Grand Seiko’s Magnificence Assortment consists virtually fully of minimalist, time-only costume watches. With this line, the Japanese watchmaker goes up in opposition to Swiss stalwarts like Patek Philippe’s Calatrava and Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony watches, and whereas the standard and styling of the Magnificence Assortment is on par with among the better of Switzerland’s costume watches, Grand Seiko’s costs are normally considerably decrease. Simply one of many causes it has grow to be an in-the-know model amongst savvy collectors who search horological worth over status.
To get a extra intimate really feel for the Magnificence Assortment, I frolicked with two of them on the wrist: the SBGW259 ($8,000), a contemporary interpretation of GS’s very first watch from 1960 and the SBGK007 ($6,900), a model new design. These two watches create an fascinating portrait of a historical past that spans many many years and present that the model can innovate extensively with out sacrificing the placid aesthetics, excessive craft, and mechanical prowess which have at all times distinguished their timepieces.
Grand Seiko has garnered a status as an ‘insider’s best option’ for prime horology. Why? As a lot as I’d wish to wax poetic about Japanese nature-based aesthetics and so forth, I imagine it comes right down to the costs. It’s virtually unattainable to see the place a nook has been lower on the SBGW259 and the SBGK007, which means that they account for among the finest worth throughout the luxurious market worldwide.
The SBGW259 appears just like the Grand Seiko of 1960 at first look, however the case is enjoying methods on us—it’s titanium (a contemporary alloy in watchmaking), polished to such a excessive diploma that the surfaces glimmer like metal and even white gold. Grand Seiko calls this specific titanium Good Onerous Titanium, which reduces the nice and cozy yellow tones typical of this steel to disclose a extra impartial shade. The Zaratsu sharpening, a model signature, produces surfaces so flat that even tiny textual content is mirrored with out distortion. The deployant buckle has been left largely matte, apart from one small floor that glimmers just like the watch case. It’s as if Grand Seiko is providing proof that the case is titanium.
The SBGK007 is a chrome steel watch with a case that’s harking back to the King and Grand Seikos of the Nineteen Sixties, after Taro Tanaka got here in as lead designer. Tanaka’s “Grammar of Design” laid out a number of guidelines that led to futuristic-looking instances in contrast to something available on the market. The SBGK007’s case is sort of a curvy model of an early Tanaka-designed piece. The sharpening right here is typical of Grand Seiko: unimpeachably flat and, as such, elegant in methods metal is normally not. The SBGK line additionally slips fantastically underneath shirt cuffs, and is definitely Grand Seiko’s most elegant design up to now.
Each of those watches use variations of Grand Seiko’s acclaimed 9S collection mechanical actions (SBGW259 makes use of 9S65 and SBGK007 makes use of 9S63, seen above). Each are hand-wound mechanicals, with the distinction being the small seconds and energy reserve gauge on the SBGK007’s 9S63 iteration. With static precision of +5 / -3 secs/day, 72-hour energy reserve, and insane ending, these actions seem to lack nothing. The beat fee is customary at 28,800 vph, relatively than the high-beat 36,000 vph that some Grand Seikos use. Whereas the class of a 36,000 vph seconds hand sweep could be good right here, the achieve in energy reserve stands out as the better option for a hand-wound costume watch prone to spend weekends within the watch field.
Carrying the SBGW259 doesn’t really feel like sporting a classic watch. The unique model was 35 mm, however this one is a extra fashionable 38 mm. And not using a bezel, that’s a variety of dial and whenever you add in light-weight titanium, the SBGW259 merely feels fashionable. Nonetheless, the old-school styling of the indices, the scripted Diashock textual content, and the traditional dauphine palms supply a retro vibe.
I’m not one to announce issues like “a model new traditional” evenly, however Grand Seiko, in my view, produced precisely that with the SBGK vary. A brand new watch mannequin from a longtime model will be relatively divisive, but the SBGK lineup maintained sufficient of Tanaka’s Grammar of Design to really feel extra like a pure extension of the Grand Seiko catalog than an alien invading it.
If I’ve realized something from sporting a recreation of the very first Grand Seiko and their newest iteration of a costume watch, it’s that Grand Seiko has developed a coherent and distinctive aesthetic language from which they’ve virtually by no means wandered, even once they disrupted that evolution by hiring Taro Tanaka to shake issues up. On this manner, Grand Seiko genuinely feels just like the Swiss manufacturers they got down to trounce after WWII, in that they’ve, in a really quick time, established a legacy that rests on ideas of ultra-high-quality craftsmanship and powerful regional aesthetics, whereas sustaining a uniquely Japanese heritage.