Some watches resist easy categorization. Very often you’ll see a watch or try one on and immediately recognize it as a diver, or a dress watch, or a chronograph. But I’ve owned the Grand Seiko SBGH271 for over a year, and I still don’t really know how to contextualize it with other watches in my collection. Is it a sports watch? It has a screw down crown, a bracelet, and 100 meters of water resistance. But then again, it wears smaller than its already modest 40mm diameter, is dominated by highly polished bevels, and is accented with gold tone hour markers and hands. I’ve found over my time with the watch that the most pleasant wearing experience is with a sober brown alligator strap. Not exactly the makings of an adventure watch. The SBGH271, like many other modern Grand Seikos, isn’t wholly any one thing, except an example of the brand’s commitment to craftsmanship.
Also known as the “Rikka,” the SBGH271 is part of Grand Seiko’s collection of watches that are inspired by the four seasons. The Rikka can be thought of as one half of a pair with the SBGH273, representing fall. Both have stainless steel cases and are powered by Grand Seiko’s 9S85 high frequency movement, while the winter and spring watches in this small collection are cast in titanium and run on a Spring Drive movement, caliber 9R65. All are based on the classic 62GS case shape, and the Zaratsu polishing that Grand Seiko is rightly famous for is breathtaking to observe, but let’s not kid ourselves here: this watch is all about the dial.
In a deep textured green with gold tone indices and dauphine hands that are like little ice picks, the Rikka’s dial is absolutely, unequivocally, the star of the show. My experience purchasing it is a tale as old as time: walk into the AD not really sure of exactly what I’m after, see the green dial, and, I swear, my credit card just developed a mind of its own.
With a full year of ownership under my belt, it felt like a good time to step back and evaluate the Rikka now that the honeymoon period is most certainly over, and I’ve had a chance to experience the watch in a variety of different wearing conditions and scenarios. Let’s jump in.