June 11, 2020
by Bilal Khan
As follow ups to last year’s tetrad of USA-exclusive ‘Seasons’ watches, Grand Seiko has just dropped two new Spring Drive watches themed after sōkō, the end of Autumn. I was a big fan of last year’s SBGA413 “Spring” watch (I own one), and I’m glad to see Grand Seiko making these a recurring series that would result in a total of 24 pieces, as Japan divides the seasons into six sekki each. These two Soko Special Edition watches are characterized by the use of green, inspired by the Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto.
Both are done in steel 39mm cases with vertical brushed dials. The SBGA427 has a light silver dial with a darker green hue used on the seconds and power reserve hands and the SBGA429 has a darker “shadow” gray dial with a lighter green hue on the hands. I’m sure I’m not the only one who recalls the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Golf” Edition, which was another classic, simple time and date watch with vertical striping and a green seconds hand.
Brand: Grand Seiko
Model: Soko Special Edition SBGA427 and SBGA429
Dimensions: 39mm-wide, 12.5mm-thick
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Case Material: steel
Crystal/Lens: dual curve sapphire with AR coating
Movement: 9R65 Spring Drive
Power Reserve: 72 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Steel bracelet and crocodile leather with three-fold clasp
Price & Availability: $5,000
Grand Seiko clearly intends for these two to be more accessible options for buyers in the U.S. market who may have been priced out of the $6,300 original four Seasons watches. With a smaller steel case and a dial that is less elaborately finished than the two titanium Spring and Winter pieces (which also use the 9R65 Spring Drive movement), plus the inclusion of both steel bracelet and leather strap with matching green stitching for $1,300 less, is a clear value play. The Zaratsu hands and indices are the same as on the other models, though you don’t get the double indices at 12 o’clock that I love.
I believe the black-dial SBGA285 that was released last year is the only other Spring Drive available in this steel 39mm case. This smaller case and the addition of the straps will certainly add to the unisex appeal of these two. The touches of green do add some youthful vibrancy to the dials and, while these may not be my favorite recent Grand Seiko watches, I imagine these will do well in the U.S. market. The Grand Seiko Soko Special Edition SBGA427 and SBGA429 Spring Drive watches are non-limited, though exclusive to the U.S. market and will be priced at $5,000. You can learn more at grand-seiko.com.