Grand Seiko is known for many things: mirror-like finishes, incredibly crisp casework and a design style that veers from conservative to downright quirky. But this is not a brand that springs to mind when you think of professional-grade dive watches. Until now. At Basel this year Grand Seiko released this mighty beast that we (in the best tradition of Seiko-related nicknames) have dubbed ‘The Kraken’. Now to be honest, unless you’ve got arms like Dwayne Johnson, I’m willing to bet you don’t have the wrist presence to rock this 46.9mm-wide by 16.9mm-thick behemoth (which is surprisingly light, thanks to the titanium construction). However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go, especially given the suitably grand level of fit and finish on display. And while the blue dial is our pick, it’s quite limited at 500 pieces, so the regular-edition black-dialled version might be the easier fish to land. Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m (refs. SBGH255, SBGH257) Australian pricing and availability Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m, ref. SBGH255, $14,200; the blue-dialled SBGH257, limited to 500 pieces, $14,600
To be honest, when I first saw Grand Seiko’s contemporary-looking new modular ceramic Spring Drives, I was on the fence. I didn’t expect it, and wasn’t sure what to think. Of course the quality and technical precision were very much in evidence, but the aesthetics were well outside the norm for the brand. But over time the slick looks grew on me – Grand Seiko’s trademark crisp lines look great in black ceramic, and the sporty style was well-suited to the Spring Drive Chrono. So in the lead up to Basel this year, I was looking forward to seeing where they’d take the nascent collection, and I was not disappointed. It’s fair to say the blue and gold limited edition requires a somewhat outgoing personality to pull off on a daily basis; this black version, while not quite stealthy given the 46.4mm case, is far more restrained on the wrist. I’d go so far as to say this watch has a certain menace about it. The deep black colour, titanium and black ceramic case and bracelet, and busy dial all combine to make it look like it’s out of this world, in the same way that concept cars and next-generation fighter… Read More
Editor’s Note: For all that the watch industry speaks about timelessness and classic design, it rides the winds of fad and fashion just like any other consumer-focused business. But that’s not always the case; there are some models that remain impressively unchanged, and pure to their origins. Watches like this simple and sophisticated Grand Seiko Automatic Hi-Beat 36000. The story in a second: Grand Seiko’s limited edition Hi-Beats are hot property, but the regular production SBHG005 is, not to overstate things in any way, a masterpiece of understated excellence. Most high-end watches are instantly recognisable as luxury objects. Your watch makes a statement about who you are and what you value. Rolex says one thing, IWC another. This is, of course, the point. Most people, upon spending thousands of dollars on a watch want you to know you’ve spent thousands of dollars on a watch. And then there’s Grand Seiko. Grand Seiko is the Japanese watchmaker’s premier line, and for years it was quite difficult to get your hands on outside of Japan. This rarity, combined with the line’s often-conservative style and the ubiquity of Seiko’s more accessible offerings meant that the statement you made wearing one was about rejecting the usual… Read More
Grand Seiko had big news at Baselworld 2017 – and not just the epically proportioned (and named) Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s watch. No, the really big news was that for the first time since 1960, Grand Seiko would stand apart as its own brand. It was the logical next step for Japan’s premier watch brand, which only launched globally in 2010 but has been rapidly building boutiques ever since. Aside from changes to brand position, strategy, company structure and all that jazz, for watch fans the major shift is that Grand Seiko watches will no longer read “Seiko/Grand Seiko” on the dial. A break from tradition and a cleaner dial design in one fell swoop. Nice job Grand Seiko.
Seiko’s reputation in the world of professional dive watches is unimpeachable, and a trusty Seiko diver is a staple in any well-rounded collection. But, until now these watches have primarily been made under the Seiko Prospex label. Well, that all changes today with the introduction of the first ever professional-grade diver made under their top tier label, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver. Released in two versions, the regular production black-dialled SBGH255 and the limited edition (of 500) blue-dialled SBGH257 is every inch a professional grade diver: with a large 46.9mm wide and 16.9mm high titanium case, powered by Grand Seiko’s excellent 9S85 movement, accurate to -3/+5 seconds a day. Moreover the ingenious design of the case (specifically the L-shaped crystal gasket) means that it’s suitable for gas saturation diving, without the need for a helium escape valve that would blemish the otherwise clean lines of the case. The watch is has magnetic resistance of 16,000 gauss, thanks largely to the solid iron dial. The unidirectional bezel, with elapsed time scale is heavily notched to ensure ease of operation, even at depth. What isn’t captured in this roll call of specifications is just how seriously manly this watch is…. Read More
Last year Grand Seiko released a new-look, sporty, modular, ceramic and titanium Spring Drive Chronograph. It was a bold change of pace for the usually buttoned-up brand, and I’ve got to say it both surprised and delighted me. Baselworld 2017 sees the return of this modular approach, in the form of the Black Ceramic Collection – a trifecta of three Spring Drive GMTs. There’s a black dial (SBGC221) and a white dial (SBGC223), but the version that caught our hearts and inspired out minds was the blue and gold SBGC219. Of course this is the limited edition (500 pieces). But there’s something about the rich colour scheme, complex dial layout and big 46.4mm case that just works. Add the enhanced accuracy (how does an accuracy of + 0.5 – 0.5 a day sound?) of the 9R96 into the mix, and this is a watch that has all the bells and whistles you could ask for. In addition to the titanium and ceramic case, Grand Seiko has added a high-intensity titanium bracelet with ceramic centre links into the equation. It’s a welcome addition that suits the look better than the alligator straps last years versions came with. There’s no denying that… Read More
Watch brands love nothing more than an anniversary. You might even be forgiven for thinking that marketing departments devote a substantial amount of energy to finding ever more obscure historical events, products or personages to commemorate with a new limited edition. 56 years since the release of our mildly popular chronograph? Reissue. The company founder’s brother got married on this day 132 years ago? Gala event. Jane from accounts is going on long service leave? Commemorative limited edition. Given this bloviating trend it’s refreshing to see no mention of ‘anniversary’ anywhere in Seiko’s press release for the reissue of the original Grand Seiko, originally released in 1960. In fact, it’s not one reissue, but two, or four, depending on how you count it. Before we get to the new, let’s quickly talk about the old. The original Grand Seiko, powered by the manual caliber 3180, was the epitome of a classic dress watch, and an important step in Seiko’s quest for accuracy. Round, demure of proportion and fitted with bold (and ever so slightly ’60s) baton indices paired with traditional dauphine hands. It’s a watch that set the tone of classical excellence that has (odd quirky design choices aside), set the… Read More