Grand Seiko SBGR305

Hands-On: Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Grand Seiko SBGR305

This detailed review of the Grand Seiko SBGR305 includes live images, specification and pricing.

Grand Seiko SBGR305 - automatic watch with 8 beat movement

Bob Dylan once sang ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’. The sentiments of this song could easily be applied to the new Grand Seiko SBGR305. Released at Baselworld 2017, this was one of the first Grand Seiko models to feature the new Grand Seiko branding. This in itself may not sound significant, but it signalled a change from GS being a sub-brand of Seiko to becoming a brand in its own right.

Grand Seiko marked the event with the unveiling of several other new models. The Japanese watch company looked to its history, releasing a ‘re-creation’ of the first Grand Seiko model. The SBGW251, 252 and 253 feature platinum, 18-carat yellow gold and stainless steel cases, respectively. These watches, inspired by the first Grand Seiko timepiece of 1960, evince a distinctive period appearance. The case measures a modest 38.0mm in diameter and the dual-curved sapphire crystal mimics the profile of the original 1960s model.

However, the so-called ‘modern re-interpretation’ of the aforementioned models, the SBGR305 proved more interesting to me. This timepiece looks decidedly contemporary whilst referencing some of the aesthetic details of the 1960 original. Furthermore, there is a distinct formality to the aesthetics, making the watch ideally suited for smart attire.

The dial

The highly polished, faceted hour and minute hands are typically Grand Seiko. They provide matchless readability and deliver a gleaming beauty which is impossible to ignore.

Each hour marker features an array of facets which garner light and efficiently reflect it, augmenting legibility and evincing a becoming jewel-like brilliance.

Grand Seiko SBGR305 - automatic watch with 8 beat movement

The dial possesses a wonderful complexion. This is a textured surface which you want to admire for prolonged periods. Grand Seiko is incredibly accomplished at producing dial surfaces par excellence. Indeed, impressive horological vistas include the Snowflake and the Diamond Dust dials.

Typical of modern-day watches and setting aside the 1960 original, the SBGR305 features a date display. Large numerals are presented via a sizeable aperture, enhancing ease of read-off. A blued steel central sweep seconds hand completes the list of functions.

On the previously mentioned Grand Seiko of 1960, the minute track sits flat on the dial surface and is positioned in between the hour markers. However, with the Grand Seiko SBGR305 the minute track is presented on the dial flange, sitting outside of the applied indices. This subtle detail again imbues the watch with a distinct dose of modernity.

Grand Seiko has, once again, blended beauty with practicality. The dial is an exemplar of lucidity while featuring gloriously gleaming hands and a becoming dial epidermis.

The case

The case is constructed of titanium. However, typical of Grand Seiko, the metallurgy has been revisited in order to enhance the metal’s properties. In this instance the titanium retains its low mass but exhibits twice the hardness of steel, mitigating the risk of surface scratches.

Grand Seiko SBGR305 - automatic watch with 8 beat movement

Once again, Grand Seiko has revisited modern horological styling. Firstly, the case measures 40.5mm in diameter and 10.7mm in height, proving much larger than the early Grand Seiko models. Moreover, the lugs are long and narrow, making the watch seem larger when affixed to the wrist. Personally, I found the size of the watch was perfect and better suited to my wrist than some of the period Grand Seiko models.

Grand Seiko has employed its sublime Zaratsu blade polishing technique for the case. Each angle of the case exudes a sumptuous, flawless shine. The case features a delightful recess along the case-band, further heightening interest.

Grand Seiko SBGR305 - automatic watch with 8 beat movement

Again, breaking tradition, the Grand Seiko SBGR305 eschews the solid case-back of its 1960s forebears, instead employing a contemporary exhibition case-back.

The movement

The Caliber 9S68 contains a Swiss-lever escapement. The frequency of the balance is 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 35 jewels. The sole barrel delivers 72 hours of autonomous operation.

Grand Seiko SBGR305 - automatic watch with 8 beat movement

Grand Seiko specify the accuracy as -3 to +5 seconds per day under static conditions.

The movement is beautifully appointed. It features a beautifully defined striped motif on the bridges and oscillating mass.

Closing remarks

Examining the dial of the SBGR305 with a macro lens reveals a fascinating texture, rich with character. Complementing this wondrous horological landscape are highly legible hands, gleaming indexes, a legible minute track and a sizeable date display. This is a watch that converses with the wearer with clear tone and interesting dialogue.

The case appears larger than its stated 40.5mm diameter, amply covering the wrist. The scale of the watch provides sufficient dial space to accord peerless legibility. The titanium case is resistant to scratching, light and hypoallergenic. Furthermore, there are exquisite episodes of detail such as the faceted lugs and recessed case-band.

Grand Seiko has profound expertise when it comes to manufacturing watch movements. The Caliber 9S68 is beautifully finished and sports distinctive stripes on its oscillating mass and bridges.

I am glad to see Grand Seiko stride out on its own. The brand’s products are worthy of praise and should not be viewed in the same context as Seiko’s more affordable watches. Indeed, Grand Seiko is a prestigious brand deserving of a purist’s affection and the contemporary SBGR305 captures everything that is wonderful about this great marque.

Further information

Technical specification

  • Model: Grand Seiko SBGR305
  • Case: Titanium; diameter 40.5mm; height 13.6mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres)
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; date
  • Movement: Caliber 9S68; Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 35 jewels; power reserve = 72 hours
  • Strap: Black crocodile leather strap supplied with a stainless steel folding clasp
  • Price: £7,000 (RRP as at 7.12.2017)
  • Limited Edition: 968 pieces

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