Not particularly a fan of quartz, but I don’t hate it by the same token. Especially when it is done well, in a special way or with specific functionality (think Breitling ExoSpace or Omega’s X-33 for example). The Grand Seiko doesn’t give digital or ‘specific’ functionality, but the quartz development unquestionably is special. In fact, I favor a Grand Seiko 9F quartz development over a portion of the (non-Grand Seiko) mechanical developments out there. So before you click away, because it is about quartz, you should keep reading.

Some times, quartz can be done in a fascinating way, even without digital functions. Like Rolex did with their Oysterquartz developments, it was in production for around 25 years (starting in 1977) and had beautiful completed bridges and plates and a pallet fork and pallet wheel that helped much to remember a traditional mechanical escapement. And, of course, how Grand Seiko created and produces their manufacture 9F quartz developments. They even develop their own quartz crystals, the crystals that are of the best quality (think clarity for example, much the same as they do with diamonds) are being utilized in their caliber 9F developments, different crystals are utilized for the regular quartz movements.

Grand Seiko SBGV238

Almost two years ago we already showed you the Grand Seiko SBGV019G , a restricted version model that showed Grand Seiko’s chutzpah. Their transparent case back shows the internal functions of a quartz watch. But not your average plastic cased quartz development, but rather a beautifully decorated and completed top of the line quartz development. All Grand Seiko 9F calibers are like this, not just the ones that are being appeared through display backs.

Not a first, the Grand Seiko SBGV019G also had a display back.

Now, for the 25th anniversary of their Grand Seiko caliber 9F developments, introduced in 1993, they pull it off once more, with this restricted release Grand Seiko SBGV238 model. Restricted to 600 pieces only.

44GS Design

The plan of the Grand Seiko SBGV238 is according to the Grand Seiko configuration code, and a re-interpretation of the famous 1967 44GS reference. As far as I might be concerned, this is the plan for a Grand Seiko. It also is for Grand Seiko, as it is alluded to by them as Taro Tanaka’s Grammar of Design. In the Seiko Museum in Tokyo they have this tremendous banner on the wall, giving explanation about this specific Grand Seiko grammar of plan. As you can see below, this plan shows the tangential line/shape of the case band, the Zaratsu cleaned bezel and case and recessed crown.

I have composed it before and will do once more, but this 44GS configuration just comes to justice on a leather strap as I would like to think. As you can see, the Grand Seiko SBGV238 comes with a stainless steel bracelet. It shows resemblance with Omega’s Speedmaster-style bracelet, and it isn’t too elegant for a watch like the Grand Seiko SBGV238 to be straightforward. I’d wear any Grand Seiko according to the ‘Grammar of Design’ on a leather strap, or perhaps even on NATO, anything but this bracelet. I have to add however, that there’s minimal amiss with the quality of the bracelet, it feels extremely strong and is nicely wrapped up. No sharp edges anywhere. Be that as it may, the contrast with the watch is simply excessively little. The bracelet distracts a bit a lot from the beautiful case and dial plan of the Grand Seiko.

For this 25th anniversary model, Grand Seiko added a 18 carat gold bezel on the watch case. Perfectly matching with the gold applied hour markers, star (see below), GS logo, hands and date frame. I would not have mind if Grand Seiko put a gold crown on this watch as well. That would make perfect sense.

Interesting is the plan of the dial. Grand Seiko utilized their traditional symbol for quartz development as a special pattern. Beautiful gold hour markers have been applied, two at 12 o’clock (also according to the Grammar of Design rules), with beautiful facets. As I’ve saw in the Grand Seiko manufacture, these are all cleaned and checked by hand before they are being hand-applied. To set a dial with all hour markers and applied logos, the talented individuals in the Shiojiri manufacture need about a moment. We explained it to you in more detail in this article . At 6 o’clock, we locate a little applied gold star. This star addresses the accuracy of the watch (or its movement).

Grand Seiko Caliber 9F82 Movement

The development inside this Grand Seiko SBGV238, or any other 9F quartz development, performs inside +/ – 5 seconds of deviation each year. The 9F82 development is of course also thermo-compensated.

A nice feature of these Grand Seiko watches with 9F calibers is that the second hand pauses exactly on the markers on the dial. The caliber 9F utilizations a regulatory wheel that adjusts the blacklash between gears to forestall vibration of the hand. That ‘mechanical’ part is being utilized in this quartz development to make sure the precise movement of the second hand.

Seiko’s 9F quartz development is also a temperature touchy development. It will detect variation in temperatures up to 540 times each day and automatically compensates for this change to maintain its high accuracy.

As you can see on the picture above, there is a small switch that shows (- ) and (+) and a couple of markers in between. You may have gotten it already, it is there for adjusting the pace of the development. Like mechanical developments and their regulation, this quartz development also has a switch for fine regulation.

Pricing and Availability

With a production of just 600 pieces, chances are fairly small that we will receive one for audit. A pity, as I would have wanted to check this one out on the wrist. Not in the least place because I think Grand Seiko gave this model a nice two-tone look, and I am all for that.

Is it perfect? No, I am of the assessment a couple of things would have make the Grand Seiko SBGV238 more attractive for me. Aside from the fact if you like the quartz development, I would prefer to see this watch with a gold crown and a strap instead of a bracelet. What struck me a bit as strange, is that we are basically taking a gander at a two-tone watch here, with a 18 carat gold bezel, gold records and hands on the dial, but not a solitary touch of gold on the bracelet. It puts the bracelet even a bit more strange than I already discover them to be. But again, this is all personal and a strap is easy to attach to this watch.

The 40mm case (and 10mm thick) is a decent size, and a significant increase from the 37mm 9F quartz models that I had before for survey. The Grand Seiko SBGV238 has a water resistance of 100 meters and is anti-magnetic up to 4800 A/m (~ 60 gauss).

Although this watch is restricted to 600 pieces just, I also believe that the market is rather small for this watch. With a retail of €5000 for a quartz fueled watch, it isn’t cheap and just a small number of individuals will be keen on adding this watch to their collection. With an annual production of about 35.000 Grand Seiko watches, it is as yet a significant number of course.

This watch will be available in May 2018. One month earlier, Grand Seiko will release their SBGT241 watch. Another restricted version 9F quartz model (restricted to 1500 pieces, retail €3400), a re-interpretation of the principal 9F Grand Seiko watch from 1993. This model won’t feature a display back however and has an alternate case design.

Grand Seiko SBGT241, available per April 2018.

 

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