Seiko’s done a great job over the last couple of years making more of their catalog directly available to American consumers. That being said, some of Seiko’s hottest releases remain restricted to the Japanese domestic market (JDM). The SARX055 is one such watch. A relatively recent release, the SARX055 has already developed quite the following, even earning its own nickname. Dubbed the “Baby GS Snowflake” by Seiko fans due to similarities shared with the Grand Seiko SBGA211 (a beloved watch commonly referred to as the Spring Drive “Snowflake”), the SARX055 offers an incredibly high level of fit and finish, proving once again that Seiko is a brand that emphasizes value.The SARX055 is part of the Presage line, so it sits within the mid-range of Seiko’s automatic offerings. In previous years, the Seiko SARB035 might have been the closest you could get to the Grand Seiko aesthetic for just a fraction of the price, albeit without quite the same level of finishing. The Baby Snowflake looks to be a big step closer, boasting a case and dial that are far more intricate than what we’ve seen from Seiko in the past at this price point.
The most obvious similarity and the reason for the name is the dial, particularly the pattern and color. Inspired by a gentle dusting of snow, the silvery-white dial has a texture that looks lustrous from a normal viewing distance and shows an impressive level of detail up close. It’s not an easy feat to achieve a dial that is both simple and yet somehow packed full of character at the same time, but Seiko appears to have struck the right balance here.
Sitting on top of the snowy dial are applied hour markers, which are given a highly polished finish, further accentuated through intricate faceting. The same finish is given to the dauphine style hour and minute hands, the date window frame, and the Seiko logo. All of the polished edges here are designed to glisten and glint as they catch the light—an effect that acts as the perfect complement to the dial. The thin sweep seconds hand offers a little kick of blue to diffuse the sea of white and silver (it doesn’t appear to be heat-blued, but you can’t win them all). Sitting just outside the hours is a slightly raised sub-seconds track, which creates a break between the snowflake dial and the highly polished bezel.
The SARX055’s intrigue and appeal doesn’t end at the edges of the dial. A combination of polished and brushed surfaces brings the intricate geometry of the titanium case to life. Taro Tanaka, the brilliant mind behind Seiko’s Grammar of Design, would surely be proud.
Seiko gives the titanium case a super-hard DiaShield coating to keep it looking pristine and to help avoid corrosion. You would be forgiven for thinking that this was stainless steel at first glance, but the weight of the watch will be a giveaway. Some people will always prefer the weight and assurance that comes from a heavier stainless steel case and bracelet, but the comfort that comes from titanium is a great blessing. Mimicking the case, the full titanium bracelet consists of mixed finishing.
At around 41mm in diameter and just over 46mm lug-to-lug, the SARX055 is slightly larger than the similarly styled offerings from Seiko’s SARB lineup, but the tempered lug-to-lug should still make it accessible to most wrists. The front crystal is a flat sapphire with Seiko’s anti-reflective coating. The case is rated to 100 meters of water resistance.
Powering the watch is Seiko’s solid 6R15 movement, a workhorse with hacking, hand winding, a 50-hour power reserve and a beat rate of 21,600 bph. That said, when compared to the dial, the view through the display back isn’t quite in the same league. A solid case back might have been a viable alternative.
If you don’t fancy paying Grand Seiko money but still want a stunning watch with a lot of the same heritage and design language of the Grand Seiko Snowflake, then the SARX055 has a lot to offer. Being a JDM model, it may prove more difficult to see in person before buying, but from what we’ve seen this one looks to be a winner. The SARX055 sells for approximately $1,000 and it’s available through the usual channels of JDM sellers, among them Seiya, Higuchi, and Chino-Watch.