We’re now in the fifth month of 2022, so it feels like it’s about that time of the year when it begins to become appropriate to call something a “trend.” This is a massively overused word in our hobby, mostly because of the incredibly long lead time for a new product to come to market. Watch brands can’t just turn around and capitalize on increasingly rare mono-cultural moments immediately – it takes months or even years for an idea to make its way to a watch boutique. That said, it’s hard to ignore common threads through a brand’s releases over the course of a calendar year, and this year, for Grand Seiko, it feels like they’re going small. Just in the past several weeks, we’ve seen new additions to the Elegance line of 37mm dress watches as well as a surprise limited edition in the form of a smaller, vintage inspired 44GS case. Yes, they also debuted a massive new dive watch at Watches & Wonders, but the overall impression a potential customer will get of new Grand Seikos when they check out the display case will be one of moderation and traditional case sizes, at least at this nearly midway point in the year. This week Grand Seiko added another smaller watch to their collection, a new entry in their increasingly popular 37mm dress watch footprint, the U.S. exclusive SBGW279.
As we’ve seen with other exclusive releases to the U.S. market the new SBGW279 takes cues from nature and Japanese culture. The blue dial on this new watch is inspired by the Oruri songbird, which migrates from Southeast Asia to the more mountainous regions in northern Japan, passing through the country in the early summer months. This new release is a complement of sorts to last year’s long since sold out Genbi Valley trilogy, also exclusive to the U.S. market, but unlike those watches, the SBGW279 doesn’t feature a textured dial. Instead, this watch gets a blue sunray pattern, which is a dial finishing technique Grand Seiko does extremely well, but doesn’t get the same attention as their more dramatic (and unique) textured dials. It’s hard to argue with their choice here though, as the blue dial and complementary zaratsu polished handset and applied hour markers look great together.
The SBGW279 utilizes the same 37.3mm stainless steel case as the watches linked above. This case has its roots in the very first Grand Seiko, introduced in 1960, and has great proportions that are easily wearable by just about anyone. While this case doesn’t feature the wide zaratsu polished facets found on some of Grand Seiko’s other cases (like the 44GS) it’s still quite well finished and has just enough of that high polished sheen to make it easily recognizable as a Grand Seiko. For a dress watch, it’s perfectly understated.
Powering the SBGW279 is the hand wound 9S64 caliber, visible through the display caseback. This movement has a generous 72 hours of power reserve and promises accuracy of -3/+5 seconds per day. The small hand wound movement allows Grand Seiko to keep the case at a relatively slender 11.6mm thin, a good chunk of which is the box shaped sapphire crystal.
The SBGW279 arrives in Grand Seiko boutiques and authorized dealers in the U.S. only this month, and carries a retail price of $4,600. Grand Seiko