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Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition SBGH263 Watch

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition SBGH263 Watch Watch Releases

As Baselworld 2018 approaches, one of the highlights of the upcoming watch trade show “mission” is to determine what new products our friends in Japan have been working on. At Grand Seiko one of the new timepieces will be a limited edition homage to the brand’s past (again) with this Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition reference SBGH263. Limited to only 453 pieces, the SBGH263 is specifically designed for people who admire Grand Seiko’s ability to render very functional designs in extremely well-crafted packages. The exciting elements here aren’t in a new design or flashy presentation. Rather, the value here is in Grand Seiko’s excellent dial and case construction, mixed with an uncommon use of applied Arabic hour numerals on the dial.

In steel, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition watch is 39.5mm wide with a thickness of 13.1mm (and water-resistant to 30m). This is a good looking case, but the more I see watches like this, the more I want Grand Seiko to innovate a bit more in regard to making thin movements. When Seiko puts their minds to it, they can pretty much produce whatever movement innovations they like. Seiko has demonstrated to the world that they can make a better automatic watch, a better chronograph watch, a better minute repeater watch, etc… With that said, given the elegance stance of many Grand Seiko timepieces, I find it interesting that an “ultra- thin” automatic movement isn’t something they have released yet. Give it time? Probably.

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition SBGH263 Watch Watch Releases

Produced at the prestigious Seiko Shizuku-ishi studio in Japan, inside the SBGH263 is the in-house Seiko caliber 9S85 automatic with 55 hours of power reserve. This is a “Hi-Beat” automatic, which means it runs at 5Hz (36,000bph). Seiko claims accuracy ranging from +5 to -3 seconds per day, but in our experience real-world performance is actually higher. The movement offers the time with central seconds, and a date window. Seiko points out the dial color which is intended to resemble traditional Japanese silk with a hue they call “Shironeri.” The off-white color matches well with the yellow gold tone of the applied Arabic hour numerals and wonderfully-made Grand Seiko-style dauphine hands.

Those with more modern or avant-garde tastes will point out that the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition SBGH263 looks like someone’s idea of a very refined school wall clock. Indeed the focus here is clean, effective legibility without a decorative or expressive angle. This is Grand Seiko fully focusing on practicality, as only they can render it. With that said, just a clean, legible look can be pleasing to wear. More important is the fact that Grand Seiko has been doing rather well selling such limited edition homages to their own past (and will continue to do so until collectors want something else).

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition SBGH263 Watch Watch Releases

While this is not my personal top-choice for the next Grand Seiko timepiece on my list, I think the SBGH263 is very attractive and I am rather partial to Arabic numeral dials, which Grand Seiko rarely does these days. Attached to the steel case is a dark brown crocodile strap with a folding buckle deployant. Over the dial is a box-style AR-coated sapphire crystal, which will lend itself well to the retro look Grand Seiko is going for in this 2018 product. Once again, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Special Edition SBGH263 watch is limited to 453 pieces and the retail price is $6,200 USD. grand-seiko.com

About the Author

Fueled by an unshakable love for horology and a general curiosity for intricate things, Ariel Adams founded aBlogtoWatch in 2007 as a means of sharing his passion. Since then, ABTW has become the highest trafficked blog on luxury timepieces, and Ariel has become a contributor to other online publications such as Forbes, Departures and Tech Crunch, to name just a few. His conversational writing style and inclusive attitude brings a wider appreciation for watches the world over, and that's just the way he likes it.

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  • ???

    Grand Seiko has a lot of special and attracting dials, but usually with unmatched date wheels. What a shame…

    • Yeah a color matching date wheel background (with the dial) and numeral matching the tone of the applied makers would have been nicer. Especially at 6 for better symmetry.

        • SharpsvilleBill

          Yes, spot on, Mark. That rendition I would buy in a High “Heart” Beat!

        • Larry Holmack

          That’s much nicer Mark!! They should hire you!!

        • ooh! now do a grand date one!

          • But that would require a new movement from Seiko, ha ha. I tried to be careful with my mock-up to keep the date window the same size and distance from the center pinion (meaning they could do this with just a date wheel and dial change). If I was to do a grand date, I’d put it where the “Grand Seiko” and “GS” logos are and then put just the “GS” symbol below the center pinion leaving out the “Grand Seiko”.

          • Gokart Mozart

            Have you thought about working for Bamford, or perhaps Mr Kravitz 😉

          • Yeah, I just some need some tractor billions! Or some pretentious videos! Then I wouldn’t have to deal with either one of them.

          • Gokart Mozart

            Now change the colour of the dial and give it good looking arabic numerals…

          • Too tempting, ha ha.

          • Doing a grand date (with this size movement) would result in a max date window of about 5.6 mm by 3.6 mm and the numerals at 15 points. This assumes the conventional 2 concentric wheel arrangement (Moser uses 2 date wheels on top of each other which is interesting). The limit on the size is the area between the center pinion and the outer edge of the movement. If you put the date at 3 you can go bigger. The above example shows an extreme example (limited by my not wanting to “kill” the chapter ring – otherwise it could even a bit larger). This way too large one comes in at 8.4 mm by 6.0 mm for the date window and has a 26 point font. Cheers.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/526b77621dcfbce972bb67f8ff6f252f363fc587871eca2711b603926863ffe9.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5a20557c8854370c5c491037a73c678ca7c39a130c48b7957a8aaae8910c4186.jpg

          • The second one looks amazing!!!

          • Thanks – the first one was for those who wonder why dates aren’t larger. But the 3H position is not that popular for big dates, so you are left with the more same looking one with the date below the 12. And the max size and vertical position are basically constrained by the underlying geometry of the date wheels. Cheers.

      • Drazen B

        Should have stuck with your decision above and listened to your mother.

        • I still have not said anything bad about this GS, I only echoed the suggestion from ??? that the date display could be improved.

        • zanetti

          He couldn’t help himself…

  • Well made, but as my mother used to say, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”, so no further comment.

    • Larry Holmack

      A favorite saying of my mother also….so I’ll not say anything either!

  • Yanko

    I admire some Grand Seikos. The numerals on this one look funny.

  • JosephWelke

    What a nice watch. Well made and instantly legible. Love the high-beat ability. That said, my main problem with this watch is it doesn’t look like it’s worth $6200 USD. The case may well be precisely made and polished but it seems to lack brushing or any differential finishes that announce its quality. It looks like a well made case for a $500 watch.

    The dial may be well made but it also looks very, very plain, with the applied numerals giving the only sense of depth. Speaking of which, is the frame around the date window an applied metallic bit or is it simply printed? Finally, given Seiko’s ability to frankly do whatever they like – they’re the very definition of “in house” – at this price the lack of a color-matched date wheel is inexcusable.

    I’d wear this watch with pride, and get a huge kick out of the smoothly sweeping seconds hand, but at least just looking at it here, I’d be hard pressed to pay the asking price, or anywhere near it.

    • ???

      Have ever seen any Grand Seiko in the flesh?

  • Just when you thought GS couldn’t get any more ordinary looking.

    “Seiko points out the dial color which is intended to resemble traditional Japanese silk with a hue they call “Shironeri.”

    What’s the Japanese word for “The date window doesn’t match”?

    • BNABOD

      The word is Bullshironeri

    • Ian john horwood

      Well its far better looking and tastful than say a JLC master compressor, which is just awful in comparison.

  • SuperStrapper

    At a glance you’d think “gee, a $500 Grand Seiko?” And then in a retail setting after glancing at the price tag you’d think “gee, I’m just going to leave quietly now and go laugh into a pillow at home”.

  • Yan Fin

    yeah, keep this edition limited.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This is beyond ridiculous. Putting the word grand in front of anything doesn’t make it so. At the risk if repeating myself Seiko have ideas way above their station. Wonderful name. This is totally unessesery.

    • They should drop the Seiko part of the name instead as it colors one’ perception (and not in a good way) for what is otherwise a higher end watch in terms of construction.

      • riposte

        “…drop the Seiko part of the name…”
        How about no! -Hattori family
        Btw, kanji of Seiko has good meaning and it’s already become a gift from the founder, why changing 65 y.o name.

        • 58 year old name to be picky about it. How about “Suwa” instead of Grand Seiko? The problem is, and to my mind always has been, that having Seiko in the name prejudices the customer into seeing these fine watches as just a nicer Seiko at a totally non-Seiko price point. The Ford family did not seem to have an issue with having their higher line cars labeled Lincoln any more than Louis Chevrolet did keeping the Cadillac name, etc. The automotive world is full of examples with Mercedes-Benz resurrecting the Maybach name a few years ago.

    • Ian john horwood

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with gs what so ever, even this one, especially when compared to the crappy overpriced bremont, and other crappy brands, which means and includes over ego’d swiss prestige brands and fashionista like rolex and paneria and others, and their over pricing worth.

      • IG

        Pull your head out of Seiko’s arse.

      • Playboy Johnny

        Yes, crappy brands like GRAND Seiko & Brewmont. Give me a Rolex ANY day.

    • IG

      “Grand” as in $1000, isn’t it obvious?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        6 grand obvious.

  • BNABOD

    Seiko confirmed they can’t take a picture worth a sh**. Big fan of what they usually make in their sporty ranges like the gmt high beat but this one needs to go back so Grand pa can enjoy it. While clean and certainly well made it ooses 1978. Not that it wasn’t a fine year

  • Pete L

    Nice legible wristwatch. Maybe it’s a stealth wealth thing but 6k on a watch that looks like it cost 100 quid is odd. Just cannot see the appeal as whilst I am sure they are extremely high quality there is absolutely nothing special about it and for the money it just wouldn’t enter calculations for me.

  • DanW94

    Atypical of Seiko, those applied numerals look rather crude. Not one of GS’s better efforts.

  • Jon Heinz

    Would still opt for one of GS’s divers. No one would ever guess the price on this one though. Fweeeeewwwww, right under the radar.

  • Mischa

    It’s always the same story with GS. So technically impressive, flawless finishes, etc.

    I want to like them, soooo much. But I still don’t.

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    The dial color is awkward, looks old (?). Wonder what target demo is this for.

  • Marius

    I see absolutely no reason for paying $6,200 for this Grand Seiko when for just $5,000 one could purchase a beautiful and timeless Brewmont AC I (Archibald Chesterfield I). The Brewmont is sporty yet elegant and stylish, and it’s bulit for a purpose. Furthermore, the design sensibility of the dial feels like a combination of IWC and A. Lange & Söhne – both excellent brands to be associated with. Lastly, Brewmont uses an ETA 2867-3421-654XXZ, which is a tough, reliable, and dependable workhorse movement. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/701813b2d95fa30c8e69efbd9f2239b980a34ad2019cedd625c982c3259eba59.jpg

    • Well in its defense, the Bremont has a lot more character than this GS.

    • Ian john horwood

      Thats a crap value for money watch with a crappy eta and poor finished movement, know where near the quality and finishing of a gs hi-beat movement or the accuracy. Eta chronometer performance is very poor compared to a gs 9s85 or 9s86 calibre movement. A gs hi-beat is only 1 second out a day in performamce when worn, the eta chronometer is way behind in accuracy and left in the dust. Gs is adjusted in six positions and temperature. Even a new patek is only adjusted to five positions, which is poor for one of the holy trinity of the watch world.

      • Marius

        You are right. I was just making fun of Brewmont.

        • Ian john horwood

          Ok

        • Gokart Mozart

          I think the lack of paragraphs meant he was not impressed with your comment. It acually made me read the comment in high speed and i was imagining shouting in my head.

      • Ranchracer

        So tell us how you really feel.

    • Chaz

      What is this watch? 44mm with a 2824?? Look at that date window placement!

    • SharpsvilleBill

      I will NEVER buy another watch with an ETA 2824 movement, I have a Doxa Sub 600 and had to have it serviced once for being erratic and nit it completely STOPPED running. Garbage, As a matter of fact no more Swiss watches for me (have about a dozen). Seiko has won my heart with my GS Spring Drive and my Alpinist.

  • frauss

    Looks kinda like an old peoples Timex.

    • Gokart Mozart

      An old peoples old timex, or a Sekonda

  • Joel Schumann

    Hey Ariel, I think you put the thumbnails instead of the hires photos on the page by mistake. Either that, or Seiko is doing their product photography with a 2MB camera. I haven’t seen this much jaggies and image noise since the last decade.

    As for the watch, it sure is boring. I am left with the (perverse?) idea, that it might be fun to wear with a couple of colorful bracelets.

  • Andrew C

    In order to understand Grand Seiko, one has to stop comparing it to one’s expectations of traditional Swiss/European design and function. On the face of it, they may all just be “watches”, but Seiko at it’s core is a Japanese watch, designed by Japanese designers under Japanese aesthetics, in a formerly isolated island nation that is Japan. A failure to recognize this is a failure to understand the brand at it’s core, and is in my opinion why some will never get over the “Just a Seiko” mindset.

  • IG

    6 Gs for a Seiko? MWUAHAHA

  • Dakota Dennison

    Why is the date window not framed and just has a printed gold border. That and a color matched date wheel and we would be in business.

    Are the applied numbers actual gold or just gold colored plated?

    • IG

      They look embossed then painted, not really applied.

  • Playboy Johnny

    How much is this Timex???

    EDIT: Just saw the “Timex” reference below. So I’m not the only one.

  • Boi1der

    First, the photos in this article don’t do this watch justice compared to other photos I’ve seen online. Second, for those who like to comment with clever sarcasm about Grand Seiko, please include in your comment if you’ve ever handled one. I have and it is an experience.The attention to detail and craftsmanship in these watches are obvious in the flesh.

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