Grand Seiko was the result of Seiko’s quest to create the perfect wristwatch. Today, it embodies all the qualities that we have come to associate with high-end Japanese watchmaking – accuracy, legibility, and an unmatched tradition of case design.
When the first Grand Seiko (Ref. 3180 was unveiled in 1960), it sold for ¥25,000m, which back then was equivalent to two months’ salary of a college-educated professional. To mark the milestone year, as one would expect, Grand Seiko has released a clutch of new models including the Ref. SBGP015 60th Anniversary Limited Edition.
It is powered by a new quartz movement, the Caliber 9F85. This is not your plebeian quartz watch, Grand Seiko’s Caliber 9F movements are designed ground up to be a luxury movement. While standard quartz watches are accurate to about +/-15 seconds per month, Grand Seiko quartz is good for +/-10 seconds per year. They are fitted with a thermo-compensation mechanism that adjusts the watch’s accuracy in response to changes in ambient temperature. Ordinary quartz movements lose their precise ways in the face of such changes in temperature. It also uses a special low-energy integrated circuit to lengthen the battery life (about three years).
Each quartz oscillator for Grand Seiko is chosen and tested individually. Only after a three-month aging process does a crystal achieve the Grand Seiko standard. Assembled by hand, these movements feature haute horology flourishes like a decorative striped decoration (Tokyo Stripes).
As far as its looks go, the Ref. SBGP015 can take you from the beach to the boardroom without much of a fuss. Most of the watch’s appeal centers around the sculpted design of the case and its glossy blue ceramic bezel. The 40 mm case has short sloping lugs with sharp bevelled edges, the case has a mix of satin-brushed surfaces and Zaratsu-polished surfaces. Forever associated with Seiko’s upmarket watches (this was before Grand Seiko was hived off as a separate company), Zaratsu or blade polishing involves carefully applying a rotating tin plate against the case at a precise angle to create distortion-free surfaces. It has a screw-down crown, is water-resistant to 200 metres, and has a magnetic resistance of 16,000 A/m.
The dial features Grand Seiko’s signature blue tone, the hour markers, the hour and minute hands are coated with Seiko’s proprietary LumiBrite to ensure optimum legibility even in low light conditions. A red lacquered seconds needle sweeps the dial and if you pay close attention, you’ll see what sets apart from the Grand Seiko quartz movements. The addition of a braking wheel in the gear train ensures that the seconds hand doesn’t twitch when it jumps to mark each passing second like in regular quartz watches. Thanks to the upgraded new movement, users can change the hour hand to adjust the time without having to stop the seconds hand, thus ensuring accurate time while traveling to another time zone.
The watch is paired with a three-link steel bracelet with three-fold clasp with push button release. Limited to 2,000 pieces, the watch is priced at AED 14,700.