Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I'll start with what I acknowledge is a bold statement: the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001, in its entirety, as it is out of the box, is exactly the package of design, movement, functionality, technology, accuracy, and value that one or more major Swiss brands should at least be trying to offer.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

You see, even before I typed a single word of it I knew: this review of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 was going to be the most challenging watch review I've written to date. The reason is deceivingly simple, though: I personally consider the SBGC001 to be among the absolute best watches out there, available at any price right now on the market. I have given that statement a lot of thought throughout several weeks of careful consideration and countless comparisons to alternative brands and models. So, where's the challenge in creating this review? Well, it is in conveying everything that renders this watch, to me, all the watch one could ever need. Here we go.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I'll address everything from wearability through movement functionality all the way to a chapter dedicated to the pushers and crown (yes!), but allow me to take a few steps back and begin with a broader look at the segment of luxury chronographs to determine how the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 fits in it (or doesn't).

It has happened more times than I would care to count that as some major Swiss brands debut a new-ish luxury chronograph – these days pretty much exclusively with a five-figure price tag – fans of said brands (or just the segment) rightfully cry out something like "there's nothing new about this watch!" or "a new bezel material/color scheme doesn't make this a new watch!"

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Let's be fair. Honorable efforts have been made by Omega's Master Chronometer calibers, with a few chronographs now starting to feature their anti-magnetic technology (like this Moonwatch), but said examples retail for around $11,000. At the same time, Rolex's (frankly, awesome) 4130 chronograph caliber of the Daytona remains largely unchanged since its debut in 2000, apart from it passing more stringent in-house tests. We could mention the Heuer-01, but apart from it being available at relatively competitive price points, the movement itself has no new technological features – it is "just" a nice chronograph. The same goes for pretty much all other "new chronographs": have there been any truly new in-house chronographs released in the last few years? Sure, from Alpina through Cartier to Christopher Ward, but none have offered any genuine advancements apart from claiming a manufacture status.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The point I want to make is that it was not the Swiss, but the Japanese who had the motivation, funds, and know-how to produce something (in truth, currently the only thing) that I personally consider a true advancement for mass-produced mechanical chronograph movements, a sort of leap forward that implies we have in fact entered the 21st century.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The History & Functionality Of Spring Drive

If you haven't already, may I at this point suggest that you read my comprehensive article we published yesterday on the functionality and history of Spring Drive, where we discuss its ins and outs including the ingenious technological advancements it took Seiko to, after some thirty years of development, bring Spring Drive to the global market. Understanding what Spring Drive is and how it works is essential to understanding how the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 and its brethren differ so vastly from any other luxury chronograph for sale today.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In a nutshell, Spring Drive is a unique combination of a mechanical and a quartz-regulated movement. Spring Drive comprises (is driven by) a wound mainspring and contains a gear train just like a regular mechanical watch. However, at the end of the gear train, the last wheel rotates continuously in one direction as opposed to the back-and-forth motion of traditional wheels. As this so-called "rotor" spins, it charges a small coil to create a remarkably low-power electronic charge that in turn powers an integrated circuit and a quartz oscillator. These two parts work in tandem with a periodically applied electromagnetic brake to regulate the rotating speed (and hence the timekeeping accuracy) of the rotor. No battery of any kind is involved; it is all fired up by a mainspring that you can replenish through the crown or the automatic winding function.

More on the movement in its designated chapter.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

A Very Brief History Of The SBGC001

In 2007, it was the SBGC001, SBGC003, and SBGC004 with which Seiko (well, Grand Seiko) debuted the Spring Drive chronograph, the most complex mass-produced Spring Drive movement – other incredible, much more complex Spring Drive creations include this $50k+ 8-Day hand-wound and the one-and-only Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Other variants of this Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph include the black-silver dial SBGC003 in steel, the more recently debuted SBGC005 black-gold dial with identical case and bracelet design but crafted from titanium, and last but not least, the mega rare and simply bonkers SBGC004 in 18k pink gold... but it was the SBGC001 that was the "flagship product" Seiko chose when launching this movement and collection. If you don't like the case design, alternative Spring Drive Chronographs include the very scarcely encountered SBGB001 and SPS003, two versions with slightly different case sizes and no bold-looking pushers.

The takeaway message here is that the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 has been in production unchanged since 2007.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Spring Drive Chronograph 9R86 Movement

Seiko says that "from the very first steps" in developing an automatic-winding Spring Drive it was among their goals to develop a chronograph with high accuracy. A bit over two years after their launch of the first automatic Spring Drive, they at last debuted the chronograph version with the 9R86 caliber in 2007. Seiko calls the 9R86 "by far the world's most accurate chronograph driven by a mainspring."

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seiko claims that the 9R86, as found in the SBGC001 and its similar-looking alternatives, is accurate to within +/-15 seconds a month or within a second a day – and these, as is always the case with Seiko, are the worst-case-scenario ranges. The particular watch subject of this review gained 5 seconds in 3 weeks, which could possibly be attributed to the extreme cold experienced during this period. I did wear the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 on bitterly cold days, down to -15 Celsius (5F) which clearly is pushing the limits.

Still, day after day, I must say I was baffled to see the seconds hand pass the zero mark just a few seconds off weeks after setting it to the minute jump of the reference synchronized atomic time I used.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Whatever remains of the 72-hour power reserve is indicated on the dial at the 7 o'clock position on a scale split into three equal segments. In the aforementioned Spring Drive article, I discuss at length the details of Seiko's Magic Lever automatic winding technology, so for now I'll just say that it truly works brilliantly. Even a short walk at the end of the day can replenish a day's worth of reserve as the super efficient, bi-directional winding never struggles to wind the single-barrel mainspring even when it is close to being fully wound. Hand-winding is eerily smooth as well, with a barely audible mechanical noise to it.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Remember the statement I began this article with? Well, this movement puts to shame so many "luxury chronographs" on the market today – I'm looking at you, Audemars Piguet, and your embarrassing 3Hz, modular chronograph... for $28,000. Seiko's 9R86 is a fully integrated movement that comprises a whopping 416 parts, 50 jewels, a dizzying 140 oil points and requires the use of five different lubricants.

It offers three full days of power reserve, even when you leave the chronograph running. Speaking of which: the chronograph is equipped with a vertical clutch, which in and of itself is a rare, more complicated, more durable, and more accurate clutch system than the horizontal clutch you'll find in nearly all other chronographs at this price point (and many others, for that matter).

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In the majority of chronographs the fourth wheel of the gear train carries another wheel over it – with these being directly linked to the gear train, these wheels are constantly turning. When you start the chronograph, this constantly turning wheel is pushed aside so as to mesh it with a wheel that is, at that moment, stationary. As the teeth of the turning and stationary wheels "meet," a big jump of the chronograph seconds hand can occur, as well as a sudden strain on the entire gear train and power delivery.

By contrast, a vertical clutch is a small, about 5mm wide and 3mm tall, stack of various wheels and cams and other components wrapped around a pinion. This goes right in the center of the movement as at the top end of the clutch is central seconds of the chronograph. It is called vertical because the moment you start the chronograph, discs located above each other are pressed together so as to start driving the chronograph's indications – and, conversely, when you stop the chronograph, the parts get separated. Because there are no teeth to mesh, the moment the discs' flat surfaces meet/separate, the chronograph starts/stops.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

There is, of course, a column wheel also thrown in the mix for enhanced durability and one of the most solid-feeling pusher feedbacks ever engineered into a mechanical movement. Chronograph indications include central seconds and a more uniquely placed 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers on the right-hand side of the dial. As it always should be, the chronograph hands are color-matched – all three hands have been properly heated, not painted, to get to a deep blue shine.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

We're not done yet, though, because there's so much more to the 9R86 than just sheer performance. On show through a large sapphire crystal case-back, the movement fills up the large steel case nicely. All wrapped in silver coating, the rotor and the plates feature striped decorations, with the latter also sporting wide, polished, straight-beveled edges. Being a fully integrated caliber, you get to see more than just a boring time-only base movement that has its chronograph goodies on the dial side.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The 9R86 has a lot of depth to it, as the chronograph hours and minutes counters and the polished column wheel are prominently exposed in their symmetrical layout. It's quite awe-inspiring to see how at Seiko they even had the capacity to concentrate on making the design as symmetrical as possible, as the column wheel falls directly under the crown and the two gold-colored wheels under the two large pushers. A layer further down, you'll see the tirelessly spinning rotor of the Spring Drive movement.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Finishing, then, is exceptionally good, and it's a big plus that everything is on show. One unusual element to the finishing is how the edges of the stripes can reflect light in a way that creates a rainbow-like effect: if you have more direct light and take the watch off to have a better look at the movement, you'll definitely see the colorful lines run across the winding rotor and plates. A pretty much impossible-to-photograph (or to see) element is the extremely subtle Grand Seiko words and lion emblem somehow faintly laser engraved into the center of the rear sapphire crystal. It's ridiculously difficult to see, but it is there – just another one of the countless subtle, terrific, high-detail touches of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

If you want even greater accuracy, look for watches with the recently updated 9R96 movement – it is essentially the same watch just with even more rigorously selected quartz crystals that help bring accuracy tolerance down to half a second per day or 10 seconds per month. It's available in the much more expensive, titanium-ceramic SBGC013 with a blue dial, and the SBGC015 and SBGC017 with full ceramic, albeit huge, 46.4mm-wide cases.

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (146)
  • I want it! (143)
  • I love it! (100)
  • Interesting (28)
  • Classy (17)
  • ProJ

    Great movement and excellent craftsmanship put into this piece.

    BUT… How on earth you make a sports watch like this with NO LUME whatsoever? Come on, this is not your typical dress watch.

    Also, those pushers are too… protruding (is this the word?)

    Other than that not bad at all I think.

    • Sevenmack

      It’s a dress chronograph along the lines of a Portugieser or even a Bulova Precisionist Wilton. While lume may not be theoretically a bad idea, it could mess up the aesthetics. In any case, I’d buy it if I had the coin.

      • ProJ

        The fact that this GS is 17mm thick, with 10bar WR as well as comes on a bracelet by default, makes it more of a sports watch imo.

        • Sevenmack

          There is no definition of a “dress watch”. A dress watch can be water-resistant to 50 meters or 100 meters, all because there has never been a definition of a “dress watch” other than what some collectors with narrow definitions of one want to embrace.

          In my opinion, this Grand Seiko is a dress chronograph. We’ll agree to disagree.

          • ProJ

            Fine we can agree to disagree.. but wouldn’t we agree that a dress watch should at least fit under a shirt’s cuff?

          • Sevenmack

            A lot of watches many collectors wouldn’t consider dress watches (based on their more-narrow definitions) would meet that standard: An Omega Seamaster, for example, would be on the list even though it is a dive watch by any objective evidence. Same is true for a Rolex Submariner. [Of course, there is the fact that the definition of a “dress watch” is subjective anyway.] Design matters more on this front than either thickness or diameter.

            Additionally, much of whether a watch fits under the cuffs depends on that matter called tailoring. Buy a properly tailored shirt, especially one with cuffs that are made to accommodate any size watch, and things are okay.

    • Beefalope

      I know the lack of lume on GS watches is a frequent criticism. However, one of my Grand Seikos is the SBGE033, which is the gorgeous green Spring Drive GMT. It is one of the only GS watches with lumed hands.

      Two comments about the lume:

      1. It pains me to say this because I’m a huge fan of all things Grand Seiko, but the lume just flat-out sucks on it. I found the lume on my $200 Orange Monster to be much, much better. I was shocked when I got the watch at how bad the lume was.

      2. Grand Seiko quite simply has the best hands in the business at any price point — bar none. The hands on my SBGE033 are excellent, but the lume actually detracts a bit from them. The pure, un-lumed hands on my Snowflake are much better. In fact, they’re perfect.

      With this in mind, I’d rather not have lume on my GS watches than lume. Even if the lume was terrific, I still wouldn’t want it because GS hands, especially on their lighter models, are just so fantastic.

  • Julian Chan

    The size of those pushers are fricking ridiculous.

    • Said AZIZI

      No idea why would they do it

      • BenC

        Gloved usage?

      • Beefalope

        David is right that, when you push them, the click is very satisfying. Handling those large pushers also is very nice. Visually, it’s certainly unusual, but the tactile feedback is excellent.

  • Bozzor

    Had a close inspection of the titanium SBGC005 black dial a few weeks ago. One of 3 things are possible…

    1) Seiko is losing money on every one it sells
    2) Grand Seiko craftsmen are way underpaid
    3) The Swiss or the ADs overcharge by an obscene amount

    • AlAbdouli

      – 3

    • John William Salevurakis

      1 is likely.

    • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

      My money is on #3

    • Beefalope

      1. Probably not, but I suppose it’s possible.

      2. Probably true.

      3. Absolutely, categorically, unequivocally true. I have a 1969 El Primero re-issue, and the GS chronographs are finished so much better that my Zenith looks pathetic next to them — and the Zenith is actually finished really well on the dial side!

  • IG

    That dial LOL Is this the 2-4-9 layout? Makes the 7750 dials look balanced.

    • BenC

      Do you see the axis of symmetry running horizontally from the crown past the framed date window?

      A vertically symmetrical watch will almost always have a crown to deal with. So Seiko long ago went for horizontally symmetrical.

      • IG

        You mean with that power reserve at the bottom? LOL This is a mess.

  • ArnaudAimonetti

    Great article about a great watch ! Glad to see GS getting as much respect as they deserve !
    Concerning the massive pushers design, it’s an hommage to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics stopwatches like this one: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4021/4251887112_b7c943f2d7_b.jpg

  • john coleman

    For the price this is just amazing.

  • Word Merchant

    This is what I find frustrating about Seiko. So much of this watch is fantastic, and then I get to the terrible power reserve dial, nasty old-fashioned looking strap and grim gothic GS logo. And I just can’t see past those negatives.

    • I’m with you. Technically such a great watch. But the visuals miss by a bit for me. Although I was heartened by the wrist shot at the end of the post (by the float plane) where I think it looks pretty snazzy. I think the watch looks far less attractive in other photos. Still not the best looking chronograph on the planet. Those long pushers, the power reserve and even the extra red creeping towards the center (past the arrow head) on the 24 hour hand bother me. And yes, a micro-adjust bracelet would have been nice too. Still a great watch for a reasonable price considering what you are getting.

    • Hayzen

      What’s the problem with the power reserve?

      • Word Merchant

        The shape, size, colour and position really. The needle is rather nice though.

  • A_watches

    Fantastic watch for the money, if this was Swiss it could well be double the price. I even like the ridiculous pushers.

    • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

      I venture if it was Swiss it would be at triple the price – at the least.

    • Beefalope

      The Swiss put out watches that are worse at triple the price.

      David is right about AP — at this point, they’re just ripping off suckers who are too stupid to know that they’re being taken for a ride with their mediocre watch.

      • Hayzen

        Well, I think and I hope that most AP buyers can throw around some serious dough, so they don’t mind being the suckers as long as it’s an exclusive club of suckers 🙂

  • Rudolf

    Wow
    A samurai watch
    The Swiss have to react

    • JF Schnell

      The Swiss still thinking that old hits are going to save them… Partly right but you can’t always singing the same song. Newer generations want new breeds not old hits.

  • IanE

    Shame about the pushers, and if only the power reserve had been put on the back! Great article (also the previous one!) though – the Swiss really need a reality check: maybe this type of article will make them take note, and, once again, I am reminded of what the Japanese did to the once all-conquering (but completely complacent) British motorcycle industry.

  • Molle

    A marvellous article David of a marvellous piece! This summer I’ve had mine for 10 years and, as you point out, you do not get bored with it.

    • David Bredan

      Thank you for the kind words, Molle! This watch certainly is aging very well. Thank you also for chiming in above on how yours is holding up after 9+ years and no service. An overhaul may be a nice gift to it when it turns 10, though!

    • Beefalope

      Out of curiosity, how is the timekeeping after that many years without service?

  • JF Schnell

    believe me really great article… sorry but the watch is even better. That is the kind of watch I would save up to buy for me. Buttons are just a little too big but still ok. This is what watch making should be. I mean on this category. For this I won’t mind to make an effort. for “Relax” watches I don’t even look.

  • Thomas Halvorsen

    Those are some long pushers.

    • They’re almost as long as this article.

      • Beefalope

        The article was worth it, though. Really good stuff.

  • Shinytoys

    In typical Seiko fashion, that is a beautiful watch with a magnificent movement. Gorgeous to look at, front and back.

  • I’m wondering if this is Seiko’s interpretation of what they believe Westerners desire in a watch, based on what they’ve seen so many Swiss manufacturers do in the past few years – make everything unnecessarily oversized to the point of awkwardness.

    • BenC

      No it isn’t. As the article says it’s been on the market for 10 years. Seiko only started selling GS outside Japan a few years ago.

      In the JDM market small/thin watches are quartz — check out the Citizen Eco Drive One at 3 mm.

      Automatic winding SD watches are designed for robustness and longevity. The watch is that size in order to fit the movement, as you can check in the photos of the back.

      • So the pushers have to be that long because of…the movement?

        • BenC

          I meant the case diameter and thickness.

          The pushers are indeed long. Probably able to be unscrewed with gloves on.

          • They can probably be unscrewed with a hook hand on

  • Manesh Karunakaran

    Love the watch (or any GS for that matter). There is only one thing more obvious than the quality of the watch here and thats the quality of the article itself! Hats off David, for an extremely passionate, earnest and well written article! Bravo!!

    • Shinytoys

      agreed on the super job by David Bredan!

  • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Very good piece Mr. Bredan – Bravo !
    Upon 1st seeing this my immediate thought was “Old School” in a very complimentary way.
    While I do question the pusher size, the stop watch explanation works for me.
    Very nice piece.
    A bit of action in your region of late – Stay Safe !

  • Grail watch. Period!

  • SuperStrapper

    monster review of a monster watch. I have my own (admittedly small) gripes or niggles about it, but for the most part I’d argue that this is some of the best value in truly interesting mechanical chronographs going today. The PR and running seconds hands have those lovely little caps on them, but the chronograph sundial and centre pinion don’t: why? It is such a subtle but excellent look that really shows a dedication to full finishing.

    Regardless: do want.

  • Titus

    Ever felt like you’re supposed to like something, but you just don’t? I believe this is how a lot of people feel about Grand Seiko.
    Are these watches technical marvels, with impeccable finishing at a very reasonable price? Probably yes.
    Are they desirable, a thing of beauty? Not really.

    • Spangles

      Yes, you’ve put your finger on it.

      Very nicely made watches for their price point that just don’t appeal to me.

    • Berndt Norten

      Exactly. Ruined by the pushers.

    • Larry Holmack

      I am not impressed by the dial either…it is cluttered ( and I love chronographs ) and as others have said, the pushers are just way too large!!!

  • ANTONIO

    Fantastic review David! I have to agree that the quality offered by Grand Seiko is second to none, not only movement wise but the finish is exceptional, put a Grand Seiko under a microscope and then do the same with higher status swiss watches and the Grand Seiko will top many of them if not all.

    • Beefalope

      I’ve tried this experiment, and you’re right. There’s a reason that I’m such a huge fan of Grand Seiko now and generally avoid most Swiss watches.

  • Spangles

    Ariel, David’s articles, both this one and the one about the Spring Drive, should set the standard for articles on ABTW.

  • Mischa Vladivostok

    Absolutely stunning watch, and an impeccable review. Hats off for the SD article as well – finally a technically sound, well researched, yet easy to read explanation of SD.

  • Marius

    Reading this very laudative review, one might think that this watch is God’s gift to mankind and humanity, when in fact, it’s far from perfect. Allow me to explain.

    Firstly, the article compares this Seiko to Swiss higher end watches. I’m sorry, but Grand Seiko is not in the same league. Expensive Swiss watches are, first and foremost, luxury items and status symbols. Ideally, they should be very well made, but their main purpose is to underline the social status of the wearer. Grand Seiko, on the other hand, is an excellent watch, but it’s not a luxury item per se. If you’re invited at a party at the Le Louis XV Restaurant situated in the Hotel De Paris in Monte Carlo, you will most likely wear a Rolex/JLC/Patek, not a Grand Seiko. Grand Seiko is more of a precision instrument for watch enthusiasts; the average buyer doesn’t equate GS with luxury.

    Secondly, while the Spring Drive movement is very interesting, it has been introduced a little too late on the market. Modern mechanical calibers are already very accurate thanks to new materials (synthetic oils, silicon, etc.) and new manufacturing technologies (CAD software, CNC, laser precision, etc.). For instance, the new Rolex 3255 movement is off by only +-2 sec./day. A Spring Drive has an accuracy of around +-1 sec./day (according to Seiko). So yes, a SD is more accurate than a mechanical watch, but not by much. The actual difference is quite small. What’s more, a SD watch has to be serviced every three years, whereas a mechanical watch can easily work for ten years before needing a service.

    Thirdly, aesthetically, this watch is not very convincing. It’s quite thick (almost 17mm); it has a rather generic design; the dial is not very attractive; and most importantly, the pushers are comicly long.

    • rpste

      -This Rado http://www.ablogtowatch.com/rado-hyperchrome-automatic-chronograph-watch-review/ have better pusher than this GS. Of course not best example, I mean, GS chrono must using lower profile pusher. I’m more drooling to 3 hands version than SD chrono, IMO every Seiko SD chrono is ugly
      -Seiko love thick watches and big. Latest ceramic-titanium SD chrono is cool, but it’s GS not TAG Heuer. In my mind the design is not GS anymore
      They should push the team to upgrade every movements to become thinner. 10-12mm for 3 hands (both mechanical and SD), 13-14mm for chronograph, and release 5Hz chronograph movement better than Zenith
      -Seiko have long journey to become luxury brand but it’s impossible I think, maybe as mid-high tier brand is more reasonable goal for Seiko. There is still hope for Credor as properly luxury brand

    • SuperStrapper

      By that argument, is there any real life different between 2 seconds/day accuracy and 10 seconds/day? No. It’s just something to say or brag about, but it does not impact the life of the owner positively or negatively. If you’re buying a watch like this, or the other brands in your example, then you’re a watch enthusiast and a likely have some kind of rotation and are setting your watch often when you select it. The silky action of the movement thanks to the SD tech is a bigger draw for me than the slight uptick in accuracy. The difference in action between a 4hz and 5hz (El primero) movement can be perceived upon inspection, but the movement of an SD-powered hand is immediately different and obviously special.

      Aesthetics are subjective, so nothing to argue about. Is this the most beautiful chronograph out there? Not to me. Maybe to someone else? But this one certainly is unique, and it doesn’t look to me like it’s trying to be dressy or sporty. I’m personally a fan of asymmetry when implemented well, which I think this dial has.

      • Hayzen

        Actually, accuracy is a big deal. If you have a watch that’s 10 sec per day slow, that’s a minute a week, and in a couple of weeks of wear, you will be missing your trains or planes because you forgot to adjust the time.

        • SuperStrapper

          If you had read my entire comment you’d have seen that my point is that people will require a reset due to it winging down before weeks have gone by. In your example, 2 seconds/day is the same problem. That’s 14 seconds a week, so a minute a month: before a year goes by you just missed your plane. And it might be 2 seconds a day, but it doesn’t have a perpetual date, and now February just started! So my GS spring drive wizard killer still needs my interaction to tell an accurate story, and while I’m in there making the date right, I might as well correct that half minute I’m off.

          • dennis

            Right on, most of us rotate our watches, so a few seconds is no
            big deal.

          • Hayzen

            Nevertheless, I don’t think any watch aficionado would argue accuracy doesn’t matter. And if we agree that it does, than more accuracy=better. To some, it matters so much they buy a HEQ watch for their collection 🙂

          • SuperStrapper

            How else would they ever catch a plane?

          • Word Merchant

            Yes but my Casio* digital is literally 1,000 times more accurate than any of your watches or something. So that leaves your argument in the dust.

            (* I don’t actually own a Casio. But imagine that I did.)

          • SuperStrapper

            And what was my argument?

          • Word Merchant

            I was being a jerk. Comment deleted. Apology offered.

          • SuperStrapper

            Don’t concede so easily. Now it’ll be expected.

          • SuperStrapper

            Which argument was that?

    • abbacabba

      Be nice to David about his watch or Ariel might step in.

      • David Bredan

        Thanks for chiming in!

        • abbacabba

          sarcasm is only okay when I do it
          flagged

      • Berndt Norten
      • Berndt Norten

        Phrasing. (We’re still doing phrasing, right Lana?)

    • David Bredan

      I wanted to address your points in the same order you mentioned them but your last one genuinely made me laugh out loud. This watch could only have a less generic design if it had hairs growing out of it – and while 90% of the comments are freaking out over the pushers and/or the dial layout and/or whatever have you, you say it’s generic. Everyone can of course see it however they want to, that goes without saying, but to call it generic – when I got that point in your comment, I did laugh out a bit.

      If you want to compare the best Rolex movement (by the way, all Rolex movements are -2/+2 as we broke the news here: http://www.ablogtowatch.com/rolex-extends-stringent-in-house-tests/) it’s fair to compare it to the best SD movement, which is 0.5 seconds per day, and that is 4 times more accurate. It’s like with cars: you can say a car that does 0-60 in 2.8 is not that much faster than the one that does it in 3.9, but the engineering prowess required to pull off that feat is incredible.

      As far as servicing goes, Seiko advises 3-4 years and so does pretty much every other brand for every one of their watches (there are very, very few exceptions, let alone “mechanical watches” in general, as you mention). I cannot see what keeps an SD watch from functioning “easily for ten years” that would allow a mechanical one. Same lubricants as any complex chronograph, and the IC/coil/quartz I’d be very surprised if needed replacement every 3-4 years (or 10, even).

      As far as Grand Seiko not being luxurious, it all depends on how you define luxury and by which group of people you define recognition. Luxury is exactly in *not* wearing what everyone else is wearing at said party at said restaurant. Other factors of luxury include workmanship and availability: Grand Seiko is just as well made (if not better) and is equally limited in availability (if not more) than many other brands you’d mention. Last but not least, it also offers one of the rarely discussed luxuries: staying under the radar and not getting too much attention from those you don’t want it from. You’ll probably not impress the girl at the other end of the ballroom with it, but after some time this is exactly what many want from a luxury watch.

    • A_watches

      Although this particular GS may not be such a good example, as it looks expensive from a mile off. As someone who has a collection of Swiss “luxury” watches, I actually see the lower brand perception as a positive.

      It can be tiring trying to explain or having to justify to friends and family of another luxury watch purchase. I can understand for those that have a smaller collection, they would be eager to first seek well recognized luxury brands for their collection.

    • Yes. It is God’s gift! I’ve already constructed a little shrine with effigies, incense and all that for it. Just next to the JLC Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic Limited Edition one. (I have room for a couple more)

    • Oh wait. Mankind is different from humanity? 🙂 Did not know that….

      • Berndt Norten

        Yes. In the sense that Mankind has retired.

        • DanW94

          Cactus Jack will be back…..

          • Berndt Norten

            Dude I’d love that?

    • TrevorXM

      You are right. And in the long-term, this is a more expensive watch than a Rolex. Three year $900 service intervals for the Seiko assures this. Well, actually it’s $1100 every three years if you include polishing. It’s the ugly Seiko that costs more than a Rolex.

      Don’t make no sense.

      • Beefalope

        It makes perfect sense. The GS is a substantially better watch than any comparable Rolex.

      • Hayzen

        Spring Drive technology far exceeds whatever Rolex has “under the hood”. You can debate it all you want, but at the end of the day, people who don’t “get” Spring Drive or wished the dial said “Rolex” instead of “Seiko”, don’t buy high-end Seikos and that closes the case for everyone.
        But I will repeat, nobody needs to service Spring Drives every 3 years. It’s not like it will magically stop running if you don’t or will undergo irreparable damage.

    • Hayzen

      Who says you HAVE to service it every 3 years? And WHO says it’s +-1sec per day accurate?? Try 1 sec per month. Seiko usually underrates performance of their own watches. Trust me, it ain’t 1 sec per day.

      • Marius

        Who says? The official Seiko website does! According to Seiko, this Spring Drive has an accuracy of +-1 sec./day, and they reccomend you to service it once every three years.
        http://www.grand-seiko.com/collection/detail.php?pid=SBGC003

        • I think Seiko rates most of their non-GS automatics at -25 + 15 when in fact a lot of them are around +/- 10 off the shelf — at least in my experience. The average 6r15 is around +/- 7 again in my experience. They tend to downplay their specs.

          As for the service interval, I’d rather compare it to similar calibers with 400+ parts for a fairer assessment. The Daytona has around 220 parts so not comparable. The Breitling B04 and B05 calibers are closer to the Spring Drive in terms of complexity. Their maintenance cost is around €800 every 4 years so I’d say pretty close to the Seiko’s. But Breitling also recommend a 2 year maintenance interval which costs around half of the 4 year’s. And I think that the more complicated calibers might have to be sent to Switzerland for service. So the service cost for a similar caliber is probably the same.

          Although I agree with many of your points, it’s not fair to compare the service interval of the GS on paper, to the real world service interval of a less complicated automatic.

          My 30 year old Seiko 5 runs almost perfectly with no service, but I doubt that Seiko advertises a 20 year service interval.

          Similarly I don’t think that Rolex advertises a 20 year service interval even if their watches can probably run perfectly for 20 years.

          The maximum interval that most companies will guarantee for a new watch is 5 years.

        • Hayzen

          I’ve had 4 Spring Drive watches, neither one of them was ever over 1 sec a week in terms of accuracy. Also, haven’t serviced any of them in 4-5 years, still running fine. Might wait another year to service the 2 that I still have in my ownership.

    • Ian john horwood

      Of course u know nothing , your talking bollocks , and only to the uninitiaited .

    • Ian john horwood

      U obviously know nothing u idiot , its way more accurate than anything out there , even thermo watches ive had it betters them too , rolex doesnt come close , u dont know your nose from your arse either , but u can keep telling yourself u do , but we know different . If u want to tell us the watches u mentioned are better , keep telling yourself that too , we still know better . As for status symbols thats for idiots too , flush your cash down the loo i dont care , we still know better .

  • Berndt Norten

    God damn the pushers, man.

    • DanW94

      Seiko needs to fire their pusher man with this one and get their fix elsewhere.

      • abbacabba

        Drugs reference? Here ya go…
        l>
        l
        l

        • Berndt Norten

          Wait. That’s you BILL isn’t it? Or is it Marius/H.O.Dinkee?

          • abbacabba

            None of the above sorry to disappoint.

          • Berndt Norten

            Ok.

    • abbacabba

      Lord’s name in vain? Fuh-LAGGED! 🙂

      • Berndt Norten

        It’s a Steppenwolf lyric.

        • DanW94

          I thought it was a SuperFly reference.

          • Berndt Norten

            Abacab

          • Berndt Norten

            Do u mean Jimmy Snuka(RIP)?

          • DanW94

            No, the Ron O’Neal joint, theme song by the one and only Curtis Mayfield.
            (Superfly Snuka was cool too)

          • Berndt Norten

            i wonder where BILL is?

            we love you BILL
            we always have
            we always will…

          • DanW94

            He’s around…trust me he’s around…..

  • Omegaboy

    The pushers, oh, the pushers. They’re huge. Remind me of teats on a cow. And I really wish Seiko would stop putting frames around their date windows. Otherwise, very nice watch.

    • Beefalope

      When you get a chance, take a look at the frame around a GS date window. The polishing is stunning when you consider how hard it is to get it right there.

  • Beefalope

    I love everything about the watch except its bulk. This is Grand Seiko’s best movement, the finishing in back and front is typically excellent, the design is novel and the functions are useful, but the watch simply is too big and heavy. Seiko addressed the weight issue by coming out with a couple of titanium models that are a lot more comfortable, but it’s still too big.

  • OK, I really like it but I cannot understand the lack of lume on a sports watch. Even the Reverso has more iterations with lume than the GS line!

    • Hayzen

      I don’t think this watch positions itself as a “sports” watch. As a GS owner, I can attest that the mirror-polished hands reflect the slightest light source available, anything other than complete darkness.

      • I understand what you’re saying, and the light does indeed reflect highly on the polished hands, so it’s not unusable in dim lighting. I just feel that the styling, size, functions and overall presence point to a “sports” watch.

        I see this more as a direct competitor to the Daytona, rather than to the Portuguese for example.

        • ProJ

          It’s certainly a sports watch.

          A primarily dress watch can’t possibly have all of the following together:

          1- Comes on a stainless steel bracelet.
          2- Is 17mm thick.
          3- Has 100m WR.
          4- Has Chronograph function.

          Lack of lume on this watch is simply a design failure from Seiko.

          • Hayzen

            I think lack of lume was very much the intended design as lume would inevitably ruin the near-perfect hand design, and putting lume on the hour markers but not on hands would make no sense.

  • DanW94

    The size and the style of the pushers ruin it for me. They seem to throw off the balance of the watch which is already struggling with balance issues dial wise.

  • abbacabba

    It wouldn’t be the first watch I drop my dollars for, but I do enjoy the funkiness of this watch. I get the criticisms of it, they just shouldn’t be said aloud. You’re not contributing to the positivity of this blog. BE NICE OR GET FLAGGED!

    • Berndt Norten

      Hello BILL

      • SuperStrapper

        As though anyone actually bought that little tantrum and storming off in a huff (twice).

        • abbacabba

          And which tantrum was mine? The one about the bracelet? Flagged…

          • Bill tell me that’s not you spamming us with passive aggression. You are better than this!

          • abbacabba

            Nope. And it’s more like performance art, but even worse and without the art.

          • LOL. When you are done with the performance, do stay and talk watches.

          • abbacabba

            You got it. Thanks for the invite.

          • DanW94

            Look at you Ryan…..You’re like Carter getting Sadat and Begin to the table to negotiate peace…..and talk watches

          • It all worked out fine in the end riiiight??!

          • Berndt Norten

            Is this your Joaquin Phoenix moment??

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    I’m a completely biased Seiko fan boy. The pushers are like a particularly pungent cheese. Not so pleasant at first, but after their first couple of tries, the taste becomes a pleasure. The Daytona has big knobbly pushers too. (Please don’t flame me).
    Love the look, for the price, an absolute bargain.

    • Beefalope

      I’m starting to agree with you about the pushers. They’re large, but they kind of look cool, they’re certainly different and the tactile feedback is excellent.

      I certainly wouldn’t flame you about the Daytona, which I think is the ugliest “legendary” chronograph ever.

    • Ranchracer

      I really have to agree with you. I’ve coveted a Grand Seiko for awhile now. I’ve never been a big “Must be Swiss” kind of guy anyway, and I respect the hell out of Seiko for taking the risk and spending the millions upon millions over several years to develop this unique movement.

      While my tastes gravitate more towards the SBGC221, I’ve never been able to justify spending more than 10k on a watch. Even 5K+ is tough. In any case, I kept coming back to this design since I love chronographs. At first I couldn’t figure out if I liked or disliked the pushers, but the more I look at the watch (and trust me, I look at it online at least four or five times a day), the more I like the slightly odd pushers.

      Overall it just seems to work (at least for me). This will continue to be at the top of my list, and will very likely be my next watch purchase. I believe the newest version of this design is the SBCG201.

  • I love the Spring Drive movement, I love the GS approach to quality, but there is very often some hard-to-define spark of creative flare that is absent from them. The pushers, the balance on the dial, the tones, they just seem to conspire to make this watch seem less impressive than it truly is. The Credor Eichi II bucks this trend IMO, but I want more.

    What I really want to see is this technology made available as a third party movement and let some watchmakers come at it with some very different designs and approaches. But that would require the consumer to care less about SWISS on the dial I guess…

    I do like the pricing though – I can see the value in every dollar and would forgive those big pushers for it.

  • Simon_Hell

    Oh give me a fucking break…how is an 8 grand watch not a status symbol.

    • abbacabba

      Not using a question mark at the end of your sentence? FLAGGED

    • IG

      It’s a Seiko LOL

    • Beefalope

      Because the vast majority of humanity on Earth would never know it’s an $8k watch.

      Even those who allegedly know a thing or two about watches would see a Seiko and think “cheap.”

      • IanE

        The vast majority who saw a Richard Mille would think “cheap”, too! Anyway how often does anyone else even notice your watches? Most of us just buy for ourselves: if we wanted to show off our status, we’d buy a flash car.

        • Beefalope

          Yes, I agree.

  • TrevorXM

    I lot of problems with this watch design-wise as many have noted. Bizarre pushers and the unpleasant dial design top the list. Big, giant screw down pushers for only 100m water resist? No — that’s ridiculous.

    Reading more below and elsewhere about the outrageous servicing costs every three years makes this watch an even dumber choice. The Spring Drive is a movement I have grown to appreciate more. However, it’s as if it was created and then never really developed to make it practical. Three year service intervals at $900 a pop is not a practical proposition for a watch that costs $7k! That isn’t acceptable from any watch company, let alone a Seiko with no real “prestige” and therefore has to succeed only on its other qualities.

    • Beefalope

      You don’t have to service it every three years. That’s a recommendation for maximum accuracy.

      The pricing is what it is because no one but Seiko can service it. A lot of people can service a Daytona or Speedmaster or even an El Primero. Unless you’ve been (highly) trained by Grand Seiko, you’re not coming near a Spring Drive, especially if it’s a chronograph. Additionally, only Grand Seiko in Japan can do the Zaratsu finishing. They don’t share that technique outside of Japan.

      The whole prestige thing is silly. Either a watch is a good watch or it is not. A brand name does not make a watch better or worse.

      • TrevorXM

        Reading your post it’s clear that you don’t believe we can follow a manufacturer’s standard servicing interval recommendations to estimate what a watch will cost to maintain. Nor should we follow them to keep our expensive watch operating properly. Nor can we determine anything about how good a watch might be based on a brand name.

        • Hayzen

          You can, if you want. Or, you can wait 5 years, as with majority of automatics out there. O 10 years, as some folks have stated.

    • Hayzen

      I don’t think Spring Drive servicing costs are any higher than a regular high-end automatic. Same regularity, roughly same cost.

      • IanE

        Quite : this is a GMT and a chronograph – extra complications inevitably increase service costs!

      • TrevorXM

        I suppose if you service your “regular high-end automatic” watches every three years, you would be correct. That’s Seiko’s stated recommendation right in the operating instructions. Rolex, for example, has a ten year service interval. http://www.ablogtowatch.com/rolex-5-year-warranty-all-new-watches-10-year-service-intervals/ By all accounts online, the cost for basic servicing is virtually the same as a Daytona if you do a comprable service which would include polishing adding something like $250 to the $900 basic service cost of the Seiko.

        So you are wrong. If you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and do the math, this Seiko would cost three times what a Rolex Daytona would over a ten year period of ownership.

        • Hayzen

          As stated elsewhere, nobody services their Spring Drives every 3 years. That recommendation simply comes from Seiko being over-careful as usual, just as their specs for Spring drive being accurate to +-1sec per day when in fact, everybody knows it’s per week or even per month.

  • Joel Schumann

    As the article already touch upon the differences between Swiss and Japanese approaches – In Europe this movement would not have made it from concept on the engineers computer to actually spinning cogs. Any designer familiar with, you know, rather basic concepts in design like visual balance and proportions would have instant nervous tics upon seeing the layout here and, if lacking the guts to challenge the engineers on this, would at the very least have quipped something about changing the font to something that didn’t look like coming straight from the front page of an 18th century novel.

    Okay, it’s not THAT bad. As usual the individual bits and parts are all top notch but visually the whole adds up to less than the sum of the parts.

    That said, David B., the article made me interested in actually seeing the watch.

    (Disclaimer: I own a couple of Seikos)

    • Beefalope

      You should definitely check one out. As much as I hate the large size and heavy weight of the GS chronographs, I’ve come very close to buying one before because they’re just such a visual marvel in plain sight.

      • Joel Schumann

        I would If only GS were available where I live. Maybe next time I fly somewhere.

    • Hayzen

      It’s a great layout. I find it far more refreshing that tricompax or any other existing mechanical chronograph design.

      • IanE

        I definitely like the sub-dial layout – unusual, symmetrical and (as David Bredan wrote) easy to read. It is just a shame to my eyes that the power reserve indicator is on the dial, cluttering it up and smashing the symmetry.

        • Hayzen

          I don’t know why people have so much beef with the Power reserve when it comes to Seiko. Most other brands slap it on the dials as an added feature and sometimes even name the whole watch “Reserve du Marche”. Go figure.

  • It’s certainly beautiful. I’ll give the absurd pushers a pass as a differing taste in design. The more I read about Spring Drive, however, the more I think it’s an awfully complicated solution in search of a problem.

    • Beefalope

      When you think about it, many of our favorite watch features are delightfully useless. A moon phase is lovely; it’s also useless. Equation of time is complicated and cool; useless. A minute repeater sounds pleasant; useless.

      However, we love all of these things because they’re just cool. We want to see what watchmakers can engineer and place into something as compact as a watch.

      That’s the way I look at Spring Drive. It’s just something very new, very different, very unusual and entirely unique. No other watch movement is anything like a Spring Drive. Plus, it’s the perfect blend of old and new technology. Yes, a high-accuracy quartz watch will be cheaper and more accurate than a Spring Drive, but it won’t have the charm or the same level of engineering.

  • Han Cnx

    Pushers, pushers.. I can see why they’d be really comfortable and accurate to operate, so perhaps more suited to a sportier design? For a dressier watch probably a more restrained set of pushers would work. In this model it’s suited for someone who’s trackside most of the day, yet the rest of the design doesn’t say that really.

  • Klockodile

    I’ve owned my fair share of GS watches, along with other Swiss and Japanese brands. I never get as much likes IRL for any of them as I have gotten for the GS chronos (SBGC007 and SBGC017). They are striking in the flesh. Comments like “oh what a beautiful watch” are not unusual, and the small rants from you guys here are never heard. I also get a lot of comments when wearing a Rolex, but they are NEVER about the looks, only about the brand “oh nice, you have a ROLEX” type of chants.
    I’m not saying you are wrong, aesthetics are a personal matter of taste. But you should be able to spot real craftsmanship when you see it.

  • Simon

    I love this piece and everything it stands for, but being left handed i.e someone who wears on the right wrist, these pushers just cannot work for me. Any long sleeve shirt or sweater would just get caught on them 🙁

    My SBGX091 keeps me very happy though!

  • Newsh

    This is a quality piece by Bredan – congratulations, sir. I also echo Simon’s words: ‘I love this piece and everything it stands for.’ And I’m also left-handed and wear watches on my right wrist, but am unconcerned about the pushers. I think they’re one of this watch’s great features – a true differentiator. Frighteningly, there’s a UK retailer that will take a £750 deposit followed by a very reasonable monthly payment over four years on interest free credit terms. Uh oh…

  • Richard Baptist

    love this watch, its a grail. A technological tour de force and I even like the unusual look of the watch. There is something quirky about the japanese aesthetic that I love – okay sometimes they go too far, but I like the pushers which makes it stand out from almost every other chronograph out there. I will definitely own one of these in the future. I’m interested in chronograph movements – not brand names, and this is one of best out there. I totally echo your sentiments David. Great piece!

  • Ian john horwood

    Its the best chronograph in the world bar none , love my sbgc003 black dial. The number 2 spot goes to my calibre 2100’s E210 chronographs . Both awsome watches in their number 1 field , bar none . Nuff said .

    • Shinytoys

      my goodness, there are times when you offer up cogent conversation….leave the vitriol off our page…

      • Ian john horwood

        Some one put the guys head in the loo , and pull the chain

  • Ian john horwood

    And sorry the casio is not in the same league for accuracy as my spring drive chronograph , or my calibre 2100 E210 chronographs either , i know because i own them .

  • Ian john horwood

    What he forgot to mention in the article was the independant hour hand adjustmant without stopping the watch, like a b01 chronomat .

  • Ian john horwood

    Ablog to watch should make their own video on this watch , to show how superb this watch actually is .

  • Jorge Robles

    This is a great review. I like the fit and finish of this watch, although not the overall design. My taste is still to have a symmetrical dial with sub-dials at 3-6-9 and date at 12, like the old Datron/Zenith models from the 70’s. The power reserve dial and the assymetry of the other three dials makes the dial kind of cluttered and takes some luster from an otherwise almost perfect execution in fit and finish. But this design is more for a dress watch than an utilitarian watch, and I give a lot of punishment to all my watches. My 1979 Moonwatch for example, has had more than 30 hexalite glass changes since I got it, after exahusting the polishing capacity of each crystal before changing it. But this watch has that sweet movement, possibly the most precise and accurate movement due to its design. The only other movement that I could think of with an accuracy and precision like this one is the Omega Co-Axial movements that are capable to show in some cases a deviation rate of +/- 0.0 seconds for some days as long as you are wearing them constantly. The Omegas still have an advantage and is their magnetic resistance of 15000 Gauss or higher that for me is something I need due to my work. But this Seiko movement is Super Amazing!!!!! I wish Seiko could do a watch with the classic lines/design as the older Swiss chronos like that Datron/Zenith models and with the finish of the Omega Co-Axial Caliber 9300. The other aspect I do not like is the size of those push buttons, they are too big and the watch look like Mickey Mouse ears, my opinion. I am looking forward to see the new Seiko models with the new movement, but they promise to be exciting new additions to the line!!!!