This year at Baselworld 2014, we laid eyes upon a beautiful new release labeled as the SBGJ005. While we knew little about this model at the time, this limited edition piece with a deep and dark green dial had us infatuated. It was not just the design, the color, or the fact that this piece was one of the first to feature a new movement out of Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio, but also the influence of the environment surrounding Shizuku-Ishi. The SBGJ005 pays tribute to the 5 year anniversary of the Seiko’s introduction of the 9S85 Hi-Beat 36,000 bph caliber, by adding new complication to the already amazing movement.
2009 marked the introduction of the 9S85, which was the first Hi-Beat caliber put into production in over 40 years. Back in 1968, Seiko introduced their first 36,000 bph calibers in the 61GS which was self-winding, the manually wound 45GS, and the petit 19GS as a ladies model. The consistency of the high frequency vibration allowed for precise measurement with less effect from position and shock. A perfect attribute for Grand Seiko. Sadly, the Hi-Beat movements of the 60-70’s faded out as Seiko’s focus targeted the introduction of their quartz technology.
The 2 factories producing Grand Seiko in the era of Hi-Beats were Suwa Seikosha, now Seiko Epson (SE) and Daini Seikosha, now Seiko Instruments Inc (SII). The 61GS was manufactured by Suwa, but the 45GS was produced at Daini. Today, SII is home to Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio where all purely mechanical Grand Seiko’s are made, while SE focuses on Spring Drive and Quartz. The 40mm wide stainless steel case design that utilizes flat surfaces and sharp angels to play off of light and shadow was inspired by Daini Seikosha’s (SII) first Grand Seiko from 1967, the 44GS. As you may know, the case is finished in the Zaratsu polishing technique, giving it a perfect mirror finish.
With the influence of Shizuku-Ishi/Daini Seikosha behind it, the SBGJ005 honors the past, but also has influence by the natural surroundings of Shizuku-Ishi. Located in Morioka, the capital of the Iwate prefecture in Japan, the studio faces beautiful Mt. Iwate, which can been seen from the windows in the factory. The dark green dial with golden accents of the 005 is inspired by the summer trees on the slopes of Mt. Iwate. There is a subtle texture to the radial finishing on the dial, symbolizing the ridges of Mt. Iwate. The expression of the natural surroundings around Seiko studios is something collectors have come to love. In a sense, the SBGJ005 is the reverse of the Snowflake SBGA011. Both the fact it is expressing summer instead of winter, and that it is made at Shizuku-Ishi as opposed to the Shinshu studio of SE.
The introduction of the 9S86 caliber was indeed an exciting an exciting one. Now, the high frequency caliber is prepared for the world traveler, utilizing an independently adjustable hour hand as to not deviate the precise time keeping that the 9S86 is built for. The 9S86 obviously has a rate of 36,000 bph, or 10 advancements of the second hand per second, but also has unique materials developed in-house by Seiko to ensure the stability and longevity, despite its high frequency. The use of he Spron 610 alloy for the hairspring ensures a high resilience. The use of the Spron 530 mainspring provides a 55 hour power reserve for the piece, even though the torque required is 1.5 times that of a standard 28,800 rate.
With 37 jewels and only a select few craftsmen who can actually set the balance on the Hi-Beat calibers, the SBGJ005 has a unique rotor only found in this limited edition. The gold toned titanium rotor is weighted with tungsten for optimal performance, but also has a high shock absorption almost 10 times that of the more commonly used brass. The titanium is treated by anodic oxidation to create its gold tone with beautiful texture. As you will see, the striping decoration below the rotor is beautiful, and even the barrel for the mainspring is brought to a mirror finish. On top of all that, these also have Grand Seiko’s -3 to +5 second a day accuracy rating.
The SBGJ005 is limited to only 600 pieces for the world. Some of which have already landed here at AZFT (and already found homes), with the remaining balance to arrive sometime in September. The MSRP on this piece is $7,250.
I feel it is important to share this video filmed at our 2012 Grand Seiko Roadshow, where one of the top Hi-Beat watchmakers (Mr. Ito) proved the resilience of the Spron 610 hairspring.
We’d like to congratulate Seiko on winning in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève “Petite Aiguille” (sub 8,000 francs) category in Switzelrand for 2014! The SBGJ005 has some tough contenders, but Seiko took the award which was truly deserved.
Sadly, the SBGJ005 is completely sold out, but thankfully, you can get this same design, movement and amazing quality timepiece in its sister models SBGJ001 and SBGJ003.
And finally, more pictures below…
Thanks for reading!