Grand Seiko SBGZ003 – $57k?


Grand Seiko SBGZ003 redo

A Grand Seiko SBGZ003 for sixty grand? WTF? I’m having a hard time understanding Grand Seiko. I love their craftsmanship and minimalist design – excluding any of their pieces with a power reserve indicator on the dial. Which is all of the “lower-priced” Spring Drive models. Which this anniversary model doesn’t have. But the question remains: what drugs is Seiko taking? Let’s take a look at their justification . . .

The Micro Artist Studio made its first contribution to Grand Seiko with the 8-Day Power Reserve Spring Drive watch that was greeted at Baselworld 2016 with great acclaim. 

Grand Seiko SBGZ003 caliber 9R02

This same elite team of watchmakers now presents Caliber 9R02, a new movement that has two mainsprings set in parallel within a single barrel and uses the unique Torque Return System* to deliver a power reserve of 84 hours.

The power reserve indicator is visible through the sapphire crystal case back, next to the barrel whose shape echoes that of the bellflower that is the symbol of Shiojiri, where the studio is located.

OK, a new movement. Eight-four hours of power reserve. The power reserve indicator repositioned to the caseback (thank God). But how does that justify a fifty grand price differential with the “basic” Spring Drive Snowflake (a.k.a., SBGA407)?

Credor Eichi movement

Our good friends at HoDinkee sidestep this thorny question by comparing the SBGZ003 to the identically-powered, almost-as-pricey Seiko Eichi II. And then wheeling-out a casual remark by legendary watchmaker Philippe Dufour.

The most essential expression of craft in fine watchmaking, after all, is in movement finishing, and the 9R02 has all of the masterful execution of its vocabulary that led none other than Philippe Dufour to say, at the HODINKEE Collector’s Summit four and a half years ago, “If you want to know where the best movement finishing is, I’m sorry, it’s not in Switzerland right now.” 

Hello? You call that finishing? Perfect of course – aside from the random screw head alignment. But c’mon. Here’s the caseback of the entry-level Patek Philippe 5123R-001.

Patek Philippe Calatrava

Which movement would you rather feast your eyes upon, this Calatrava or the Grand Seiko SBGZ003? The Patek costs less than half the price of the Grand Seiko SBGZ003 and it’s perfect, too. If you move up the Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet or Vacheron Constantin ladder to the $50k mark, it only gets better. A lot better.

Strangely, neither HoDinkee or Grand Seiko make any mention of the Grand Seiko SBGZ003’s case material. White gold? Platinum? Unobtanium? Nope. Stainless steel. Zaratsu polished stainless steel, but stainless steel none-the-less.

The previous sentence was written in error. The case is made of platinum. This accounts for a majority of the price differential with other, steel Grand Seikos. I regret the error and thank a commentator for pointing it out after my hiatus.  

Grand Seiko SBGY003

So where does all that leave us? Wishing Grand Seiko would sell the new Grand Seiko SBGZ003 in steel at $15k. If you think about it, the Anniversary model competes with the date window-less, power reserve-less $7600 Spring Driven SBGY003 LE (above), albeit with the “old” Caliber 9R31.


  1. I said this on your other GS thread but GS really needs to get rid of its bottom end stuff if it wants to compete on this level. There aren’t a lot of brands that can sell $2200 quartz watches alongside $60k halos…and when you combine it with the distinctively-downmarket “Seiko” brand that gets churned out by the millions, it’s a very hard sell. Sure, you can talk about GS being the watchmaker that the cognoscenti get, stealth wealth, yadda yadda but there is a reason that it’s “Lexus”, not “Grand Toyota”.

    • Japanese product and pricing strategy is to make their low end(seiko, toyota) and high end products(grand seiko, Lexus) similar style, and dna. They want to bring people who are toyota buyers who are now wealthier to buy into the Lexus entry model($35k compared to the $20k and $25k corolla and camry). From there the customer might buy a $50k or more Lexus. That I think is the genius of Japanese brands since they try to funnel masstige customers into premium/entry level luxury customers of their higher end grand seiko or Lexus brand.

      • It worked for me as a 15-25 year old I’ve owned and still have several entry level Seiko watches. When I hit my late 30s my income was high enough to get the Spring Drives which were JDM only models at the time. I initially purchased some entry level swiss watches because I thought that was where it was at but later I realized id overlooked Seiko who also had higher end watches that blew away the swiss on a bang for buck basis. 8-10 years later I see sellers asking more than double what I paid for the Spring Drives.

  2. Grand Seiko SBGZ003 has a platinum case – it’s stated quite clearly from the website

    The mechanics of any Spring drive movement cannot be exposed because its quartz crystal, hidden beneath the plates, is very sensitive to light, and hence it must be carefully sealed. This sadly make people unable to see the special finishing – so what’s the point right? The better finishing is supposedly ‘improving’ the watch’s durability, longevity, and precision. Generally, we believe the honesty and integrity of Japanese (top) brand

    Another point: the dial is carved. Many said the movement of this watch is also comparable to Voutilainen’s and Dufour’s

    These could be some additional aspects that make this GS expensive. Whether or not they matter to you … it’s a different issue I think. Hope this may help …

    • Japanese brands like to make one stand out product that is said to be the most superior refined product that does not make sense value wise. The lexus LFA is said to be tremendously overpriced at $500k. However, the price tag of used Lexus LFAs are more than they retailed for. Acura NSX is also said to be way overpriced at $150k. However, it is one of the few cars that has racing pedigree and supreme performance(honda’s expertise in f1 engine and bodywork). Acura NSX is said to be an extreme precise driving experience but you need to pay a premium.

      Ultimately, it boils down to one thing. These extreme products are made to be a real supreme product where cost is not a factor. This allows them to strengthen brand image, and improve the perceived product quality of all their other products.

    • Well the fact that the author clearly wants to misconstrue facts and drive his own agenda, by stating incorrectly that this is a Stainless steel case when in fact the SBGZ003 has a platinum case, and then showing a different picture just says it all. Geez the internet with all its crap….

  3. Three and a half years later, I stumbled across your review of this Grand Seiko model, which I will never be able to afford, but which I nevertheless find magnificent.

    On reading your “review”, I am compelled to react. What crass dishonesty on your part… ! You have the right not to like this watch, but not to lie – especially as your error was quickly pointed out by several other Internet users: the case is platinum, not steel. Your main criticism – the price of this watch – is therefore irrelevant, and honesty should have led you to publish a correction, albeit a slightly shameful one.

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