Known as the Japanese Calatrava, a watch of subtle elegance and modest proportions, the Grand Seiko SBGW231 has long been seen as a distinguished choice for those looking for a dress watch with a twist. Yet, it wasn’t the only member of this family, as Japan had its own versions, namely the SBGW237, with its blued seconds hand and silver dial, and the SBGW235, with a light-cream dial and, more importantly, a delectable beads-of-rice steel bracelet. Many have long wished for the latter to become available outside of its country of origin, and their wishes come true with the Grand Seiko Elegance SBGW305, worn on the famous BoR bracelet.
This new SBGW305 is a compilation of the best elements found on the classic hand-wound Grand Seiko, mixed and matched to become a future hit. In short, it has the same case and movement as the SBGW231, 235 and 237, the silver dial of the SBGW237, the hands and markers of the SBGW231 and 235, and, best of all, the bracelet of the SBGW235. It isn’t just a new bracelet on the existing SBGW231, as GS has done a bit more work.
The case is the well-known, elegant and restrained shape of the Elegance collection, found previously on the Calatrava from Japan but also on the GMT Elegance SBGM221. It means a round case with soft, rounded flanks, a sharp, smooth bezel framing an appealing box-shaped sapphire crystal and scalloped lugs. The case is entirely polished with the famed Zaratsu technique. Dimensions are modest and close to perfection for a dress watch, with a diameter of 37.3mm and a length of 44.3mm. Only the thickness could be debated, at 11.6mm in total. Water-resistance is rated at 30m, and a see-through caseback allows a view of the movement.
The dial of this SBGW305 is notably different from the still-available SBGW231 since it’s now silver-toned (not light cream anymore) and finished with a sunray pattern. All the dial’s hardware is silver-toned, including the central seconds hand and the logo. It’s all very monochromatic and discreet – maybe a bit too discreet for some. The definition of all elements will be, as always with GS, impressive.
What truly matters with this Grand Seiko SBGW305 is the bracelet. Up until now, it was rather difficult to obtain it outside of Japan (some boutiques in Europe or America could make it possible, but it wasn’t easy), whether by sourcing the bracelet only or the SBGW235. Now, the entire world will finally be able to get this rather lovely BoR or beads-of-rice bracelet, which measures 19mm at the lugs and is closed by a folding clasp with a push-button release. Having handled it previously, I can assure you that it is a joy to wear – it’s soft and flexible – and adds a cool retro touch to an otherwise quite austere watch.
Inside the case is the classic hand-wound calibre 9S64, a powerful and precise movement that runs at 4Hz, stores 3 days of power reserve and with an accuracy rated at +5/-3 seconds/day. It’s nicely finished, too, with stripes and polished parts.
The Grand Seiko SBGW305 will be available from Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected retailers worldwide from 1 December 2023. It will be priced at EUR 5,800 – a strap-equipped SBGW231 retails for EUR 4,600, so it’s quite a hefty price for a bracelet… But believe me, it’s worth every penny. More details at www.grand-seiko.com.