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Thread: Grand Seiko SBGA285 - A Capable Hawk

  1. #1
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Grand Seiko SBGA285 - A Capable Hawk


    I could have bought a Snowflake but I bought a lesser Grand Seiko instead. My grin might have been broader leaving the shop with the Snowflake but, but...

    The Snowflake is one of the standout watches of the last ten years, but I wanted something more reserved. The SBGA285 is a little smaller than some Spring Drive models (39 x 12.3) and its detailing is a little simpler. The dial is untextured, the power reserve indicator isnít recessed and the steel bracelet doesnít have polished highlights. It has a solid case back (so no view of the whizzing glide wheel). Consequently, itís £2,000 cheaper than the Snowflake. Two thousand. Thatís a whole watch! The Snowflake makes more of an impression, but I left the shop with the SBGA285.

    Hereís a stock picture that shows it to advantage -

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    A discreet (preferably sub-40mm) Grand Seiko was my aim from the start, but I looked at the other models just to be sure. Grand Seikos were originally intended for Japanese businessmen who were discriminating but didnít like display, and thatís what I was after. I also liked the contrast of Switzerland/Japan, Rolex/Seiko, old technology/new technology.

    One minor disadvantage of the SBGA285 is that it hasnít got a name. Is that a Grand Seiko? Yes. Which one? Canít remember. A disadvantage of all Grand Seikos is that the bracelets donít have micro-adjustment - but the clasps are correspondingly neat. Some donít like power reserve indicators, but theyíre useful in your later and more sedentary years when your watch might not stay wound for a week. Like all Spring Drives, the SBGA285 benefits from having some text at the bottom of the dial. Grand Seikoís 2017 rebranding was probably a good thing, but it left some dials looking a little bereft.

    I specifically wanted a Spring Drive. Technically, it might be the outstanding watchmaking innovation of the last twenty or thirty years. Seiko dubbed it ĎThe Quiet Revolutioní. To my mind, the movement is Ďmechanical plusí and I have no problem in seeing it as a development in traditional watchmaking (like the Defy LAB silicon oscillator). When the first Spring Drive watches appeared, Europa Star (not prone to exaggerated reporting) said: ďFrom now on, Seiko is part of the haut de gamme segment of the watch industry.Ē There you are then - haut de gamme. Or haiendo, as the Japanese really do say.

    It will be an unobtrusive partner to my two Rolexes. As far as Rolex v Grand Seiko goes, Iím not going to do it. There are too many factors upon which you canít put an objective value. Anybody with an open mind and an open wallet could reasonably choose one, the other or both. In terms of fit and finish, thereís no real difference between them - although if some macro shots are anything to go by, Grand Seiko hands might be amongst the best at any price.

    Whatever your point of view, the decorous glide of the seconds hand is a distinguishing thing - and without the tick-tock bits, itís silent. The unerring accuracy tells you that your expensive purchase is otherwise entirely rational.

    I like the refined simplicity, from the unfussy case and bracelet to the impeccable hands and indices. Itís accomplished in every detail but itís not looking for compliments. Itís slinky and elusive, like a black cat at night.

    And inside the watch is the best that Seikoís big brains can do. Itís a pretty complete package for me, a top-class watch of its type. It might be too understated for some, and Iíd understand that, but an ordinary watch done extraordinarily well was my objective.

    So I have my Ďthirdí watch in a four watch collection. I canít have had this few since the mid-1990s. Itís like my watch hobby is parked up, engine cooling.


    • In truth, I might have struggled with the price of the Snowflake. I had given myself permission to buy one, but using the current price of my Datejust as currency, the Snowflake is DJ 1.06, which feels like a lot. The SBGA285 is DJ 0.69, which feels about right. If comparing the Grand Seiko models in the shop had led to: ĎSnowflake or nothingí, it might have been nothing.

    • The SBGA285 was released in 2017, replacing the SBGA085. Theyíre identical apart from the GS rebranding. The SBGA085 was released in 2013.

    • Grand Seikos have drilled lugs. Donít scratch the Zaratsu!

    • Seiko is older than Rolex. Rolex made watches before Seiko. Seiko may have done more Ďmakingí than Rolex. Call it a draw.

    • I donít quite have the words, but thereís a Ďseriousness worn lightlyí about Grand Seiko. The more traditional ones, anyway. It might be a Japanese thing related to the regard for humility, whereby Ďa capable hawk hides its talons.í Iím not sure they do, actually, but never mind.

    Pictures to follow when thereís daylight.

  2. #2
    Oooooooooooooooooo nice

    Bagsies for when ........ you know
    Watches for SALE:
    <PRICE REDUCED> Nivrel 322 Black Dial:

  3. #3
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seriously View Post
    Bagsies for when ........ you know

    Start saving - and then spend it on something else.

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  5. #4
    Another Member crownpuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tribe125 View Post
    ... an ordinary watch done extraordinarily well was my objective.
    I'd say mission accomplished.

    Bring on the daylight.....
    Some people have opinions - The rest of us have taste.

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  7. #5
    Member wschofield3's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Boston, MA
    That is, like most every other GS I've seen, absolutely, beautifully done. Congratulations!

    In my mind, Grand Seiko builds some of the finest watches in the world, appreciated by people that value precision in manufacturing. I have seen no other brand do dials, indices and hands as well, no matter the price.

    There is no such thing as a "lesser Grand Seiko" IMO, save for cost.
    Last edited by wschofield3; Mar 4, 2019 at 10:55 PM.

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  9. #6
    Hall Monitor Samanator's Avatar
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    Congrats Alan. No one can argue with simple sophistication. Confused since I thought you had three watches and this was the forth? Did you lose another along the way? Last I saw you had the two Rolex, the MKII and now the GS?


    Tell everyone you saw it on IWL!

  10. #7
    Congrats!!! Beautiful watch along with the Spring Drive. Cant beat that.


  11. #8
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samanator View Post
    Congrats Alan. No one can argue with simple sophistication. Confused since I thought you had three watches and this was the forth? Did you lose another along the way? Last I saw you had the two Rolex, the MKII and now the GS?

    Thatís correct. I described it as my Ďthirdí watch in a four watch collection.

    1. Rolex Datejust
    2. Rolex Explorer II
    3. Grand Seiko
    4. Hawkinge

    I just picture them that way: two Rolexes supported or partnered by the Grand Seiko, plus the Hawkinge.

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  13. #9
    There's nothing I can say that has not been already said by others. And of course it's a nice watch - rephrasing: a refined watch. Now, that's better.

    With the current quartet, I'm curious to know which watch will join the collection someday. We can wait.

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  15. #10
    Porous Membrane skywatch's Avatar
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    Congratulations! That's a beauty. I love the balance of this watch. I have tried on a Snowflake and - while I loved it - I thought it wore a bit too large on my wrist to feel subtle or "under the radar." I love the dimensions of this one, though. While for now at least, I have chosen not to afford the list price of a modern GS, I am very happy with the vintage '73 Hi-beat I found late last year, and I agree completely with the idea of extremely high quality within a subtle discreet package.

    Big thumbs up!
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

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