Every year, the Baselworld watch show is Christmas in March for watchmakers. This year, of course, Basel – and every other major watch fair – was canceled. In fact, the pandemic forced almost every major brand to delay introducing new designs that were planned years earlier. (Even first-class luxury houses know how to read the room.) Every brand had to adapt to the current state of affairs and forego the usual bonanza for new watches in order to bring out smaller than usual collections instead. Sure, some amazing pieces came out from around the world, but it was definitely a year of no avail. That is, for every brand except Grand Seiko.
Although 2020 will end as one of the least auspicious years of our lives, Grand Seiko will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. And luckily, the Tokyo-based manufacturer has decided to move on with its plans to celebrate. There was no gala or celebrity campaign – just a wave of new releases showing Grand Seiko’s mastery of virtually every category of watchmaking.
The list includes travel clocks, diving watches and chronographs. There are quartz, spring drive, and mechanical options. There are sporty, elegant and sporty-elegant. There’s something to suit every budget: prices range from $ 2,600 to $ 185,000 for a diamond and sapphire-encrusted novelty. But for me, most of the firepower in the lineup is in the under $ 10,000 range.
For my money, the SLGH003 is the best watch under $ 10,000 in 2020 / $ 9,700
The SLGH002 is the same model, made in 18k yellow gold / $ 43,000
In fact, I would call the Grand Seiko SLGH003 the best watch of 2020 in this category. It has an incredibly innovative movement with a new double impulse escapement that GS has been developing for 9 years. And the “Superman” color scheme is just fantastic. Grand Seiko uses the color blue better than any other watchmaker, and this piece shows why: the GS blue is deeper and richer than any other, as if they had captured the pure essence of the ocean.
At the upper end of the spectrum, the SLGH002 is limited to 100 pieces worldwide. It is exactly the same design as its steel brother but is housed in 18k yellow gold and attached to a crocodile bracelet with a triple clasp. Be warned – it had a Midas-like mesmerizing effect on me, and when I tried it on I could barely bring myself to take it off.
Most watchmakers test different versions of watch designs over many years. They will introduce a model in yellow gold and a white or rose gold version will follow in the next few years. Four years later, you might get a platinum version. The special thing about Grand Seiko’s 2020 range of products is that not only do they offer the same design in multiple metals, but almost all of them in steel as well. The SBGW57, 8 and 9 are all the same perfectly elegant dress watch made from platinum, gold and steel. Think how much fun it would be if with more watchmakers you could choose designs from different price ranges. Perhaps then not everyone would be wearing the same three steel sports watches.
One thing I love about Grand Seiko is how many of their watches are inspired by Japan’s natural beauty. The green accents of the SBGA427 are a nod to Kyoto’s Arashiyama Bamboo Forest / $ 5,000