Reverence for nature is a cornerstone of Japanese culture, and to capture the subtle changes brought about by the changing seasons, these are divided into 24 small seasons or sekki. The two Grand Seiko Soko editions (SBGA471 Spring Drive and SBGH295 Hi-Beat) capture the delicate beauty of soko, the season that announces the arrival of autumn’s first frost. Two time-and-date watches from the Grand Seiko Heritage collection, these special editions made exclusively for the USA market, capture the fleeting beauty of soko with icy light blue dials.
Nature, Sekki and Soko
The colours and textures of nature are a recurrent theme at Grand Seiko, ranging from dials inspired by autumn woods to the colours of a dawn sky over Mount Iwate and from the delicate ripples formed by warm summer winds on the thousands of lakes and ponds dotted around Japan to the pale pink bloom of cherry blossoms. One of our favourite dials of the year at MONOCHROME was the beautiful Hi-Beat SLGH005 imitating the mottled surface of the bark of a white birch tree.
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat SBGH295 Soko Frost
The Grand Seiko Soko Edition features a beautiful ice blue dial inspired by the clear blue skies over the Sea of Japan in early winter. The slightly marbled white and light blue crisscrossed pattern on the dial evokes the bright white light of frost combined with the soft blue colour of the sky.
Measuring 40mm across with a height of 12.9mm, the stainless steel case is a modernised version of the 62GS case of 1967. Developed seven years after the birth of Grand Seiko in 1960, the 62GS was the first automatic GS. The combination of brushed areas and distortion-free Zaratzu polished surfaces are distinctive features of Grand Seiko watches. Water-resistant to 100 metres, the dial is protected by a box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface.
The bezel, which is practically non-existent, gives way to the impressive icy blue dial. Applied, faceted and polished hour markers and gleaming, needle-sharp hands with polished bevels attest to the superior finishing skills of Grand Seiko’s artisans. A date window at 3 o’clock and a thin blued central seconds hand reaching the minutes/seconds track on the flange complete the package.
Seiko was the first to hit the market (1967) with a 5Hz calibre, and since then, it has always been in its collections. Powered by Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 calibre 9S85, the high-frequency calibre (10 beats per second) delivers a power reserve of 55 hours. Accuracy is rated at +5/-3 seconds per day, although we know that these watches always perform better than announced.
Presented on a steel bracelet with a triple folding clasp, the watch also comes with a black crocodile leather strap with light blue stitching.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter x 12.9mm height x 47mm lug-to-lug distance – stainless steel, brushed and Zaratsu polished – textured ice blue dial – Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 automatic calibre 9S85 – 36,000vph – 55h power reserve – ref. SBGH295 – USD 6,900
Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA471 Soko Frost
The second US-exclusive watch is the Spring Drive version of Soko Frost. Like the Hi-Beat Soko Frost, the dial is light blue but features a more subtle decoration of thin vertical lines designed to evoke the frozen trunks of bamboo trees in the Arashiyama forest.
The case references Grand Seiko’s 44GS model of 1967 that laid down the nine enduring elements of Grand Seiko style that endure to this day. Sharing the same 40mm diameter as the Hi-Beat, the case is slightly thinner at 12.5mm, and the lug-to-lug distance is 46.2mm. The dynamic contours of the case are highlighted with contrasting brushed and Zaratsu-polished surfaces. And in true Grand Seiko style, the hour markers are faceted and polished like the sharp hour and minute hands. In addition to the date window at 3 o’clock, the Spring Drive model features a fan-shaped aperture at 8 o’clock for the power reserve indicator.
Equipped with Seiko’s innovative Spring Drive technology, a combination of a traditional mainspring with an electronic regulator without batteries (if you’re interested in the technicalities of Seiko’s Spring Drive, you can read Brice’s in-depth coverage ). Upgraded with a longer power reserve for Grand Seiko, Spring Drive technology was introduced to GS in 2004 with calibre 9R65. Designed, adjusted and assembled by hand at Grand Seiko’s Shinshu Watch Studio in Japan, calibre 9R65 offers impressive accuracy of ±1 second per day and a 3-day/72-hour power reserve.
Presented on a steel bracelet with a triple folding clasp, the Spring Drive Soko Frost also comes with a black crocodile leather strap with light blue stitching.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter x 12.5mm height x 46.2mm lug-to-lug distance- stainless steel, Zaratsu polished and brushed – light blue dial – power reserve indicator at 8 and date aperture at 3 o’clock – Spring Drive calibre 9R65 – ± 1 second a day – 72h power reserve – ref. SBGA471 – USD 6,000
More information at Grand Seiko.