Grand Seikos is the more common high-end line by Seiko. Although the Credor line is the premier high-end line by Seiko, the Grand Seiko has more following by virtue of the many models catering to many genres. For those of you that follow the Japanese watch industry and appreciates quality, owning a Grand Seiko would definitely be on your bucket list.
The Grand Seiko GMT Spring Drive Limited Edition SBGE033 watch was specially made in honour of the 55th anniversary of the Grand Seiko line. Seiko quietly released this sporty new GMT watch without much fanfare back in 2015. If I was a brand owner, I would feel it was a wasted opportunity to trumpet the history of the brand. However, not so with Seiko. This subtle marketing strategy is very common with the Company. They believe it is unnecessary to promote an excellent product. The product will naturally promote itself, if it was designed and made to impress by its sheer effectiveness and quality.
I believe this is one of the only few sporty watches under the Grand Seiko line of watches (excluding dive watches). Granted there are a lot of GMT Grand Seikos but this is the only one with a contrasting chapter ring colour compared to the dial (white on green). It also has luminous hands and markers which are not seen before on its GMT watches.
Only 500 examples of this watch were made. Fortunately, I was in luck as I was able to grab one of less than a handful allocated to the Malaysian market.
The SBGE033 is made out of stainless steel with crocodile leather as the strap. A GMT watch, apart from the standard three hands representing the hours, minutes and seconds, there is a fourth hand to represent the GMT time. The crown is located at 3 o’clock and there is a date aperture also at the 3 o’clock position. A power reserve indicator is located at the 7 o’clock position. The watch is 41 mm across and has a height of 13.8 mm. Lug width is 20 mm while the lug-to-lug length is 49 mm. Overall, the SBGE033 weighs in at 98 grams.
The mesmerising part about the watch is the radial green dial. The colour is so vivid and yet different when viewed at different angles. The watch comes with three-time scales. The outermost is the GMT scale. The second set of time scale is the minute markers and the third are the main hour markers. The SBGE033 is one of the few Grand Seikos that comes with LumiBrite paint.
The whole dial is protected by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating provided on both sides of the glass surfaces.
The polishing on the casing is almost glass-like. Using the samurai sword polishing technique called Zarastu, the polishing of the steel is near to glass perfection. The quality of the Zarastu polishing can clearly be seen when viewing the movement via the display screw-down caseback. Also protected by sapphire crystal, you can see the way the light reflects and refracts into other component colours as it hits the polished metal.
The movement powering the SBGE033 is the 9R66 Spring Drive movement made entirely in-house. This automatic engine is made at Shinshu Watch Studio in Seiko Epson’s facility in Shiojiri, Japan. Containing 296 components, it utilises 30 jewels. The mainspring is capable of storing 72 hours of power reserve. The Spring Drive technology gives it an outstanding accuracy rating of +/- 15 seconds per month. This technology uses an electromagnetically controlled regulation of the mainspring.
This watch is well suited for all occasions. The 41 mm width makes it a very wearable watch. The ability to use it in a sportier environment makes it even more useful as an ‘everyday’ watch.
The wearing experience is as expected – brilliant. The crocodile leather was firm straight from the box but after 48 hours of continuous wear, it started to be supple as it absorbs the oils from the wrist. In fact, if you sweat a lot, the ‘breaking-in’ of the leather is much faster.
The star of the show is the captivating green dial. For the two weeks wearing this watch, without fail, I would be asked by people about it. I suspect the radial design on the dial creates a distortion in the colour wavelength at different angles which attracts the attention of those getting even a glimpse of it. The effect must have caused their brains to take notice of something not seen before.
However, in reality, you would not want to make this as your beater watch. The quality of the casing and polishing makes it a watch only for special occasions. As an owner, my fear is causing harm to the things that make this watch unique. I would be very mindful about the possibility of scratching the casing or hard knocks on the sapphire crystal.
Seiko designed this watch to be used for traveling and adventure. You can wear it while swimming (100-meter water rating with a screw-down crown) and you can use for formal functions. It can take a fair amount of abuse. However, would you want to subject it to situations that would be more suitable to Seiko 5 model watches? I rather not.
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