Matching the case in color and theme, the face of the Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve is given a thin sparkle of diamond dust that retains good contrast for legibility with the hands, but also just a little happy sparkle to remind of its luxury upbringing. This is also “the first Grand Seiko watch to have been created by the celebrated Micro Artist Studio in Seiko’s facility in Shiojiri in the Nagano prefecture of central Japan.” Seiko’s taken me there, and it is really impressive. This is where they make mostly domestic-market-only art watches, other sub-brands, or uncommon models like the Sonnerie or Credor watches.

We’ve seen this overall movement architecture (albeit in more complex form) in the Seiko Sonnerie and Minute Repeater watches. While not as attractive as more open bridge systems used by Swiss watch makers, the caliber 9R01 movement in the Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve watch uses a large backplate to the movement which does actually hold it together very securely. This is a Spring Drive system-based movement, which is really the crowning glory of Seiko’s attempt to combine quartz accuracy with the beauty and “perpetual nature” of mechanical movements. I won’t go into detail on the system again, but I did discuss it extensively back when I reviewed this Seiko Spring Drive watch.

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The movement is not an automatic (obviously) but it does have a long power reserve of eight days – probably the longest ever in a Seiko Spring Drive movement. Seiko incorporated a power reserve indicator on the back of the movement which is a very nice (and ergonomic) detail. Spring Drive movements are as accurate as a good quartz watch with accuracy of around plus or minus 10 seconds per month. That is pretty cool, and the watches are still powered by a spring. The caliber 9R01 has three mainspring barrels because of all the power needed for that long power reserve maximum time.


Seemingly because people sometimes complain that dressy Grand Seiko watches are small for Western tastes, Seiko made the Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve 43mm wide and 13.2mm thick. That is a hefty Grand Seiko, but it still feels comfortable on the wrist (water resistant to a “should-be-industry-standard” 100 meters). It is possible that the size is due to the space in the movement required for the three mainsprings. The rear of the case has a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback window, and the you can admire the obviously amazing finishing of the movement. The movement doesn’t have as much character as a Swiss one, but it is friggin’ prefect.


Watch nerds shit-talked the watch industry so much about date windows that Seiko said “fine, we won’t include one.” Some Grand Seiko watches don’t have the date, but most do. I don’t mind this, but I will say that the last Grand Seiko watch I got did not have a date and was time-only. So there is an appealing elegance to time-only, date-less Grand Seiko dress watches.

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How is it that despite being in Renaissance Fair font “olde English,” the Grand Seiko logo looks so kick-ass – like a name given to a sword a popular knight would use in battle? The obsessive finishing standards of Grand Seiko watch dials are beautifully demonstrated in this palette of excellent flat polishes and attractive colors. Perhaps the larger elements of the dial lack individual character, but they are brutally effective as being timeless-looking. Seiko instead invites you to look closer at the sub-sub details like finishing consistency and lack of fine debris on the dial (all the debris you see in these images is on the top of the crystal). It’s the minutiae that they are showing off here, and you need to be just as cued into the little things in watches as the Grand Seiko people are to appreciate them. I’m probably close enough. Even the blued “gliding” seconds hand stands out in lilliputian defiance of lesser blued hands.


Perfectionist will love the Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve product. It is also the ultimate “careful, don’t mess up perfect product” watch because it comes in a platinum case. Seiko couldn’t have imagined a more scratch-prone precious metal. Will not each owner baby the watch as it is? If anything, the watch demands careful handling with this reminder that adds both babysitting cost and value to the watch. It’s the absolute pinnacle of princess watches. If a potential buyer is also a doting parent to a daughter, I think there is a good chance they could offer a SBGD001 a good home.

I’m not at all sticker-shocked by the price when Seiko tells me that it costs 6,000,000 yen. I don’t care what currency that is, it sounds like a lot of money. At the time of writing this article, that translates into about $55,000 USD, which is a step away from Grand Seiko’s more legacy pricing strategy of “undercut the Swiss.”


This is a Seiko that isn’t pulling any punches. They want the Europeans to know once and for all, with or without their acceptance, Grand Seiko is a top-tier watch maker on par if not better than many European brands – even some more expensive than them. Yes, they still need the European’s to hear them, but they are no longer seeking permission to sit down. It’s a bold move if you are keen enough on watch industry politics to see the statement for what it is. Buyers from inside and outside Japan will shell out over $50,000 for a Grand Seiko, and Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin have to put up with it. It’s a battle that means something to them, even it if might seem petty from the outside. I’ll just let them have their politics, and I’ll take the nice watches that result from Japan’s important relationship with high-street Europe.


Forgive Seiko for having someone pour a glass of whiskey in their promotional video for the Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve watch, and thank them for the fact that it isn’t a limited edition. That means the SBGD001 will be around for at least a while, or until it gets replaced by something better. So no pressure, your $50,000 Seiko is waiting for you at anytime, when you are ready. I’m nowhere near the league of people who can spend $50,000 for a watch like I spend $5,000, but if I were, this would be on a short list of watches to look very closely at over the next few years.

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