Covid-19 prevented me from doing a blowout 30th birthday trip, so I bought a watch instead. It’s 30, so, what a great excuse to get my grail, right? My grail, the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection SBGA413, sometimes called the “Spring.” It’s that Sakura dial. I’m a Japan simp, lived there several times throughout the years, visited constantly, and a few years back did a motorcycle trip during sakura season. Quite honestly, I’ve never seen so many beautiful vistas as I did during that trip. Cherry-blossoms are genuinely my favorite thing on earth. The dial alone set this watch up as my grail, without getting into all the other awesome things about this watch: the spring drive movement, the crazy polishing, the value. The experience of buying it has solidified my belief that I literally couldn’t have chosen a better watch for myself.
Watches are an interesting thing to buy. Depending on the price range, it could be just grabbing something off Amazon, and sending back if you don’t like it. When you’re about to drop six thousand dollars, though, not quite. So first of all, I needed to get my hands on this thing before I decided I actually wanted it. There weren’t any Grand Seiko boutiques near me, (though there was an AD), so I simply clicked “contact the boutique” on the sales page, lol. That resulted in an email to some vague sales funnel, something like “firstname.lastname@example.org” or some other absurd entry point. Even still, within a few days I was bounced from Grand Seiko global, to the USA division, and then passed straight to the Boutique in L.A.
The guys in L.A. were awesome. I was a pretty warm sale of course, but they were still very casual in laying out options. They offered to ship, but when I indicated I wanted to make sure it felt right on the wrist before buying, they sent over their hours. When I indicated concern about stock, they offered a no-questions-asked refundable deposit. This turned out to be a great boon, cause I could spread the purchase out across two credit card bills. Then, they stayed in touch, expressed interest in why I wanted this watch, and kept me updated.
So, we planned a trip to L.A., ostensibly as a friends-out trip, but really so I could blow an entire paycheck on a watch.
Visiting the Boutique
Visiting is what sold me on the Grand Seiko brand. I’ve gone to ADs and boutiques for various brands before, and generally they perfectly represent the “culture” of each brand. Rolex, especially, was fucked. Like any watch simp I had gone down that path before - I mean, come on, it’s Rolex, right? Fuck that, though. Waitlists, arbitrary purchases needed to “unlock” the actual desirable stock, and every time I walk in a sort of haughtiness, like I should consider myself lucky to be allowed to give them my money. Makes about as much sense as Wells Fargo charging me 5$ a month for the right to hold my own money.
Nah. I walked into the Grand Seiko boutique and the guy I’d been in touch with, Xavier, was immediately pulling out the box, literally as soon as he recognized me as I walk in the door. We’re coming in off a hot L.A. street and him and his coworker are getting us waters, making us comfortable. Xavier pulls out the watch and says “put it on, try it on, it’s yours!” Man I haven’t even got the credit card out yet! So we hang out for maybe a whole hour, sorting payment, pouring up excellent Hibiki whisky, talking watches, and patiently fitting the watch exactly as I want it.
My first look at the watch! Excuse the poor lighting, my photography game was off.
Scoping the fantastic dial.
Closeup of the dial.
Check out that zaratsu polish! Allegedly performed by only 2 dudes in Japan.
Xavier patiently added and removed links until the watch fit perfectly.
First time wearing the watch after fitting! Wearing a mask because this happened during COVID-19.
Of course we took a look at some of the other watches in the shop, but sadly I was distracted and not on my photo game so only a few came out.
They gave us little dixie cups of Hibiki Whiskey to celebrate the payment going through.
ALl in all it was a hell of a lot more fun coming to the shop than just anonymously ordering the thing and having it delivered, insured or not. We got to talk shop, talk about the brand, make fun of other brands. I walked in with my Noob v3 Daytona on the wrist, which got the attention of the store manager. He asked me who I had to kill for the Daytona, I told him it was a rep, and we had a laugh over that. Apparently he used to work as a Rolex AD. Really doesn’t speak well for the brand that he left it for Grand Seiko, but damn does that say a lot for Grand Seiko. He told a story about how him and his dad happened to be talking to the CEO of Rolex at a Christmas party, and his dad dropped the line “I’m not an idiot, I’d never pay MSRP for a Rolex.” Bro, same, who does that when you can get +-1/day accuracy and a stunning dial from Grand Seiko for the same price as some plain boring ass Oyster Perpetual? Plus they made the girls, who aren’t in the watch game at all, feel welcome and entertained. Also, seeing as I’m in the area, I visited the Patek Philippe, Rolex, Hublot, and Panerai boutiques. AMAZING day!
I wore the watch out of the shop, but I got all sorts of goodies with it, so I put together a little unboxing series of pics.
Yup, apparently you get a Grand Seiko branded notebook.
…AND a pen lmao
And this microfiber oven mitt thing.
They even gave me a pretty nice little loupe! It’s really fun to look at the dial through this thing.
Several Weeks Later
Having this watch has been fantastic. It’s titanium so wears like I’ve got nothing on at all (nothing at all… nothing at all…). I’ve collected some more photos of it in its element: