The Grand Seiko SBGP017 raises a refined middle finger to movement snobsBorna Bošnjak
Grand Seiko has found success in modernising their back catalogue, taking case design cues from the 1967 original 44GS and powering them by their latest movement technology. As the fifth instalment in the 55th anniversary of the 44GS series, the Grand Seiko SBGP017 continues this trend, though it brings previously seen elements together in fresh new ways.
Cloudy brushstrokes on the dial
Taking inspiration from the clouds gathering above the Shinshu region, where Grand Seiko’s quartz manufacturing is located, the resemblance is immediately clear. As alluded to by D.C. in our Introducing article, the SBGP017 is ripe for a Snowflake-level nickname. I’ve already seen some calling it the “Blue Clouds”. Unfortunately, I’m fresh out of ideas, though I’m interested to read your suggestions in the YouTube comments. My lack of imagination, however, hasn’t stopped me from admiring it the entire time the watch sat on my wrist. As with many Grand Seiko dials, stills really don’t do it justice. The delicate wisps of blue appear as if they cast the smallest of shadows onto the overlapping strokes, looking like plumes of rich, blue smoke or fluffy clouds.
The rest of the dial is an exercise in restraint, executed to the nth degree. The dauphine hands are so sharp they might cut you should you look at them wrong, and the same can be said for the facets of the rectangular indices. The heat-blued GS logo and needle seconds hand glisten and change colour depending on the light, with the whole affair highlighted by the five-point golden star above the 6 o’clock index.
In short, I absolutely love this dial
Cased for the occasion
Evoking the shapes of the celebrant, the SBGP017 features the same large, Zaratsu-polished facets that are connected via hairline-brushed portions of the compact case. At 40mm in diameter, with a lug-to-lug of 46.2mm and a thickness of just 10.7mm, it’s a joy on the wrist. On top of all this, it’s water resistant to 100 metres, making it a true daily proposition.
The crown is recessed ever so slightly, with a deep engraving of the ye olde Grand Seiko script. Further down the case flanks, you’ll notice drilled lug holes, another notable feature of the 44GS style of cases. Increasingly rare by the day, I’ve come to love this feature on most, if not all watches, barring out-and-out dress pieces.
The multi-faceted tip of the lug transitions into a three-link bracelet, which you may find more difficult to exchange for a strap due to the SBGP017’s 19mm (sigh) lug width. Finished with a mixture of brushing and polishing, the bracelet is otherwise a standard Grand Seiko affair, featuring no taper and a small, double pusher fold-over clasp.
The hidden star of the show
The golden egg nesting in the back of the SBGP017 is the in-house quartz calibre 9F85. Grand Seiko claims its accuracy within +/-5 seconds per year, which is astonishing, even for a quartz movement. Its utility doesn’t end there, as it offers quick jump adjustment of the hour hand, without the need for hacking the movement and compromising on the accuracy. Grand Seiko also built in an anti-shudder feature, which keeps the seconds hand ticking accurately and smoothly.
Utility aside, I haven’t yet mentioned the beautiful finishing of the 9F85. I love that the combination of striping, bevelling and blued screws is visible through the caseback which is rare in any quartz watch – Grand Seiko included.
I’m conflicted when it comes to the SBGP017, though it’s not for reasons you may think. More specifically, dials with organic designs like seen on the SBGP017 were usually reserved for their mechanical or Spring Drive offering, so this is a rare occurrence. It’s well proportioned, with a great movement that showcases quartz is more than worthy of consideration, and on top of that, it’s well-priced. All of this makes me struggle to find anything I truly dislike – even the 19mm lug width isn’t such a big deal. My main point of contention is to do with its availability, as it is limited to 2000 pieces. Grand Seiko insists on launching an unlimited number of limited editions, making each and every new watch feel like just another limited edition, rather than something truly special. Looking at the SBGP017 at face value, however, makes it one of my favourite watches this year.
Grand Seiko SBGP017 pricing and availability:
The Grand Seiko SBGP017 is available for pre-order from Grand Seiko. Price: AU$5,650
|Case Dimensions||40mm x 46.2mm x 10.7mm, 19mm lug width|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Water Resistance||10 bar|
|Dial||Light blue (major oversimplification)|
|Strap||Stainless steel bracelet|
|Movement||Grand Seiko 9F85, quartz, accuracy of +/-5 seconds per year|