I just wanted to share my recent experiences with the Grand Seiko brand, and how I got to the point of being OK with owning one. Think I've figured out pics (see below).
Having a genetic predisposition towards collecting (or more like collecting ADD), I have always bought (and sold) at what I thought was a fairly high level. Everything from the exotic (European cars - which my wife is glad I am not actively collecting) to the mundane (ties, watches, etc..), I have always wanted to have the best and have it first. But knowing what is the best takes time, so I spent a lot of time researching before making my purchases. It’s gotten to a point where it is very rare for me to go on a search for a specific car or a watch where the salesperson actually knows more than me about their own product. Usually, I am the one telling them what they have coming out, when it will probably be out, at what price, and to “put me on the list”.
I’m also a big believer in using things for their intended purposes, regardless of price. As an example, when I received one of the first Porsche Cayennes in my state, I immediately bought a spare tire & wheel, a roof rack for which to carry it in, and took it out to the ranch to 4-wheel it as hard as I could. While it shocked people (especially at the dealership when I brought it back 1 week later - covered in mud - for a carwash) that I would take a new Porsche off-roading, I will say it was designed with that in mind and was as good, if not better, than some of my other dedicated ranch vehicles. Over the years, I think I have developed a pretty good eye for finding the balance between form vs function.
My watch collection has reflected my collecting habits. It has seen many Rolexs (including my daily wearer Explorer II and LV Sub), Breitlings (including a Bentley Motors), Panerais, and other less expensive brands that are very good at what they do (such as G-Shocks, Timex Ironmans, etc..). I recently sold my 16570 Explorer II to make room for the new 216570 Explorer II. However, on the way to store, something strange happened.
As I passed by a Seiko store in Florida in January, I noticed a few Seiko Ananta Chronographs sitting in the window. I had not heard of the Ananta line, and certainly was not familiar with the Spring Drive movement. As much as I LOVED the way the Ananta SPS007 Spring Drive Chronograph looked, I just could not wrap my brain around the thought of a $6,400 price tag for a Seiko, no matter how much I wanted it. Well, after more research and a few more visits to the Seiko store, I settled for the more palpable Ananta SRQ005 Automatic Chronograph with a steel bracelet - 3 days later.
In that research, I was shocked not only to find out just how good and inexpensive Seiko and other Japanese watches could be (I have since bought a Seiko Orange Monster, an Orient Ray, and an Orient Sightseer), but that Dan at Timeless Watch Exchange was only 30 minutes away from my home in Texas and is an authorized Ananta dealer. Once I got back, I thought “what the heck, how much damage could a drive out to see Dan and his inventory be”. Once I got there, Dan didn’t have any Anantas in stock. He did direct me to the case that was full of “Grand Seikos”. It was hard enough to fathom a $6,400 Ananta, but a $7k+ Grand Seiko, I was not sure what to think. I didn’t pay much attention to them and promptly left. Then came the article in the April issue of WatchTime on Grand Seiko, and it was like a light bulb had gone off! After reading that article, I immediately drove back out to see Dan and asked to see the SBGE001 GMT and the SBGA029 Diver. Luckily he only had the Diver in stock and the GMT was 7 days out. That gave me 7 more days to do a little more research and look at the new Explorer II.
When the SBGE001 GMT finally arrived, I trekked back up to Timeless Watch Exchange and Dan made me a great trade offer on my Ananta (plus a little cash) for either the Diver or the GMT. As much as I thought I preferred the diver, I really did need another GMT since selling my Explorer II, so I went with the SBGE001 GMT. Well, it’s been over a week now, and I can’t stop staring at it. The other watches have all been sitting on the winder not getting any wrist time, and just to make sure I didn’t have buyer’s remorse, I went back to my Rolex AD to try on a new Sub 116610 and Explorer II again, and they BOTH seemed kind of plain after wearing the GS. I think the biggest difference maker is the sapphire bezel – it truly stands out on this watch – even more so than the Sub’s ceramic bezel. And the best part about it all, it does everything it’s supposed to do AND it flies under the radar. I notice people looking, sometimes even staring, but once they see the word “Seiko”, they rarely bother to ask questions or make comments. This watch could well be one of the best that I have ever owned. Let’s see what happens after 1 year.