HANDS-ON: The Grand Seiko SBGA407 Snowflake blueJames Robinson
USP – the acronym for “unique selling point”.
A watchmaker’s USP is paramount to their success, and if you look at the general consensus of what’s considered the best brands out there, they’ve all got it — they each excel at something that puts them a cut above the rest.
Whether it’s Rolex and their storied robustness, A. Lange & Söhne and their prolific levels of movement finishing, or Patek Philippe and their ability to make a steel sports watch so damned hard to purchase.
What these USPs translate to, most importantly, is sales – if a brand is considered to be the pinnacle in a discipline of watchmaking, they will always be desirable.
Grand Seiko’s USP is their dials – in the eyes of many, including my own, they represent the zenith of the horological industry in both design and finishing.
No word of a lie, you need to look at their dials through a loupe to properly appreciate the aesthetic, craftsmanship and attention to detail on offer with these timepieces.
Made to mimic the snow that falls around Grand Seiko’s Shinshu watch studio –the birthplace of the marque’s fabled Spring Drive movement – the Grand Seiko SBGA407 Snowflake Blue promised to be an exciting and novel addition to the firm’s extensive range of snowflake timepieces.
And now that I’ve had the opportunity to strap the elegant new timepiece snugly to my wrist, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this watch has one of the nicest dials of 2019. Period.
We’re very familiar with the traditional white snowflake implementation that Grand Seiko has used on many different models over the years, but the addition of a gorgeous shade of almost baby blue is nothing short of a revelation, giving the textured dial even more depth and complexity than its white counterparts.
Complementing the sumptuous dial are expertly finished baton hour indices that feature a razor sharp, polished outer edge and brushed centre, and GS’s signature dauphine hands, which have been given the same treatment.
The blue snowflake aesthetic is further accentuated by a congruent blued steel seconds hand, and the power reserve complication, located between seven and eight o’clock, is diminutive and charming, thanks to its contrasting concentric pattern.
Shrouding the wonderful dial is a graceful 40.2mm polished stainless steel case that measures a relatively slim 12.8mm thick. Classically rounded and featuring both decently curved and tapered lugs, the case sits comfortably on the wrist and leaves you with a distinct feeling of effervescence.
Capping the well-proportioned case is a box-shaped sapphire crystal that’s been given an anti-reflective coating on its inner side, which helps dramatically when wearing the watch outdoors. The crystal also sits proud of the case ever so slightly, which gives the timepiece some vintage flair. The case-back features sapphire crystal, too, so you get a great opportunity to check out SBGA407’s gorgeous movement.
Speaking of the movement (what a segue), it’s Grand Seiko’s fabled Spring Drive Calibre 9R65. This innovative hybridised powerhouse offers enviable levels of accuracy that equate to ±1 second per day/±15 seconds per month, 72 hours of power reserve, and 30 jewels. Being a Spring Drive timepiece, you also get to appreciate the inimitable, mesmerising sweep of the seconds hand, which never tires of looking special.
Adding to the gorgeous blue visuals, the Snowflake blue is mated to a supple dark navy alligator leather band with matching navy stitching and a polished stainless steel deployant clasp.
The thing I like most about this SBGA407 Snowflake Blue is the same thing I like most about Grand Seiko — they are known for making some of the best dials in the game. That’s it. They’re not known for waiting lists, or being bought and sold for disgusting premiums, or being treated like speculative stocks – they are bought by people who love horology and appreciate a timepiece that reflects the same ethos.
The Grand Seiko SBGA407 Snowflake Blue Pricing:
The Grand Seiko SBGA407 Snowflake Blue has a recommended Australian retail price of $8700.
Made in partnership with Grand Seiko. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.