Angus Davies gets “hands-on” with the Grand Seiko SBGR061, a watch with a classical air, courtesy of its ivory toned dial and brown crocodile leather strap.
I first fell under the spell of Grand Seiko timepieces at Baselworld 2013 after which I enthused about the brilliance of the 44 GS Limited Edition.
Recently, I had the chance to appraise several other models from the high-end collection of watches offered by the Japanese brand.
Placing the Grand Seiko SBGR061 upon my wrist, I immediately felt an overwhelming attraction to its external appearance. It has an elegance that is difficult to ignore. Indeed, part of its obvious charm is the almost aged character to the watch, reminiscent of a cherished sepia-toned photograph.
The brown strap and ivory dial remind me of watches from the 1960s; classical in styling and imbued with a quality that is almost beyond the grasp of changing tastes.
The ivory toned dial is clean and highly legible. Applied indexes mark the hours, avoiding Roman or Arabic numerals, in common with other Grand Seiko models. The indexes have several facets to their form and are polished to a brilliant gleam, making them sparkle in ambient light.
The legibility is further enhanced by the “high-definition” dual-curved sapphire crystal with its anti-reflective coating. While many watches feature anti-reflective coating, it is the optical excellence of the finish which results in the exceptional clarity.
A polished performance
Sword-shaped hands, again polished to an exceptional standard, impart the hours and minutes with their silver coloured profiles, capturing light and reflecting it with hypnotic effect. Seldom does the polished finish of hands warrant such description, but it is a unique element of the Grand Seiko paradigm. It is this competence at polishing which justifies mention.
The case is presented with a mirror finish, referred to as Zaratsu or blade polishing. The resultant metal finish seems pre-disposed to engage with light, exhibiting a resplendent lustre that is magnificent.
Discreet details, enhance enjoyment
The blued central seconds hand is slim, interfacing with the minute track and ensuring ease of read off is guaranteed.
The date is presented adjacent 3 o’clock with the aperture framed in polished steel. It sounds a small detail, but it is this repeated use of steel against the quiet voice of the ivory dial that communicates with much finesse.
A good-looking introvert
I would liken the personality of this timepiece to a confident, good-looking introvert. The sizing of the watch is modest, measuring 39.5 mm in diameter and 13.1 mm in height. Ordinarily, I select larger timepieces for my own personal use, however, when placed upon my wrist, the unobtrusive dimensions of the SBGR061 seemed perfect. I suspect this owes much to the dual-curved sapphire crystal, angled bezel and straight sides of the caseband, all successfully working together to make the the watch appear larger than it really is.
An intelligent mind with many admirable traits
I have discussed much about the appearance of this timepiece and, justifiably, so. It is gorgeous. However, behind the handsome face resides an intelligent mind with many admirable traits.
The Caliber 9S65 is self-winding, oscillating at 4 Hertz and includes 35 jewels. Most notably, it has an impressive power reserve of 72 hours, this is remarkable considering it features only a single barrel. Part of the reason for this can be attributed to Seiko’s prodigious talent at manipulating metals. Indeed, not only does Grand Seiko create its own mainsprings, but it has the rare capacity to make balance springs in-house.
The SBGR061 is fitted with an exhibition caseback, retained with six screws. Unusually, despite having a sapphire crystal to the rear of the case, it has an impressive magnetic resistance of 4800 A/m (60 gauss). Often movements are housed in a soft-iron core, hidden from view to provide this benefit. However, the wearer can enjoy the aforementioned magnetic resistance, which conforms to ISO 764:2002, while still being able to admire the movement within.
The movement is attractive with the oscillating mass, partly open-worked, and the bridges pleasingly decorated with parallel lines. This finish is a departure from the usual Côtes de Genève or Glahütte Ribbing I am more accustomed to, but remains very attractive.
I don’t hide my unreserved admiration for this watch. It is superb. Moreover, with a relatively modest asking price of £3800, it delivers exceptional value.
I openly admit, that some readers may not share my enthusiasm for this timepiece based purely on badge snobbery. To some, the Seiko name presented on the dial, may lack the kudos of some well-known Swiss brands. While the Seiko Kinetic models costing £300 – £400 offer much value for the market segment they occupy, these watches should not be confused with Grand Seiko.
Grand Seiko ownership reveals great wisdom. Those who succumb to the allure of the GS logo, exhibit a discerning taste. Moreover, they can smile discreetly, knowing the watch adorning their wrist delivers much virtue and engineering integrity that distinguishes it as exceptional for the price.
Model: Grand Seiko SBGR061
Case: Stainless steel; diameter 39.5 mm; height 13.1 mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
Movement: Calibre 9S65, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 35 jewels; power reserve 72 hours.
Strap: Brown crocodile leather strap presented on a stainless steel three-fold clasp with push button release.
I would like to thank CW Sellors Jura, for kindly providing access to this remarkable timepiece.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.