I’ve been greatly enjoying my recently acquired Grand Seiko SBGX063. It’s quickly become my faithful daily wearer. Without needing to shout “BRAND!” at the world, the Grand Seiko Quartz quietly conveys a confident combination of quality, gravitas, performance, and an exceptional level of sheer watchmanship.
A few review comments and observations:
- Love the overall profile and design -- truly classic proportions, and exquisite in the contours and details. The polishing, brushing, and chamfering of the case are flawless, and its lustrous finish truly stands out from run-of-the-mill watches. The quality and workmanship is absolutely the equal or better of any watch I’ve owned or handled.
- It's magnificent on the wrist -- yet at the same time it's subtle, quiet, dignified, and mature -- such that it be becomes really a private pleasure to savor.
- The GS is a “just-right” sized watch for me with a 37mm case, and a wrist presence that wears super comfortably in any situation. It is classy and understated, but of obvious visual excellence and execution.
- The deliberate, stately tick of the second hand is different than what I’ve observed on other watches. Rather than most quartzes where the second hand instantly blips to the next second (some even ticking a little bit “jiggly” / or with some bouncy rebound in their tick), this one moves slowly and deliberately between the seconds. You can see it move. It can be mesmerizing. And of course, the second hand stops on every minute marker with precise perfection.
- Setting the watch is different than other watches I’ve owned, too. When turning the crown, the hands move quite slowly, and there is zero slop or play. These attributes combine to enable extremely precise setting of the minute hand. For example, when hacking the watch with the seconds hand at 12, it is easy to set the minute hand to be absolutely, exactly, dead centered on the corresponding minute marker.
- And then, the minute hand advances perfectly precisely in synch as the second hand ticks around the dial. That is, at :15 seconds, the minute hand is exactly one-quarter of the way to the next marker. At :30, it is exactly halfway; and so on. This is good -- because the dagger hands are so precisely pointed, and extend all the way out to the edge of the dial, that such precision is noted and appreciated.
- I really love the dial/hands combination. Highly legible, as well as attractive to the eye. The dial absolutely “has-you-at-hello”. It’s not a mother-of-pearl finish, but it looks a little bit similar. It's a radiant, pearlescent, silvery / champagne metallic effect that shimmers and changes as the ambient light varies – and yet, it is matte, not glossy. It must be seen. It's gorgeous.
- And those razor-sharp dagger hands look like they could do serious damage. Inspecting them with a loupe, you realize how perfectly crafted they are with the combination of brushed, polished, and beveled surfaces. They are a minor miracle of craftsmanship, when you realize they were made by hand.
- Even though the hands are not lumed, if there is any shred of ambient light, these hands capture and reflect it. Their low-light legibility is actually quite good.
- The dial markers are similarly exquisite. Their wonderfully complex beveled surfacing is revealed under close inspection.
- I realize that the incredibly transparent crystal plays a big part in the overall aesthetic of the piece. The hands and dial really “pop” when there magically appears to be no glass in front of them.
- The crown is gorgeous with that finely engraved “GS” logo. While it is not a screwdown crown, it pulls out with a very hefty, secure, and highly satisfying click action. The watch is rated for 10ATM (100 meter) water resistance.
- And the caseback, too is beautifully done with its detailed Grand Seiko lion insignia cast in deep relief:
- Finally, the bracelet is divine. Conservative, classic styling with zero ornamentation, heavy three-piece links, impeccable clasp with a solid feel and vault-like click action, and the best crafted and fitting Solid End Links I’ve ever seen. Super comfortable.
- Adjusting the bracelet was a snap. The GS bracelet is probably tied with Rolex for the easiest to adjust. All I needed to do upon acquiring the watch was to swap a half link on the six o clock side for a full link. The link screws are essentially nonstructural, that serve to conceal and retain a hidden pin. Using a tiny jeweler’s screwdriver I had on hand, I just undid the screws, slid out the pin, add / remove the link, slide the pin back in, replaced the screws and voila: done. No tiny friction collars to fiddle with, special tools, or any application of force needed. Well done, Grand Seiko.
Other noteworthy features of the Grand Seiko quartz include:
- Rated accuracy of +/- 10 seconds per year. Amazing.
A little more about this movement, quoted from “Prometheus Bound” at Prometheus Bound [11/23/01] - TimeZone --
"The current backbone of the GS Quartz collection are the 9F calibres (shown above) first introduced in 1993, which are rated to ± 10 seconds/year and feature a host of refinements including instant date change (1/2000th second). The heart of the 9 jewel module is its unique twin pulse control high-torque stepper motor, which makes each 1 second step of the seconds hand in two fluid pulses to reduce energy consumption. It also features a backlash auto-adjustment mechanism to eliminate stepper error and assure perfect alignment of the seconds hand with the indices. The center of the module is an air-tight compartment which protects the stepper rotor and lubricants from dust and foreign particles, intended to maintain optimal performance for a estimated period of 50 years before requiring service."
- Regarding Seiko’s stated 50-year service interval. Again, amazing. And it seems they have taken it seriously, because every component of the watch (bracelet, clasp, etc) seems built to an extremely high level of finish, durability, and no-shortcuts construction quality.
- One cool thing that is included with the Grand Seiko (which came from a U.S. AD) is a real differentiator. A business card from Seiko that states:
“Dear Grand Seiko Owner,A very nice touch.
Should you ever wish to contact us about your Grand Seiko timepiece, please call our “Special Services” number at 800-xxx-xxxx, anytime between 9:00am and 5:00pm Eastern. This number is dedicated to all Grand Seiko timepiece owners.
Thank you for your patronage. We look forward to assisting you with any questions you may have.”
- I haven’t stayed up till midnight yet to watch the quick-change date do its thing, but I understand it changes in 1/2000th of a second. An example of technical overkill, perhaps, but why not?
Check out this YouTube video for a couple minutes of HEQ glory: courtesy of Tanaka: SEIKO GRAND SEIKO SBGX063
Downsides of this watch? I can’t really think of any. To certain brand aficionados, a Grand Seiko will not transmit a sufficiently “prestigious” brand aura for them. They won’t be able to embrace a high-end watch that does not shout a high-end brand. Which, in my opinion, makes the GS the ultimate “sleeper”. To the great unwashed, the SBGX looks like a watch bought for $199 at the local mall -- a watch that, by the way, would serve perfectly well for the non-enthusiast. But to me, the SBGX represents a highly encoded, desirable, subtlety that is singularly rare. It possesses an understated excellence that is only readable by someone in-the-know. I did not acquire this watch for it to be enjoyed by others. It will be enjoyed by me -- and is being thoroughly so.
Conclusion: My watch collecting has come full circle. I’m really happy with this watch and can see myself being content with it as a solid daily wearer for a long time. After cycling through a number of OysterQuartzes, a whole slew of Rolex mechanicals of every color and stripe, and some “near-HEQ” watches (a handful of Omega 1538 quartzes, as well as the mighty X-33), I’m firmly back in the HEQ fold with this magnificent Grand Seiko. Along with its stable mates, the SBGX059 (white dial) and SBGX061 (black dial), this SGBX063 is a real winner and is the current flagship of my collection.
Now -- it’s time to relax with a
Photo credits: Watch-Tanaka.com, and WUS member “Powerband” (with permission). Please pardon the lousy pics, which were all mine...