Monochrome Watches
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Grand Seiko Discreetly Updates its Classic Dress Watch, With the new SBGW301

The watch that we've previously named the "Japanese Calatrava" gets minor tweaks, but remains equally attractive.

| By Brice Goulard | 3 min read |
Grand Seiko SBGW301

While being strongly driven by the release of new models in recent years, Grand Seiko does carry a few emblematic models in its collection; watches that have barely changed over the last 10 to 20 years. We can immediately think about the cream-dial Elegance GMT reference SBGM221. Another important model for Grand Seiko is a watch that our founder Frank has named “the Japanese Calatrava” due to its classic, timeless elegance. Known until now as the SBGW231, the hand-wound Elegance undergoes a very discreet update this year, with the release of the new SBGW301, following the recent introduction of the SBGW305 with its beads-of-rice bracelet

Grand Seiko SBGW301

The story of the ivory-coloured dial Grand Seiko Elegance Manual starts with the reference SBGW001, released in 2001. Since then, things have barely changed, save for the introduction in 2017 of the reference SBGW231. Indeed, with the establishment of Grand Seiko as a stand-alone brand, this model slightly evolved – mostly, the double-signed dial (Seiko and Grand Seiko logos, respectively at 12 and 6 o’clock) was replaced by an even cleaner dial with applied GS and printed Grand Seiko logos at 12 o’clock. The basics remained, with a compact 37mm case, a precise hand-wound movement, a domed ivory-toned dial and an ultra-sleek, highly elegant look that made it earn the title of “Japanese Calatrava.”

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Grand Seiko SBGW301

Earlier this year, Grand Seiko released the SBGW305, which was a discreet revamp of the once JDM-only SBGW235, making sure that the desirable look of its beads-of-rice bracelet would be available worldwide. Yet, alongside its slightly different dial, this new release also featured some discreet updates for the case construction, evolutions that are now carried over the classic ivory-toned Elegance.

Grand Seiko SBGW301

While the basics are the same – for the best – there are some slight differences to note with this new SBGW301. Mostly, Grand Seiko provides a revised case and crystal construction, in order to improve serviceability – and possibly to correct a recurring (yet minor) flaw of the previous generation SBGW231; microscopic bubbles within the glue between the case and the crystal reported by some owners. The new construction, which changes the way the crystal is attached to the case, should solve this. Also, the lugs have been moderately reshaped, so that the SBGW301 will be compatible with the beads-of-rice bracelet of the SBGW305.

Grand Seiko SBGW301

For the rest, the basic template has been kept. The graceful case, with its entirely Zaratsu polished surfaces, gently curved sides and scalloped lugs, is identical and remains compact at 37.3mm in diameter, barely over 44mm in length and 11.7mm in thickness (it could be a bit slimmer…) The 1960s look is emphasized by the box-shaped sapphire crystal and the other side reveals a sapphire back secured by 6 screws. The SBGW301 is rated as 30m water-resistant, so it’s better to keep it dry.

Grand Seiko SBGW301

The delicately curved dial of this new version of the Grand Seiko Elegance Manual retains the appealing matte ivory colour of its predecessor, as well as the nicely finished diamond-cut markers and hands. Apart from logos at 12 o’clock, the dial is as pure as you could imagine. The SBGW301 is worn on a 19mm black crocodile strap, closed by a pin buckle. Surely, it could benefit from a bit more fun with a different strap…

Inside the case, the mechanics remain the same, with the in-house, hand-wound Calibre 9S64. A powerful and precise movement that runs at 4Hz, it stores 3 days of power reserve and with an accuracy rated at +5/-3 seconds/day. It’s nicely finished, too, with stripes and polished parts.

Grand Seiko SBGW301

Availability & Price

Released as part of the permanent collection, the Grand Seiko Elegance Manual SBGW301 replaces the reference SBGW231. It will be available from Grand Seiko boutiques and retailers worldwide from January 2024 and priced at EUR 5,100, USD 4,800 or GBP 4,400. For more details, please visit

7 responses

  1. I do think Seiko should drop that ink black typing Grand Seiko leaving just silver GS elevating it to discrete elegance of f.ex PF. Those who know, know.

  2. The major change is a massive price increase. Wonderful watch, though. I have it on the wrist as I read this article and it never stops to amaze me.

  3. I doubt that the changes justify a price increase of 500 euros.

  4. I experienced the bubble issue on the 231. Such a shame as it was the reason I let it go. I hope the new case solves this issue.

  5. 37mm vs 11.7mm – and this is a manual wound – cannot be called Calatrava. Why would dress watch movement be so thick? … what is driving the 5K price if the movement so obviously beefy. Nothing adds up here.


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