2017 has been an important year for the Seiko Group. Indeed, we’ve seen many impressive watches being released by the Japanese manufacture, and new trends coming – including some vintage-inspired pieces, such as the 62Mas reedition or the Enamel Presage collection. This year was also notable because Grand Seiko watches won’t have Seiko anymore written on their dial, as GS is becoming a brand on its own. To mark this evolution, the newly-introduced brand presented a recreation of the first ever Grand Seiko watch, and today we look at the yellow gold version, a.k.a. the reference SBGW252… And what a watch it is!
From 1960 (the year Grand Seiko was introduced) until early 2017, Grand Seiko was a sub-division of Seiko Watches, a sort of high end sub-brand within the collection. As of now, Grand Seiko will no longer be considered anymore as Seiko but as a brand on its own. A nice way to make sure not to confuse entry-level dive watches with these superbly crafted pieces of fine horology. Because let’s be clear, Grand Seiko watches are on a par with some of the best Swiss luxury manufactures. The story of GS started in 1960, with a first watch made with precision, reliability, fine execution and elegant design in mind – you can see it here. At Baselworld 2017, the brand presented a collection of 3 watches (platinum, yellow gold and steel versions) inspired by this first model, a classical, elegant, superbly detailed and precise watch.
The model we look at today is the “intermediate” version (in terms of price), made in 18k yellow gold – while the original 1960 version was in gold-plated steel. However, in terms of spirit and design, this watch is truly faithful to the model that inspired it. Shape, style, details… The lineage is more than easy to spot, yet Seiko added a perfectly dosed hint of modernity, mainly in terms of dimensions. The 2017 Grand Seiko reference SBGW252 has a 38mm diameter (as opposed to 36mm for the 1960 version), which can be considered as extremely restrained proportions with today’s standards in mind. Combined with a relatively thin profile – 10.7mm thickness – the SBGW252 wears like a dress watch should.
The realisation of the case should silence any doubters, with superbly executed polished surfaces. Angles are sharp, lines are perfectly straight and its surfaces are flawless… In short, in the vein of Grand Seiko watches. The overall design of this recreation of the first Grand Seiko watch is slightly vintage-inspired, yet not outdated. It’s a classic, timeless design that is made to last. Nothing too fancy or misplaced on the entire case. One regret for some will be the plain caseback, so there’s no view of the movement. On the other hand, this solid back is relevant with the “reedition” concept of this watch.
Small details can be spotted all around, including the “medallion” on the back, engraved with the historic logo of the brand. It shows a nice hammered texture, which can be seen on the buckle too. The Grand Seiko SBGW252 is delivered on a good quality crocodile leather strap, yet the slightly glossy surface didn’t fully convince me – but that’s a just a strap, and it can be changed within a few minutes. Nothing that can distract from all the great, yet discreet details on this watch.
The nicest part of this Grand Seiko SBGW252 clearly is its dial. Not that the case isn’t nice, but it is classic. The dial, on the other hand, is just superb (yes, I use the word “superb”). Whether you look at the hands, at the indexes or the logo, everything is perfectly executed. On this 18k yellow gold version, the “Grand Seiko” logo (note the absence of the “Seiko” logo) is raised and matches the case’s material. A closer look reveals a precise embossing. Also, the indexes are faceted and polished (their shape identical to the 1960 model) and, again, are flawless. Just like the 1960 model, the “Diashock” inscription is visible at 6, alongside the numbers of jewels in the movement (although here, there are 24 of them and not 25 like the 1960 edition).
What strikes most is the hand-set, as always with Grand Seiko, and this reference SBGW252 is no exception to the rule. Their sharp design dates back to the first ever Grand Seiko and has become a signature shape through the years. Entirely polished on this version (some GS watches have a brushed surface), they have razor-sharp edges and an immaculate surface. These hands alone have always been to me the main reason to get a GS watch… The precision of the manufacturing process is simply stunning. See the detailed photo below:
Inside the case of the Grand Seiko SBGW252 is a hand-wound movement, something quite unusual for GS. However, this is a historically relevant feature, as the first Grand Seiko watch also featured a manual calibre (Grand Seiko only started to use automatic movements in 1966). This recreation is powered by the calibre 9S64 (as mentioned, not visible on through the caseback). This movement beats at a 4Hz frequency and is antimagnetic to 4,800 A/m (amperes per meter). It has a comfortable 72h (3-day) power reserve and its decoration is in the vein of most of the GS watches, meaning clean and nicely executed. On this 18k gold version, the movement is adjusted in 6 positions, and regulated within -3 and +5 seconds a day (meaning within the COSC standards, even if this watch is not chronometer rated). The platinum edition is regulated between -1 and +5 seconds a day.
Overall, the Grand Seiko SBGW252 is a superb classic watch with pedigree. Considering its price of 21,700 Euro, it isn’t cheap compared to some of the Swiss competitors. However, knowing that only 363 pieces will be produced (as well as 1960 pieces in steel and 136 pieces in platinum), it has to be considered as a collector’s watch. More details on www.grand-seiko.com.
Technical Specifications – Grand Seiko SBGW252
- Case: 38mm diameter x 10.7mm height – 18k yellow gold, polished case – sapphire crystal on the dial side, solid gold back – 30m water resistant (also available in 950 platinum and steel)
- Movement: Calibre 9S64, in-house – regulated within -3 / +5 seconds a day – hand-wound – 4Hz frequency – 24 jewels – 72 hours power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds
- Strap: crocodile leather strap with 18k yellow gold pin buckle
- Reference: SBGW252 – limited to 262 pieces
- Price: 21,700 Euro
- Availability: as of March 2017