Review: Grand Seiko SBGP001G

Intro

Of all the many hills for watch enthusiasts to die upon, few are so bloody or well-contested as the hill called 'quartz'. I suspect that many readers on WC will be of the purist mindset that I too once subscribed to, a mindset that goes something along the lines of: mechanical or GTFO. Well, that was the old me, and the new me knows that that opinion comes from a place of snobbery and ignorance and as an example of why quartz can be every bit as fascinating and horologically significant, and the watches that house those movements likewise, I humbly submit this review.

Dimensions / Specs

40mm diameter

11.1mm thick

46.1mm lug-to-lug (see that watch manufacturers? 40mm watches can have reasonable L2L!)

19mm lug width

100m water resistance

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Movement

In case you skipped the intro, let's get this out of the way right now: the SBGP001G uses a quartz movement. Let's also put this up front, in case you think that makes this a glorified, massively over-priced Casio: Grand Seiko's high accuracy quartz (HAQ) movements are as complex, intricate and beautifully finished as anything else at this price point or even substantially higher. I won't harp on this here, you can Google any number of articles and descriptions of what GS's 9F movements are and can do, but if you need convincing please read more about it here. TLDR? You're getting a hand-built and finished, hermetically-sealed gear train with thermo-compensation and an anti-backlash motor that results in accuracy of +/- 10 seconds a year (compared to +/- ~15 seconds a month for typical quartz). If you're an accuracy nerd you owe it to yourself to learn more about how remarkable GS's quartz tech is. In the specific case of the SBGP001G you're getting their 9F85 movement which features all that standard GS HAQ goodness plus a jumping hour feature that means you can change the hour without interrupting the seconds hand - useful when travelling or indulging the madness of daylight saving. Lousy farmers, having it all their own way...

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Dial

Well, I don't think many people would contest that it's pretty, but even high quality photography (let alone the sub-par renders on the GS site) can make the legibility appear poor. I can attest that in the metal this is not an issue and the contrast between the almost matte champagne dial with printed hash marks and the lovely, polished hands and indices is strong and legibility is not an issue. The sunburst finish is subtle and the complexity of the dial colour - sometimes pure silver, sometimes a warm, sepia/gold tone - needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. The dial particularly shines (sorry) in low light conditions and it's a joy to keep checking in over the course of the day to see how the dial reads in different environments. The lack of text (besides the applied GS logo and printed gothic text Grand Seiko name beneath) helps the whole thing glow and sing and [insert your preferred superlative here]. Long story short: most beautiful dial I've seen in person, hands down.

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Sapphire

The dial is protected by a very subtly curved sapphire crystal with internal AR coating. This is, at least in my view, the optimal set-up as the inner AR coat does the job whereas an external AR coating is prone to scratching and damage. The sapphire allows decent visibility/legibility from most angles and the slight dome - as opposed to a box sapphire or similar approach - helps keep the watch both look and feel flush against the wrist.

Handset

I'm particular about this to the extent that there are watches I really admire in all aspects except handset and will therefore never buy. With the SBGP001G you're getting beautifully polished daupine hands (the best handset, let's not be coy) that make you glad there's sapphire between you and their razor sharp edges. And then there's that heat-blued seconds hand... My tastes generally run to the simple-and-well-executed but there is something about a small, thoughtful, contrasting detail that helps all the other elements sing. This is one of those. The HAQ movement means no smooth sweep to the seconds hand but rather a tick which sounds initially disappointing but is not without charm and an additional impressive technical feat from GS: no 'judder' to the tick. Normal analog quartz watches have a noticeable shiver or shake in the seconds hand but GS HAQ movements have an anti-backlash mechanism which prevents this unsightly quiver and produces a pleasingly solid tick. Furthermore, the heavy daupine hands would ordinarily be too heavy and require too much energy to move. The 9F movements actually tick twice per second (imperceptible to the human eye) and hit dead on the hash marks and indices with every movement.

Lume

None, but I can't say I miss it in this instance. Having more than a dollop of dress watch in it's DNA, this is not a design that is calling out for it and as Adrian Barker has pointed out, the high-polish of GS hands and indices means that the smallest amount of light in any given setting should let you get a bead on the time.

Complication(s)

The SBGP001G sports a date complication at 3pm. I like date complications in an everyday watch (which I broadly consider this to be) and this one is nicely executed with framing and a tiny sliver of index for company (which reads to the eye as a thicker, shiny and more eye-catching hash mark). More interestingly, the 9F movement means an instantaneous date change (1/2000th of a second - so like the double-tick of the seconds hand this is also imperceptible to the human eye) at 12 on the dot. That 'true' change at midnight, while not unheard of in other watches, is a nice party trick all the same.

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Case

The SBGP001G uses Grand Seiko's '44GS' case shape, a style originated by the brand in 1967 and about as Grand Seiko-y as Grand Seiko gets. The beauty of this angular case, apart from the feeling that you're fully immersing yourself in the 'grammar of design' that Grand Seiko is famous for, is that this shape, with it's unique geometry and multiple facets, is particularly good at showing off the quality of the zaratsu polishing for which GS is rightly celebrated. It's also, unavoidably, a fingerprint magnet but complaining about that seems both redundant and churlish. Lugs are drilled (thank you, GS!) So strap changes are a breeze. The case back is screw-in and handsomely decorated with the Grand Seiko lion.

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Bracelet

Reading around on the subject, Grand Seiko get a lot of complaints from the watch community, and even from big league GS fans, for the execution of their bracelets. Now, admittedly I may be showing my general ignorance of higher-end options, but I can't fault what I'm getting here besides a lack of micro adjust. Based on its own merits, the bracelet is a solid, well-finished and largely brushed three-link classic with some slight polishing to add contrast via two thin strips either side of the wide central links (and perhaps more notably on the edges of the outer links) which makes the bracelet feel very smooth and tactile. I vastly prefer a fully- or mostly-brushed finish as it is less likely to show inevitable scratches. The bracelet is closed with a small, signed and discrete fold-over clasp that I much prefer to the long clasps seen on the vast bulk of OEM bracelets on the market. The bracelet has virtually no taper - 19mm at the lugs to 18mm at the clasp - which I know is a deal-breaker for some but I quite like the more substantial look and feel and don't find that in this instance that it detracts from anything. The links are screwed (no faux-rivet BS here) and with half links I think you'd have to be damn unlucky not to find a sizing that works for you. The good people in the London boutique took care of all that and the experience on-wrist is very comfortable if a smidge looser than I would prefer. The good people at the London boutique even threw in a brown leather strap with deployment clasp free of charge. Would I prefer a regular pin buckle? Sure, but Mama Steele didn't raise any ingrates and I appreciate the gesture.

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Crown

The crown is signed with the GS logo, partially recessed for comfort and has a nice, snappy click when engaged/disengaged. As a HAQ watch with ~3 years of battery life this is very much a 'set and forget' timepiece for daily use so no real surprises here but all the quality feel you would expect on the rare occasions you do need to use the jumping hours function.

Servicing

The battery life is in the 3y region and GS advises owners to bring HAQ watches to the boutique for battery changes which can be serviced, at least in the UK, locally and quickly. The hermetically-sealed movement helps to keep the gear train and delicate elements dust-free and preserve lubrication resulting in actual service intervals in the region of 50y. I would be pleasantly surprised to be around to experience that but check back circa 2073 to hear more from me or my children (or their children, potentially).

Final Thoughts

What do I look for in a watch? I think there are a lot of people on this site who, at least theoretically, like the idea of a one watch collection: a single piece that works in all scenarios and tells people something about your taste and personality. I like that idea (in theory) but then I also like the idea of having the sports watch, the dress watch, the diver, the chrono, etc etc. But still, I do like that concept of a watch which is pretty much always right for the occasion: somewhat smart plus highly practical and reliable. In this vein, Grand Seiko's Heritage watches do a lot of the things I like: they are obsessively well-made (tick), they reflect quality and considered design choices without calling undue attention (tick), they thread the needle between dressy and sporty (tick). Could this be a one watch collection? Sure. Will it be mine? Nope. Too likely I'll want another GS, probably a mechanical like the SBGW231 or the newer SBGW291, you know - for comparison purposes. And maybe sooner rather than later...

Review: Grand Seiko SBGP001G

4.6
Yes No
5/5
5/5
4/5
4/5
5/5
  • Overall quality
  • Love that 44GS case
  • Incredible accuracy
  • No micro adjust on bracelet
  • Need to carry a polishing cloth

I never understood the anti-quartz snobbery, while I agree mechanical watches just have something to them, and probably about 2/3 of my collection is mechanical, I also love a good quartz watch. They each have their own place.

I have always wanted a GS quartz, over a GS mechanic even. I think I have read every article about the Seiko high accuracy quartz. If I had the money would buy one tomorrow, alas Seiko have recently put their prices up, and they are way above my budget. I went for a Casio Oceanus, in place of a GS and very happy with it. Your watch looks amazing and very good review also.

The last 2 or 3 watches I bought were mechanical / automatic (not quartz) ... my total collection is about 1/3rd automatic / mechanical, 2/3rds quartz, so I'm trying to build-up the number of non-quartz I have.

This isn't because I think mechanical / automatic watches are 'better', but I have grown fond of seeing the movements within, the gear trains, etc which you don't get to see in a quartz watch (for the most part).

That said - last night I took my Citizen Atomic-Timekeeping watches (4 of them), put them on my windowsill with the 9-o'clock pointing to Colorado. When I woke up, they were all in-sync with each other, second hands ticking in unison, time aligned. By contrast, last night I also wound and set all my mechanical watches to get them as-close-as-possible to in sync (I try to wind them nightly, but was away for a while and they all stopped). Seeing all those Citizens 'marching' in lock-step always blows my mind, especially compared to the mechanical / automatic watches that this morning had more variation than they did 12 hours ago.

I think it's just about how you feel, and what gets you excited!

weedge

I have always wanted a GS quartz, over a GS mechanic even. I think I have read every article about the Seiko high accuracy quartz. If I had the money would buy one tomorrow, alas Seiko have recently put their prices up, and they are way above my budget. I went for a Casio Oceanus, in place of a GS and very happy with it. Your watch looks amazing and very good review also.

I also have my eye on an Oceanus (with the Ice Blue dial) and this is a worthy comparison against the GS at a more reasonable entry point.

A quality Quartz is better than most cheap mechanicals. When they think enough of them to put jewels in them and real effort in manufacturing them to high standards thats a good thing. The cheap ones only cost a few bucks but can beat the automatics easily. The difference is that the mech's are needy little things and we need to fidget with things.

RFIMike

I also have my eye on an Oceanus (with the Ice Blue dial) and this is a worthy comparison against the GS at a more reasonable entry point.

I just got the dark blue dial one, arrived today ! I did look at all the dial colours and tempted by them all.

My citizen HAC is just about the most perfect watch I can imagine. Congrats on the purchase!

Lovely.

Timeless design. Some might call it conservative or boring. There are some good/great quartz options out there that might be a better value versus their mechanical/automatic counterparts like the Tissot PRX quartz vs the PRX auto. Personally, I went with the auto version for the waffle dial but watches are all about personal tastes and preference anyways. No need to discriminate because of movements.

I own a 9F GMT so am happily on the quartz side of things but I wonder we're being a bit over-sold regarding HAQ specs. I know that the 9F movements are supposed to be watchmaker regulated, by two watchmakers, actually: one for the timing and the other for the motion accuracy - so maybe that's where the HAQ designation applies? But I write this because Marathon just released an all steel Navigator with an ETA quartz movement spec'd to 10 seconds per year as well - and that's in an $800.00 package. So what gives?

jeffrey_wc

I own a 9F GMT so am happily on the quartz side of things but I wonder we're being a bit over-sold regarding HAQ specs. I know that the 9F movements are supposed to be watchmaker regulated, by two watchmakers, actually: one for the timing and the other for the motion accuracy - so maybe that's where the HAQ designation applies? But I write this because Marathon just released an all steel Navigator with an ETA quartz movement spec'd to 10 seconds per year as well - and that's in an $800.00 package. So what gives?

It's a fair point and I wonder if it comes down to Grand Seiko generally under-promising and over-delivering on the accuracy front. Plenty of anecdotal evidence out there that these movements keep closer to perfect time (1-2 secs per year). However, we're splitting hairs and you raise a valid point that if you're more concerned about accuracy than overall luxury design and build quality there are much cheaper options out there.

DixonSteele

It's a fair point and I wonder if it comes down to Grand Seiko generally under-promising and over-delivering on the accuracy front. Plenty of anecdotal evidence out there that these movements keep closer to perfect time (1-2 secs per year). However, we're splitting hairs and you raise a valid point that if you're more concerned about accuracy than overall luxury design and build quality there are much cheaper options out there.

Well, I've only had mine for a few weeks so I'm looking forward to tracking it - even if just antidotally. A good portion of my reasoning for picking it up was to have a "control" watch in the collection that I could count on to be accurate at a glance with no fuss.

I'm guessing part of the HAQ rating comes from the very idea that there is dedicated service for these movements at all. I don't suspect there's any such offer from the ETA - but that said, I do own a CWC Diver with an ETA quartz movement as well - and that thing doesn't seem to drift at all (!)

jeffrey_wc

I own a 9F GMT so am happily on the quartz side of things but I wonder we're being a bit over-sold regarding HAQ specs. I know that the 9F movements are supposed to be watchmaker regulated, by two watchmakers, actually: one for the timing and the other for the motion accuracy - so maybe that's where the HAQ designation applies? But I write this because Marathon just released an all steel Navigator with an ETA quartz movement spec'd to 10 seconds per year as well - and that's in an $800.00 package. So what gives?

You鈥檙e stuck with a Marathon? ;)

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I love mine. As boring the colors may seem, when I wear this watch, I feels kinda flashy. I'm not one to beholden to the concept of keepers, but this one is special

ckim4watches

My citizen HAC is just about the most perfect watch I can imagine. Congrats on the purchase!

So, I have a Citizen EcoDrive and I wonder whether it could be called a HAQ? Not sure how to categorize it but I like it and how it works!