Editor’s note: Did you know that Grand Seiko is also be a part of W&W this year for the first time? Like you, we are also excited for their Watches & Wonders 2022 novelties, and let’s look at some of the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches from 2022. For our detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
The New Grand Seiko Spring Drive Watches
Grand Seiko is raising the ante this year; not only will they be a part of Watches & Wonders 2022, they have also begun this year with not one, not two, but three white dialled beauties, all powered by the legend-in-the-making Spring Drive movement.
My first reaction to these three new Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches was to marvel at the fact that despite featuring very similar dial bases, they all seemed to charter their own courses and write distinctive stories.
The 5W1H Of The New Grand Seiko Spring Drive Trio
Probably ousting Omega as the king of limited edition luxury watch releases are the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive Trio: a date and time only version reference SLGA009 — part of the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Collection — along with a Sport Collection Grand Seiko GMT 20th Anniversary Limited Edition ref. SBGE275 and Sport Collection Grand Seiko Chronograph 15th Anniversary Limited ref. SBGC247.
SLGA009 – Prefect for slim wrists
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SLGA009 features a 100m water-resistant 40mm diameter and 11.8mm thick stainless steel case with a welcome for slim wrists lug-to-lug spacing of 47.6mm.
We have gone hands-on with the first ‘White Birch’ Grand Seiko SLGH005 — RRP 13’600 AUD from 2021 — that also won the Men’s Watch prize at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
You can see below how the watch fits on my ~16cm slim wrists.
It again draws similar inspiration as the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive SLGA009 from the white birch tree forests that grow near the Grand Seiko Studio in Shizukuishi. One major difference between the two is of course the movement, with the ‘White Birch’ Grand Seiko SLGH005 using an in-house 9SA5 Hi-Beat movement.
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SLGA009 retails for 13’595 AUD, and is a regular production release.
SBGE275 – Prefect for larger wrists
Last year we went hands-on with the 40.5mm diameter SBGE257 that is a smaller version of the larger 44mm diameter SBGE248 (of which the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE275 is a limited edition version). For someone with slim wrists, the SBGE257 almost pushes boundaries with 48.4mm lug-to-lug and 51mm end-link to end-link spacing. So frankly, the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE275 will be better suited for those with larger wrist sizes.
You can see below how the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE257 watch fits on my ~16cm slim wrists.
The new Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE275 released 20 years after the 2002 creation of Grand Seiko’s first GMT features a 100m water-resistant 44mm diameter and 14.9mm thick stainless steel case with a lug-to-lug spacing of 50.8mm.
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE275 retails for 10’895 AUD, and is a limited edition release of 1’500 pieces.
SBGC247 – Prefect for lovers of complications
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGC247 features a 100m water-resistant 43.5mm diameter and 16.1mm thick high-intensity titanium case with a lug-to-lug spacing of 51.2mm.
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGC247 retails for 16’395 AUD, and is a limited edition release of only 700 pieces.
Best Foot Forward
The most striking feature about the three new Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches is that they provide the collectors of white dials with the opportunity to choose between varied complications on the dials.
What Is The Grand Seiko Spring Drive?
Before we state the specifications of the individual movements, a bit on the Grand Seiko Spring Drive movements.
Of late, despite featuring a vast range of watches in their catalogue, the main calling card for Grand Seiko still seems to be their Spring Drive movement, made famous by the Grand Seiko ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Skyflake’. Understandably so, given that the Grand Seiko Spring Drive can achieve extremely high accuracy for a watch wound by a mainspring.
The way it works is that a traditional spring-driven movement is paired with Grand Seiko’s electronic technology that functions without batteries or other external power sources. The mainspring, as used in traditional mechanical watches, drives a series of gears as in any other mechanical watch.
GS does it differently by making use of a rotor that is connected to the end of these gears that generates a small electrical charge that activates an electronic circuit and quartz oscillator.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R family currently has 9 members, up from 5 as of mid-2021, and all displaying the power reserve.
This includes the calibre 9R65 (automatic 3-day), calibre 9RA2 (automatic 5-day), calibre 9R01 (manual 8-day), calibre 9R02 (manual 3.5-day), calibre 9R96 (automatic 3-day GMT), calibre 9R86 (automatic 3-day GMT chronograph), calibre 9R66 (automatic 3-day GMT), calibre 9R31 (manual 3-day) and calibre 9R16 (automatic 3-day GMT).
Basic Specifications Of The New Grand Seiko Spring Drive Trio
Inside the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SLGA009 ticks the Spring Drive 5 Days Calibre 9RA2.
It features 38 jewels and provides an accuracy of ±0.5 seconds per day (±10 seconds per month). The watch face shows the functions of central hours & minutes and sweeping seconds, along with a (framed) date aperture at 3’o clock.
The power reserve indicator is thankfully at the back, ensuring a clean dial.
Inside the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE275 ticks the Spring Drive GMT Calibre 9R16.
It features 30 jewels and provides the same accuracy as above. The watch face shows the functions of central hours & minutes and sweeping seconds, along with an unframed date aperture at the ungodly 4’o clock location, an extra GMT hand, and a power reserve indicator between 8 and 9.
Inside the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGC247 ticks the Spring Drive Chronograph GMT Calibre 9R96.
It features 50 jewels and again the same impressive accuracy. The watch face shows the functions of central hours & minutes, a sweeping small seconds hand at 9, two chronograph counters stretched between 1 and 5, power reserve display between 7 and 8, and a framed date aperture at 3.
“The watches are as rugged as the Hotaka mountains that the Grand Seiko watchmakers can see from the Shinshu Watch Studio”.Press release
Our Thoughts On The New Grand Seiko Spring Drive Trio
Out of the three, as they stand, my favourite naturally is the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SLGA009, given it will fit my slim wrists. But if the SBGE275 was to become available in the smaller 40.5mm case architecture of the SBGE257, that would perhaps be one of the best white dialled sports watches of all time.
In that case the 48.4mm lug-to-lug spacing would ensure it worked well for anyone, those with slim or large wrists. That said, the current 50.8mm visually doesn’t look big on my wrists, and for those who are in love with this but are afraid of the sizing, fret not; the way Grand Seiko has executed the combination of the outer and inner bezels ensures that is looks smaller on the wrist. There is also a rather significant height difference between the dial base and the top sapphire crystal, which again wraps the perception.
Plus there is just something about the combination of bright blue with pristine white that really strikes a chord with me. And with changing natural light, the colour of the blue bezel changes shade as well. Also, both the SBGE275 and the SBGC247 are meant to replicate the wind carved patterns on the snowfall that blankets Hotaka mountains in Japan under a blue winter sky.
But it is in the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE275 that this contrast is most prevalent, thanks to the use of blue in the bezel and the other accents on the dial. And when it comes to legibility, the non-cluttered dial of the SBGE275 along with Lumibrite — on the bezel, indexes and hour, minute and GMT hands — ensures readability under any conditions.
I also like how it is quite reasonably priced at 10’895 AUD, being the least expensive of all these 3 releases. And I also appreciate the limited edition release of 1’500 pieces that makes the SBGE275 relatively easy to acquire but not very common.
Coming back to the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SLGA009 White Birch model, quite frankly, the combination of a textured dial with the tempered blue seconds hand is pristine and enchanting. Add to this the beauty of a smoothly gliding hand rather than tick-tock and the ‘frost’ finishing of the movement, and one rarely gets a better deal when it comes to white dialled watches.
I like that the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive trio of white dialled watches from 2022 is designed to cater to a vast number of audience. Whatever your poison, let nature guide your next watch purchase.
To find out more about the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches and their other watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are courtesy are © 2022 Seiko Watch Corporation