The ceramic cases are said to be polished by hand – which is rather interesting. Seiko is proud of that fact, as well as the even surfaces which are free from distortion and yet also have some nice sharp edges. I suggest that you compare Seiko’s work to that of Omega in the Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon (aBlogtoWatch review here). Both of these watches are very good black ceramic-cased chronographs, but have appeal in different ways. In one way that the Omega is arguably more interesting in terms of the ceramic case is in their use of replicated the look of polished steel cases, with contrast polishing where some surfaces are mirror polished and some brushed. I’d like to see Seiko experiment with that technique in the future.


The Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Limited Edition chronograph watches are pretty sizable as well, with the ceramic and titanium cases being 46.4mm wide and 16.1mm thick (water resistant to 100 meters). They weigh a respectable 117 grams. At these sizes, the watches are actually larger than I think most Japanese wrist sizes can support, which is interesting because it might point to the brand’s focus on appealing to other markets. In Japan, most people wear 40mm-wide-and-under timepieces, although certain people (who tend to be a bit more artistic and free in their fashion) certainly prefer larger more avant-garde timepieces.

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Inside the Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Limited Edition SBGC017 and SBGC015 watches is the very desirable in-house-made Seiko Spring Drive caliber 9R96 automatic chronograph movement. Spring Drive watches are a unique system which combine a quartz regulator with an otherwise mechanical movement. The result is a mainspring-powered movement with the accuracy of quartz. Seiko claims (and they are usually quite conservative) accuracy of within 10 seconds per month. You can view the movement through the sapphire crystal caseback exhibition window. It represents some of the best that comes from Japan in terms of both meticulous finishing and technology.

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The 9R96 movement has a lot of cool features including the time, 12-hour chronograph, GMT hand, date, and power reserve indicator. While the dial layout is asymmetric (and thus lacks some aesthetic elegance) it is done so on purpose. Seiko decided to stack the chronograph subdials making them easier to read at a glance. It works, but when it comes to knowing the information at a glance, you can’t exactly beat digital… Seiko uses typically beautiful and well-made hands, while the only real downside to the dial is the lack of luminant material. Overall, this combo of complications is hard to beat, and I challenge anyone who has a watch with a 9R96 movement to say it isn’t amazing.

Attached to the black ceramic case is a deep green-colored crocodile strap, which has a lighter green lining, side color, and stitching. I really wish that Seiko also designed a limited edition Onbashira outfit to go with the watch… why don’t they take these themes all the way? I really don’t feel like Japan’s watchmakers aren’t taking full advantage of the costume obsession the country is known for.

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I, for one, celebrate this new more avant-garde design direction that Grand Seiko is taking (in at least some models). While you can’t beat the classic or traditional look of more dressy Grand Seiko watches, it is nice to see a more modern design direction taken here in the Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Limited Edition chronograph watches. They aren’t cheap, though. The combination of fancy Spring Drive chronograph GMT movement and the hand-polished new black ceramic cases result in a retail price for the Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Limited Edition SBGC015 or SBGC017 watches of $13,000.

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