The Grand Seiko Spring Drive is just not an digital quartz watch. It employs Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive motion to attain an accuracy of +/- 1 second per day – higher than most (if not all) mechanical watches available on the market priced beneath $10,000. It’s stunning, distinctive, and uncommon.
Horological arms race for accuracy
Within the arms race for accuracy, some could want to throw the Citizen Caliber 0100 into the combo, which is correct to inside +/- 1 seconds per yr. This photo voltaic/digital watch on no account qualifies as mechanical or partially mechanical, although, just like the Spring Drive.
Others could need to add Zenith’s ten-piece idea watch, the Defy Lab, which the corporate touts as correct to +/- .3 seconds per 24 hours. Its successor is the serially manufactured Defy Inventor, however Zenith has declined to offer an official accuracy price in the intervening time.
These rarified accuracy ranges – +/- 1 second per day, .3 of a second per day, or 1 second per yr – are simply bragging rights. It definitely doesn’t make any distinction in my life. It comes right down to how I work together with the watch.
First impressions final
To see my preliminary impressions of this fabulous watch, see Grand Seiko Blue Snowflake Reference SBGA407: On The Wrist. There I wrote in regards to the unbelievable effort and craftsmanship required to attain the tough “snowflake” texture of the blue dial.
I additionally wrote of the distinctive sharpening approach – Zaratsu – that creates an ideal, distortion-free, seamless mirror end. It’s a signature aspect of Grand Seiko’s look. The Snowflake reveals it in typical method on the case and lugs. The way in which of the Samurai is alive inside Grand Seiko’s Blue Snowflake!
What pushed me over the sting was the concord with which Grand Seiko merged the pure frozen great thing about its snowflake dial and the mirror-like polished metal with state-of-the-art know-how to provide such a extremely correct timepiece. How very Japanese to impart this minimalist Zen that whispers “much less is extra” to an on a regular basis object that’s without delay magnificent and utilitarian.
The Snowflake had me at howdy. “Simply check out the artisanship of that dial,” stated Alex Friedman, supervisor of the Grand Seiko boutique in Beverly Hills, handing me a loupe.
“Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive hatched from the snow-covered mountains of its Shinshu Watch Studio in Japan’s Iwate prefecture. The pale blue snowflake dial represents the mountain snow simply outdoors the manufacture and the fantastic thing about Shinshu,” he defined.
Alex was proper. The dial has a tough texture like a snow subject within the frozen chilly. This calming blue hue coupled with the dial’s attention-grabbing end certainly remind me of a serene snow subject. One which I’d wish to stroll by means of feeling the heat inside my Canada Goose parka and listening to nothing however the crunch of frozen snow beneath my boots.
Does the watch you’re carrying proper now evoke such serenity?
In all its Zen-like quietude, the Blue Snowflake does have so much occurring on the dial. However at 40.8 mm, it’s large enough to bear the burden.
After all I’m talking of the date window. I like having a calendar window on my watches, even when it distracts from the blue snow subject because the blued metal second hand glides easily and unhindered over it. In order that wasn’t a showstopper for me.
Then there’s the facility reserve indicator. I like understanding when my watch will cease, although I wouldn’t have put this indicator on the Snowflake’s dial.
Owing to how quickly this computerized winds itself when on the wrist, and its 72-hour energy reserve, this meter supplies solely minimally helpful data. Even so, there are such a lot of different favorable design and technical options this watch has going for it. So Grand Seiko’s inclusion of the facility reserve indicator on the dial face didn’t dissuade.
Grand Seiko does nothing with no purpose. We see that spotlight to element and its relationship between kind and performance as soon as once more on the facility reserve indicator.
Intuitively, I’d count on such an indicator to show most energy on the high of the dimensions, and as energy winds down the hand falls. Nonetheless, that might go towards Grand Seiko’s design aesthetic.
You see, the facility reserve indicator faces the left aspect of the dial. If it had fallen from high to backside, the hand must transfer counterclockwise. Not good if the whole lot else on the dial is popping clockwise. On this case Grand Seiko selected kind over operate.
After all, had Grand Seiko merely requested me I’d have instructed placing the reserve indicator on the case again. Downside solved. They in all probability simply misplaced my quantity.
Match and end
The case has a classical design that doesn’t supply any surprises. Its proportions are good, virtually like Fibonacci’s golden ratio.
The Zaratsu-polished bezel is simply the precise thickness to help the blue dial with out being overkill. I additionally admire the eye Grand Seiko paid to the lugs. It’s true: the Blue Snowflake’s lugs are simply the precise size and have the right curvature.
The result’s that the scale seems good for my wrist. And there aren’t any sharp edges – anyplace.
The sapphire crystal is box-shaped, which means it rises barely above the bezel. I like this design. Seeing the crystal rising above the protecting metal bezel says this piece is particular, deal with it with respect. Message obtained.
Talking of performance
My watches usually are not wrist sweet; I have to be ready learn the dial. I’ve reviewed worldtimers whose typeface was so diminutive I couldn’t learn the names of the cities. I didn’t take into account including them to my assortment.
I seen proper off that Grand Seiko didn’t embrace any lume on the palms or markers. I questioned how this choice would work for me since I typically discover myself in low-light situations.
What I discovered was that the Blue Snowflake is among the many most readable watches I’ve seen. Much more so (in daylight) than the Rolex Sky-Dweller, which does have a considerable quantity of luminous Chromalite. How did they try this?
Grand Seiko beveled each side of the hour and minute palms, which create the reflection essential for studying the time in very low-light situations. It’s why this watch actually doesn’t want any lume for its supposed use. In any case, it’s not a dive watch or a sports activities watch designed to be used in pitch-dark situations.
Not like so many costume or informal watches, the Snowflake’s palms are sufficiently lengthy to exactly learn what the palms are telling us. That is a very exact timepiece. The palms enable that precision for use. Its readability and excessive accuracy says that the Blue Snowflake is not only one other fairly face.
Grand Seiko used markers moderately than numerals. The markers are very skinny; the higher to open up the watch face for a fuller appreciation of the “snow-covered” dial. Sensible. I believe with this piece, Grand Seiko supplies a clinic on the Japanese type of much less actually being extra.
Speedbump forward: strap and buckle
Let’s reduce to the chase. I’ve an issue with the strap offered by Grand Seiko. Certain. it’s high-quality blue alligator with blue stitching. No drawback there.
However the strap is simply too lengthy as offered. Worse, the tip of the strap is blunt moderately than coming to a pointy level like the remainder of the design vocabulary. It simply seems odd.
The dual-fold push button deployant buckle additionally has an issue. It’s not the end, which is ideal. Neither is it the mechanics of the buckle. Grand Seiko put in a matte-finished metal loop affixed to the buckle that the strap finish passes by means of.
Sure, this protects the sharpening of the buckle in an space whose floor is uncovered to put on and tear. Nonetheless, you can not relaxation your wrist on a flat floor with out feeling an irritating bump beneath. Additional, the internal wrist aspect of the watch seems lopsided with each the surplus strap and the metal loop of the buckle bulging out.
I referred to as Alex and Xavier within the Grand Seiko Beverly Hills boutique, said my case, and requested for a shorter strap. They have been variety sufficient to particular order one only for me. I ended up having to make use of one a part of the unique strap and one a part of the shorter one to get the size proper.
However there’s nonetheless the issue of the chunky deployant buckle brought on by the metal loop. I’ve the answer for that too: I’m abandoning the strap altogether. I requested the boys in Beverly Hills to order the metal bracelet Grand Seiko makes for this watch.
It’s going to be little bit of a wait they inform me. There are none within the U.S. as of this writing. I can surmise that I’m not the one proprietor who has given up on the strap and opted for a bracelet on this in any other case spectacular watch.
Seiko’s Spring Drive
Caliber 9R65 Spring Drive is a very correct and sturdy motion. It employs a quartz oscillator and an built-in circuit to exactly regulate the glide wheel utilizing a magnetic brake. That is what achieves Spring Drive’s +/- 1 second per day accuracy. A tiny electrical present utilized by the quartz oscillator and built-in circuit is created when the mainspring unwinds all through the 72 hours of energy reserve.
Among the many many issues I like about this watch is that its computerized motion winds itself with the barest of wrist motion.
There’s one quirk in regards to the Spring Drive I used to be suggested to comply with to make sure the watch runs as precisely as designed. When winding and setting the watch from a useless cease, it’s instructed to manually wind to not less than 50 % of reserve capability, then let the watch run for 30 seconds earlier than setting it.
I presume this has one thing to do with permitting the crystal, built-in circuit, and regulating electromagnetic brake time to sync with each other.
Care: it’s not a Submariner
This watch is just not indestructible. So, sure, it does require some care. Then once more, it wasn’t designed for the environments the Sub was.
Grand Seiko recommends not permitting the solar to beat down on the dial for prolonged time durations. It additionally suggests not exposing the watch to temperatures beneath 5°C or above 35°C (as with the overwhelming majority of watches.)
Additionally, hold the watch away from areas of robust magnetism, static electrical energy, and dusty environments. Don’t expose it to excessive humidity. And, lastly, no robust vibrations, please.
For many of us, these restrictions don’t have an effect on our every day put on routines. But when so, simply depart it behind till you’re in a much less hostile surroundings. Wherever you’re going is unlikely to require a three-handed watch anyway.
Pulling the set off
The Blue Snowflake imparts to me a Zen-like peace. I like the dial’s tough, snowy texture. The sleek motion of the second hand is calming amid a busy workday.
The match and end of the Zaratsu-polished surfaces add to the complete engineered high quality of the watch. It’s simply good in most methods, the place it’s not might be simply mounted, and this masterpiece is worthy of consideration to your assortment assortment and every day put on.
The truth that licensed sellers and company-owned boutiques can not hold this watch in stock speaks loudly about its rising demand. I count on the worth of this piece to carry, if not admire.
For extra data, please go to www.grand-seiko.com/us-en/sbga407.
Fast Details Grand Seiko Blue Snowflake Reference SBGA407
Case: 40.2 x 12.8 mm, stainless-steel
Dial: blue stamped “snowflake” sample
Motion: Seiko Spring Drive Caliber 9R65, computerized winding, energy reserve 72 hours, 32,768 vph frequency
Features: hours, minutes, seconds; date, energy reserve
Strap: blue alligator pores and skin strap with metal deployant buckle, metal bracelet out there
* This text was first revealed on April 18, 2020 at Why I Purchased It (Regardless of The Strap And Buckle): Grand Seiko Blue Snowflake Reference SBGA407.