The new Grand Seiko SBGA497: when “Shunbun” meets “Snowflake”Zach Blass
- Seiko first launched Spring Drive in 1999, but 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of Grand Seiko 9R Spring Drive.
- The SBGA497 celebrates this anniversary with a pink “Snowflake” dial inspired by the morning sun on the snowy surface of Mount Hotaka.
- This “Snowflake” meets “Shunbun” is a limited edition of 1,500 pieces.
On the heels of two new “Snowflake” references from last week, this week Grand Seiko introduced yet another “Snowflake” watch – this time in honour of the 20th anniversary of Grand Seiko’s 9R line of Spring Drive movements. Presented as a limited edition of 1,500 pieces, the new SBGA3497 brings to life a simple idea: “What if Grand Seiko merged their SBGA211 “Snowflake” dial with their other fan-favourite SBGA413 “Shunbun” cherry blossom dial?”
In terms of dimensions, materials, and architecture, the SBGA497 is identical to the SBGA211 “Snowflake”. It has a 100-metre water-resistant hi-intensity titanium case that’s 41mm in diameter, 12.5mm thick, and 49mm lug-to-lug across the wrist. The shape of the case and bracelet and its array of mixed finishes are identical as well. The novelty here is ultimately just the pink hue, meant to evoke the moment when the sun rises in Japan, and the blush landscape reflecting off the snow-covered facade of Mount Hotaka, the mountain range that backdrops Grand Seiko’s Studio Shinshu, the home of Spring Drive. This image of sunrise is further driven home by the very intentional choice of leaving the ‘GS’ of the 12′ logo in its untreated golden hue, the sun rising in the sky, while the hand of the power reserve indicator is pinked rather than blued to capture the pink hue of the sky we see during sunrise and sunset.
Inside we have, of course, the in-house automatic 9R65 Spring Drive calibre that is celebrating its 20th birthday, delivering an incredible accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month with a power reserve of three days with a full wind off the wrist. For those unaware, the 9R65 has an easter egg hidden within its design: align the stripes of the rotor with the striping of the bridges and you will notice the movement becomes a picture of the mountainous Shinshu landscape seen outside of the studio where Spring Drive is made.
I know I joked that the SBGA497 = SBGA211 + SBGA413. But the reality is that for those stuck in choosing between the fan-favourite “Snowflake” and “Shunbun” Spring Drive watches, the new SBGA497 kills two birds with one watch. We have seen other hues paired with the “Snowflake” texture, but this pink-hued rendition is probably my favourite outside of the original white “Snowflake.”
Like the SBGA413, the renders of the SBGA497 on the product page grossly exaggerate the saturation of the pink – their live photos better show the subtlety of its pink punch. It almost feels like if you were to grind the dial down, you would be left with Himalayan pink salt. It’s a shame it is limited to 1,500 pieces, but the relative rarity makes it that much more special for the 1,500 people who manage to snag one.
Grand Seiko SBGA497 “Pink Snowflake” pricing and availability
The Grand Seiko SBGA497 will be limited to 1,500 pcs. and will be available for purchase beginning in March 2024 via Grand Seiko Boutiques and authorised retailers worldwide. Pre-orders have opened online now, however, if interested. Price: US$6,300 / A$9,400.
|SBGA497 “Pink Snowflake”
|41mm (D) x 12.5mm (T) x 49mm (LTL)
|100m (screw-down crown)
|Sapphire crystal and exhibition caseback
|Pink Snowflake’ dial
|Hi-intensity titanium bracelet w/ folding clasp
|In-house automatic 9R65 Spring Drive calibre
|Hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve indicator
|Limited to 1,500 pcs. (March 2024)