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Looking Back At The Very Best Of Grand Seiko

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It's hard to believe that just a few years ago you couldn't buy a Grand Seiko in the western world. But it's true. In a relatively short period of time though, the brand has gone from an underground cult favorite to one of the most widely respected watchmakers on the planet, and for good reason. Picking just a handful of Grand Seiko stories from our first decade to feature here was definitely a challenge, but this should give you a good sense of what Grand Seiko represents and why you should be paying close attention to what comes next.

Celebrating The Right Way

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In 2017 Grand Seiko took a big step and became a fully independent brand under the Seiko umbrella. What this means for you, the consumer, is that Grand Seiko watches no longer say both "Seiko" and "Grand Seiko" on their dials. To mark this major moment, the brand released a trio of watches that recall the original Grand Seiko from 1960. Even beyond the great story they're exceptional timepieces on their own merits and ones that collectors will be buzzing about for a long time.

The Legendary Eichi II

The Eichi II sits near the top of the Grand Seiko portfolio and is without question one of the finest time-only watches on planet Earth. And no watch nerd worth his or her weight in spring bars is going to argue with you about it.  Jack's in-depth examination of the Japanese marvel is one of those stories that warrants regular re-reading, not least of all for the stunning photos he took of the watch both front and back. You want a lesson in exceptional finishing and artistic watchmaking? 

Check out our story about the original platinum version of the Eichi II as well as our update for the new rose gold version.

Inside The Manufacture

Last year we created a three-part video series in partnership with Grand Seiko that offered an unprecedented look at the people who make Grand Seiko watches, how they're made, and the unique technologies that set them apart from what you're used to seeing come out of Switzerland. We'd recommend you pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and watch the three videos back to back. You won't regret it.

Reviewing The Snowflake

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It's hard to think of a watch that better exemplifies what makes Grand Seiko special than the SBGA211, known to most people simply as The Snowflake. This watch has a solid titanium case and bracelet for comfort, a Spring Drive movement, and a special textured dial that is otherworldly in its beauty. Luckily Jack spent a full week with the Snowflake to see if it's as fun to wear as one might expect. Spoiler alert: it totally is.

The Quartz Standout

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We don't cover quartz watches all that often here on HODINKEE, but when we do you should know that it's got to clear a pretty high bar. The Grand Seiko 9F quartz watches do just that and more, setting a totally different standard for what a quartz watch can be. When Ben first got a hands-on look at this piece back in 2014, he knew instantly that it was something worth sharing, and that's every bit as true today as it was then. 

Bonus: Getting Fancy

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Everyone knows that Grand Seiko makes technically outstanding watches and their generally understated interpretation of classical watchmaking is one of the brand's hallmarks. However, when they want to pull out all the stops, Grand Seiko is capable of creating extravagant, artistic pieces too. The Fugaku Tourbillon might be the best example of this, with its gem setting, mother-of-pearl inlays, and metal sculpture all harmonizing to great effect (not to mention a dramatic tourbillon at nine o'clock). 

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