Like most Japanese folk, Grand Seiko has always displayed a close affinity to nature. Dials inspired by the changing seasons, the texture of tree bark, the twinkling stars of a night sky or even the delicate colour of cherry blossom petals, are recurring themes at Grand Seiko. The setting of Grand Seiko’s manufacture is intentionally studied to inspire the takumi (master artisans), and most Grand Seiko mechanical watches (not Spring Drive calibres) are crafted in the Shizukuishi Studio located in a forest in the Iwate prefecture, home to the imposing Mount Iwate. Two new references with textured dials inspired by nature, the SBGW283 Spring and the SBGW285 Summer, join Grand Seiko’s Elegance collection. A compact, elegant and disarmingly simple hand-wound, time-only watch, the SBGWXXX series is packed with refined details that abide by the tenets laid down in the Grammar of Design by Grand Seiko designer TaroTanaka.
Unlike the Western world’s somewhat arbitrary four seasons, Nippon culture has 24 small seasons known as sekki. The seasons represented on the dial of these two models are spring and summer, but in true Japanese style, they are captured at very different moments. The pale blue Kishun model (SBGW283) marks the transition of spring to summer and is inspired by the light blue skies above Mount Iwate; the dark green Byōka dial (SBGW285) marks the transition from summer to autumn when the leaves in the forests around Shizukuishi are a deep green colour.
The stainless steel case, which has a diameter of 37.3mm and a height of 11.6mm, is a fairly simple yet elegantly proportioned round case. However, this is Grand Seiko territory, and a closer inspection will reveal the brand’s close attention to detail. The slightly angled bezel and short bevelled lugs create the desired juxtaposition of sharp angles and rounded surfaces. In contrast, the Zaratsu-polished surfaces create a gleaming, distortion-free surface (Tanaka’s “sparkle of quality).
The domed, light blue and vivid green dials of the latest models are subtly textured and feature the sharply faceted and polished applied hour markers that play with the light. The hands, which are also faceted and polished, are so sharp you could cut through silk. Apart from the GS logo and the Grand Seiko inscription at noon, the only other element on the dial is the peripheral minutes/seconds track. Simple yet striking, there is no date complication jostling for attention.
Turning the Grand Seiko SBGW231 over reveals the 9S64 calibre tucked under a see-though caseback and a mirror-polished flange. Calibre 9S64 is a mechanical, manual-winding movement introduced into the Grand Seiko line in 2011. Thanks to a thinner and longer mainspring made of Seiko’s proprietary alloy (SPRON510), the movement can deliver a 72-hour/3-day power reserve. The balance spring is also made of a highly shock-resistant and anti-magnetic alloy. The watch is adjusted in six positions, and its timekeeping precision is -3 to +5 seconds per day. With a stop-seconds function to boot, all the components in the dial, including the ruby pivot stones, are made in-house. The bridges are decorated with Seiko stripes and cover most of the movement, although you can see the balance wheel oscillating at 28,800vph and the ratchet wheel.
In tune with the trend for accessorising your watch strap, there’s a wide choice of different coloured crocodile leather straps with stainless steel pin buckles.
Availability & Price
Both references (SBGW283 and SBGW285) retail for EUR 4,800 and are now available at Grand Seiko retailers. These are not limited editions and are available worldwide. For more information, please consult Grand-Seiko.com.