With many great movements to choose from in the Grand Seiko series, what is the appeal of the standard mechanical automatic as compared to Spring Drive, Hi-Beat or even Quartz? To start, the mechanical series is for the purist, who would prefer NOT to have any kind of Quartz regulation in their watch. This obviously eliminates the 9F Quartz, but also the Spring Drive movement. While Spring Drive is a mechanically driven watch, it converts mechanical energy into electricity and utilizes a quartz crystal for timing regulation, therefore eliminating it for the purist (in some cases).
The Hi-Beat movement is purely mechanical, and an unbelievable movement. While it has a higher heart rate that allows for finer advancements of the second hand, the price is substantially higher and only has a 55 hour power reserve compared to the 72 hours found in the standard mechanicals.
The piece in todays review is for the purist who loves a true mechanical watch, that not only has amazing accuracy, but also has some of the finest components inside, making for some of the highest durability you can find. The Grand Seiko Mechanical Automatic SBGR051.
The SBGR051 has a silver dial with a very finely detailed sunburst pattern. While it can be difficult to see, the fine lines of this pattern give the subtle details you typically find on all Grand Seiko’s close up. You would also think that a silver dial would hide the stainless steel hands and indexes, but that is certainly not the case.
The Zaratsu (Katana Blade) polishing technique used on the hands, indexes and even case give it a mirror like finish. The effect of the high polish makes the hands and indexes appear black in most settings, but also offers a glimmer like a diamond. The black look of the steel over the silver dial makes it incredibly legible, which is actually quite surprising. The finish on the case and bracelet are immaculate, and has even been compared to the quality of Patek or Vacheron by avid collectors. I have seen, heard, and even compared this 1st hand.
Inside this beautiful timepiece is Seiko’s in-house manufactured 9S65 movement. This movement has a rate of 28,800 bph, contains 35 jewels, and has a 72 hour power reserve. In 2010, the 9S65 was introduced and replaced the 9S55. The new benefits of the the upgraded movement were the 72hr power reserve due to Seiko’s new proprietary alloy Spron 510. The other advancements in the movement were in the escapement, utilizing their other top of the line Spron 610 alloy for the hairspring (which is more shock resistant, buoyant, durable and anti-magnetic) as well as MEMS (Micro Electrical Mechanical Systems) manufactured escapement wheel and pallet fork. MEMS allows for smoother, lighter and stronger parts, that benefit not only longevity, but even accuracy.
Most importantly, Grand Seiko is rated to perform within a -3/+5 second a day deviation rate. This is even more accurate than Swiss Certified Chronometer and even undergoes a more intensive testing process. The GS Standard is one of the finest precision ratings you will find in any timepiece today. This model does have a sapphire crystal to expose it’s caliber. If you look close, you can see the illusive GS Lion hologram in the center.
These GS mechanical movements (as well as others such as Credor, Galante, Prospex, etc) are manufactured at Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio in the Iwate Prefecture of Japan. Shizuku-Ishi is one of the only fully integrated manufactures in Japan that makes luxury timepieces. They are also one of the truest vertical manufactures in the industry, making nearly every component in house. With only about 19 craftsmen working in the studio (who aren’t even all working on GS), it is easy to understand why Grand Seiko’s are such limited availability.
Overall, the 37mm, 140g stainless steel, SBGR051 is a beautifully designed. Simplistic, yet extremely detailed. Very subtle, but truly impressive craftsmanship. I always have to explain… “I stare at Grand Seiko’s every day. It is near impossible for me to find every minute detail that GS has implemented in order to make such an amazing piece. Once you wear it on your wrist, you will be sure to find them. Sometimes in seconds, sometimes weeks.”
See our video review below…
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