Review: Grand Seiko Chronograph

Seiko threw everything but the kitchen sink at the SBGC001 and thankfully, most of it stuck.

Boy I love this watch. And let me get this out of the way: I love this watch even more after reading David Bredan’s review of it in ABTW.com on Feb 6.

David’s overview of all of the nuances of Grand Seiko’s most complicated watch to date is the most complete and most comprehensive I have ever read. Check it out.

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I’ve had my Grand Seiko Chrono for several years and I will wear it a lot – I mean every day for a few weeks straight. Then I will put it up and not wear it for a while. Six months later, the cycle repeats. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a bigger watch that I sometimes have difficulty getting underneath a dress shirt cuff, or if I just tire of it. But it’s one of those watches that I love to look at (especially that sweep seconds hand thanks to the Spring Drive) and enjoy wearing.

I like the pushers. There I said it. I like them – as they remind me of a Seiko stopwatch my grandfather gave to me when I was about 8 or 9. I like the way they actuate, and the screw downs – complete with little painted black edges that you only see when the pushers aren’t screwed down completely.

I like the face. Busy? Yes. Seiko inscribed too many times? Check. A power reserve that moves in the opposite direction (counter-clockwise) of every other hand on the face? Nuts. But that white-pearl radiance, especially with a little bit of shade to bring out the highlights and lowlights – absolutely beautiful.

I’ve noticed on Seiko’s higher-end timepieces what I call the “floating” Seiko wordmark. It’s not quite as visible as on my Astrons. But there nevertheless. And they seem to use the same treatment on the Grand Seiko initials.

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The hands are classic Grand Seiko and the bluing on the chrono hands and sweep second on my watch gives them a pretty dark hue. The red GMT? Nice.

It’s a GMT, so it has a nice quickset feature that feels just “right” when you set the hour backwards and forwards. On some movements, it feels either too loose or a little hard (making you worry you’re messing something up). But here it is just right.

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I’ve spoken at length about the Spring Drive movement, and this is about as good as it gets. The Seiko 9R86 just shines with crazy accuracy (like +/- 15 seconds/month) and three days of power reserve. Think this is a quartz? No. Think Spring Drive is just a fancy Seiko Kinetic? Read here – as David Bredan goes into as much amazing detail of the history of what I see as the most advanced mechanical watch movement in 100 years as ever written in one article before.

One thing I noticed on David Bredan’s review of this watch is a slight difference in the rotor on his new SBGC001 and mine (which has a manufacture date of around XXX). My rotor is pretty plain. His is engraved with some spectacular detail and Geneva stripes. Really beautiful. (Go ahead, take a look, I won’t mind.) It’s a great improvement to the watch and deserving of this improvement. I just wonder what else they may have tweaked while they were making these changes…

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The bracelet is ok – if it had some sort of micro-adjustment I’d date it as high as Rolex or Omega. But it does not. The tolerances on the bracelet are nice but not as great as the other aspects of the watch. Because the watch isn’t light or thin or small, you need a tighter fit on the bracelet to keep it manageable. I can’t seem to find the right “sweet spot” for the number of links.

Today, there are several versions of this watch. There is a black face version (SBGC005), and I just noticed a new version that has a dark blue face and a ceramic tachymeter bezel (SBGC013). The dark face helps to tone the watch down a little and make it not appear as big, but I don’t think it will ever change my appreciation of this Grand Seiko.

The SBGC001 retails for $7700. I got mine for nowhere near that price – thanks to a good eye looking at the closeouts case at the outlet store of a major authorized dealer. My heart skipped a beat when I asked if the Seiko and Citizen 70% off sale included this particular watch. The answer was yes. My response? Wrap it up, please.


WHAT I LIKE:

  • It’s a Grand Seiko, need I say more
  • A chrono GMT with a movement like no other
  • Better than COSC accuracy from a traditional automatic movement second to none

NOT SO MUCH:

  • Thick and weighty
  • The bracelet is good but not great
  • Grand Seiko packaging could be better

WATCH SPECIFICATIONS:

MODEL NAME: Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph

REFERENCE NUMBER: SBGC001

MOVEMENT: Grand Seiko 9R86 (72 hour power reserve)

CASE SIZE: 43.5mm

WATER RESISTANCE: 100m/330ft

MANUFACTURER LINKhttp://www.grand-seiko.com/collection/detail.php?pid=SBGC001

OTHER REVIEWhttp://www.ablogtowatch.com/grand-seiko-spring-drive-chronograph-sbgc001-watch-review/

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2 thoughts on “Review: Grand Seiko Chronograph

Add yours

  1. Thanks for the review. Did you ever manage to find out why the difference on rotor finishing and what else have changed between your and David’s versions?

    1. Hey Tawfeeq. Thanks for the comment. I am afraid I haven’t done too much additional research. I can only surmise that just like with an automobile (or iPhone) that has a “tick tock” update strategy (where every other update is significant, but other updates are minor), SEIKO decided to update (cosmetically) the movement. Maybe this was part of their up-market strategy which we would learn (months later) includes going to GRAND SEIKO primary branding (instead of being under the SEIKO branding)?

      If I come across anything else I will certainly post it here. Thanks for reading and posting.

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