Nobody questions that Japanese engineering is among the best in the world. Driven by precision, attention to details and cutting-edge technology, it could easily be seen as something cold and void of passion. Still, some Nippon products generate genuine desire and adoration. Such is the case of Japan’s most famous sports car and Japan’s most desirable watches. Meet the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph ref. SBGC229, celebrating 20 years of Spring Drive and 50 years of Nissan GT-R.
The Japanese car icon: the Nissan GT-R
The post-WWII reconstruction of Japan was tough; it took close to 20 years to get the country back on its feet. Driven by a wish for emancipation, the younger Japanese generation quickly started its own, endemic urban culture, which involved car customisation and a fascination for smaller but fast, over-engineered sports cars. Amongst the numerous examples of these end-1960s high-performance vehicles, one gained the status of icon, creating a cult following in its 50 years of existence: the Nissan GT-R or Skyline.
The series was launched in 1969 with the 2000 GT-R (KPGC10), followed by a second generation in 1973 (KPGC110). However, the modern history of the Nissan GT-R Skyline gained traction in the late 1980s, with the launch of the R32 in 1989, followed by its evolutions, the R33 in 1995 and the R34 in 1999 – a series of cars that became famous thanks to urban cultures, such as Gran Turismo, Need for Speed and Fast and Furious.
For the 50th anniversary of its sports icon, Nissan introduces a special edition available until the end of March 2020, with a specific “Bayside Blue” colour and a silver striping on the top. This is, of course, the inspiration for Grand Seiko’s latest piece.
Sharing the same values of performance and excellence, Grand Seiko and Nissan present the Grand Seiko SBGC229.
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC229
This new piece is based on the already existing Spring Drive Chronograph, a bold watch that has been revamped recently in a combination of titanium and ceramic. The idea of this piece was to show that Spring Drive can be the base for several complications, including a complex chronograph – which is made with state-of-the-art architecture.
Spring Drive, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is surprisingly impressive technology, proprietary to the Seiko Corporation. Not entirely mechanical, not entirely quartz either, it is hybrid technology that relies on the beauty of mechanical elements, an automatic winding and the proven precision of quartz.
The basic principle of Spring Drive is to switch the regulating organ, all the rest (80% of the components) remain identical to a mechanical watch. Energy is stored in a mainspring barrel, powered by the motion of a rotor, and delivered to the regulating organ by the means of a gear train. The regulating organ is rather complex. A Spring Drive movement utilizes an exclusive speed control mechanism, incorporating an IC, an electronic brake and a quartz crystal. As a result, a Spring Drive movement has a power reserve of usually over 3 days and an impressive precision, with an average monthly rate of ±10 seconds. The other advantage is having a seconds hand with an extremely fluid motion. Very technical, very rational, highly precise, almost entirely mechanical.
In the context of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGC229, this technology is combined with a proper mechanical chronograph, with a column wheel and vertical clutch. The movement, with its 3-day power reserve, also includes a GMT function and a power reserve indicator. It is partially visible through the caseback, under a sapphire crystal decorated with GS’ lion emblem.
The link between the car and the watch can be appreciated in the bold colour combination. The hefty 46.4mm case is made of a central titanium part on which blue ceramic modules are attached – as a reminder of the “Bayside Blue” colour found on the GT-R. The dial, with a grained texture, is done in silvery-white and features black and blue accents. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGC229 is worn on a white crocodile strap with blue stitchings.
Price and availability
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary ref. SBGC229 will be a limited edition of 200 pieces, available from June 2019 at selected Grand Seiko and Seiko Boutiques, and selected retail partners across the world. The SBGC229 will be priced at EUR 21,600. More details at www.grand-seiko.com.