GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review
Like Tree6Likes

Thread: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13
  1. #1
    Sponsor Timeless Luxury Watches's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    PLANO, TX
    Posts
    5,492

    GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    Grand Seiko Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review





    Iíll be the first to admit that Grand Seikoís strategy with the Snowflake has always been, to put it charitably, mysterious to me. In creating the Snowflake, the brand found its first truly international hit and an icon that may one day rival watches like the Speedmaster or Submariner. Every other brand, like Tudor with its Black Bay, for instance, doubles down on these successes and creates dozens of versions of their recent masterpiece.




    But not GS. GS has only released a handful of different versions of the Snowflake over the years, and these have generally been slight tweaks, like gold accents on the SBGA259. This new SBGA407, then, along with models like the SBGZ001, represents a turning point for one of the most important dials available today.




    So whatís changed? Well, obviously, it has a new blue dial, although it sports an extremely similar snowdrift texture (as you would hope). But this new Snowflake is also slightly smaller, and slightly dressier than the original. Matching this more classic case, itís one of few Grand Seikos that comes on a strap instead of a bracelet. Perhaps the biggest change, other than the blue dial of course, is that the new SBGA407 comes in steel, not titanium. More on that later.




    First, letís get right to what most people really care about: the new dial. The blue, to my eyes (and camera) at least, is softer than in Grand Seikoís stock photos. By that I mean itís a slightly lighter, more subtle blue. It does a good job of taking on the hues that deep snow can sometimes resemble, but never approaches the rich, bright blues associated with glaciers. Suffice it to say, it remains a fairly under-the-radar look.




    Looking much more closely now, we can see the intricate snowdrift texture that covers the dial. Grand Seiko has, since its earliest days, been associated with incredible dial craftsmanship, but it was really the SBGA011 (today the SBGA211) Snowflake that captured the worldís attention. I suspect that people have an immediate connection to the Snowflake because the human psyche already has a connection to snow.




    When we look at a fine guilloche or sunburst dial, these too are quite complex and intricate, but they are also very abstract. Snow, conversely, is something that the human mind recognizes instantaneously. The Snowflake, either this SBGA407 or the SBGA211, therefore, succeeds because it is somehow more primal than most watch designs. It immediately has an association with everything you already like or donít like about the snow and all of its connotations.




    Or, alternatively, maybe itís just really pretty. Either way, just like the regular Snowflake, you do get a glimpse at some more traditional dial textures in the divisive power reserve complication. As Iíve already said a dozen times in my last Snowflake review, while I love power reserves, it would be nice if collectors got to choose for themselves. As the Snowflake collection expands, and it seems like it will, perhaps GS fans will get that option on some of these more obtainable models. This is perhaps signaled by the SBGZ001, the so-called Snowflake Maximus, which kicks out the power reserve entirely.




    The date, thanks to its applied frame, remains unobtrusive and easy to read. Because the white date ring is fairly consistent with the light blue (as opposed to white on a black dial, or vice versa), it doesnít bother me at all. I do wonder what it might have looked like with a blue date ring, however, but since watch brands in general seem absolutely determined not to color-match their date rings with their dials, I suppose weíll never find out.




    The hands remain stylistically identical to those on the SBGA211, and thank heaven for that. These are perhaps my favorite hands in the entire world of watches, and I wouldnít change a thing.




    The applied hour markers, on the other hand, have changed. Gone are the tapered markers at 6, 9 and 12, and in their place are rectangular markers. To their credit, they are more consistent with the other hour markers, and therefore less noticeable, all the way around the dial than the SBGA211ís, but Iíve always viewed the Snowflakeís hour markers as a masterpiece. Theyíre my favorite hour markers in the entire Grand Seiko lineup, so anything other than them, for me, is a bit of a step down. But tastes will vary, and Iím sure just as many people will prefer them to the SBGA211ís markers. Part of me is glad they changed them just to help make this a more distinct model.




    Overall, Iíd define the SBGA407ís dial as a variation on a theme, rather than as a rival to the SBGA211. On one level, it loosens up a bit, adding more than a bit of color. But on another, the more angular markers and classic case also contribute to a dressier appearance.




    The case is ever so slightly smaller than the SBGA211ís, 40.2mm versus 41mm, so if you felt like the original Snowflake was too large, the SBGA407ís probably isnít going to change your mind. However, itís stylistically quite different. The SBGA211 has a much sportier case, made all the more apparent with its bracelet and screw down crown.




    The Blue Snowflake, conversely, has a more elegant case, aesthetically similar to the original 1960 Grand Seiko. Unlike the SBGA211, its crown doesnít screw down, which I prefer in a dress watch like this, as it just makes the watch that much easier to set or wind.




    Itís also entirely polished, unlike the alternating brushed/polished surfaces of the SBGA211. This tends to compensate for its overall understated design a bit. Oddly, the smaller, dressier SBGA407 is also ever so slightly thicker than the SBGA211, 12.8mm versus 12.5mm. Thereís no way youíd ever appreciate that difference in real life, but it is a step away from the overall dressy direction the design is taking us.




    The changes in the case design play almost as much a role in differentiating how the watch looks as the blue dial does, but it also hides one of the other important distinctions, namely that the case is made of steel instead of titanium. This might annoy Snowflake purists, as ďbeing as light as a snowflakeĒ was one of the traits of the SBGA011/SBGA211 Snowflakes. Others, like me, however, have a preference for steel and donít mind a little weight in our watches. Steel tends to be more scratch resistant, offering a functional improvement as well. Whether using steel or titanium is a good thing is ultimately up to individual preference, but Iím certainly not upset by the lack of titanium here.




    One thing that hasnít changed is the presence of the extremely popular 9R65 movement, the core of the spring drive collection. This super-accurate mechanical/quartz hybrid has been found in Snowflakes since the beginning, and it doesnít seem like thatís going to change anytime soon.




    The 9R65 boasts quite a few advantages compared to other movements in this price range. For one thing, it has a 72 hour power reserve, but more importantly, itís exceedingly accurate. GS rates the 9R65 for 15 seconds per month, although most users experience significantly better than that in the real world.




    Perhaps its most interesting trait, however, is its lack of an escapement, the beating heart of a conventional watch movement. Replacing it is the glide wheel, which rotates in a single direction constantly, as opposed to the oscillations of a balance wheel.




    This results in one of the more fascinating traits of the spring drive, namely that the seconds hand is perfectly smooth, even under close examination. It is not the illusion of smoothness, as achieved by high frequency movements, but rather the lone example of true smoothness. The seconds hand glides completely silently around the dial, making for an oddly soothing experience. Perhaps no other movement more accurately reflects the passage of time better than the spring drive.




    Beyond these technical achievements, the 9R65 movement is quite beautiful to behold. Spring drives clearly receive the most aesthetic attention of all of GSí movements and are the ones youíll find yourself turning the watch over to look at more often.




    So thatís the new SBGA407, but it will inevitably be asked whether the SBGA407 is better or worse than the SBGA211. In my opinion, this is simply the wrong question. The SBGA407 exists alongside the original, and not as a rival, but as an alternative. The SBGA407 will be there to serve fans who want something dressier, something in steel, or something, well, bluer.




    Meanwhile, the SBGA211 isnít going anywhere. If you like it more, you can still get it, and if you already have one but find yourself wanting more Snowflake in your collection, the SBGA407 is there to fill that empty spot in your case. If I had to make a complaint about it, itíd be the price. It doesnít cost a cent more than the SBGA211. In fact, it costs exactly the same, $5,800. My question is why not charge at least a little less for a steel watch on a strap rather than a full titanium watch and bracelet. For those primarily concerned with value, then, I think the SBGA211 clearly has an edge.




    The SBGA407 manages to perform the delicate balancing act of being different enough to justify its existence, yet incorporating enough Snowflake DNA to warrant its namesake. Itís genuinely a great watch, and I hope itís the beginning of an entire line of Snowflake watches. The basis for the Snowflake design is just too good not to see at least a handful of versions in different sizes, colors, and metals to fit every need.

    If youíd like to learn more about the SBGA407 or pre-order one for yourself, please click here.

  2. #2
    Member eleven pass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    MI, US
    Posts
    319

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    Thanks for sharing! I hadn't noticed the different hour markers at first. I also prefer the tapered look, but the blue snowflake is a beauty nonetheless.

  3. #3
    Member MediumRB's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    RoK
    Posts
    3,877

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    It's like a little piece of candy...the GS Winterfresh?
    Tick-tock in RoK GMT+9, no DST
    --
    Not Seiko: Parmigiania Tonda 1950, Zenith El Primero Chronomaster, Piaget Upstream, Muhle Glashutte Seebataillon GMT, Eterna Madison Spherodrive, Vulcain Cricket 1951 Classic, Bell & Ross Space 3 GMT, Bulova Accutron Astronaut (c. 1966), Omega Speedmaster triple date, Sinn 556 Anniversary LE, IWC Cal. 89 (c. 1957), Glycine Airman SST-12, Pulsar Date II (c. 1971), Scurfa Diver One, G-Shock Rangeman 9400, Vostok Classica
    Seiko: Grand Seiko SBGT035, Credor Node GCAT996, Grand Seiko 5641-7000 (1972), "Ashtray Tuna" 7C46-6009 (1987), 6139-7069 "Blue Eye" chrono (1974), 5740-8000 Lord Marvel 36'000 (1974), Bell-Matic 4006-7012 (1971), King Quartz 9223-5000 (1981), Seikomatic J13044 (1963), 6119-6400 UFO (1974), King Quartz 5855-5000 (1977), Silverwave 8221-5020 (1980), Majesta 9063-5020 (1984), SKX399K "Philippines"

  4. Remove Advertisements
    WatchUSeek.com
    Advertisements
     

  5. #4
    Member Sir-Guy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    3,198

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    Great review and photos. Itís a looker for sure. I really like that bezel. Very complementary to the overall tone of the design.

  6. #5
    Sponsor Timeless Luxury Watches's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    PLANO, TX
    Posts
    5,492

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by eleven pass View Post
    Thanks for sharing! I hadn't noticed the different hour markers at first. I also prefer the tapered look, but the blue snowflake is a beauty nonetheless.
    Well you know GS, never one to miss those small details.


    Quote Originally Posted by MediumRB View Post
    It's like a little piece of candy...the GS Winterfresh?
    Lol I think GS is lucky this one already has a nickname or that might very well catch on.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-Guy View Post
    Great review and photos. Itís a looker for sure. I really like that bezel. Very complementary to the overall tone of the design.
    Thanks! It's a tremendous watch. Love reviewing ones like this that are so intricate and have a lot of interesting attributes. I think this is the fourth Snowflake I've reviewed, actually.

  7. #6
    Member TwentiethCenturyFox's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Las Vegas, NV
    Posts
    11,880

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    Another fantastic review! Love that tasty dial.

  8. #7
    Member sticky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    South Yorkshire
    Posts
    55,603

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    I prefer the white still but I wouldn’t look down my nose at it if someone offered me one.

  9. #8
    Sponsor Timeless Luxury Watches's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    PLANO, TX
    Posts
    5,492

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by sticky View Post
    I prefer the white still but I wouldn’t look down my nose at it if someone offered me one.
    There's no replacement for the original, but it's nice that they are filling out Snowflake availability. Hopefully this is just the beginning.


    Quote Originally Posted by TwentiethCenturyFox View Post
    Another fantastic review! Love that tasty dial.
    Thanks! You're always so kind.

  10. #9
    Member SomeAssemblyRequired's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    SW Colorado
    Posts
    2,631

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    I like the heft of steel and the stunning dial. If the price was lower by $500 or so - no bracelet, after all - it’d be an attractive proposition.
    ďI have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.Ē Umberto Eco

    Panerai * Rolex * Omega * Ball * AEgir * MŁhle-GlashŁtte * Oris * Archimede * Seiko * Magrette * Padron

  11. #10
    Member IGotId's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    5,313

    Re: GS Blue Snowflake SBGA407 Review

    I may have been interested in this watch if the case was Titanium...
    Adnan

    Current 'pieces:

    Rolex GMT II BLNR

    Zenith Defy
    Omega SMP 2254.50
    Seiko SAGN007
    Ulysse Nardin Classico
    Hermes Slim d'Hermes

    Gone:
    Audemars Piguet 15300
    Vacheron Constantin Overseas
    Jaeger LeCoultre Tribute to Deep Sea vintage chronograph
    Rolex DateJust41 126300

    Rolex Daytona 116500

    JeanRichard Terrascope
    IWC 3239 Laureus

    Rolex Explorer II 216570
    Speedmaster Co-Axial 9300
    Omega Aqua Terra 2503.33
    Omega Aqua Terra 2502.80
    Omega SM300
    Speedy Pro 3572.50 w/ a Panda dial (three times)
    Speedy Pro 3570.50 (several times)

    Oris 65


Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts