One of the favorite pastimes of Grand Seiko fanatics is to play armchair quarterback, and conjure up the “perfect” Grand Seiko watch, something they’ve come close to but haven’t yet made. It’s a game that works particularly well with a brand like Grand Seiko simply because there is so much variety in the collection, it’s easy to imagine what a watch would look like if you mixed and matched features of one piece to another. In a way, it feels like the newly announced SBGY007 could be the product of this kind of thought experiment that encourages us to remove date displays, make watches thinner, and cut out the limited edition nature of it all. This feels like a watch that a lot of us have been waiting for.
Nicknamed “Omiwatari,” the SBGY007 is inspired by the large cracks and ridges that form in the ice each winter on Lake Suwa in Japan’s Kiso Mountains. Japanese folklore tells us that these ridges are caused by the Shinto gods walking over the ice (Omitawari translates to “God’s crossing”). The icey blue dial has a texture that’s created by the precise hammering of the dial’s mold, and if it’s anything like other textured Grand Seiko dials, it will be plenty rewarding when observed through a loupe, or in the right lighting condition. As is typical for a watch in the Grand Seiko Elegance collection, the hands and hour markers are polished to the brand’s exacting standard, and the finished product appears to be every bit as evocative as other Grand Seiko dials inspired by the natural world.
In terms of the specs, when it comes to both the case and the movement, the SGBY007 would seem to offer nothing but the most desirable traits to many Grand Seiko collectors. This is a true dress watch, with a 38.5mm case that measures just 10.2mm tall. We’ve seen this case shape before, in a series of Elegance references that debuted in 2019, but only one of those references was in steel, and it was a highly limited edition that was quickly snatched up.
The SBGY007 is, thankfully, in stainless steel, and not a limited edition, so if you missed out on the now highly sought after SBGY003, you have another bite at the apple here. The new watch uses the same movement as the earlier LE, the Spring Drive Caliber 9R31, which is a rare hand wound version of Grand Seiko’s signature movement technology. It uses two barrels to get to an impressive power reserve of 72 hours, and to the relief of many does not have a date display. This textured dial can be enjoyed in full at all times, without any pesky interruptions.
You’ll notice something else is missing from the dial that would usually be present on a Spring Drive model, and that’s the power reserve indicator. This feature is the subject of a great deal of debate among Grand Seiko enthusiasts. While it has traditionally been a clear indication of the presence of a Spring Drive movement and a badge worn proudly by many, to others it’s every bit as intrusive as a date display, and spoils the rich dials that Grand Seiko creates. While it’s not the right time to guess as to what this release means for the future of the Spring Drive power reserve, something as iconic, in its way, as a cyclops on a Datejust, for this release, as with others in the SBGY family, it’s been moved to the back of the watch.
So, did Grand Seiko somehow get inside the brains of their fans to figure out precisely what the hivemind was after? It certainly feels like that might be possible given the execution here, and the fact so many boxes seem methodically checked off with the SBGY007. At a glance, it’s hard to find fault with this one, and we look forward to getting a chance to see one in the metal at some point in the near future.
The SBGY007 has a retail price of $8,300, and will be available in July. Grand Seiko