The very first vintage watch I bought was a Grand Seiko from all the way back in 1968. The nanosecond I saw it I knew it had to be mine, and when it arrived it exceeded my expectations. Back in those days, the designs were all pretty simple but the modern variants can be found in all manner of guises, from some substantial divers to complications and snowflake dials. However, the watch that I chose to get married in was again something quite beautiful as a consequence of it’s simplicity; the SBGR061 is a three-hander with date, sporting a deep ivory dial, blued second hand and sub-40mm case. I love it, and whilst I do tend to flip my watches I’d like to think that I’ll keep this one for obvious reasons.
Bizarrely, the actual watch in question is not the same one I wore on my wedding day. For some reason, I told myself that the dial was a bit too ivory, and that the style wasn’t quite dressy enough to be a dress watch, nor sporty enough to wear casually. I have no idea what I was thinking, to be honest, and having stupidly sold it I jumped at the chance to snag one for a second time when the opportunity arose. Equally bizarrely, I recall speaking to Coady, a friend on TZ-UK, at the time of my “confusion” as he was contemplating getting one himself. In the end, he took heed of what I said and went for something similar but, in some ways, quite different – the SBGW001. His choice was a little smaller at about 37.2mm; was handwound, as opposed to automatic; had no date, so was a classic dress three-hander; and had a paler dial, which was somehow a little less… contrived. I always wondered, in fact, if his was the better choice, but have in any event been completely consistent in my view that the pair of them are arguably the most lovely of all the modern Grand Seiko references. (Well, aside from a particular anniversary edition that’s just about impossible to get hold of anyway.)
So, there I was, quite happily enjoying my “wedding watch” (and it does get worn regularly, as it happens) when Coady decided to move on his SBGW001. I saw it pretty much the moment that it hit Sales Corner, and read (and re-read) the sales post with a slightly quickening heart. I know how rarely these watches come up for sale, and it was fairly certain that if I didn’t buy it straight away someone else would do so and would almost certainly hang onto it. So, even though I knew it was fairly similar to the GS I already had we were soon engaged in correspondence, and not long after I’d paid for it. It took a while to get here as Fedex needed organising and for one reason or another that took a few days, but I’ve been waiting patiently and today the package was delivered to my office.
The SBGW is based around a handwound 9S54 movement offering accuracy of -3/+5 seconds per day and a power reserve of 50 hours; It beats at 28,800VPH, contains 20 jewels and is adjusted in 6 positions and at 3 temperatures (indeed, Seiko provides certification of this testing with each watch sold with the movement, all contained in a leather wallet inside the box). The movement finishing/decoration is by allegedly carried out by machine, but it really is very pretty and by all accounts the finish under a loupe is impeccable. I’ve pinched a web photo to show what it looks like, albeit that it can’t be seen on the SBGW001; however, Seiko has confirmed that the finish of the hidden movements is no different to those that are visible through a display back.
The case measures 37.2mm, as I mentioned above, with relatively long but gently curved and drilled lugs. The design is decidedly simple, but the casework is full of lovely curves and polished steel, and it has the feel of real quality. The domed sapphire crystal, with it’s double AR coating, stands about 1mm proud of the bezel before sloping upwards another millimetre or so. The view it affords of the pale ivory dial is just as it needs to be, and the richness of Seiko’s dial finishing is clear to see (and no surprise, as the GS dials are all similarly impressive). Because it’s a handwound movement there’s little text on the dial, and what there is (Seiko, the GS logo and Grand Seiko) is very subtle. The un-lumed dauphine hands and hour markers are typical of the GS dress watches, and add to the impression of simplicity.
Coady and I were chatting over PM yesterday, and we both came to the same conclusion about the SBGW001. If you want a watch that will get you noticed, this isn’t the one; it just does what it was designed to do, quietly and efficiently. However, if you’re the kind of guy that always noticed the shy but alluring girl, standing in the corner of the room and not looking anyone in the eye, then this is a watch that you’ll probably appreciate. It just exudes class, and – without needing to raise it’s voice – seems to be saying “I know what I am, and I don’t have to make a fuss about it.”
It really is a little piece of perfection.
(Sorry about the photos – it’s a tricky watch to get right for some reason, but I’ll add some new ones as and when I have time to shoot them.)