Design & Quality Of Execution
Coming in at 43.5mm wide and a hefty 16.1mm thick, the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 is not dainty. It weighs in at 187 grams on the full bracelet – and although that goes down considerably as you remove links, it still is one properly heavy watch. The SBGC line is the most complex of all Spring Drive chronographs thanks to its five-link bracelet that features some polished elements and the inclusion of a GMT hand (which is not available in the SBGB001). Let’s start with talking about the case of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph SBGC001 and work our way in from there.
Seiko has their own case manufacture where they apply what they call a zaratsu finishing technique. Cases are stamped at 30 and then 90 tons only to be then CNC-ed with high precision, completely removing any and all traces of the stamping procedure. The case then receives both brushing and high polishing treatments, all applied by hand. The end result is a case that has edges like very few others, entirely regardless of price point (downwards on the financial ladder that is obvious, but I’ve handled more than a few timepieces whose cases diddn’t come close to this despite being much more expensive).
The magic element is in the crispness of the lines. Having seen case polishing done right – and done pretty badly, when I was given the chance to have a go at it – I can appreciate just how much painstaking practice and how perfect a technique it requires to work metal with such refinement. The side of the case and the lugs, as well as the bezel all have an extremely deep and bright polish. Again (and I know I’m repeating myself here), the sheen is so sharp and bright that it actually works as some sort of a lens. As more practical details are concerned, the drilled lug-holes are greatly appreciated, while the odd, 21mm-wide lug structure isn’t. At this point, it comes as no surprise that the bracelet’s end-links fit with surgical precision.
Two neat details: the profile of the case is concave, meaning that its widest point is further up and the case sort of “shrinks” towards the wrist. This reduces not just the actual physical area it covers, making for a more comfortable wear, but also the visual heft of the watch.
The bracelet is fantastically comfortable, with no sharp edges, just an ergonomic, secure fit around the wrist. These long clasps like the one we see here I have mixed feelings about, as they collect and show scratches so much more easily than do shorter clasps. Another gripe I have with it is the 4-option micro-adjust: while it allows one to find a nice fit, I do wish Seiko dedicated some time and effort to creating a thin and small micro-adjust that would fit into this large clasp. Nothing crazy, just a 5-10mm tool-free adjustment would help make the watch feel perfectly comfortable under all circumstances.