Fifty-five years ago, the 44GS watch debuted, and it was a watershed moment for Grand Seiko. The 44GS was the first watch to fully embody the brand’s nine core design elements, which govern everything from the angle of the case to the shape of the hands to the layout of the 12 o’clock marker on the dial. Grand Seiko is in the midst of an ongoing celebration of that pivotal watch, and its latest release shows that those carefully calibrated design principles—as well as rigorous standards for accuracy—are alive and well. The new timepiece is the limited-edition Grand Seiko SBGP017, and it features a beautiful dial design inspired by clouds coupled with a hyper-accurate quartz movement.
The first thing you’ll notice about this handsome watch is its striking light blue, subtly textured dial. According to the brand, the Grand Seiko SBGP017 has a dial design inspired by the rolling layer of clouds that form in the mornings below the mountains of Shinshu, the region in Japan where all Grand Seiko quartz timepieces are made (including this one).
The brand calls the dial pattern Iwao, and its minor changes in color and undulating texture evoke the fluffy surfaces of clouds; they also look like a close-up view of brush strokes in a painting. No matter what you see when you look at it, it’s a one-of-a-kind dial design. Paired with the sleek stainless steel of the rest of the watch, it really stands out on the wrist.
The dial is embedded within a 40mm stainless steel case finished with Grand Seiko’s hallmark Zaratsu polishing for a sharp, distortion-free finish. Fans of the brand will also notice many other core design elements on this watch, including a semi-recessed crown, multi-faceted rectangular indices (with a double bar at 12 o’clock), and razor-sharp, multi-faceted hands. The dial is topped with durable, anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The stainless steel bracelet imparts a clean, no-nonsense look that works great for dressier occasions.
Aesthetics aren’t the only draw with the Grand Seiko SBGP017. Flip the watch over, and the see-through case back gives a glimpse of a very impressive movement: A modified version of the company’s Caliber 9F85. By carefully selecting high-quality quartz crystals, Grand Seiko’s watchmakers were able to increase the accuracy of this movement to within +5 to -5 seconds a year (the standard movement is accurate to within +10 or -10 seconds).
The watch also has other accuracy-focused features, including a time difference adjustment function that allows you to change the hour hand without stopping the watch and a mechanism to eliminate “shudder” in the seconds hand. On top of all that, the SBGP017 is also water-resistant to 100 meters, so it’s tough enough to handle the rigors of daily wear.
Want to add one to your collection? You’ll have to hunt for it. Just 2,000 will be made, and they’re already sold out online.[$3,800; grand-seiko.com]
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