Grand Seiko SBGT 039
(there’s another review and some photos of this watch on the Seiko & Citizen forum)
Ever since I happened on what was then the HEQ Forum in 2006, any watch I’ve bought has had a black or dark blue dial, in the belief that the contrast between the hands and a dark dial would be easier and quicker to read. I was always tempted by the various special GS models with 5 spy specs and when the SBGT 039 was announced, despite its white face, I thought I’d ask Higuchi for a quote, thinking that I could probably get all, or almost all, of my money back if I hated it. To make a long story short, the watch arrived last Monday.
Although there are some lighting conditions in which I can more easily read my blue Chronomaster or the black (dark grey, really) CITIZEN than the 039, in most circumstances the 039 is at least as easy to read and sometimes easier. I find that I’m not at all offended by the textured face and I really like the blue seconds hand and the blue GS, though I wish Mr Seiko would come up with something other than that anachronistic, Gothic font.
The indices are beautifully made and finished. It’s very difficult to say whether the minute markers are applied, though they are clearly slightly raised. The SEIKO and GS are also applied but the “GRAND SEIKO”, also in Gothic, may not be. The hands are also beautifully made, with the top surface and the bevels on each side polished to a mirror finish. As can be seen in the first photo, above, the date appears to be slightly offset upwards in relation to the day.
The case is simply shaped, with slightly convex flanks, similar in profile to those of the Titanium Chronomaster and direct comparisons appear in these photos. In the same photos the rather flat cone of the bezel (the 039 is on the right) can also be compared to the steeper cone of the Chronomaster. Like the latter, the case is 37 mm in diameter without the crown. The crown is screwed down and signed with the usual Gothic GS.
The bracelet is complex, with 7 components per link; all except two are brushed finish. Those on either side of the center link are polished and can be seen to be separate pieces in the photo. The tiny screwed end plugs and straight pin are also shown. The outer end faces are mirror polished. The bracelet is much longer than usual. I only expect to remove about three links to fit my wrists, admittedly on the skinny side. Personally, I think I prefer the simpler, three component bracelets fitted to the less expensive GS models and the new Eco-drive CITIZEN, but this one is certainly beautifully made and finished. The last photo shows detached links from the CITIZEN AQ1000-58E (on the left) and the Seiko SBGX 087, for comparison (my apologies for the rather grubby background). The Citizen's links are shorter but essentially the same design. The fastening is the same as used on most GS models.
It’s way too early to talk about accuracy, of course, but the movement is described in the Instruction manual as 9F83 but “enhanced”, which I take it means “selected”. Whether it means anything more, I don’t know. As usual, even with high accuracy models, the seconds hand does not line up perfectly with the minute markers all the way round, but this example does better than most. As I said earlier, the date number appears to be slightly misaligned, too.
Unlike the SBGX 087 (9F62) and the SBGF019 (8J56), whose specs call for the watch to be worn at least 8 hours a day if the accuracy is to stay within 10 seconds per year, the SBGT039 (9F83) instructions specify that the watch be worn 12 hours a day if the watch is to stay within 5 seconds a year. Earlier versions of the 9F demanded 12 hours a day, as do all quartz models of The Citizen. One wonders how much difference is made by 12 hours a day versus 8.
The back has the usual information, the case material, movement and case number, water resistance level and the other cryptic symbols. Besides this expected information, it also has the Limited Edition number, and the Grand Seiko rearing lion, a very handsome fellow.