Seiko’s Grand Seiko revolution

After London’s SalonQP 2010 VIP event last Thursday (11th November), I caught up with a very dear friend for a post-match debrief. It took a while – there were many things to discuss (and the Guinness at the Mason’s Arms deserved a decent go). But one thing we did talk about was the launch of Grand Seiko in the UK.

Now, as many of you know, I’m a watch snob. Well. I’m not really, but if there’s anything in this horological world in which we’re living that’s guaranteed to bring out the watch snob in you, it’s a discussion of Seiko.

Quick disclosure: I own a Seiko Sumo. It’s my “go to” dive watch. Has a remarkable 6R15 movement in it, some lovely finishing, and, at £400+ (via Seiya Japan), a relatively expensive Seiko. Or so I thought.

On Thursday, however, I saw, for the first time, the Grand Seiko line. As I said to the guy on the stand, I’d managed to spend the best part of a week over the summer in Tokyo without even seeing a sniff of these watches – they really are quite limited, even in Japan. Oh. And it turns out that they are also nigh on impossible to shoot. Shiny little b*ggers. I think I need better PP and perhaps some judicious use of Photoshop’s clone tool…

Anyway, the black-dialled Hi-Beat, released in May this year, has Seiko’s 9S85 37J movement in it (beating at 36,000 bph) and a power reserve of 55 hours. It’s 40mm across and it looked absolutely stunning. A lovely thing. The seconds hand sweeping through that arc as smoothly as the Guinness.

The GS Spring Drive Diver (model SBGE001) was also on show, but I couldn’t, for the life of me manage to get a decent shot. In profile, you can see some of the detailing, but it really is a truly magnificent diver. The sweep second hand is mesmerising – with a luminous dot on the back of the hand. The indices are Sumo-esque, as are the lugs, but the whole thing is an absolute joy to hold and wear. The bezel has a very, very satisfying click to it. Solid. Oh and a really nice clasp too – micro adjustable in a simple and rather elegant manner.

I can’t think of anyone else who is currently managing to play with surfaces in quite the same way as these Seikos. High polish / brushing techniques are used to offset the angles, highlight the curves or bring out the straight edges. Just lovely.

Was also rather taken by the Spring Drive GMT (model SBGA029). Sapphire bezel. There was also a very interesting chronograph floating around, which I will be trying to see as soon as I can.

Hmm. But here in lies the problem. Will I drop the best part of £5.5k on a Seiko? On the basis of what I saw last week – I may well be tempted. But that’s where this annoying snobbery comes in – it’s *only* a Seiko. Yeah. But a Seiko that can sit alongside the majority of the watches in its price bracket and probably hold it’s head up pretty high in terms of accuracy, design and quality of finish.

Will I be getting one? Not sure. Shame I missed the GS retail launch at London’s Jura Watches last night. I suddenly have an itch to see these again…

the #watchnerd
The #watchnerd: the most interesting watch 'blog you've never read. Probably.

4 Comments

  1. One of the Tarts has two LE Spring Drives. I had numerous arguments with him about them when he got them but after a while I can say that I love the moonphase one.

  2. You really should fix the model numbers in this article – the divers watch is the SBGA029 and the GMT with sapphire bezel is the SBGE001.
    @ Noodlefish – the moonphase mentioned was not a Grand Seiko, but one of the International market only Seiko Spring Drive models, which laid the foundation for Grand Seiko’s introduction.
    You’re looking for SNR011 or SNR017.

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