Baselworld 2019: First Look at the Grand Seiko Elegance SBGY003

To celebrate 20 years of the Spring Drive movement, Grand Seiko have unveiled the SBGY003 as part of the new Elegance Collection. Combining the power generated by a traditional mainspring, the accuracy of a quartz oscillator and the visual smoothness provided by the electromagnetic glide wheel, Seiko’s Spring Drive technology remains the only player in this game after two whole decades.

There are actually four new watches to mark that achievement: two in platinum, one in yellow gold, and the SBGY003 — a limited edition of 700 pieces in stainless steel.

Grand Seiko Elegance SBGY003

Case material: Stainless steel
Dial: White starburst
Dimensions: 38.5mm x 10.2mm
Crystal: Double domed sapphire with internal AR
Water resistance: 30m
Crown: Push/pull
Movement: Grand Seiko 9R31
Strap: Black crocodile leather
Price: 8,200 EUR
Expected release: July 2019


The stunning dial features a starburst ridge pattern reminiscent of the famed “Cocktail Time,” though much more refined. That sharp texture is much more subtle towards the center of the dial before becoming quite pronounced at the outer edges, where it’s punctuated by a minute track. The highly polished hands and indices are part of Grand Seiko’s signature style, and the blue second hand adds just a flash of color to an otherwise clean and crisp watch.

The case, with a diameter of 38.5mm, is hand finished to Grand Seiko’s perpetually high standard, and features lugs that curve and end a little abruptly. I would expect this would give a short lug-to-lug length to keep it wearable for smaller wrists, but it also gives the SBGY003 a distinctive rounded, and almost stunted, look.

Thanks to the new 9R31 caliber inside, the watch is only 10.2mm thick. Whereas the majority of Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive watches in regular production have been automatic winding, the 9R31 is a reworking of the 9R02. In addition to structural and aesthetic changes, the PR indicator has also been switched out from the front of the watch to the rear. The power reserve remains at 72 hours.

The SBGY003 is obviously reminiscent of one of Seiko’s mid-level favorites – the “Cocktail Time,” but the Grand Seiko SBGY003 sits many levels above in every way. The dial always runs the risk of being too fussy or ornate, but I feel the inclusion of the minute ring and the refined case keep the whole package incredibly elegant and civil. At €8,200 and with only 700 units being produced, this watch sits out of my reach for more than one reason, but it’s hard to imagine a better or more apt vehicle to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this remarkable series of movements. Grand Seiko

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.