Three Exclusive and JDM Grand Seikos, Now Available at NYC’s Watches of Switzerland

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When I was in Japan a few months back, I had the opportunity to handle my fair share of Japanese Domestic Model (JDM) Grand Seiko watches—from models that I’d only seen online, to others that I had no idea even existed. The scope of Grand Seiko’s international catalog is, as I learned, quite impressive, and at the time I wondered if any of these models would eventually make their way stateside, and if so, then when. 

Well, it looks like the powers that be at Grand Seiko read my mind. Through February 3, 2019, the New York City Watches of Switzerland boutique is hosting a Grand Seiko pop-up full of JDM and store-exclusive horological goodies. Naturally, I hurried over to take a closer look. Below are three of my favorite watches they currently have on display. 

Grand Seiko Ref. SBGH219 “Special” Hi-Beat

First on the list is the Ref. SBGH219. This model utilizes a little-seen case design that immediately caught my eye at Wako, a high-end department store in Ginza. Measuring just 38 millimeters across and rendered in 18k white gold, the SBGH219 is powered by Grand Seiko’s Hi-Beat 9S85 movement. The 9S85 comes with the brand’s proprietary SPRON 610 balance spring, and an escape wheel and pallet made via MEMS for extra energy efficiency. Being that this watch is labeled “Special,” a nod to a line of high-accuracy watches from Seiko’s past, the movement is tweaked to +4/-2 seconds per day. 

The white gold case and upgraded movement do come with a surcharge, however—the Ref. SBGH219 retails for $24,000. Nevertheless, this is a really neat piece, and the styling and execution are pure Grand Seiko. I’d be all over this one in a stainless steel case.

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Grand Seiko Ref. SBGJ207 “Special” Hi-Beat GMT

Another “Special” model, the SBGJ207 is a dressy, 39.5-millimeter-cased Hi-Beat GMT. For those familiar with Grand Seiko’s North American catalog, the watch most resembles the Ref. SBGJ217 (a watch I personally own and adore), though there are some slight aesthetic differences. Regardless, this is a beautiful watch to behold in the metal, with the Zaratsu-polished hands and applied markers bringing the dial to life. I also love the elegant implementation of the GMT function.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, this is a “true” GMT with a jumping local hour hand. Like the above model, the SBGJ207 is also rendered in white gold, so you’ll be paying a premium for that. Retail here is $26,000.

Grand Seiko “Snowflake” Ref. SBGA259

The “Snowflake” Ref. SBGA211 is perhaps Grand Seiko’s most well-known watch. The “Snowflake” moniker comes from the dial, which resembles the freshly fallen snow outside of Grand Seiko’s Shiojiri plant in Nagano. But it’s not the only “Snowflake” out in the wild. There’s also the Ref. SBGA259, a stunning Watches of Switzerland exclusive.

The spec sheet is largely the same; there’s a beautifully finished, 41-millimeter titanium case housing the impressive Spring Drive caliber 9R65A. The point of differentiation, however, is the dial, which is given a splash of warmth with golden hands and markers. This really changes the vibe of the watch, and some might even argue that it’s a step too far from the iconic look of the SBGA211, but I absolutely adore the end result. Retail here is $5,900.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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