Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

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TimelessLuxWatches
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Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by TimelessLuxWatches » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:34 am

Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

This will be a little different than my mere watch aggregation articles as I’m going to throw a little of my personal opinion and analysis as a lifelong GS collector here.

Looking at GS’ offerings this year, I have to say, I’m impressed with several things, and I don’t necessarily just mean watches. Grand Seiko simultaneously showed both boldness and restraint across the line, releasing (so far, at least), only a small number of watches, each of which is bold in at least one way, yet all of which find a comfortable place within the Grand Seiko collection generally. In many ways, I feel like GS’ launch this year, as well as Nomos’, are the model the industry should follow. At any rate, that’s enough meta-analysis, let’s get to the watches. This year is the 20th anniversary of the first modern GS mechanical movement, the old 9S55, so prepare yourself for a nice variety of mechanical watches.

Please check out our Grand Seiko Baselworld page here to see more or to pre-order one of the new watches.

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We’ll start with what is surely the most popular piece of the collection, the new SBGH265 VFA. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a VFA.

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If you don’t already know, VFA stands for Very Fine Adjusted, shorthand for extremely high accuracy. At one time, the VFA logo stood not only for the very best Grand Seiko could offer, but the very best that you could get anywhere in the world.

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To live up to the standards of its legendary ancestors, Grand Seiko moved to a 34 day (!) testing procedure and to an extremely tight +3/-1 seconds per day rating. It is, without a doubt, the most accurate mechanical Grand Seiko in modernity.

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The dial is also amazing. It has this gorgeous texture with a subtle G & S theme, as well as what I think is an old Daini logo.

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As you might have expected, this isn’t in the running for “best value” Grand Seiko this year, due not only to that VFA movement, but also to its 39.5mm platinum case. The price is $53,000, and only 20 will be made.

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But don’t worry too much if that sounds excessive, because the watch is available in three flavors, the second of which is this gold SBGH266. SPECIAL is somewhere between a normal (by GS’ high standards, anyway) and a VFA, rated for a still impressive +4/-2 seconds per day. Best of all, Grand Seiko is practically giving them away at $27,000. Well, it still sounds like a good value compared to the SBGH265. Only 150 of these will be made.

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Finally, we get to the everyman of the collection, the SBGH267, a blue-dialed LE that looks amazing. It “only” has a steel case and ordinary 9S85 movement, but I think it looks just as good as the others, if not better, and costs a very reasonable $6,300.

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Continuing this theme of dials is the SBGJ229, with a case that combines blue ceramic and titanium. It’s not for the GS traditionalist out there, but they just got three watches—here’s something for everyone else.

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The weirdest thing about the SBGJ229 is that it works. The blued hour markers, date frame and GMT hand mesh quite well with the blue elements in the case and bracelet.

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And the dial is still awesome, although it’s a little different than in the first three models.

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It’s also Hi-Beat, with the relatively new 9S86 GMT movement powering it, and winding that 9S86 is a special blue “tsuba” rotor. More interestingly, it’s got the SPECIAL rating. Seems that it’s a very high accuracy year for GS.

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It’s a big and bold 46.4mm watch, however, so keep that in mind. The SBGJ229 is $14,800 and is a limited edition of 350 pieces.

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These watches, however, are not the most important Grand Seikos to come out this year. The most important one, by far, is this STGK002 aimed at female collectors.

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And that’s because it has an all-new movement, the Cal 9S25. While GS is best known for men’s watches, they’ve actually been involved in ladies’ watches since 1969 with their little-known 19GS. Back then, Grand Seiko must have been pretty passionate about the project, because instead of an off-the-shelf Seiko movement, it received a legitimate Hi-Beat Cal 19XX (1964, 1984 and 1944, depending on rating). In 1972 they even made a 19GS VFA.

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So what do we know about the 9S25? We have a good idea of its specs. For one thing, it’s much smaller and thinner than the 9S6X and 9S8X movements at just 4.49mm in height, an impressive figure for an automatic with a date, and a diameter of 19.4mm. These numbers are by far the most important because these are the reason it was created in the first place. The entire watch is only 28.7mm, a size previously off-limits to GS mechanical movements. But we can also see its five-petal flower balance wheel, a thoughtful touch that will be very hard to see even if you’re looking for it.

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Returning to specs quickly before we get to the design. The power reserve is 50 hours, so while this is actually about 25% more than the average (40 hours), it does seem that the power reserve was a compromise to get the movement to be so compact compared to the 55 and 72 hours of the 9S85 and 9S65 respectively. Like the 9S6X, it beats at the standard 28,800 BPH, although it doesn’t achieve quite the lofty heights of accuracy, being rated for a still good, but not amazing, +8 to -3 seconds per day. Unfortunately, I only have one stock photo of the movement right now, so I can’t see too much from a design perspective, but it does appear to have a pretty standard GS design, which is to say a smooth balance (although it looks surprisingly massive) combined with a regulator. Interestingly, it appears to be using a full balance bridge instead of a balance cock, which is a design GS hasn’t favored since the ‘60s. The whole thing has a decidedly old-school look to it.

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The rest of the watch is thoroughly contemporary, however, with a beautiful silver sunburst dial on a rose gold case. It prominently features diamonds on the bezel and hour markers as well, and I think it looks quite good.

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The price of this new STGK002 is estimated to be roughly $32,000 and it’s a limited edition of only 50. However, the big news is the movement, which is a very strong indicator we’ll be seeing a renewed focus from GS on ladies’ watches.

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Finally, we take a very quick glance at the new blue-dialed SBGA375 & SBGV239. While both are 40mm, the former is a $5,200 spring drive while the latter is a $3,100 quartz. We’ll get you more info and images of both as they become available.

At least for the time being, that’s Grand Seiko’s new 2018 lineup, but we’ll update this as we find new information, which I suspect there will be quite a bit of. Please check out our Grand Seiko Baselworld page here to see more or to pre-order one of the new watches.

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JP Chestnut
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Re: Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by JP Chestnut » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:39 am

Seiko VFA:
"To live up to the standards of its legendary ancestors, Grand Seiko moved to a 34 day (!) testing procedure and to an extremely tight +3/-1 seconds per day rating. It is, without a doubt, the most accurate mechanical Grand Seiko in modernity."


Rolex cheapest watch:
+/- 2 seconds per day

If Seiko wants to play with the big brands, Rolex accuracy and an ugly "VFA" on the dial isn't the way to do it.

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Re: Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by Torrid » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:48 am

Yeah it does sounds a bit weak. Seiko, the company that has a hard time making watches that hold their regulation has a model that promises they adjusted to a “very fine” level.

That 40mm quartz on the other hand looks promising, though I wonder if the usual 37mm would be a better fit for me.

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Re: Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by JP Chestnut » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:53 am

Also, that $15,000 ceramic monstrosity would embarrass Omega and that's saying something.

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Re: Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by Panerai7 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:10 pm

Seiko's dials are a work of art

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Re: Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by TimelessLuxWatches » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:01 pm

Panerai7 wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:10 pm
Seiko's dials are a work of art
Definitely. If I could, I'd be all over that blue dial.

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Re: Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by pbj204 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:10 pm

Those dials are a bit gimmicky. Snowflake was nice. Swirling text, not so much.

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Re: Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by matt.wu » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:08 pm

pbj204 wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:10 pm
Those dials are a bit gimmicky. Snowflake was nice. Swirling text, not so much.
This is the way I feel. I'm not a fan at all of the repeating logo/text. It's very "Louis Vuitton" ish. These GS models, to me, are well-executed but poorly designed in the first place.

I'm a fan of the Snowflake or sunburst dials they do. They should stick to this.

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:htfu:

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Re: Grand Seiko’s Baselworld 2018 Novelties

Post by Panerai7 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:21 pm

matt.wu wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:08 pm
pbj204 wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:10 pm
Those dials are a bit gimmicky. Snowflake was nice. Swirling text, not so much.
This is the way I feel. I'm not a fan at all of the repeating logo/text. It's very "Louis Vuitton" ish. These GS models, to me, are well-executed but poorly designed in the first place.

I'm a fan of the Snowflake or sunburst dials they do. They should stick to this.

Image

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SARX055 dial is very well done and under 1K

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