The last two weeks has been the best new watch experience I had for a long time. It is very seldom that you get to see expectations being translated into reality. The Grand Seiko SBGA011 Spring Drive “Snowflake” was able to deliver just that and it was awesome. Without a doubt, the SBGA011 has become an icon that represents the best of what Grand Seiko is all about; quality, technology, art, and design.
The SBGA011 Snowflake was born in 2010. It uses an intricate process to replicate snowfall on the dial. Moreover, using titanium to make it as light as a snowflake, and blue accents to contribute a cold feel reinforces the Snowflake theme.
The SBGA011 has a traditional setup with a date complication as well as a power reserve indicator. The case measures 41 mm in diameter and has a depth of 12.5 mm. It has a screw-down crown as well as a screw-down display case-back. Both the dial and the caseback windows are protected by sapphire crystal glass.
The case and bracelet of the SBGA011 are made from Seiko’s in-house developed and patented “High-Intensity” titanium. This titanium is slightly stronger than 316L stainless steel. For someone like me that often wears sizable dive watches, the very lightweight of the alloy is a welcomed surprise. The complete watch weighs in at just 100 grams.
One interesting point to note is that the case of the SBGA011 does not look like titanium, but more like steel in appearance. This is another unique effect of Seiko’s patented “High-Intensity” titanium alloy. Coupled with the buffing done on the surface of the material using the traditional Zaratsu, or blade polishing technique, the effect is stunning.
The engine powering SBGA011 Snowflake is the 9R66 Spring Drive movement made entirely in-house by Seiko. The beautifully polished movement can be clearly seen via the display case-back.
The dial on the SBGA011 is where the visual magic kicks in. At a glance, it forgivable for most people to not find it interesting. However, the appreciation starts to build up exponentially if one makes the effort to really “see” the watch as it really is. The mirror polishing on every surface is the first. Each polished metal surface reflects like a crystal. The second is the smooth and perpetual-like glide of the blue second hand without any discerning vibration, thanks to the Spring Drive movement. The third and final is the unique one-of-a-kind texture of the Snowflake dial. As I was born and bred in the tropics with very limited time having the pleasure of experiencing snow firsthand, my take on the dial surface is that of icing sugar. To me, the texture is what you would find if you sieve icing sugar over parchment or baking paper.
The watch sits like a charm on the wrist. One could easily forget one is wearing a watch due to its lightness. The width and height of the watch makes for a small target to knock or snag into things.
The Snowflake dial also has an effect of creating the impression of patina. This aging effect creates a warmth feeling to the SBGA011; akin to wearing a cool-looking vintage watch. This factor, coupled with the cold snow-like representation that the designers in Seiko were trying to replicate with this model, provides a completeness or Zen-like aura to the watch.
After wearing sports watches most of the time, using a dress watch without any luminous paint is quite disconcerting at first. At night, you can’t see anything. I sometimes wear a watch to sleep so that I can appreciate the illumination on the dial. However, the Snowflake is not a watch that you can enjoy when it is dark.
Overall, I am very enamoured with the watch and I can see why many watch enthusiasts put this is one of the iconic piece under the Grand Seiko line. The exquisite visual beauty of this watch is just surreal and mesmerizing. For more info, please visit seikowatches.com