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The Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake SBGA497, Celebrating 20 Years of the 9R Spring Drive Calibre

A new, discreetly coloured version of the ultra-popular Snowflake watch.

| By Brice Goulard | 6 min read |
Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

Even though its development started during the 1970s, it took some years for Seiko and Grand Seiko to finally present their first movement equipped with the Spring Drive technology (the very first was a Seiko in 1999). In 2004, after more than 2 decades of research, the first generation of Grand Seiko Spring Drive was born, a movement named 9R, which powers all Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches today. But more importantly, in 2005 the brand will introduce a watch that will become one of its most famous models and a blueprint for collections to come; the Snowflake. Celebrating 20 years of the 9R calibre, Grand Seiko now releases a lightly coloured version, the Pink Snowflake SBGA497 limited edition. 

The fist Spring Drive watch – back then a Seiko (1999) – and the first Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch, equipped with the calibre 9R65 (2004)

As you might now know (the technology has been around long enough for most watch enthusiasts to be familiar with it), the Spring Drive technology is a proprietary development of the Japanese consortium Seiko. It first appeared in a commercialized watch in 1999, back then under the Seiko umbrella, with the hand-wound calibre 7R68 inside. It took 5 more years for the group’s high-end taskforce, Grand Seiko, to unveil its own version of this technology, with the launch of its own movement, the automatic calibre 9R65. Presented in 2004, and thus celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the technology is still unique on the market and a perfect demonstration of all the contrasts that can be seen in Japan and at Grand Seiko.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake titanium SBGA211
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211, with its white snow-like dial

While these are, of course, important achievements, the success of the Spring Drive technology also has a lot to do with one specific watch… A model launched one year after, in 2005, which has since gained a proper cult status and, with its textured dial, has somehow defined the style of so many Grand Seiko watches for the 20 years to come. I’m here talking about the highly-coveted Grand Seiko Snowflake, first known as the reference SBGA011 (back then with double-signed dial, Seiko and Grand Seiko). This watch has only been updated once, in 2017, when Grand Seiko became independent. The dial only shows a single Grand Seiko signature and the reference became SBGA211. But the Snowflake has basically been untouched for the past 19 years.

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Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

Well, except that there’s a new Grand Seiko Snowflake watch released now… Or, to be more precise, a lightly coloured limited edition watch to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Grand Seiko Spring Drive movement. And it’s this highly appealing, strangely familiar but slightly different Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake SBGA497. What is it? In short, a pink version of the Snowflake. Grand Seiko has decided to keep things simple and didn’t update the specifications. The things you loved or not in the White Snowflake are still there in the Pink Snowflake.

Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

This new SBGA497 thus retains the same Heritage case design, slightly simpler than the 44GS or the 62GS. This watch isn’t as rooted in the past as these two other collections and feels a bit more classic, a bit more timeless too. Yet, looking at it closely, it is Grand Seiko through and through. The 41mm case, which is made of high-intensity titanium, combines brushed surfaces and highly polished accents, using the Zaratsu (distortion-free) technique. At 12.5mm in height and 49mm in length, it is fairly pleasant on the wrist – and the lugs are curved enough so the length of the case doesn’t appear much. The crown, which is screwed to the case, is lightly recessed and guarantees with the screwed back a comfortable 100m water-resistance. It’s all classic and neatly done, as you’d expect from the brand.

Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

The use of titanium, which was already the case for the classic Snowflake SBGA211, makes this Pink Snowflake SBGA497 a joy on the wrist. It weighs about 95-100 grams (depending on how many links you’ll use). The colour of this titanium alloy is also pretty cool, being darker than steel and also warmer in tone. This watch is worn on a 20mm titanium bracelet, closed by a three-fold clasp with push-button release. Unfortunately, Grand Seiko still hasn’t developed a micro-adjustment system for the clasp.

Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

What really matters with this new Grand Seiko Heritage Pink Snowflake is the dial. At first, it feels extremely familiar, and for good reasons. The layout and emblematic snow pattern are identical to what was developed in 2005 with the SBGA011 and then carried over to the SBGA211. But for this limited edition, Grand Seiko has decided to give the dial a light pink colour – and we know how good these GS pink dials can be… Here, the inspiration isn’t the usual cherry blossoms but “a pink gradation that vividly captures the beauty of a sunrise against the snow-covered Hotaka mountain range in Nagano Prefecture, where all Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches are made.

Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

Contrary to many brands that over-saturate colours to the point of creating a gimmicky dial, Grand Seiko plays on such hues with great care… To the point of being rather difficult to capture in photos. As you can see, we’re here talking about a very discreet tone of pink that only appears in certain angles, in certain conditions. On a bright day, it’ll probably appear white. Besides the texture and this new, discreet tone of pink, the Pink Snowflake shows three small differences from the white version; a gold-coloured GS logo, a silver-toned second hand (blue on the classic Snowflake) and a red-tone power hand – which somehow helps to bring a bit more pink to the pink dial. The highly defined and polished hands and applied markers are identical to the SBGA211.

Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

Under the sapphire back is a well-known movement, the in-house Calibre 9R65 – the same engine that launched the proprietary Spring Drive technology at Grand Seiko. A hybrid between a classic automatic movement and a regulating organ with quartz technology, it combines the beauty and perpetuity of a mechanical movement with the precision of quartz, resulting in a claimed accuracy of ±15 seconds per month (±1 second per day). The power reserve of 72h is also solid and the decoration of the movement, with large diamond-cut bevels and signature stripes, is quite pleasant too. For more details about the Spring Drive technology, you can consult this in-depth article.

Grand Seiko Pink Snowflake Spring Drive SBGA497

Released as a limited edition of 1,500 pieces and available at Grand Seiko Boutiques and select retail partners as of early March 2024, the Grand Seiko Heritage Spring Drive Pink Snowflake SBGA497 will be priced at EUR 6,800. For more details, please visit

1 response

  1. This is the color I thought I was getting when I bought a SBGA497.

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