Introducing the Grand Seiko Spring Drive 20th & Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Ref. SBGC229

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Fresh off a Baselworld that saw Grand Seiko introducing updated models in their sports watch line up, the Japanese brand has announced a new limited edition Spring Drive chronograph GMT that pays tribute to another icon of the Land of the Rising Sun: the Nissan GT-R. This big, blue chronograph is very much a statement piece with a case made from ceramic and titanium, a flagship Grand Seiko movement, and a colorway inspired by Nissan’s classic sports car, which this year celebrates its 50th birthday. 

The Nissan GT-R was introduced in 1969 as the Skyline 2000 GT-R, and in the past 50 years has become an enthusiast favorite. It’s one of those cars that isn’t always mentioned in the same breath as its exotic European competition, but those who know will consistently tell you it should be. In that sense, there’s an obvious link between the GR-R and Grand Seiko, with the latter seemingly always discussed with a “but you’ve got to see it in person” caveat by watch nuts. For that reason, I think there’s probably an appeal to this watch that extends beyond GT-R owners to those who are simply interested in great things that fly under the radar.

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That said, this anniversary model is no shrinking violet. It measures a shade over 46mm in diameter and is 16.2mm thick. The case is in a combination of titanium and Grand Seiko’s blue ceramic, so while it has a significant footprint, the watch should feel relatively lightweight for its size on the wrist. The colorway is truly striking and unlike anything I can recall seeing from Grand Seiko in the past, and alongside images of the “Bayside Blue” GT-R, I have to say that they nailed the details to suitably pay tribute to the vehicle. The white crocodile strap, coupled with the silvery white textured dial, really does call to mind a racing stripe, and feels innately automotive.

Fans of spare and conservative dial designs should obviously look elsewhere (Grand Seiko has plenty of options for you), as just about every micron of dial real estate is occupied by a gauge or scale of some kind. My favorite little detail is the running seconds register, which is a bit of an ingenious space saver. Instead of a traditional fully circular 60 second timer, we have an inner and outer ring, each representing 30 seconds. Paired with an extra long seconds hand that’s narrow at one end and slightly thicker at the other, it points to either the inner scale (seconds 0-29) or the outer ring (seconds 30-60). This is actually an ingenious way to conserve space on a crowded chronograph dial, and I for one would like to invite other brands to incorporate similar designs.

Elsewhere on the dial we have the usual totalizers for hours and minutes, a date window at 3:00, the customary Spring Drive power reserve indicator, and the usual high quality, expertly finished hour indices and handset. The dial itself has a Snowflake reminiscent texture to it that adds a layer of depth to the whole presentation. 

The movement here is the same Spring Drive 9R96 that was recently used in the SBGC231 that wowed at Basel last month. Notably, the accuracy of this movement has been adjusted by Grand Seiko to an even greater degree than normal for their Spring Drive calibers, and is rated to be accurate to +/- 0.5 seconds per day (standard Spring Drive movements are accurate to +/- 1 second per day).

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 20th & Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Limited Edition (the official name of this timepiece) will be available in an edition of 200 pieces with a retail price of $21,000. Grand Seiko

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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