When you think Seiko, you probably have in mind some cool, large and very professional diving instruments (like the Seiko Tuna, that we reviewed recently) or some highly affordable (but with an unbeatable quality/price ratio) sports watches, like the SKX007. However, Seiko is also known for the seriousness of their production and their precise in-house movements, a fact that is even truer when it comes to the luxury range, the Grand Seiko Watches. Usually rather small timepieces, but they now come in a 42mm case – and with a limited edition to celebrate this announcement, the new Grand Seiko SBGR097 Limited Edition.
A look at the previous productions from Grand Seiko provides watches sized at 38mm or 40mm, like for instance the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT, with its 40mm stainless steel case. We have nothing against smaller watches here at Monochrome-Watches (and a recent discussion between Frank – Monochrome’s Founder – and I led to a highly possible come-back of smaller diameters in modern watches and a rise of small vintage watches in future auctions). 40mm is a perfect size for a casual / sports watch (not a tool, just a watch that you can wear in every condition). Rolex knows perfectly about it, as the Submariner, the recent Sea-Dweller 4000 or the GMT Master II are all measuring 40mm. This size fits all the wrists, from the smaller ones to the more robust ones. However, in the actual market, watches under this diameter are often qualified as rather small and certain markets (US for instance) are highly demanding for larger watches. Grand Seiko listened to these demands and now comes with a new diameter in the range of classical sporty-chic watches, the 42mm Grand Seiko SBGR097 Limited Edition – and its non-limited siblings from the SBGR family, the Grand Seiko SBGR099 (silver dial) and Grand Seiko SBGR101 (black dial).
The case of the Grand Seiko SBGR097 is crafted in stainless steel and deserves to be admired. The overall design is very Seiko, with sharp lines, a large polished bevel on the casebands, a polished bezel and all flat surfaces finished with a straight brush pattern. The bracelet is classical in its design, with a 3-link construction and a full brushed finishing. Grand Seiko is clearly not about sex-appeal. The design is serious, almost austere and both sporty and chic – the kind of watch that you can wear during the weak with a suit and the weekend with a pair of jeans, in a word, a perfect luxury daily beater. What impresses is rather the overall quality. Both the surfaces and the assembly are very precise and superbly executed (it’s Rolex standards here, clearly). It’s serious, it’s clean and it feels good in the hand.
The new 42mm case is not shocking and remains very easy on the wrist. The shape of the case and of the lugs provides a great comfort and you don’t need to have a lumberjack’s wrist to wear it. Some will prefer a 38mm to 40mm watch, some will prefer a 42mm timepiece. It’s just a matter of tastes and feelings on the wrist. The Grand Seiko SBGR097 isn’t flat either, at 13.1mm, but then again, nothing shocking or disturbing.
This new 42mm case is available with 3 different dials: a silver one (Grand Seiko SBGR099), a black one (Grand Seiko SBGR101), both non-limited and a 500-piece limited edition with a specific blue dial, the present Grand Seiko SBGR097. While the regular editions show a plain dial with a simple sunburst pattern, the Grand Seiko SBGR097 features a repeating pattern that depicts the ‘GS’ logo (for Grand Seiko). At first quite busy, this pattern becomes quite discreet once the wrist and just pops out when the light comes directly on it (our photos really emphasize the geometric pattern). We found back the typical Grand Seiko dauphine hands – and to be honest, they are certainly some of the nicest hands ever, with a large polished chamfer and a brushed finish on flat surfaces. The execution of the hands is superb, and this also goes for the indexes, with the exact same finish. This demonstrates the Japanese devotion to details.
Behind the sapphire caseback, we found the Automatic Calibre 9S61. This movement is not part of the high-end and high-beat 5Hz range (like the 9S86 in the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT) but it is still an interesting and very well made movement (of course, developed, designed and produced in-house). It runs at a more classical 4Hz frequency and boasts 72 hours of power reserve (3 days). It is adjusted to six positions and temperature. This 9S61 can compete with the COSC certification, as given to an accuracy of -3 to +5 seconds per day. The decoration of the movement is like the rest of the watch: very clean, serious but a bit austere.
This blue Grand Seiko SBGR097 is limited to 500 pieces (with number engraved on the caseback) and priced at 4.100 Euros. www.grand-seiko.com.