Pre-Baselworld 2018: Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition SBGH263 Watch

By Dhananjay Pathak

Seiko’s luxury arm Grand Seiko is known for producing some really fine looking watches that are a testimony to the high-quality skills and craftsmanship of Japanese watchmaking. Baselworld 2017 marked a new chapter (sort of) in the history of Grand Seiko, as Seiko decided to present Grand Seiko as an independent brand going forward. While the entire rebranding thing, in my opinion, was more of a marketing gimmick as it did not change anything much except for the removal of an extra Seiko logo from the dial, Seiko did launch 3 limited edition watches to mark the occasion. For Baselworld 2018, the Japanese brand are launching yet another new limited edition timepiece, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special edition reference SBGH263. This watch features a rather traditional and unusual dial layout for a Grand Seiko with applied Arabic hour numerals and as the name suggests is powered by one of Grand Seiko’s high-beat movements.

One of the things that always amazes me about Grand Seiko is the high level of detail and finish found on their watch cases. And even though the Grand Seiko reference SBGH263 is yet to see the day of light, having handled a few other Grand Seiko’s in the past I can assure you that the case quality on this watch would easily compare to the big boys from the industry and could possibly beat them as well. Also, in case you feel I am making some tall claims here, I would recommend you to visit a Grand Seiko boutique and confirm for yourself. The case on the SBGH263 has a modest diameter of 39.5 mm implying that the watch should wear comfortably on almost all wrist sizes, but at the same time being 13.5 mm thick I would not call it a svelte watch, which I wish it was, given the dressy style of this timepiece. Another aspect of this watch that really disappoints me is the paltry 30 metres watch resistance this case offers. Yes, I do understand that this a dress watch and the size of the movement also contributes to that thickness, but at the given price point and with such a thick case I would at least expect the watch to be water resistant to 50 metres or more.

As mentioned before one of the major highlights of this watch is its dial layout. If you look at any watch from the current Grand Seiko catalogue, you would be hard-pressed to find a watch with Arabic numeral hour markers and that’s what acts as a differentiating factor here. The applied golden hour markers give the watch a retro feel and also provide a nice contrast against cream colored dial which as per Seiko resembles the Japanese color of silk called “Shironeri”. The golden color tone continues on the razor-sharp Seiko style dauphine hands giving a sense of warmth to the dial and an overall vintage vibe to the watch. There is also a date window at 3 for date lovers, which surprisingly does not feature an applied frame, but is rather outlined with a printed golden border.

Powering the watch is the Grand Seiko calibre 9S85 which operates at a frequency of 36000 BPH giving the seconds hand of the watch a beautiful constant sweep. The calibre 9S85 is an automatic movement which is known for its high precision and offers a power reserve of a healthy 55 hours.

Even though the Grand Seiko SBGH263 does not bring anything new to the table in terms of design, it is still a classic looking watch and would certainly appeal to Grand Seiko purists who are looking to add a distinctive looking Grand Seiko to their collection. The watch would come fitted with a dark brown crocodile strap and only 453 pieces of this watch would ever be produced. The SBGH263 would retail at a price of 6200 USD.