For the first time in Grand Seiko’s history, the introduction of the 9F high accuracy quartz movement has been placed into a new 200m divers design. Spring Drive has been the only movement utilized in Grand Seiko’s diver models, which is due to their high accuracy and durability. With these two essentials in mind, it only makes sense that Seiko would give the extremely accurate and very durable 9F Quartz, a home in a dive piece.
There are two new models featuring the quartz movement. SBGX115 with a new white dial is the first, and the SBGX117 with traditional black matte dial is second. Both these models are in a 42.7mm stainless steel case that is 13mm thick and features Zaratsu polishing around the cases lugs. The models are mostly a brushed finish, including their stainless steel, 3 pieces oyster style bracelets.
With now over 100 years of watchmaking and over 50 years of manufacturing some of the finest timepieces in the world, Grand Seiko has continued to stick to its roots when it comes to creating the “ideal watch”. With the birth of Grand Seiko, a new standard in watchmaking was created. GS was to be more accurate, durable, legible, and easier to wear, than any other watch in the world. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Diver Titanium SBGA031 holds true to all these traits, and so much more.
The SBGA031 will surpass the accuracy of any other watch driven by a mainspring by incredible amounts. Thanks to the Spring Drive 9R65 calibre, the accuracy rating on this piece is +/- 15 seconds a month (equivalent to +/- 1 sec a day). The rating, however, is not the same as actual performance. Realistically, most Spring Drives will only deviate 1-3 seconds a month, which is far superior compared to all mechanicals, and even some quartz. The Spring Drive 9R65 is Seiko’s own, COMPLETELY in-house manufactured and designed, calibre (which took about 28 years to develop). Utilizing only the power from the mainspring, the 9R65 is regulated by an electromagnetic brake, integrated circuit and quartz crystal to control the unwinding of the mainspring. In turn, this gives it incredible accuracy, but also a gliding motion of the second hand that is as smooth and fluid as the natural flow of time itself. With 276 parts and 30 jewels, you would think Spring Drive would be sensitive. Because Spring Drive is a uni-directional motion (and there is no hairspring/escapement in the movement) there is less tension, making it more durable and service is required less frequently than a typical mechanical. It is truly an incredible mechanism and has certainly proved itself over the many years we have carried it.
Seiko has thoroughly thought about the longevity of this piece. As you will see in the picture below, the most frequently damaged parts are implemented in new designs, to ensure easy and inexpensive repairs.
Many ask, “Why not use a ceramic bezel to prevent scratching?”. As you may well know, ceramic is scratch resistant, where the black hard coated bezel of the SBGA031 is not. Ceramic, however, is delicate and can crack. Should your ceramic bezel break, who would want to spend over $1,200 on the repair? The bezel is a frequently damaged part in any watch, and Seiko has kept the consumer in mind, making a durable, but easily fixable, high quality bezel.
Legibility can make or break any watch, but with Grand Seiko, this is never the case. Each design is thoroughly tested to ensure the hands and indexes are perfectly sized and shaped for easy reading. The dial on the SBGA031 is made of a matte black Japanese lacquer to aid in its legibility, and the large hands are made of a brushed titanium as to keep down the weight of the hands, but still provide the time clearly. For the diving aspect of the watch, they use Seiko’s highest quality Lumi-Brite to provide luminescence in the darkest of waters, for very long periods of time. For those who don’t plan to be diving with this piece, the lume could easily glow strong through the entire night.
Also, the SBGA031 has a High-Definition Sapphire Crystal (which is also made in house) and uses its own proprietary anti-reflective coating. The Super-Clear Coating used gives the benefits of AR coating, but without the blue glare. All this is implemented to prevent any distortion in the dial.
As far as wearability goes… This could easily be one of the most comfortable divers watches on the market. The 44.2mm wide and 14mm thick case is designed to sit perfectly on just about any wrist. The watch is very well balanced and the subtle curvature of the case gives an unbelievable comfort (especially considering its size). Of course, the use of Seiko’s proprietary alloy, High-Intensity Titanium adds tremendously to its comfort. At only 137g, the watch has enough weight for you to know it’s there, but not to weigh down your wrist. The finish applied to the titanium is an incredibly unique “Zaratsu” katana blade polishing technique that brings it to a mirror finish. Only a handful of craftsmen are qualified to provide this finish to Grand Seiko. The case and every individual link in the bracelet is hand finished, only by one of these few artists. Many of our customers have compared this finish to that of a watch that costs well over $25,000.
In addition to its comfort, Seiko has incorporated an adjustable clasp that not only has micro-adjustments, but also a divers expansion clasp that can easily fit over a wet suit. You can deploy this extension by pulling back on the locking mechanism of the clasp, and once to the desired position, will lock in place to ensure it will not extend any further.
Another question that is frequently asked about this piece is “Why is this diver only rated to 200m?”. There is a simple explanation. It is all that is necessary for a recreational diver. In fact, most recreational diving will max out at 132ft. This Grand Seiko is intended to be an everyday watch, that will work well for someone who enjoys diving as a hobby. There’s no need for the watch to be rated to 3,900m, if its wearer will never go anywhere near that deep. Seiko does make watches for professional divers that have much higher dive ratings. Those are more so tool watches for professionals, as opposed to something you would wear everyday, like Grand Seiko.
In closing, the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Diver Titanium SBGA031 is a very well thought out, beautifully finished, and amazingly accurate timepiece. Grand Seiko is second to none when it comes to quality and, without a doubt, one of the finest brands in the watch industry.
If you have any questions regarding Grand Seiko, please feel free to call us at 1-800-486-3996.