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. It’s clearly a Seiko, with a healthy dose of Marine Master styling, but the purposeful design and Grand Seiko’s masterful finishing combine to create one of the best looking divers I’ve seen in a long time. The angles of the case and bracelet are sharp and beautifully defined, thanks to the skillful application of Zaratsu polishing. The ceramic bezel offsets the matt titanium beautifully, and the woven/tapestry style dial is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Grand Seiko. The gilt printing and gold index surrounds of the black version are particularly attractive to the eye. The other news is that for the first time, the dial displays Grand Seiko at the 12 position only. This is a significant change from having Seiko at 12, and Grand Seiko at six, as has been the case in the past. Not only does it result in a less cluttered dial, but it symbolically allows Seiko’s premium brand stand apart from its parent company.
Seiko’s dive watches and Grand Seiko have a massive cult following, so we have absolutely no doubt that the first dedicated Grand Seiko diver will be a huge success. In particular the limited edition blue version, will be very much in demand. Hopefully the fact that Australia has a Seiko boutique means we should get one or two, but don’t expect them to stick around.
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 dialed SBGH257, limited to 500 pieces, $14,600