By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
Seiko continues to push forward in coming up with new innovative models for its fans. For Baselworld 2016, Seiko has introduced a new Grand Seiko piece that has a few firsts. The SBGD001 is the first Grand Seiko to be made by the renowned Micro Artist Studio, a Seiko facility located in Shiojiri in the Nagano prefecture of central Japan. The SBGD001 also comes with a new Spring Drive movement that offers an eight-day power reserve, the 9R01 Spring Drive Calibre. This movement is also designed and made from the Micro Artist Studio.
The Micro Artist Studio is the crème de la crème unit under the Seiko kingdom. Known mainly for its Spring Drive Minute Repeater, Sonnerie and Eichi watches for Credor, Seiko’s highest watch line, the Micro Artist Studio has been tasked to also contribute to the Grand Seiko range with its expertise.
The SBGD001 surpasses the level of quality seen in previous Grand Seikos. The kind of quality seen in the Credor line has been transplanted to the SBGD001 which even with the current Grand Seiko standard of quality is already considered excellent.
The SBGD001 is a 43 mm wide and 13.2 mm thick cased dressed watch made out of platinum. This platinum is of a special compound (Platinum 950) that can be polished to a sparkling mirror finish using the Zaratsu technique, the ancient Japanese art of polishing metal.
The dial is simple white with all rectangle hour markers and three hands. Apart from the second hand which is blued via heat treatment, the other two hands are five-sided sword-like and polished to a mirror finish just like the markers. There is no date window to disrupt the clarity and symmetry of the dial. What is remarkable and can only be seen up close and in person is the diamond-dust-covered dial, which makes one think fresh snow that shimmers in the morning light in the clear mountain air of the area around Nagano. When light enters the high definition dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and hits the surface of the dial, it glistens with a subtle and unusual beauty.
On the back, a sapphire display case back allows a clear view of the new the 9R01 Spring Drive Calibre. One would also be able to see the one-piece bridge, the jewels and a power reserve indicator. This Calibre is made out of 307 parts and 56 jewels.
This one-piece bridge ensures the precise positioning of each wheel in the gear train and maximizes the efficiency of the transmission of power from the barrels. Its rigidity also prevents distortion in the event of an impact or other shock.
Having the power reserve indicator is a plus point in my view. It provides a quick check to know how much energy still available in the watch instead of guessing.
What you cannot see is the main springs which is hidden behind the bridge. This winding movement uses three separate barrels that wind and converts the potential energy stored in the springs to kinetic energy linearly.
Like all Spring Drive Calibres, the accuracy of the 9R01 is no acceptation. Seiko guarantees an accuracy of ±0.5 second per day or ±10 seconds per month.
The watch has a water rating of 100 meters and has magnetic resistance up to 4,800 A/m. To complete the ensemble, the SBGD001 comes with a crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push button release.
Only eight (8) of the SBGD001 will be manufactured. Seiko has listed the retail price at EURO60,000.
I can’t wait for Seiko to marry the new movement to a more conventional case at standard Grand Seiko quality. Replacing the diamond dusts and platinum to a plain white dial and stainless steel base material could bring down the price to a more affordable level. There are a lot of people looking for such a design in a Grand Seiko – 43 mm plain dress watch with hidden power reserve indicator. If Seiko follows it product strategy, we just need to be patient before our wish comes through. For more info, please visit seikowatches.com
MEOR AMRI MEOR AYOB – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Meor Amri is a passionate watch collector from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches (excessively!!!) on his own free time. His blogs on the same subject are: Eastern Watch & Western Watch Read his articles here