Grand Seiko SBGN005B vs SBGV205G: 2 reviews plus 1 comparison
* The story
A couple of weeks ago I've turned 50 and my wife wanted to give me a great present, something that could "last for quite a while". She asked me to buy a watch (good idea since they've stolen 4 watches 4 years ago) but she knows how particular my tastes are. So I've started to consider the GS SBGN005, the sport & blue dial implementation of the new 9F86 caliber. At the beginning I've always been attracted by The Citizen (it has EcoDrive solar recharge, 5 spy, independently adjustable hour hand or IAHH and perpetual calendar or PC). But slightly something changed and I've moved to the GS 9F caliber. In fact I've came across a Citizen that could attract me very much. PC and EcoDrive are important but not necessary. IAHH makes a big difference but the 9F86 has it. However what made the difference in my mind was the 9F digital rate trimmer, accessibly by the user (the A0x0 caliber series has this feature reserved to the factory). It was fundamental for my choice since I know from several posts here in WUS that the Japan Citizen service centers are actually unable (or don't have time) to do a fine tuning to a watch that has been returned to get it into the 5spy specification. On the other side I wanted a watch that, if it has to "last for quite a while", could be trimmed by the user and not send to Japan to get it back more or less the same (as reported by many). The last obstacle was the availability of Grand Seiko here in Rome. So I gave to my wife a picture of the SBGN005 to show her the model I liked and she discovered that, just a few months ago, a jewelery not far from my home has begun an official Grand Seiko retailer. In a couple of days we went there and I had the opportunity to see personally the SBGN005 and we liked it a lot. The retailer soon approached to me nicely and we discovered to have many things in common: I have 2 manga shop in Rome and he likes that stuff too, and we both practice martial arts. He gave me a big discount and I've purchased the watch at once. He also showed me the SBGV205G and my wife also liked it a lot, in fact more than the SBGN005. So she asked me to buy also this one and... well, I've got to have a huge discount (better than the SBGN005) on this watch and I've bought it too. I owe it all to my wife !!
* The models
The Grand Seiko SBGN005B belongs to the Sport Collection and is based on the new caliber 9F86, with the GMT complication and a high torque stepper motor. It is also the first 9F to introduce the IAHH. This model has been presented in autumn 2018 and is for sale since January 2019 (it has been anticipated by 2 months by the limited edition SBGN001). Despite all the advertising, it has been distributed in very limited quantities: the retailer told me that it is very difficult to get the same model from Grand Seiko and that my SBGN005 was the only one for sale in Italy when I've purchased it. The watch is someway a tribute to the Rolex Explorer but with a higher level of finish. I have discovered a lot of subtle details that lack completely on a Rolex, despite this one costs (at least) 3 times more. This is the power of the brand, something I really don't care for.
The Grand Seiko SGBV205G belongs to the Heritage Collection and is based on the 9F82 caliber. It is a traditional 9F caliber but I don't know the difference between the 9F62 (maybe a high torque stepper motor). The watch is a tribute to the 1967 Seiko collection, with classic elements elaborated in a particular design, especially the shape of the case. The 205 is the second iteration since the SBGV005 presented something like 5 years ago. The differences are minimal.
* The case
Both watches are made of steel. I own (and have owned) several steel and titanium watches. Sure, the titanium is lighter but I like more the steel for the look and for the touch feeling. Moreover the steel is easier to be polished and since I've bought them to own them for quite a long time, I've preferred steel over titanium (not to mention that as far as I know no GS actually for sale is titanium). The reflexes of the steel are also far superior and are all exalted by the terrific Sallaz polishing.
The 005 is 39mm wide and 12mm thick. There are crown guards and the crown is screwed down. I've tried to align the engraved GS logo but it has been impossible to me. The flanks of the case are vertical. The horizontal and vertical surfaces are brushed while the case back (not the back plate) and the oblique surfaces are polished. All the edge lines between the brushed and the polished surfaces have been smoothed (on this regard I hate the razor sharp edges of a Rolex). The back plate has the GS crest engraved.
The bezel is conical and the surface, 2mm wide, is sloping 45° circa. The surface is brushed and the numerals are engraved and painted (similar to a Rolex Explorer). The bezel has also a small cylindrical base 1mm tall which is polished.
The 205 is 40mm wide and 10mm thick so very slender. All the surfaces have been carefully polished with the Sallaz machine and only small particulars are brushed, such as a thin band on the side of the case. The crown is slightly recessed in the case and is smaller that the one on the 005. Also the bezel is completely polished. The bezel has the upper surface slightly leaning towards the outer edge and is a ring 2mm wide. The vertical flank of the bezel is slightly conical (larger on the top, smaller at the base) almost cylindrical, 2mm tall.
Both have dual curved sapphire glass, slightly domed. Both watches are rated 10 bar and 4800 A/s antimagnetic resistance.
* The dial
The 005 dial is very different from the one shown in the pictures. It appears almost black, with some blueish reflexes appearing when you rotate the dial. Moreover, the blue reflexes appear only by radial sectors and the dial doesn't appear blue all together. This is a very good thing because I was afraid the dial to be "too blue". The indices are applied, all steel and polished. They are parallelepipeds with the sides cut at 45°. The lume is in the outer edge. The inner ring is painted and divided into 2 parts, that is night (from 18 to 6) and day (from 6 to 18). It is almost unnoticeable but a nice touch. The minutes indices are painted, as well as the GS and Grand Seiko logo and the GMT red near 6 o'clock. I like the clean dial, that is no other word written on it: very elegant and minimalistic. The hands (hours, minutes and GMT) are lumed. They are "dauphine" style and very sharp to the edges. The seconds hand is very thin. The GMT hand is red and located near the dial so it is not only covered by the other 3 hands but also very unobtrusive.
The 205 dial has radial brushes that start from the center to the outside. At the beginning it seems very "plain" and "boring". However the more you look at it the more you discover the subtle details. For example the "light effects" change a lot depending on the angle you put it. If you see the dial perpendicularly the colour is an opaque silver, if you see it almost in parallel and in direct sunlight it changes to a deep champagne. The GS logo is applied and is located just below the 12 o'clock index while the Grand Seiko label is painted. The indices are all applied and mirror finished. They are just parallelepipeds but wonderfully made. Also the hands (dauphine stile) are all mirror finished and all the look is minimalistic. The only one "colorful" detail is the deep blue seconds hand, also very thin. The final result is an elegant watch with a very understated look. The preciousness of the watch is revealed only to the one who carefully looks at it, otherwise it looks as a very ordinary watch. I like a lot this feeling of owning something very special yet not so easy to be appreciated, it gives me a subtle sense of exclusivity !
The jeweler explained me that he was told that the GS dials are somewhat hand made and this explains the small deviations of the hands vs the indices. I don't know if this is true but this could be a good explanation to the fact that the hands alignment is very good but not constant all around the dial. For sure it is very good but at a close look you can see small deviations here and there, even if nothing to be annoyed.
About the lume of the 005, it is just fair. Here a comparison among the SBGN005 (left), SBGV205 (no lume), Casio OCW-S100 and Certina DS-2 Action Diver (right)
* The bracelet
Both watches have the lugs 19mm wide. Both bracelets are not tapered, that is the width of the links is the same both near the lugs and near the clasp.
Both bracelets have removable links with screws on both edges and 1 half link for better adjustment. No additional holes for micro adjustment are provided but the half size link is, in my opinion, all we need.
The 005 bracelet is a standard 3 links "Oyster" type with a distinctive element that is the central link slightly raised over the external links. All the links are brushed with the sides polished.
The 205 bracelet has 5 links, all brushed but the small links that are polished as well as the sides.
Both bracelets have the links firm but not too tight so they bend very well around the wrist and are very comfortable.
The closing system is the same, with a square buckle with the GS logo engraved. There are 2 buttons that release a central pin and the bracelet is foldable. The folds are exquisitely crafted with no sharp edges and tight tolerances.
While the 005 bracelet looks to me a bit "anonymous", the more elaborated bracelet of the 205 has been chosen directly by the designer so it should not been changed to maintain the uniqueness of the design and to keep it conforming to his intentions.
Both watches are overall very comfortable. As they're steel made, I feel their presence on my wrist but they are at the same time not so heavy so they don't slide or rotate on the wrist too much.
In the past I could have complained about the "too much standard" design of the Grand Seikos, usually not too sporty nor too classic. With these 2 models I have bought a sport model and a classic model, that is 2 watches with a very distinct personality but that at the same time very versatile. In other words, due to the quality and the finish, it is not a shame to use the 005 on formal clothes as well as the 205 is at ease in a sport environment. However if you put next to each other you see the huge differences. When I wear one of them I know I have a very special watch on my wrist but at the same time they are not blatant I feel very confident and at ease. In the end, they're a great addition to my collection !
I will add to this review the accuracy report (they've been rest respectively on May 22nd and 23rd). By the way, it has been a nightmare for me to get an excellent alignment of the minute hand while resetting the watch since the seconds hand has a slight play that made things very hard. The 205 has a very "soft" feedback while rotating the crown to adjust the time. On the other hand the 005 has a very pleasant "cluncky" feeling: setting independently the hours hand has a strong click while rotating the crown to set the time lets you feel even the gear teeth. By the way, to set the 9F86, you have just 2 crown positions: the first one adjusts the hours hand independently (and also the date so to change it you have to do 2 full rounds), the second position hacks the seconds hand and let you set the minutes hand and the 24 hours hand. It is the first GMT watch I own but it seems to me a bit tricky.
I did not write anything about the package because it is a very standard double paper box. The outer one encapsulates the inner one, the booklet and the warranty paper. The booklet is the same for every Grand Seiko quartz.
I hope you will enjoy the pictures, all taken with my smartphone Huawei Mate10Pro in direct sunlight and after posting them I understand now how bad they are !! I beg you pardon because there are several visible fingerprints: yesterday was a very hot day... I swear anyway that there aren't scratches and the watches are mint: I really take a lot of care of them !!!
Also please apologise for my English !
P.S. Feel free to ask anything you want. I'd like to share the joy of owning these two marvels with you.
P.P.S. As soon as I'll have some time I'll take new pictures with a better camera.