January 6, 2017
by Ariel Adams
Seiko, on the other hand, is more discreet about its technology, but that goes with the territory of high-end watches where conservatism and design restraint reign. The impressive features are in how nicely the Spring Drive GMT mixes durability and functionality with hints of sober style. Much of the “bling” (if you could call it that) is in the hands and hour markers which contrast well in polished steel against a matte black face which is set deep into the dial. Seiko does lose a few points for not having a fully lumed face (hour and minute hand, as well as four of the hour markers have luminant on them), but it likely regains those points by having not only a fully lumed bezel, but also one that is covered in a protective sapphire crystal (eliminates many scratches that bezels in other materials can accumulate).
While the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 is uncommonly comfortable, it is large, at 44mm wide and 14.7mm thick. It doesn’t have a sapphire crystal display caseback, but the watch is water resistant to 200 meters. The screw-down crown is positioned at 4 o’clock so as to reduce its propensity to dig into one’s wrist, and it helps make the watch appear a bit smaller as well. The bi-directional GMT bezel helps set the time in a third-time zone using the GMT hand on the dial, but can also be used for other timing purposes.
Seiko does excellent work with Grand Seiko, which is why I am a pretty ardent fan – mostly (but not exclusively) of their sport watches. Feeling the assuring weight and solid build of the watch are something you can only do when it is in your hands. It is a watch that has the uncommon claim to be more than the sum of its parts. The comfort and versatility of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 is where all of its personality comes from. Seiko lends zero marketing or naming support to give this watch character – so it’s fortunate that its wearing and ownership experience can accomplish that end.
The fitting bracelet that goes with the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 is not dissimilar from bracelets offered on other Grand Seiko watches that came out around the same time. Interestingly enough, the bracelet – in its own funny way – exposes the main strengths and weaknesses of Grand Seiko as a sub-brand.
Note that Seiko recently updated the deployant clasp on these bracelets to include some micro-adjust holds. I am not aware of whether this applies to newer production versions of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 or not. The new deployants are longer, not as compact, and result in bracelets that do not taper as much, I believe.
Seiko has not had too much luck in making bracelets that feel distinctively Japanese, highly engineered, and as special as their cases, dials, and movements. That isn’t to say their bracelets are bad, but rather that it feels like where the least effort is put. While the dial design takes detailing to an extreme, the bracelets feel “good enough,” without too much extra effort. The design feels very much inspired by that of the Omega Speedmaster, which is OK, but I prefer to see it on an Omega, and not a Seiko. You won’t be disappointed with the bracelet on this or any other Grand Seiko, but you might find yourself feeling that Seiko could have put a lot more effort into making it as special as the watch itself.
Weather-weary residents of South Florida are fans of trucks to tow their boats and to pull through rain and sometimes mud. The Infiniti QX80 was remarkably at home in this environment where duty was always potentially right around the corner. If you can park it, then this Infiniti is eager to cruise through town of Key West at the tepidly regulated speed of mostly 30mph. You might get envious of others who easily park their small subcompacts, but you’ll also get the distinct impression that you can also monster-truck-style run them right over if you feel so inclined.
Someday, an electric machine will replace the combustion engine powering this comfortable tractor. When that times comes, people will invest in automobiles like the Infiniti QX80 Limited more readily, as these days fuel costs (and ethics) are a popular topic. If fuel costs don’t perturb you, frequent stops to the gas station might. Infiniti’s V8 does as good a job conserving gas as I am sure an engine of this type can, but it is still big and unavoidably thirsty.
Those who travel with young (or very easily entertained) passengers will like the “Limited” version of the Infiniti QX80 for its rear-seat screens and available on-board internet WiFi. The Infiniti QX80 Limited is probably better as a means of taking a lot of the questions out of optioning the vehicle with everything you should get such as the Driver’s Assistance Package and Deluxe Technology Package. Without stuff like that, the Infiniti QX80 just isn’t all that it can be.
You have many options when buying an SUV these days, as well as a luxury SUV. You have fewer options if you want a more true SUV that combines a capable on-road and off-road experience, with the type of all-climate, all-weather safety you should probably hope for in a vehicle such as this. It isn’t a budget option, either, but neither are any of its competitor products. Here stands (tall) a modern interpretation of the now rare super truck, complete with oodles of toys and features. Its utility narrowly beats out its quirks, which means you really ought to need the functionality of the Infiniti QX80 regularly to get your money’s worth. While the base Infiniti QX80 starts at about $64,000, the Infiniti QX80 Limited as tested here starts at $89,450 (expect circa $90,000 for a well-equipped one).
The Seiko Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 in steel has a cousin model in titanium with gold-toned dial and bezel accents with the Grand Seiko SBGE015 (hands-on here). Retail price for the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 is $5,500.
As colleagues, the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 and Infiniti QX80 Limited pair well, and they share many values. With that said, the watch and car come from two very different design theories even if they are both tools at heart, with a lifestyle twist to them. Enjoy them together, or separately – they don’t mind. Though, to enjoy them properly, they each need owners who will make use of their features regularly – so plan on some adventure in your life. infinitiusa.com | grand-seiko.com
>Model: Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001
>Size: 44mm wide and 14.7mm thick
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Large-watch lover seeking the ultimate in luxury sport watch discretion, and who travels frequently to different time zones.
>Best characteristic of watch: Extremely well-aging design that is arguably a modern classic. Beauty and utility in one slick package. Spring Drive is a great movement if you are amenable to its hybrid nature.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Original generation deployant clasp closes with a noticeable gap, and with little micro-adjustment options. Could use more dial luminant.
>Model: QX80 Limited
>Price: About $90,000 as tested
>Engine: 400 hp 5.6 liter V8
>Would reviewer personally drive it: Certainly, if I had a lifestyle that needed it.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Family person with well-mannered (car-interior-respecting) kids who frequently battles ice/water/snow/wind/sand as part of their regular commute.
>Best characteristic of car: Japanese engineering at its best, taking something inherently rough (a 4×4 vehicle) and making it refined. Lots of space and comfort. Welcome assortment of interior features and amenities.
>Worst characteristic of car: Car genre crossovers have trained people to expect different driving styles which the Infiniti QX80 does not deliver, as it is more truck than car. Difficult to see over bulbous hood. No HUD. Fuel consumption may make it a tough choice for anyone who strictly doesn’t need the functionality.