The Grand Seiko Starry Night SBGW314 puts some sparkle in their history The Grand Seiko Starry Night SBGW314 puts some sparkle in their history

The Grand Seiko Starry Night SBGW314 puts some sparkle in their history

Buffy Acacia

Can you imagine if Grand Seiko released a watch with a gold-plated case today? It’s laughable to imagine, given its current popularity and position in the luxury market. Well, in 1960, the very first Grand Seiko had a 14k gold-filled case, and it was still considered among the best watches that Seiko had ever produced. The Elegance collection has already seen five new interpretations of that original Grand Seiko, and the SBGW314 Starry Night is the latest with a sumptuous blue and gold combo.

The dial

Grand Seiko Starry Night SBGW314 Dial

Many of Grand Seiko’s dials are inspired by the natural world, and although the scene isn’t quite so obvious here, it’s inspired by a starry night, or hoshizukiyo. Unlike some of the landscapes surrounding the Grand Seiko studio in Shizukuishi, a starry sky is something universal which anyone can appreciate. Rather than latching on to the aventurine trend, the SBGW314’s interpretation of the night sky is executed as a deep navy blue with incredibly fine brushing. This creates a sheen which is fairly smooth like silk satin, rather than something overly brash with reflections and deep textures. When the light catches in a certain way, tiny specks of white get illuminated to evoke the feeling of gazing out into space. It’s a very subtle effect which is easy to miss, but it will definitely reward lovers of detail.

As you would expect from a recreation of a 1960s dress watch, there is a delightful simplicity to the SBGW314, as with all of the Grand Seiko Elegance models. The applied hour markers are double-batons with precise ridges, each of them scattering light in hypnotic ways. The dauphine hands are brushed on their upper surfaces with polished chamfers, increasing the sense of depth. There isn’t a speck of lume on this dial, and there doesn’t need to be. My favourite aspect has to be the old Grand Seiko logo in all of its gothic glory, here filled with silver for a classier appearance than plain white printing.

The case

Grand Seiko Starry Night SBGW314 Case

While Grand Seiko has retained a very accurate profile of its original 1960 release, a 35mm diameter is just going to be ignored by too many people. The vintage flavour is still there with a 38mm diameter, but its wrist presence is still modern enough to feel like a contemporary watch. The 10.4mm thickness ensures it will wear comfortably with long sleeves, and the 45.7mm lug-to-lug length should fit most wrists nicely. The 18k rose gold case has a solid amount of heft on the wrist weighing around 94 grams, and the colour contrasts warmly with the soothing blue dial.

Grand Seiko Starry Night SBGW314 Case Side

30 metres of water resistance is probably much better than whatever the original could handle, but this isn’t exactly a watch that should be going anywhere and doing anything. The case is entirely polished to a mirror shine, and the softness of 18k gold will require some care if you’re not someone who embraces inevitable scratches. From a side view you can see the case’s three-piece construction, as well as the Seiko “S” on the crown. The caseback is gently curved, as are the chamfered lugs, giving the watch a good amount of drape.

The movement

Grand Seiko Starry Night SBGW314 Movement

From the SBGW314’s exhibition caseback, it may seem at first like there isn’t much to look at. A large plate takes up almost the entire window, with only the balance, mainspring, and a few rubies to show. Just like the dial however, its minimalism is the calibre 9S64’s charm. The Geneva stripes are smooth and almost seem blended, softening the look and feeling more relaxing than awe-inspiring. The specifications aren’t aiming to wow you either, simply promising great performance. It beats at 4Hz for a smooth sweep, even if it’s not as smooth as their hi-beat or spring drive movements. The power reserve is 72 hours long, wound manually. It promises an accuracy between -1/+10 seconds per day when worn, or -3/+5 when static.

The strap

Grand Seiko Starry Night SBGW314 Strap

The total lack of visible stitching on the SBGW314’s strap contributes to the overall look of sophistication, which is a huge relief as an over-the-top strap can easily distract from a beautiful watch. It has black crocodile leather for its outer surface and calf leather for the inner, promising the best in both style and comfort. An 18k rose gold folding clasp helps to keep the head of the watch balanced. It’s a good thing that this strap suits the watch so well, because the 19mm lug width will make it a bit of a struggle to find other options.

The verdict

Rose gold and navy blue hasn’t quite reached the same timeless status as yellow gold and black, however there are few better combinations. The Grand Seiko Elegance Starry Night SBGW314 may just be yet another reference in a growing collection of reissues, but I’m sure it will rocket to the top of wish lists everywhere for how it balances restraint and decadence. Despite its solid gold case and the accompanying price tag, it actually feels like quite a conceptually accessible watch. Three hands are all you need, and winding it manually gives you a personal connection with it.

The Grand Seiko SBGW314 Elegance Starry Night pricing and availability

The Grand Seiko Elegance Starry Night SBGW314 is a limited edition. Price: US$26,500

Brand Grand Seiko
Model Elegance Starry Night
Reference SBGW314
Case Dimensions 38mm (D) x 10.4mm (T) x 45.7mm (LTL)
Case Material 18k rose gold
Water Resistance 30 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystal front and caseback
Dial Navy blue sunburst with subtle star pattern
Bracelet Crocodile and calf leather, 18k rose gold folding clasp
Movement 9S64, in-house, manual-winding
Power Reserve 72 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds
Availability Limited to 50 pieces
Price US$26,500