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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I sent a mail to my local Grand Seiko AD saying I was interested in saving up for a Grand Seiko, but that their policy of providing parts for only 10 years after any given model is discontinued was a big deal-breaker for me. After all, at that price point and with the quality of their watches, 10 years is borderline laughable. One should be able to buy a Grand Seiko with the thought of it being a heirloom piece in mind, something you can't do with a 10 year guarantee, especially considering these are made in smaller numbers, so the parts availability "in the wild" will be nothing like that of their lower-end lines.

However, I also wrote that I had read rumors that Grand Seiko recently had taken this criticism to heart and changed this policy, and asked if this was correct.

This is what the store manager wrote me back, roughly translated:

Hello!

You can safely start saving up, because Grand Seiko will keep parts for a spesific model for 20 years after it going out of production.

Best regards,
So and so


Now, this is pretty big news for Seiko fans isn't it? The manuals have clearly stated 10 years before, but apparently this is no longer the case? Does anyone know more of this?
 

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Cool. I frankly didn't take that into consideration when I got mine. I figure the movement is what I need to worry about and that will still be made and I am sure that the 10 year thing starts after the watch is no longer made.
 

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I'm not sure ten years really makes a difference. The only parts that are likely to need replacement are in the movement, and movements aren't taken out of production very often anyway. Ten years or twenty years after buying the watch, there's a really good chance the same movement (or one with a majority of identical parts) will still be showing up in new watches.

Frankly, 20 years still feels very short for a watch that is clearly designed to last much longer than that. Are you actually saying that a ten-year guarantee was a dealbreaker, but 20 is just fine? I really think I should be able to take that watch to Seiko for service in 40 or 50 years and not be told that parts aren't available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I'm not sure ten years really makes a difference. The only parts that are likely to need replacement are in the movement, and movements aren't taken out of production very often anyway. Ten years or twenty years after buying the watch, there's a really good chance the same movement (or one with a majority of identical parts) will still be showing up in new watches.

Frankly, 20 years still feels very short for a watch that is clearly designed to last much longer than that. Are you actually saying that a ten-year guarantee was a dealbreaker, but 20 is just fine? I really think I should be able to take that watch to Seiko for service in 40 or 50 years and not be told that parts aren't available.
Firstly, I didn't say that "20 years is just fine" anywhere in my post, did I?

Secondly, the counter starts ticking for any given part in the watch after it is no longer being produced. And while it's guaranteed to be stocked for 10 years, it should indeed last for a while longer as supplies are slowly depleted, unless Seiko for some absurd reason should decide to use it all as scrapmetal and melt it down for use in production again.

But say a movement is discontinued tomorrow and the next iteration of it uses some parts that are wholly new, then the counter would start to tick for how long the former movement could be serviced by Seiko, should those parts need replacing. A quick google search of "grand seiko parts" will give you an example like this one from the Rolexforums, where the guy was sent back a 45 year old GS from Seiko because they couldn't find parts for it. This is a problem.

Now obviously I prefer the way brands like Patek or Zenith handles it, where they will offer to make any part if necessary no matter how old the watch is, but in any case a 20 year guarantee is obviously better than a 10 year one, wouldn't you agree?

It doesn't faze me either way, but I wouldn't take the word of a Norwegian Seiko AD who would have vested interest in you buying a Grand Seiko too seriously.
Good point, and this is exactly why I have sent Seiko this question so I can get it from the horse's mouth. I'll of course post what they say here :)
 

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Firstly, I didn't say that "10 was a dealbreaker but 20 is just fine" anywhere in my post, did I?

Secondly, the counter starts ticking after any given part in the watch is discontinued. And while it's guaranteed for 10 years, it should indeed last for a while longer as supplies are slowly depleted, unless Seiko for some absurd reason should decide to use it all as scrapmetal and melt it down for use in production again.

But say a movement is discontinued tomorrow and the next iteration of it uses some parts that are wholly new, then the counter would start to tick for how long the former movement could be serviced by Seiko, should those parts need replacing. A quick google search of "grand seiko parts" will give you an example like this one from the Rolexforums, where the guy was sent back a 45 year old GS from Seiko because they couldn't find parts for it. This is a problem.

Now obviously I prefer the way the likes of Patek or Zenith handles it, where they will offer to make any part if necessary, but in any case 20 years is obviously better than 10 years, wouldn't you agree?
You think Zenith or Rolex will make you a brand new dial or have a dial sitting around that is exactly the same as your watch, 45 years later? Seiko movements are all designed as continuations from ancient designs, based on reliability. When the vintages break and become unserviceable, it's the same story every time: the hairspring. Basically no-one from Switzerland or otherwise will make you a hairspring for a watch (most of the manufactures don't make their hairsprings full stop), and I would love (read: LOVE) to know how much that would cost from Patek.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
You think Zenith or Rolex will make you a brand new dial or have a dial sitting around that is exactly the same as your watch, 45 years later? Seiko movements are all designed as continuations from ancient designs, based on reliability. When the vintages break and become unserviceable, it's the same story every time: the hairspring. Basically no-one from Switzerland or otherwise will make you a hairspring for a watch (most of the manufactures don't make their hairsprings full stop), and I would love (read: LOVE) to know how much that would cost from Patek.
I didn't say Rolex, did I?

But Zenith will. Here's a quote from their site.

The Manufacture is able where necessary to make specific parts on a one-off basis - a rarity in the watch industry and which is particularly useful when it comes to restoring historical timepieces. This is essential in that time must have no hold on Zenith watches, for which exceptions have become the rule.

Link: Watch Maintenance, Repair & Services - Zenith Luxury Watches

Not saying it would be cheap. Making a one-off dial could cost the same as a new watch for all I know, though probably less (I base that on assumption). The thing is that they offer you the option should you feel the watch you're restoring has enough sentimental value to be worth it.
 

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I didn't say Rolex, did I?

But Zenith will. Here's a quote from their site.

The Manufacture is able where necessary to make specific parts on a one-off basis - a rarity in the watch industry and which is particularly useful when it comes to restoring historical timepieces. This is essential in that time must have no hold on Zenith watches, for which exceptions have become the rule.

Link: Watch Maintenance, Repair & Services - Zenith Luxury Watches

Not saying it would be cheap. Making a one-off dial could cost the same as a new watch for all I know.
Yeah, but it's then a re-dial isn't it? They won't have the original dial, and I wouldn't expect them too. They guy on TRF could re-dial his vintage GS if he wanted to, but he obviously doesn't want to (nor would I in that circumstance).

If future (as in +30 years future) servicing is a real concern, I'd probably avoid Grand Seiko, and Seiko in general. The company makes A LOT of variations of models, with variations on those variations. I'd think the only safe bet would be Rolex because of the production numbers and the slow pace of design evolution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Yeah, but it's then a re-dial isn't it? They won't have the original dial, and I wouldn't expect them too. They guy on TRF could re-dial his vintage GS if he wanted to, but he obviously doesn't want to (nor would I in that circumstance).

If future (as in +30 years future) servicing is a real concern, I'd probably avoid Grand Seiko, and Seiko in general. The company makes A LOT of variations of models, with variations on those variations. I'd think the only safe bet would be Rolex because of the production numbers and the slow pace of design evolution.
Not a re-dial and not one they had kept as a spare in all those years. What they offer is to make a new dial from scratch if needed. That is, they have all the drawings and designs necessary to make a completely new dial, one-off.

People also are starting to have trouble with servicing very old Rolexes now as spare parts are becoming hard to find and Rolex are not making more.

For real longevity, the brands that offer to make new parts on order are obviously best. Also the ones who have long policies on stocking parts like Rolex and Omega, and that are produced in extreme numbers like them, are also good. Also, I remember hearing that Omega will actually offer to produce parts for vintage watches, but that's probably very expensive - but it would place them in that category of watches that will never be un-servicable.

Of course, it might be in the future that as technology advances in terms of production, making spares also becomes easier so that all brands can offer to make new parts indefinitely like Patek and Zenith are doing now. That would be great.

But for right now, let's stick to Grand Seiko. We've gotten a little off-topic here.
 

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Not a re-dial and not one they had kept as a spare in all those years. What they offer is to make a new dial from scratch if needed. That is, they have all the drawings and designs necessary to make a completely new dial, one-off.

People also are starting to have trouble with servicing very old Rolexes now as spare parts are becoming hard to find and Rolex are not making more.

For real longevity, the brands that offer to make new parts on order are obviously best. Also the ones who have long policies on stocking parts like Rolex and Omega, and that are produced in extreme numbers like them, are also good. Also, I remember hearing that Omega will actually offer to produce parts for vintage watches, but that's probably very expensive - but it would place them in that category of watches that will never be un-servicable.

Of course, it might be in the future that as technology advances in terms of production, making spares also becomes easier so that all brands can offer to make new parts indefinitely like Patek and Zenith are doing now. That would be great.

But for right now, let's stick to Grand Seiko. We've gotten a little off-topic here.
In that sense then, avoid Seiko like a plague. The sort of repairs you're talking about Seiko will never honour. An extra 10 years of movement parts, even another 20 years won't affect the serviceability with the sort of ageing that the watch will undergo over 50 years. Seiko will not sell movement parts as it is for any movement not available as an unbranded TMI ebauche to an independent watchmaker, even sourcing things like crowns and bracelet links is basically impossible.
 

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Seiko were asked this question by Dowling/TZ forum. The answer is reassuring.

TZ: As you see, I enjoy collecting vintage GS (in the 60s'and 70s') but found that it is difficult to service these as Seiko repair centres do not keep such parts for repair nor go out of its way to fabricate needed parts. I understand many brands have similar limitations but I do really like to know what is Seiko commitment to service its GS line of watches, especially the SD before I would consider keeping the modern GS.

Seiko: On the wall outside the Micro-Artist Studio in the Seiko facility in Shiojiri is a framed statement of the Studio's philosophy. It contains the phrases: "Reliable to wear until grandchildren" and "long term satisfaction". These ideas apply to Grand Seiko, just as they do to the Credor and other watches that the Shiojiri facility manufactures. For all Grand Seiko watches, we retain inventories for projected use decades ahead, so the serviceability period can be as long as possible. This applies to all Grand Seiko movement types, including Spring Drive.
http://www.timezone.com/2015/01/14/...responds-to-the-seiko-forum-by-james-dowling/

As an aside, also of interest in the Q&A is that Seiko confirms that they majority-own Hayashiseiki, the company that makes GS cases, and that they make cases only for Seiko. I know there has been previous dispute about the 'inhouse-ness' of GS cases.
 

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Seiko were asked this question by Dowling/TZ forum. The answer is reassuring.

Seiko Responds to TimeZone's Seiko Forum by JAMES DOWLING - TimeZone

As an aside, also of interest in the Q&A is that Seiko confirms that they majority-own Hayashiseiki, the company that makes GS cases, and that they make cases only for Seiko. I know there has been previous dispute about the 'inhouse-ness' of GS cases.
Hey, I completely missed that! Very interesting indeed....Although they basically only refused to answer one question....The question I submitted, LOL

TZ (but really your good friend Domo: How many watches in total per year does Seiko produce?

Seiko: We regret that we cannot disclose production numbers. However, business information on Seiko Watch Corporation and its parent company, Seiko Holdings, is freely available, and our latest full year results are available at www.seiko.co.jp.Seiko Holdings' watch sales in 2013/14, across all our brands, were 151 billion yen, up from 121 million in 2012/13.
 

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Firstly, I didn't say that "20 years is just fine" anywhere in my post, did I?

Secondly, the counter starts ticking for any given part in the watch after it is no longer being produced. And while it's guaranteed to be stocked for 10 years, it should indeed last for a while longer as supplies are slowly depleted, unless Seiko for some absurd reason should decide to use it all as scrapmetal and melt it down for use in production again.
Ah, my apologies. Your post suggested to me that this difference was supposed to be a big deal, and which I took to mean that it made you more comfortable buying a GS.

My point was, on a Seiko watch the counter doesn't start ticking the moment the watch is no longer produced, because many of the parts (most critically the movement) are being used on other watches that are still being made. It's going to be quite rare that any given part will be unavailable either ten or twenty years from now, and therefore extending the guarantee from ten to twenty years doesn't mean much in practice -- part availability is likely to be better than that either way.

Seiko tends to be quite conservative with promises regarding their products. I don't think I've ever heard of a spring drive that wasn't much more accurate than the specs, for example, and a watch with intact seals is capable of going to a much greater water depth than Seiko's "What can you do with your watch?" chart suggests. That conservatism is generally a good thing, but an annoying side-effect is that you're never quite certain how your watch will actually perform. In a similar vein, I feel pretty confident that parts would be available for a high-end Seiko watch well longer than 20 years, but (because Seiko prefers to under-promise and over-deliver), there's no way to be sure just how much longer. I wouldn't be surprised if literally nothing had changed on Seiko's end with the parts guarantee, and they simply decided that they could safely promise 20 years based on their current, existing practices.

None of that changes my point, however, that promising only 20 years for parts on a $7000 "heirloom-level" watch is a bit of a joke. These watches are made to last longer than that, and everyone knows it. Fortunately, in this case I'm fairly confident that Seiko would do better in practice.
 

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You think Zenith or Rolex will make you a brand new dial or have a dial sitting around that is exactly the same as your watch, 45 years later? Seiko movements are all designed as continuations from ancient designs, based on reliability. When the vintages break and become unserviceable, it's the same story every time: the hairspring. Basically no-one from Switzerland or otherwise will make you a hairspring for a watch (most of the manufactures don't make their hairsprings full stop), and I would love (read: LOVE) to know how much that would cost from Patek.
I don't know about Zenith, but Rolex reportedly stocks parts for every model for 30 years. That would include dials. So GS changing their parts stock to 20 years would not surprise me.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Ah, my apologies. Your post suggested to me that this difference was supposed to be a big deal, and which I took to mean that it made you more comfortable buying a GS.

My point was, on a Seiko watch the counter doesn't start ticking the moment the watch is no longer produced, because many of the parts (most critically the movement) are being used on other watches that are still being made. It's going to be quite rare that any given part will be unavailable either ten or twenty years from now, and therefore extending the guarantee from ten to twenty years doesn't mean much in practice -- part availability is likely to be better than that either way.

Seiko tends to be quite conservative with promises regarding their products. I don't think I've ever heard of a spring drive that wasn't much more accurate than the specs, for example, and a watch with intact seals is capable of going to a much greater water depth than Seiko's "What can you do with your watch?" chart suggests. That conservatism is generally a good thing, but an annoying side-effect is that you're never quite certain how your watch will actually perform. In a similar vein, I feel pretty confident that parts would be available for a high-end Seiko watch well longer than 20 years, but (because Seiko prefers to under-promise and over-deliver), there's no way to be sure just how much longer. I wouldn't be surprised if literally nothing had changed on Seiko's end with the parts guarantee, and they simply decided that they could safely promise 20 years based on their current, existing practices.

None of that changes my point, however, that promising only 20 years for parts on a $7000 "heirloom-level" watch is a bit of a joke. These watches are made to last longer than that, and everyone knows it. Fortunately, in this case I'm fairly confident that Seiko would do better in practice.
Good post, we're completely in agreement then! :-!

No answer from Seiko on my mail yet, by the way. I'll update here when I hear from them.
 

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But Zenith will. Here's a quote from their site.

The Manufacture is able where necessary to make specific parts on a one-off basis - a rarity in the watch industry and which is particularly useful when it comes to restoring historical timepieces. This is essential in that time must have no hold on Zenith watches, for which exceptions have become the rule.

Link: Watch Maintenance, Repair & Services - Zenith Luxury Watches
One word: BADASS!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
One word: BADASS!
It's pretty impressive, and certainly something that most other brands offering in-house watches at a similar price point isn't offering. This sort of thing has been more tied to the likes of Patek etc. Zenith really is a cool brand, and with their great service and support policy their watches can truly be called "heirloom" pieces.

This is why the 10 year policy of Grand Seiko strikes me as very odd, even if it in practise turns out to be much much longer than this because of other watches using the same parts still being in production, that just means parts availability will be down to luck and randomness after a while, and not guaranteed by company policy. With the small manufacture nature of GS, and with the level of quality, care and general excellence they want to project as their image, I'd expect them to give the same level of support that Zenith does, or at least match the likes of Rolex and Omega.

I mean, my Hamilton has a 10 year guarantee of parts... And that is using a 2824, so in principle that's going to be servicable into the unforseeable future, and other parts like crowns and hands that are similar could always be found should they get damaged.
 

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It's pretty impressive, and certainly something that most other brands offering in-house watches at a similar price point isn't offering. This sort of thing has been more tied to the likes of Patek etc. Zenith really is a cool brand, and with their great service and support policy their watches can truly be called "heirloom" pieces.

This is why the 10 year policy of Grand Seiko strikes me as very odd, even if it in practise turns out to be much much longer than this because of other watches using the same parts still being in production, that just means parts availability will be down to luck and randomness after a while, and not guaranteed by company policy. With the small manufacture nature of GS, and with the level of quality, care and general excellence they want to project as their image, I'd expect them to give the same level of support that Zenith does, or at least match the likes of Rolex and Omega.

I mean, my Hamilton has a 10 year guarantee of parts... And that is using a 2824, so in principle that's going to be servicable into the unforseeable future, and other parts like crowns and hands that are similar could always be found should they get damaged.
They're Japanese. In Japanese business culture, if they say 20 years they're betting the company on being able to do that. What they actually mean is, they will do anything required for that long, up to and including making parts, and after that they'll merely try insanely hard, which might include making parts if the equipment is still serviceable and someone remembers how to use it. They obviously have no idea how long their stock of some parts will last, although they can take a pretty good guess.
 
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