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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Note: This is a revised version of the original Definitive Poor Man’s Grand Seiko thread. The original is reposted later in the thread for those who need it.



Grand Seiko is easily one of the best brands in the world. But there is a caveat; they can be quite expensive. For years I desperately wanted a Grand Seiko but couldn’t (or wouldn’t) afford one. I did eventually get a Grand Seiko, but on the way, I tried to take note of all the great watches that simulated GS—either in looks or in movement. So here is a list of those watches, no doubt to be updated later.

The Most Affordable: Seiko 5

The humble, yet proven, Seiko 5 can offer you a GS alternative for literally 1% of the price of a Grand Seiko Hi-Beat. Now that’s a deal.

There is my suggestion, the SNKA01:


This bares a remarkable similarity to the Grand Seiko SBGR051:



Even the bracelet is clearly GS-inspired. Yet, for all the similarity, user vithicon one upped me with a better one, the SNKL41K1:



The case much more closely matches the shape of most Grand Seikos. Still, both great, very affordable, options.

You can also get a PMGS version of the SBGR053:


The SNKL45:


You can even get it in blue with the SNKL43 (Credit: steinmann)


The Best All Around Poor Man’s Grand Seiko: The SARB & Spirit

So you want a Grand Seiko, but have a little more money to work with? Time to upgrade to the SARB and Spirit. These two watches are so similar that I have categorized them as one. These watches cost quite a bit more than most Seiko 5s (about 800% more, I’d guess) but offer substantially upgraded 6R15 movements that bring you that much closer to a GS.

My favorite is the SARB035, an SBGR051 hopeful:



It’s remarkably similar to the SBGR051. But there is also a version that imitates the black dialed SBGR053, the SARB033:



It’s also available in a blue dial, the SARB045 (Credit: BramJ):



Their hands and dial work are quite impressive, although they lack the popular 5 link bracelet of most Grand Seikos (in fairness, however, Grand Seiko quartz models tend to use this style of bracelet, as well as a few automatic versions). Here’s the equivalent Spirit, the SCVS003 (Credit: Mark355). This is also available in gold accents and a light colored dial with the SCVS001.


For those looking for a more vintage GS look, with more authentic Grand Seiko hands (at least to my eyes), try the SARB031:


Then there’s one of my favorites, the famous Seiko Spark:



The hands are quite a departure from Grand Seiko, but the rest of the dial and markers is spot on. And while the case may not at first look like a GS, check out this SBGR061 that this reminds me of:


The Spark may actually be as good looking as the “real thing.”

For someone looking for a SARB with a lot of character, I’d suggest the SARB065 Cocktail Time.



This gorgeous model is a bit of a departure from most Grand Seikos, yet still maintains that Grand Seiko feel—especially with regard to its classic hands.

The Not-So-Poor Poor Man’s Grand Seiko: The SAGQ

The next series of watches may cost less than a Grand Seiko, but they are by no means cheap. They feature superior movements to the watches so far on the list--they are actually versions of older Grand Seiko watches.

I present the SAGQ series, which comes in light (001) and dark (003) dials:




These two JDM only watches feature movements derived directly from the Grand Seiko 9S55. The 8L35 inside is identical in design, although it is less finished (still quite beautiful) and less tightly adjusted. These are reminiscent of the SBGR055, and more closely, the SBGR057:




The Quite Wealthy Poor Man’s Grand Seiko: The GCBW995

Still cheaper than an automatic Grand Seiko, this Credor offers a nice thin automatic which makes this substantially thinner than a GS automatic. Furthermore, it has a very Grand Seiko-esque sunburst dial:



It just feels like a Grand Seiko and probably has even comparable quality (if not accuracy).

The Grand Seiko Owner’s Poor Man’s Grand Seiko: Vintage King & Grand Seiko

There are too many vintage GS and KS models to list here, but if you don’t want to spend the money on a new Grand Seiko automatic, these are great deals, often available for between $1000 and $2000. Best of all, it’s the real thing—it might be old, but these were made with the high-end movements of their day and with the precision craftsmanship of the GS workshop. It’s also the most affordable way to get a 36000 BPH movement.



The Non-Seiko Poor Man’s Grand Seiko: Orient Watches

Orient, now a subsidiary of Seiko, offers several great GS alternatives for a fraction of the price.



This Orient DV02003W is a gorgeous watch available for roughly the same price of a Seiko SARB. The Grand Seiko DNA is very apparent in the case, hands and markers. (Credit: MrDagon007)



The Orient Bambino also has a terrific vintage GS look for under $200 (Credit: fluppyboy).

The Poor Man’s Grand Seiko Movement

For those more interested in getting a watch with a Grand Seiko derived movement, there are many options. Virtually any watch with a spring drive will have a movement basically shared with a Grand Seiko. I’d suggest looking at Anantas with spring drives (both SDs in the Ananta line are direct descendants of the 9R Grand Seiko movements) or from the now discontinued “spring drive” collection.









But there are some options for automatic movements from Grand Seiko too. Basically, Seiko uses a detuned version of its older 9S55 movement in more affordable Seikos and even sells them to outside companies like Junghans. The movement is called the 8L35. You can find them in the SAGQ line, mentioned above, but also in the Marinemaster:



An Unusual Alternative: Citizen

I’m hesitant to suggest this watch as it’s so expensive that if you want a Grand Seiko, you’d probably be better off just saving up for a little longer and getting one (not that I don’t like this watch). But for purposes of completeness, I wanted to include it anyway. Still, its resemblance is…remarkable.



It’s borderline identical to the SBGR051 or SBGR053 and has Citizen’s finest automatic movement.

Well, I hope that this list endures for awhile for all those up and coming Grand Seiko fans. Thanks to all that contributed to the list. Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any new suggestions and I’ll update the list occasionally. You can find the original post later in the thread.


 

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I just ordered the SNKL41K1 from Amazon, and I'll be back with pictures as soon as it arrives.

It's perhaps more similar to a SARB, but it would seem to be amongst the closer matches when it comes to Seiko 5's.

Here are some random pictures of it from around the web:

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Randomly found wrist shot on Flickr: [email protected] | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Looking forward to receiving it, which should be within a week or so. :)
 

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I really like that, but, there are a couple of things that would stop me buying one.

1st, I don't like the 'folded' bracelet. Are the lugs wide enough to take a decent 'super oyster'?

2nd..... My SARB 035 gets here this week!!
 
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I love this thread!
 
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Where does one buy a sagq001? It's a poor man's Aqua Terra!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Where does one buy a sagq001? It's a poor man's Aqua Terra!
Although I love them, I don't know too much about the SAGQ. I'm pretty sure it's a JDM model and my best guess is that it's unfortunately DCed, so you may have your best shot with the Japanese ebay equivalents. But yeah what a brilliant deal. It's probably the single closest thing you can get to a GS without getting a GS. I'm pretty sure it was part of the Brightz collection, which is basically the Japanese Ananta + JDM stuff we didn't get.
 

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So the diff between the 41k1 and the a01 is that the former has a white face while the latter is off-white?

Edit: Oh, I see. The 41k1 has standard lugs, while the A01 has an integrated bracelet, which is a deal breaker for most of us.
 
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I REALLY love the Ananta line and I would absolutely love to own one (particularly the SD moonphase) but for the life of me, I dont understand why they cant make a damn case less than 44mm! I know the retrograde and multi-hand autos are speced at 42mm, but why can't they make a SD model 42mm? Or even better, 40mm? I just don't get it.....o|o|o|
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I REALLY love the Ananta line and I would absolutely love to own one (particularly the SD moonphase) but for the life of me, I dont understand why they cant make a damn case less than 44mm! I know the retrograde and multi-hand autos are speced at 42mm, but why can't they make a SD model 42mm? Or even better, 40mm? I just don't get it.....o|o|o|
They are really big....I wish my Ananta DR were smaller (I believe it's actually 46 mm). I think Ananta was Seiko's chance to play with the "luxury market" with riskier designs than they'd subject Grand Seiko too, so where GS is all tradition, Ananta had a lot more free reign to use trendy or avant garde design. The result being unnecessarily huge watches. They are getting more conservative as the years go on though.
 

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They are really big....I wish my Ananta DR were smaller (I believe it's actually 46 mm). I think Ananta was Seiko's chance to play with the "luxury market" with riskier designs than they'd subject Grand Seiko too, so where GS is all tradition, Ananta had a lot more free reign to use trendy or avant garde design. The result being unnecessarily huge watches. They are getting more conservative as the years go on though.
Can't be soon enough. I really love the concept behind the Ananta line. The cases with their smooth profile might just be the coolest watch case design ever IMO. And I LOVE the SD moonphase, to the point that I have almost pulled the trigger several times despite the fact that a 45mm watch would look completely ridiculous on my tiny wrists. But come on.......How sweet is this thing?!?
 
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Wholeheartedly agree about Seiko Spirit. What a terrific piece.

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