Ippo Japan Watch - NAKAMURA KIYOSHI
Grand Seiko Heritage Collection
GINZA Limited Edition-SBGA425 REVIEW
IFor all Seiko diehards, the GS Ginza limited edition is a must have. Not just because there will only be 300 in the world, or their exquisite craftsmanship that ensures world class accuracy, but because it is a Grand Seiko with a grand presence.
On 19th June 2020, Grand Seiko is releasing this marvelous Ginza limited edition Grand Seiko timepiece. Its reference number is SBGA425, and only 300 will be available in select stores in stores near Ginza.
f you have ever been to Ginza, you know that it is the most luxurious suburb in Tokyo, and very likely in all Japan. It is also a naturally beautiful place with a brilliant night sky - these are the attributes which the Grand Seiko Ginza Limited Edition embodies.
I can’t wait for this release to happen, and I’ll give you plenty of reasons why. I will also give you a pretty unbiased review of this edition, which is part of the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection. For now, suffice to say that this watch is refreshingly different, and I love it! Perhaps you will too.
rand Seiko is all about ‘raising the pure essentials of watchmaking to the level of art.’ Looking at the Ginza LE, these ethos are apparent. But what you see at first glance is the striking beauty of this watch.
It is still massively understated after the Seiko style, but its pink gold dial, hands, and GS logo stand out against the black background like stars in the night sky. It is lively in its own way, which is exactly what its makers intended.
This watch is meant to celebrate Ginza as a whole. The design, the feel, and prestige, even the price tag all reflect what this part of Tokyo is like. Since the Meiji era which lasted from the 1860s to the early 1900s, the suburb has been a high-end shopping and trading zone for Japan’s moneyed elite.
As such, if the Ginza LE is meant to properly celebrate Ginza, it must be timeless. It achieves that through an elegant, classic stainless steel casing and a steel strap for timeless durability and style.
Above everything else and after the manner of Grand Seiko watches, the Ginza Limited Edition is made for highly functional everyday wear. It is powered by the iconic 9R65 automatic Spring Drive movement invented in 1999.
The movement, which is a blend of mechanical spring power and electronic quartz regulation, makes the watch among the most accurate in the world. It is the same one used in 5-figure watches such as the platinum-case model sold in 2019 for 8 million yen/72,000 USD.
This watch is yet to be released at the time of publication, but Grand Seiko has published a few details about it.
◇Style: Mechanical Spring Drive watch, a celebration of Japan’s Ginza high-life suburb.
◇Dimensions: 40.5 mm diameter, 12.5 mm thickness.
◇Complications: Date, stop second-hand function, power reserve indicator.
◇Caliber: 9R35 Spring Drive with quartz regulator, automatic winding.
◇Power reserve: 72 hours.
◇Accuracy: +-1 sec/day, 15 sec a month.
◇Crystal: recessed sapphire dome.
◇Crown: Screw-down, 3-click functionality.
◇Dial: Night-black with pink gold indices.
◇Hands: Sword-shaped hour and minute hand, all pink gold same with second hand.
◇Case: Stainless steel.
◇Strap - Stainless steel with deployant clasp.
◇Water Resistance: N/A.
◇Availability: Expected release on June 19th, 2020, limited edition with 300 units available in Ginza area.
A Bit of History
When the Grand Seiko lineage came about in the 1960’s to replace the Lord Marvel series, the major aim was to dethrone Rolex and other popular Swiss brands. However, GS has always been about understated class and top accuracy. As Seiko stated then, it was about ‘making the best watch in the world.’
Grand Seiko could not, however, hope to compete against Rolex with such ‘plain’ looking watches. The two other sub-brands of Seiko’s triumvirate - the Credor and Galante series - planted Seiko firmly on the banks of haute horology.
More recently, Seiko has realized that it cannot hope to keep up sales in a world where people simply don’t need watches any more - at least not the people of today. They have smartphones and smartwatches for that.
Grand Seiko split off from Seiko in 2016 to pursue branding. That is also why Grand Seiko watches released after that time don’t have the ‘Seiko’ lettering on the dial.
But I digress. Grand Seiko is working to build itself up as a prestigious brand, much like Breitling, Blancpain, Jaeger LeCoutre, and of course, Rolex. With recent releases from its Heritage Collection (of which the Ginza edition is part of), Grand Seiko is slowly but surely setting itself up as one of the best watchmakers in the world.
Not that we oppose this view. In fact, the more people know about the excellence of Grand Seiko’s watches, the more they can appreciate it.
The Grand Seiko Ginza Limited Edition is a slim, elegant, sophisticated timepiece. Even by Seiko’s usually high standards, it is an amazing watch. To begin with, its 40mm x 12.5mm thick stainless steel body is designed to sit comfortably on any hand.
A dual curve sapphire crown graces the top, being much flatter and actually recessed into the watch face after the iconic ‘Seiko Style.’ A screw-down crown at 3 o’clock has all the functionality needed to keep the watch wound and set.
The face of the watch, however, is where it really gets to show its unique personality. The pink gold hands and indices are cooly reflective of understated elegance and class. In these days when everyone wants a so-in-your-face kind of show-off luxury, Seiko is constant.
The back cover is where it really gets frisky. Like most Seiko watches, it features a transparent back cover proudly displaying its business end. It has an original lease-shape pattern that mimics the electric night lights of Ginza, also in pink gold. Right in the middle, Grand Seiko’s lion emblem sits proudly like the king it is.
If you do buy the watch in Ginza, you get one more fancy surprise: the words ‘Ginza Limited Edition’ are added to give your watch a mark of unique, genuine, and rare classification.
One more thing that I cannot pass up is the box the watch comes in. As part of the Heritage Collection, it comes in a luxe furoshiki wrapped box with the Grand Seiko logo and the words Ginza embroidered on it.
I have already described some of the most distinguishing features of the Grand Seiko Ginza edition, but one or two more things need further attention.
The stainless steel case and strap of the watch are designed following the Grand Seiko Style of aesthetics. Invented by the revered Taro Tanaka, it is a style of cutting inspired by gem cutting that helps to create distinct contrasts by playing about with light.
The soft curves of the watch face, the high zaratsu polishing to a grey-white finish, and impeccable craftsmanship lend to a watch that feels and looks incredibly luxe. The steel strap, as always, is crafted to the highest standards of quality.
A deployant clasp allows for quick, easy on/off operation. Both the watch and the clasp are likely to last for decades even with minimum care; however, don’t take this one into the pool or shower with you, as it’s not certified for any form of water resistance.
Perhaps the most sophisticated thing about this watch is its heart. The famous 9R35 Spring Drive movement drives this watch at an incredible 1s/day accuracy. Over a 30-day period, you can expect as little as 15 seconds of deviation.
The secret of this amazing accuracy for a mechanical watch is that it isn't completely mechanical. Not to say that it’s a fraud - on the other hand, this incredible technology combines a mechanical spring to provide power a quartz crystal to regulate its release.
The spring drive can store up to 72 hours of power reserve. It is also automatic, which means that it’s incredibly efficient and only needs rewinding once a week or so if you wear it continuously.
The starry-night sky detailing on the Ginza Limited Edition is one of its most discernible features. The dial is night black, which means that instead of being completely black, it has spots of lighter colour to represent the irregular pattern of a typical Ginza night.
The indices are single block, with a double block for the 12 o’clock column. This, again, is another reflection of Tanaka’s ‘Grammar of Design’ rules.
A date window with cyclops sits at the 3 o’clock position, while a power reserve indicator rests at the 8 o’clock quadrant. White minute markers delineate the space between the pink gold indices, resulting in a very legible, very elegant, and timeless watch face.
Since breaking up with Seiko in 2016, Grand Seiko has been shaking up it’s consertive nature. It’s getting bold, maybe not fast enough, but getting there. The price tags are already rising.
However, it is still Seiko at heart. It’s more watch than you can get for about $6,000. Given how limited this edition of the Heritage Collection is, I recommend it to anyone who can snatch it up come June 19th. The Grand Seiko Ginza Limited Edition is a must-have.