American watch-heads no longer have to endure Grand Seiko’s Japan-only releases. We can now rejoice that Grand Seiko—an independent watch company since 2016—is offering their first US-only collection. These 40-millimeter watches house the ultra-precise Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R15/65 movement, and their dials imitate the Japanese painting technique Kira-zuri, which translates to “sparkling painting.” These limited editions include 20 platinum watches on crocodile leather for $53,000 (SBGA385), 50 in 18k rose gold on croc for $29,500 (SBGA384), and 558 in stainless steel on bracelet with two additional straps for $6,800 (SBGA387).
Dials are made to complement each metal, helping the watches achieve Grand Seiko’s distinctive look. For the platinum model, the cool white dial gets a special plating process that helps bring out the sparkling quality, while the gold model’s dial carries warmer tones, and the stainless steel model reads as a flecked light blue that, Grand Seiko claims, is reminiscent of the skies over the Sea of Japan.
The dial layout is pure Grand Seiko, with precision-cut applied markers, a classic date window at three o’clock, the GS logo up top, and a power reserve indicator hovering between seven and eight o’clock. Hands are familiar dagger types, which are always a marvel under a loupe where the journey seems to go on forever to the incredibly sharp tip.
All indicators and hands, and cases employ Grand Seiko’s Zaratsu finishing, a very old method borrowed from sword-making which achieves almost perfectly flat polished surfaces. Having these cases in hand demonstrates the uncanny way in which Zaratsu brings the bling while remaining understated and classy. There are few who would argue with the assertion that Grand Seiko is making some of the best cases currently available.