Grand Seiko debuts the manually wound Spring Drive SBGY011 in a 44GS caseZach Blass
Grand Seiko is known for their colorful and textured dials born from natural muses. The Japanese philosophy of translating their surrounding nature into their craft has long distinguished their creations but, in regard to the Grand Seiko catalogue, has resulted in an ample menu of dial flavours to choose from. For the watch geek looking to add new colour and texture to their growing collection, indulging in pink cherry blossom dials, green bamboo dials, and more is a welcome proposition. For others looking for their first watch, however, the basics may strike more of a chord. While white dials are certainly not foreign to the Grand Seiko catalogue – take the Snowflake and White Birch flagship models, for example – the new Grand Seiko SBGY011, and its white dial inspired by daybreak in Shinshu, presents a subtly textured white dial for newcomers and veterans to enjoy.
Its stainless-steel case will be palatable for a large segment of wrist sizes, carrying a modern diameter of 40mm that is both slender, at 10.5mm thick, and compact, at 46.2mm lug-to-lug across the wrist. A signature case geometry for the brand, the modern 44GS form is one of the most eye-grabbing cases in their repertoire with its broad-shouldered lugs that are distortion-free, Zaratsu mirror-polished. Accents of brushing to the flat and narrow facets of the lugs, where the strap meets the case, inject the necessary light and shadow dynamic Grand Seiko demands in their designs.
The Grand Seiko SBGY011 dial is not the crisp white we see on the SBGA211 “Snowflake”. It appears to have an ever so slight greyish hue, which makes sense considering its daybreak in Shinshu inspiration. Texturally, it looks to have the rather crosshatched linen-like feel we have seen from the Kira-Zuri reference SBGH295 – but maybe with a more subtle sparkle due to the white colour. Utilising the manually wound Spring Drive calibre 9R31, the dial is very clean in a time-only format. With the power-reserve indicator also placed on the full bridge of the movement, the Grand Seiko SBGY011 dial does not have power reserve or calendar indications some find introduce clutter and diminish “dial purity”. As you would expect from Grand Seiko, diamond-cut and superbly finished applied indices indicate the hours. The smooth gliding central second hand has been hand-blued by one of their artisans. And, as the dial is of a brighter tone, the signature razor-sharp central hours and minutes hands have been mirror-polished on all facets to ensure they go dark against the white dial.
Grand Seiko has paired the SBGY011 with a crocodile leather strap, accompanied by a case-matching three-fold deploying clasp. With its 100m of screw-down crown secured water-resistance, I suspect many will inquire about purchasing a bracelet for the watch as well. Personally, I would have preferred it being sold on a bracelet as it is a simpler operation to purchase a strap after the fact – whether factory or aftermarket. But, perhaps Grand Seiko felt that a manually wound watch was more suited to a leather strap and that it distinguishes this model further from others already in the collection.
As I have already mentioned, inside, beneath an exhibition caseback, is the in-house manually-wound Spring Drive calibre 9R31 that offers 72 hours of power reserve and an accuracy rating of +/- 1 second per day. The full bridge of the movement largely obstructs a view of the components beneath, but the handsome hairline brushing, polished countersinks that offer glimpses of the gears beneath, and blued screws definitely make the calibre worth exhibiting. Its exhibition is also, quite frankly, necessary as to the right of the barrel up top is the movement-side power reserve indication.
Grand Seiko SBGY011 pricing and availability:
Available December 1, 2022, the Grand Seiko SBGY011 will be available for purchase at Grand Seiko Boutiques, and Grand Seiko authorized retailers worldwide. Price: US$8,100
|40mm (D) x 10.5mm (T) x 46.2mm (L2L)
|100m (screw-down crown)
|Sapphire crystal and caseback
|Crocodile leather strap with three-fold clasp
|In-house manually-wound 9R31 Spring Drive
|Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve