quartz is a separate series of watches that were made by Seiko in the 1970s.
Grand Seiko timepieces are a good investment choice for someone who is interested in a more wallet-friendly luxury watch. As the years go by, the brand is becoming more well-known outside of the watch enthusiast crowd, including among younger buyers, which means their demand will steadily increase. Consider investing in some of the more affordable Grand Seiko timepieces then work your way up from there.
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