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I may have found my Grand Seiko Grail...

  1. Pascal S Jul 27, 2022

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    Back I started seriously collecting watches in the mid 2000s, I remember stumbling upon the picture of a GMT watch that immediately struck my fancy. At the time, I was unfamiliar with Grand Seiko, which was hardly surprising since these were not sold in Europe. But for some reason that particular model spoke to me, and while I see myself as a chrono guy who likes to wear dive watches during Summer, I couldn't shake off that attraction. That was the Grand Seiko ref. SBGM001.
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    Apart from the general balance, which I found very pleasing, the detail that attracted me the most was the brushed bezels with the 24 hour markings. You won't be surprised to learn that I also like the Rolex Explorer II for a similar reason. But somehow I found the Grand Seiko prettier.

    The watch was not perfect though. The absence of lume bothered me. A lot. And I thought that the hands were too plain. Also, the 39.2 mm format was a bit small for my lumberjack-sized wrist. So I ultimately didn't pursue getting myself one of these, because I knew that these points would bother me a lot more if I was actually wearing this watch. I still kept an eye on what Grand Seiko was releasing though.

    It doesn't mean that in the meantime I didn't scratch that itch somewhat. When the brand released the Seiko 5 ref. SNKE01, I promptly got myself one for the princely sum of $80, as it reminded me of its more illustrious cousin.
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    And it had lume! On the other hand, at 37 mm, it's even smaller, and of course you cannot exactly compare the quality of a 5 with a GS...

    Other variants of the Grand Seiko appeared over the years. SBGM005 with a gorgeous dark blue dial, and then the very similar SBGM029. But my initial reservations, explained above, remained.

    After that, an unfortunate turn of events forced me to take a few step back from my passion for watches, and I no longer paid attention to Grand Seiko until very recently. In the meantime, the brand started becoming available in my neck of the woods, and supply was therefore no longer an issue. So upon my relapse into full WIS mode, I naturally started looking at what they had in store these days. And in doing so, I stumbled upon the SBGM245.
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    Both the crown and date window had migrated at 4 o'clock, something I was unsure how I felt about initially, but other things pleased me. A lot! First of all the size, as this watch is now 40.5 mm in diameter. But also the hands look a lot more elaborated. And lumed of course. Final addition that I felt pleasing to the eye on the pictures is the presence of a chapter ring around the dial, giving it more depth. I was really curious to see this watch "in the metal' at the earliest opportunity.

    Well, it came today. After looking at other watches in the windows of several shop, and commenting to my wife that the Rolex Explorer II looked gorgeous but felt overpriced to me, I stopped at the Grand Seiko shop that had recently opened in my city. And luckily for me, they had the SBGM245 on display. Better even, they allowed me to try it on and take some pictures right outside the shop.
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    One word: Wow!

    I am officially smitten. Pictures don't do justice to that gorgeous dark blue dial, which has a subtle iridescent quality that is only discernible in bright dailight. Wearing it, the position of the crown was no issue. After all, I had to remove my SKXA35 to put the Grand Seiko on my wrist, and this diver has its crown in pretty much the same spot. The date window also looked fine where it was, which is the point I had the most doubts about. Even though it had all its links, the watch felt a bit tight, but I was relieved to find out that the micro adjustment on the clasp was at its shortest setting, so I could reasonably wear this watch comfortably.

    That was a very interesting experience that opened up quite a few new avenues for me. At €5700, this is not exactly a cheap watch, but the quality of the finish is such that it still feels somehow like a bargain compared with other brands. I have other targets in my sight for now, but I may very well decide to aim for one of these in the future. What a watch!
     
    Edited Jul 27, 2022
  2. dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Jul 27, 2022

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    Congrats mate, nice pickup and beautiful starburst blue dial
     
  3. funkright Jul 27, 2022

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    Very nice pickup :thumbsup:

    Just today I stopped into a local mall and the jeweller now has a VERY impressive Grand Seiko display with many GS in stock. Tried on a few and definitely found several that I would like to add to the collection.

    Decisions. Decisions ::book::
     
  4. tnt9 Jul 29, 2022

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    very nice decision. That Seiko is beautifull!
     
  5. rspace Jul 29, 2022

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    You can't go wrong with a GS. Lovely dial. I have been eyeing this one for a while now. Some day! Grand-Seiko-SBGJ019 (2).jpg
     
    ekallus, Moadib, Engee and 2 others like this.
  6. funkright Jul 30, 2022

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    What is the model #? ::confused2::
     
  7. rspace Jul 30, 2022

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    SBGJ019. The newer version ( GS REBRANDED) version is SBGJ219 but I prefer the older one.
     
  8. ConElPueblo Jul 30, 2022

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    Beautiful watch, congratulations :)

    I assume that the bezel is fixed, but does the chapter ring turn?
     
  9. Pascal S Jul 30, 2022

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    Both are fixed, and I'm fine with that.

    And to clarify things, I did not buy this watch. Yet.

    I'd love to have that kind of money at the ready for an impulse buy, but I sadly don't. As a result, I exited the shop with the SKXA35 diver back at my wrist, much to my wife's relief I'm sure. That being said, the Grand Seiko left quite an impression on me. I have a couple of watch purchases I am currently saving for (one being buying back a 1969 Speedmaster I sold 9 years ago, and not at the same price as you may imagine!), but once that is done I will have freedom to pick another target. And while a week ago I would have said that surely this would be another chronograph, right now it seems very possible that the SBGM245 might be top of the list.

    For someone who until now had only a passing interest for GMT watches, that is quite a shift! Having one as a Grail, whether I ultimately reach it or not, is something quite unexpected for me, and it is a testimony of how impressed I was with that Grand Seiko.
     
  10. Rousetafarian Dec 31, 2022

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    I’ve read the whole thread and was wondering if the desire is still there for this piece or if you acquired one?
     
  11. Pascal S Jan 1, 2023

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    The desire is definitely intact, it's more my purchasing power that is an issue.

    Last year, my big project was saving for re-acquiring a watch I had sold 9 years previously. And since we are talking about a lovely pre-Moon ref. 145.022-69 Speedmaster, you can easily imagine that this was a healthy budget, far above what I had sold that watch for in 2013. For those who haven't read it, the whole story of this return can be found in this thread in the Vintage Omega sub-forum (warning: long read).

    As things stand right now, I simply can't afford this watch yet. After the return of my Moonwatch, I've kept my saving habits, so a little watch budget should progressively grow into something more substantial, but that is unless I find something else that I can't live with. Right now, I'm eyeing a nice vintage Lemania, wondering if I should pull the trigger or not. This little watch would only cost me less than 10% of the price of the Seiko, but it would also push back any possible time of purchase by a couple of months.

    Don't get me wrong: that particular Grand Seiko is part of a rather exclusive shortlist of watches I would love to purchase in the future. My problem is that I'm not sure I have the mental fortitude to get there before being sidetracked. My birth year Speedy was a bit of an exception given its particular history and the strong attachment I felt for it, and I'm not sure I can be that disciplined for any other watch. But who knows? And maybe I'll be lucky enough to stumble upon a gently worn pre-owned example at an even more accessible price...
     
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