The patterned white dial on the latest model within Grand Seiko’s Elegance Collection is meant to evoke the beauty of freshly fallen winter snow outside its watchmaking studios in the wooded Shinshu region of central Japan. That particular scene is known as Shizuri-yuki, which refers to the moment when snow spills down from the branches of trees to create a shimmering cascade of light.
The new Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGY008 could be considered the next in a series of Spring Drive debuts with dials meant to evoke the beauty of winter just outside the Grand Seiko studio.
You might recall the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGY007 we showed you earlier this year, with its hammered ice-blue dial that beautifully mimics a nearby frozen lake, a phenomenon called Omiwatari.
Grand Seiko cases this latest Elegance watch in a 38.5mm rose gold frame dotted along its sides with fifty-three hand set diamonds. Artisans nicely arranged the gems so that they gradually decrease in size from the center of the case to the end of the lugs, which appears to flow along the side of the case. This quite effectively generates the namesake Shizuri-yuki sparkle.
Grand Seiko then continues to evoke the winter scene on the dial with a wind-blown snow pattern. The scene is broken only by the very smooth Spring Drive seconds hand, and much more slowly as hour and minutes pass as indicated by matching, perfectly faceted gold hands.
This is a fairly thin watch, measuring 10.2mm in depth, thank to Grand Seiko’s own Spring Drive manual-wind caliber winding Caliber 9R31, which offers an impressive 72 hours. As a Spring Drive caliber, it also provides incredible precision with accuracy rated to ±1 second per day.
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGY008 is sold on a brown leather strap and comes with an additional satin gold-colored leather strap (above). The watch will be available as a limited edition of sixty at Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected Grand Seiko retailers worldwide in January 2022, just as winter peaks in the northern hemisphere. Price: $38,000.
Specifications: Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGY008
(Limited edition of 60)
Movement: Grand Seiko Spring Drive Caliber 9R31 Driving system, manual-winding, 72-hour power reserve, accuracy of ± 1 second per day (± 15 seconds per month), dual spring barrel.
Dial: White ‘snow’ pattern.
Case: 38.5mm by 10.2mm rose-gold case and clasp with 53 diamonds (.38 carat), dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw case back, water resistance to 30 meters, magnetic resistance to 4,800 A/m.
Strap: Crocodile with three-fold clasp with push-button release. Additional satin gold-colored leather strap.
Grand Seiko’s latest additions to its Elegance Collection include these two unisex 34mm models (SBGX347 and SBGX349). Each watch sports this brand’s characteristic and highly light-reflective diamond-cut markers and hands. Grand Seiko sets a white or a royal blue dial within the slim (10.7mm) steel case with a thin bezel and boxed, retro-inspired sapphire crystal.
The watch’s straight-forward design belies a great deal of technical detail, including the use of Caliber 9F61, Grand Seiko’s famed high-end (and hand-assembled) quartz caliber with an ultra-precise accuracy of +/-10 seconds a year.
And Grand Seiko protects this movement against potentially destabilizing magnetic influences to an especially strong level of 4,800 A/m, not typical protection among watches in this price range.
Both Grand Seiko Elegance debuts are priced at $3,300.
Specifications: Grand Seiko Elegance
Case: 34mm by 10.7mm steel, box-shaped sapphire crystal, 4,800 A/m magnetic resistance, 30 meters of water resistance, screw caseback with lion emblem.
Seiko’s partnership with the U.S.-based sports clothing and accessories brand Rowing Blazers, announced earlier this summer, resulted in three colorful automatic Seiko 5 Sports watch designs. Two of the watches are limited editions and one model is an ongoing ‘special edition.’
The collaboration offers three distinctive bezels on a 42.5mm steel case with a black Seiko 5 Sports day-date dial with its crown at 4 o’clock. The collaboration includes an unusual red and white seconds hand alongside the Seiko 5’s characteristic wide hour and minute hands.
Also new here is the Rowing Blazers logo on the dial. Inside Seiko fits its ultra-reliable automatic Caliber 4R36 with 41-hour power reserve.
The collection, developed in collaboration with Rowing Blazers founder and creative director Jack Carlson and Seiko’s product development team, features three unidirectional bezel designs: a checkered rally pattern (SRPG49), a red zigzag Rowing Blazers motif (SRPG51) and a four-color red, blue, yellow and green design (SRPG53).
(See our interview with Carlson below for insight into how and why he designed the Seiko-Rowing Blazers collection.)
The latter design is on the special edition model that is not limited in number. Seiko includes a rainbow, green or black nylon strap with each steel bracelet watch.
“Collaborating with Seiko is a dream come true,” says Rowing Blazers founder Jack Carlson. “I have a small collection of both new and vintage Seikos, and I’m obsessed with the brand. This is our first real foray into the world of watches — though we often sell vintage Seikos on our site — and I couldn’t imagine a better partnership.”
As a bonus, each watch is emblazoned on its caseback with a skeleton as a reminder that time flies (a memento mori). Price: $495.
Seiko’s Seismic Shift
By James Henderson
By the time you will read this, what has been perhaps one of the most seismic shifts in the ever-growing watch subculture that is the Seiko 5 Sport series will have already happened. In fairness, there have been and will continue to be Seiko 5 Sports models put out in limited edition series. That being said, the majority of them are targeted to a decidedly wider, easier to sell-to demographic.
More to the point, Rowing Blazers has built its fan base (I am a proud member) by decidedly swimming against the current of the obvious. So while it would have been easy to take a basic watch and throw the Rowing Blazers name on it, the Rowing Blazers Seiko 5 capsule did something more.
Rowing Blazers founder Jack Carlson and vintage watch expert Eric Wind rolled up their sleeves and came up with not one, not two, but three unique watches that got watch fans in North America and beyond so worked up that they sold out faster than Wonka bars when everyone was looking for golden tickets.
Although your best chance to get one of these nifty time machines is to scour the various secondary market places, the powers that be here at Isochron Media thought you might enjoy a bit of background on what has proven to be the Seiko 5 equivalent of what happened when the guy said “What if we sliced the bread before we sold it?”
Not unlike when Smith met Wesson, you and Eric Wind have a bit of a story. How did you two meet?
Jack Carlson – Eric and I met on the first day of our freshman year in college, at Georgetown in 2005. We became fast friends. I even persuaded Eric to try out for the rowing team. Eric’s rowing career was brief, but we remained great friends. We were both in the School of Foreign Service; Eric was studying Farsi, and I was studying Chinese.
After Georgetown, I did a PhD at Oxford in archaeology, and while I was there, Eric popped over for a year to do a one-year MBA. I was honored to be the best man at Eric’s wedding to his amazing wife Christine. Aside from being a great friend, Eric has also been my watch consigliere and a great supporter of the Rowing Blazers brand since we launched four years ago. Eric sources and curates many of the vintage watches we sell at Rowing Blazers, and, of course, we also worked together on the Seiko collaboration!
What was the inspiration for the capsule?
I love Seiko, and I’ve been a vintage Seiko collector for a while now. So, it was an honor to have the opportunity to work together. I wanted everything we created to feel timeless, classic, and wearable. But I also wanted them to be fun, a little unexpected, and a little irreverent.
Color and pattern are very important to Rowing Blazers as a brand; and I wanted the capsule to reflect that. The four-color bezel was just something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s so simple, but also fun and unique. It’s a very ‘90s vibe, very nostalgic, like a lot of what we do at Rowing Blazers.
The Rally bezel is inspired by some of my favorite vintage Seikos. Whenever we collaborate with a brand with a rich history and heritage like Seiko, I always try to tap into that history, and to bring some aspects of it that might not be getting a lot of love or attention currently to the surface. And the zig-zag artillery stripe is one of our brand codes. We’ve never rendered it in a circular format before, but it came out brilliantly.
Why the Seiko 5?
The Seiko 5 Sports are a great canvas to work on. We can do a lot of fun things, and the result is still classic, wearable, and a relatively accessible price point, which I think is great for our first watch collaboration.
Are there possible future collaborations?
Yes! Several exciting things in the works! Stay tuned!
Specifications: Seiko 5 Sports Rowing Blazers
(Limited Edition of 500 pieces (SRPG49/SRPG51) and Special Edition (SRPG53)
Movement: Automatic Caliber 4R36, 21,600 vph, power reserve of approximately 41 hours.
Case: 42.5mm steel with limited edition screw-down see-through caseback, water-resistant to 100 meters.
Dial: Black with day-date, LumiBrite hands and markers, red-striped seconds hand, limited edition screw down see-through caseback.
Bracelet and strap: Stainless steel with tri-fold push-button release clasp. Additional green nylon strap included with SRPG49, additional multi-color nylon strap included with SRPG53 and additional black nylon strap included with SRPG53.
Grand Seiko artisans use a variety of manufacturing and finishing techniques to create the dial, including stamping, plating and hand painting.
Named to celebrate Seiko’s 140th anniversary, the watch’s stunning and highly engraved 38.5mm platinum case also expresses the natural clarity of Achi’s night skies. Pleasing groups of leaf-like patterns cover the entire case, repeated in varying directions to capture “the exquisite order and ever-changing aspect of Achi’s starry skies,” according to Grand Seiko.
Inside Grand Seiko fits it superb Spring Drive manual-winding caliber 9R02, a movement first seen in 2019 when it marked the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive.
The movement itself continues Grand Seiko’s ode to natural beauty. For example, the barrel is shaped to echo the bellflower that is the symbol of the Shiojiri region, home to the Micro Artists Studio. Next to the barrel is the power reserve indicator.
The power reserve here is an impressive eighty-four hours, largely thanks to the Caliber 9R02’s Dual Spring Barrel. Not surprisingly, Grand Seiko expertly hand polishes the rims of all the bridges, the holes for the rubies and the screws.
Note the 18-karat yellow gold plaque on the lower bridge. While it is marked with the engraved words “Micro Artist,” Grand Seiko allows the owner of the watch the option to replace these words with a phrase of his or her choice. Available starting in August, the watch is a limited edition of fifty. Price: $79,000.
Specifications: Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition (Limited edition of 50)
Movement: Caliber 9R02 manual-winding Spring Drive with power reserve of 84 hours. Accuracy: ± 1 second per day (± 15 seconds per month). Dual-Spring Barrel and torque return system, power reserve indicator.
Case: 38.5mm by 9.8mm platinum with clasp, hand-engraved, dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw case back. Water resistance: 30 meters. Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m.
Dial: Blue with sparkles made with stamping, plating and hand painting.
Strap: Crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push button release.
The dial on the latest elegant Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch beautifully mimics the undulations of lake Suwa when its surface is frozen, a natural phenomenon called Omiwatari.
Grand Seiko says its watchmakers and dial designers were inspired by the lake to create the ice-blue dial on the new SBGY007, a 38.5mm steel watch.
To make the dial, Grand Seiko artisans at the Shinshu Watch Studio near Lake Suwa hammered the dial’s mold to create the visible edges and the round shape, then polished the indexes and sharpened the hands.
Thanks to these angles and colors, light glimmers across the hands and dial, a result said to reflect Grand Seiko’s Nature of Time design philosophy.
Grand Seiko powers the watch with its own hybrid, super-precise Spring Drive Caliber 9R31, with dual barrels that deliver a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound. Turning the watch over, viewers can eye the nicely finished Spring Drive movement, beautifully flecked with tempered blue screws and its power reserve indicator.
Grand Seiko expects this new SBGY007 to be made available in early July at Grand Seiko Boutiques and retail partners. Price: $8,300.
Specifications: Grand Seiko Elegance Collection SBGY007
Movement: Manual-winding Spring Drive Caliber 9R31. Driving system: Spring Drive with accuracy: ±1 second per day / ±15 seconds per month (average) power reserve: 72 Hours.
Dial: Hand-hammered ice blue, polished and faceted hands and markers.
Case: 38.5mm by 10.2mm steel, water resistant to 30 meters.