Introducing the Grand Seiko Ref. SBGA384, SBGA385, and SBGA387—Three US-Exclusive Limited Editions

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American watch-heads no longer have to endure Grand Seiko’s Japan-only releases. We can now rejoice that Grand Seiko—an independent watch company since 2016—is offering their first US-only collection. These 40-millimeter watches house the ultra-precise Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R15/65 movement, and their dials imitate the Japanese painting technique Kira-zuri, which translates to “sparkling painting.” These limited editions include 20 platinum watches on crocodile leather for $53,000 (SBGA385), 50 in 18k rose gold on croc for $29,500 (SBGA384), and 558 in stainless steel on bracelet with two additional straps for $6,800 (SBGA387).

Dials are made to complement each metal, helping the watches achieve Grand Seiko’s distinctive look. For the platinum model, the cool white dial gets a special plating process that helps bring out the sparkling quality, while the gold model’s dial carries warmer tones, and the stainless steel model reads as a flecked light blue that, Grand Seiko claims, is reminiscent of the skies over the Sea of Japan.

The dial layout is pure Grand Seiko, with precision-cut applied markers, a classic date window at three o’clock, the GS logo up top, and a power reserve indicator hovering between seven and eight o’clock. Hands are familiar dagger types, which are always a marvel under a loupe where the journey seems to go on forever to the incredibly sharp tip.

All indicators and hands, and cases employ Grand Seiko’s Zaratsu finishing, a very old method borrowed from sword-making which achieves almost perfectly flat polished surfaces. Having these cases in hand demonstrates the uncanny way in which Zaratsu brings the bling while remaining understated and classy. There are few who would argue with the assertion that Grand Seiko is making some of the best cases currently available.

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Ref. SBGA387 – Stainless Steel
Ref. SBGA384 – Rose Gold
Ref. SBGA385 – Platinum

Sizing is spot-on for the US market, as 40-millimeters sits right in between medium and large, assuring a reasonable fit on a wide range of wrists.

The Spring Drive 9R movement is one of the more innovative developments in mechanical watchmaking of late. The 9R’s gear train is powered by a traditional mainspring—assuring that it is, in philosophy and practice, a mechanical watch—but the escapement employs what Grand Seiko calls a “Tri-Synchro Regulator,” which uses a combination of mechanical, electric, and electromagnetic energy to achieve its +/-0.5 seconds per day accuracy. Some purists still gripe, but when your watch is within 15 seconds at the end of a month, there really seems little to gripe about. All movements are adjusted and tested by hand in-house before leaving Japan.

The release of these USA-exclusive limited editions comes on the tails of Grand Seiko’s announcement that their first independent, non-Japanese corporate entity will be here in the US, where Grand Seiko aims to become a major presence in the luxury watch market. Dubbed Grand Seiko Corporation of America, or GSA, this subsidiary will market and distribute not just Grand Seiko, but some of the higher-end watches from Seiko’s Presage and Prospex lines as well. For those of us who are fans of Seiko and Grand Seiko, GSA is likely going to be a very welcome enterprise, especially if more US-only releases are in the works. Grand Seiko

At age 7 Allen fell in love with a Timex boy's dive watch his parents gave him, and he's taken comfort in wearing a watch ever since. Allen is especially curious about digital technology having inspired a revival of analog technology, long-lasting handmade goods, and classic fashion. He lives in a one-room schoolhouse in The Hudson Valley with his partner and two orange cats.
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