Seiko is taking great strides to make the now emancipated brand Grand Seiko an entity of its own, and now there is not one Grand Seiko line but three: Heritage, Elegance and Sport. Truth to be told, Heritage and Elegance are very similar, but since the Elegance Collection aims at a more refined segment the watches are slimmer and, on the wrist, transmit a very different sensation. Proof of this is this Grand Seiko Elegance Limited Edition in Steel reference SBGK005G.
We’ve already presented the complete collection here, and while the gold versions with Urushi dials are a dream, for us common mortals this version in steel is guaranteed to please because it offers the same size, refinement and finishes but for far less money.
A Slender Case
Grand Seiko watches have always had a classic look with sizes that reflect market trends. After all, a small case size would look anachronic today. If, as a brand, you are looking to find a place alongside the dress watches of European brands, you need to produce just the right size, which is the reason behind this new 39 mm case. The height is slightly above the dress watch code (11.6 mm) and unexpected in a manual winding watch, but thanks to the shape of the lugs and their curvature the Grand Seiko Elegance SBGK005G sits very nicely on the wrist and does not interfere with your cuff.
The pride of Grand Seiko, the Zaratsu polishing technique, is applied on all frontal surfaces to assure there are no distorted reflections. The edges of the lugs are also polished to underline the quality finishes. The casebands, on the other hand, are satin-finished – a classic contrast.
The sapphire crystal follows the curvature of the bezel to give the watch a vintage feeling. To follow the contours of the dial, even the tip of the minute hand and the power reserve hand are manually curved.
A Dial With A Superb snowy Texture
If we talk purely about aesthetics, the success of the Grand Seiko SnowFlake was thanks to its textured dial. So much so that it has become one of Grand Seiko’s unique characteristics. If any brand came up with a similar dial today, not one single person would go by without saying “it takes after the Grand Seiko SnowFlake”.
It is thus only logical that Grand Seiko would use this decorative motif more frequently. Also, Nature is very present in Japanese culture because of its powerful – sometimes overwhelming – presence. From the Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio, where Grand Seikos are made, you can see the perennial snows of the Iwate Mountain. This snowy view was the inspiration behind the dial of the Grand Seiko Elegance Limited Edition. The frozen snow on the mountain is buffeted by strong winds that create cracks on its surface. The cracks in the ice are replicated here in a range of blue tones emanating from the centre of the dial.
The rest of the dial of this SBGK005G is typically GS, with diamond-shaped indexes that are cut at the tip to reflect more light on the dial. The indexes are polished to a mirror-like finish, with a thin upper facet engraved with lines.
The hands are the traditional dauphine hands of Grand Seiko with their laser-sharp edges, crazy polishing and delicate brushed upper surface. A complexity and quality you simply do not find in watches of this price level. In fact, you’d need to add a zero to the price tag to find this high level of execution on a European counterpart.
The small seconds is placed at 9 o’clock, a very unusual position aimed at not being yet another dress watch with a small seconds at 6 o’clock. It is balanced with the power reserve indication at 3 o’clock. Thankfully, GS has not implemented a date window at 6 o’clock, which would have spoiled the beauty of this dial.
All manufactures must have at least one hand-wound movement in their portfolio… Simply because it is the link to traditional watchmaking (and also because of the sheer pleasure of winding a watch). The absence of a rotor might be slightly less convenient on a daily basis but on the other hand, it offers a clear view of the movement.
Even though Grand Seiko already had some hand-wound movements, the brand has developed the calibre 9S63A specifically for this Grand Seiko Elegance collection including this steel reference SBGK005G. This movement beats at 4 Hz and boasts a power reserve of 3 days.
Because the market for these watches is growing (as it should be), Grand Seiko has paid special attention to the adjustment of the movement. Not only is it adjusted to 6 positions and 3 temperatures, but it is also guaranteed to have an accuracy rate of -3/+5 seconds per day. We talked to Seiko about these specifications, and their answer was that it is a “worst-case scenario” rate. In the present case, what occurs with most Seiko watches will occur again: you will be pleasantly surprised by how well it outperforms its rate specifications.
If I had to say something negative about this movement, it would be the unnecessary blue Grand Seiko print. The lion symbol should be engraved on the movement or discreetly transferred on the crystal. It would look classier and would not obstruct the view of the calibre.
On the wrist
As I said before, this Grand Seiko Elegance SBGK005G is extraordinarily comfortable. Although it is a dress watch, it won’t be out of place with casual attire, even if it comes on a shiny blue crocodile strap. The real pleasure can be found in the reflections and details, with the different shades of blue or the play of light with the textures.
Price and availability
The Grand Seiko Elegance Limited Edition Steel SBGK005G is a limited edition of 1,500 pieces. It is priced at EUR 7,400 and is now available at Grand Seiko boutiques and selected retailers. More information at GrandSeiko.com.