The new Grand Seiko SBGZ009 is a handsomely hand-engraved holy grailZach Blass
- The new Grand Seiko SBGZ009 is a hand-made Micro Artist Studio creation displaying the ultimate finishing of the manufacture.
- This unofficial sequel to the SBGZ001 is white-birch driven versus snowflake driven.
- Will GS collectors feel like the SBGZ009 steps on the toes of SBGZ001 owners?.
If you’re just starting your journey into Grand Seiko enthusiasm, after seeing the image above you are probably thinking holy sh*t, this is incredible! But, if you are well and truly immersed in all things Grand Seiko, you are probably thinking holy sh*t, this is incredible! But, wait, haven’t I seen this before? And, for those in the latter camp, you would be totally forgiven because upon seeing the new Grand Seiko SBGZ009 at a preview event, I genuinely had to ask if it was a new watch or the SBGZ001 unveiled for the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive in 2019. But, no, this is not the SBGZ001. The Grand Seiko SBGZ009, like the SBGZ001, is a hand-made Micro Artist Studio creation with a special dial, hand-engraved platinum case, and top-tier Grand Seiko Micro Artist Studio calibre 9R02.
Where they differ is in their textures. The SBGZ001 dial and case utilise their signature “snowflake” pattern. The Grand Seiko SBGZ009, on the other hand, has much more pronounced and thicker lines that use the manufacture’s “white birch” pattern. The clearest delineator between the pair is their central seconds hands, blued on the SBGZ001 and not blued on the SBGZ009 for a more monochromatic look.
Now, the SBGZ001 was a limited edition of 30 pieces and the new SBGZ009 is a limited edition of 50 pieces. The initial question that surfaces to mind is: will owners of the SBGZ001 feel like their toes have been stepped on with the release of the Grand Seiko SBGZ009? Or are the textural differences side by side, and the colour of the central seconds hands, enough of a distinction for owners? Ultimately, after much thought where I have landed is that each watch is a celebration of arguably the two flagship textures of the manufacture. The SBGZ001 is a tribute to the Grand Seiko icon that built the brand initially in regions outside of Japan, while the SBGZ009 celebrates the snowflake’s textural rival that really kickstarted the era of standard production Evolution 9.
With the subtle elephant in the room fully addressed, let’s dig into the Grand Seiko SBGZ009 itself. Packaged within Grand Seiko’s dressier and more rounded case form, the SBGZ009’s platinum 950 case is compact and slender with a diameter of 38.5mm, thickness of 9.8mm, and a lug-to-lug span of 43.7mm across the wrist. Normally when we discuss a Grand Seiko case it is all about alternating facets or surfaces that leverage perfectly hairline brushed or distortion free mirror polished surfaces to create light and shadow. With the Grand Seiko SBGZ009, like the SBGZ001 and SBGZ007 before it, the majority of the case is intricately hand-engraved with a pattern that serves as a fluid extension of its dial – and this is a special dial.
While subjectively I think the dial is very special in appearance, I use the term special because the star-emblem beneath the words “Spring Drive” at 6′ denotes that this is a Grand Seiko “Special Dial”. This means that the hands and indices found on the dial are actually made of precious metal, rather than the plated brass we typically find in Grand Seiko watches. The 14K white-gold hands and indices display Grand Seiko’s famed Zaratsu-finishing, with the top facets of the hours and minutes hands distortion-free mirror polished along with their razor-sharp bevels allowing the hands to go dark against the brighter dial – light and shadow, as well as heightened legibility.
It is also important to note that all of the dial elements, with the exception of the central handset and applied hour indices, are hand-engraved. Nothing is printed. The white birch pattern, Grand Seiko logo at 12′, ‘Spring Drive’ and ‘Special Dial’ star at 6′, as well as the minute hashes are all hand-engraved. Insane right?
Of course the dial and case are exquisitely finished, but, within the pantheon of Grand Seiko calibres, the in-house Micro Artist Studio calibre 9R02 is the crème de la crème. Credor fans will recognize the front-facing architecture of the movement, as it is the same as the Credor 7R14 found in the prestigious Eichi II watches. But, the 9R02, which is Grand Seiko’s take, features a longer power reserve than the 7R14 at 84 hours of power reserve. It also distinguishes itself from the Credor 7R14 with more rounded and thicker anglage to the bridges versus the razor-sharp precise beveling seen on the 7R14.
Both are gorgeous calibres, but, if it means anything to you, I actually prefer the rounded anglage found on the 9R02. There are a few Easter eggs to be discovered in the calibres decoration as well. Initially you will notice the movement side power reserve indicator, the rich hairline brushing to the top of the bridges, and the gorgeous chamfering of their edges. But, take a look beneath the Grand Seiko logo – diagonally to the left – and you will find that the beautifully executed interior angle, and the two jewels that sandwich it, create a subtle “Kermit the frog” motif. You also have hand-finished bellflowers on the barrel cap, the bellflower the symbol of Shiojiri (where the Micro Artist Studio is located).
Overall, if you are somebody who is all about the decoration of watch, inside and out, then the SBGZ009 has to have the status of grail Grand Seiko in your book.
Grand Seiko SBGZ009 pricing and availability:
The Grand Seiko SBGZ009, the third hand-engraved entry into the Masterpiece Collection, is a limited edition of 50 pcs. that will be available at Grand Seiko boutiques in June 2023. Price: A$117,950 / US$79,000
|38.5mm (D) x 9.8mm (T) x 43.7mm (L2L)
|Hand-engraved platinum 950
|Hand-engraved White Birch “Special Dial”
|Sapphire crystal and caseback
|Crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push button release, platinum 950 clasp (partly 18k white gold)
|In-house manually wound 9R02 Micro Artist Studio calibre
|Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indicator (movement side)
|June 2023, limited to 50 pcs.
|A$117,950 / US$79,000