Seiko has grown so much in recent years that it’s almost impossible to keep up with all of the incredible watches that have come from the company’s vast catalog. The good news is that, between limited editions and country-specific releases, there’s a watch for everyone.
Grand Seiko, however, is where things really start to get interesting with the powerhouse Japanese watchmaker. Since its creation in 1960, Grand Seiko’s watches have upheld the highest quality standards, and have consistently featured incredible levels of detail and finishing. Further bolstering its desirability as a brand, Grand Seiko’s watches can also be considered a great value, especially when compared feature-for-feature with the top timepieces from brands like Rolex and Omega.
Grand Seiko is known for its intricate case finishing and use of Zaratsu polishing to achieve a mirror-like finish, but it’s what’s inside that case that makes many of the watchmaker’s timepieces truly special. Innovative tech like Spring Drive movements and a high degree of finishing on even the smallest parts of the watch make what you can’t see just as special as the parts you can.
The subject of today’s review, the Grand Seiko SBGH273, is a great example of what makes the brand tick. Released as part of Grand Seiko’s “Four Seasons” United States-exclusive series, the SBGH273 features a deep, textured midnight blue dial. As the Fall season watch, the watch’s hands, dial, and the dial text all work together with contrasting metals and colors to draw and keep the eye. Grand Seiko says it was influenced by the moonlit nights of autumn and by observing the unique, flowing cloud shapes in the night sky.
The SBGH273’s charm lies both in its simplicity and in its excellence of execution. Each of the hourly indices feature high polish and multiple angles that catch and play with the light as the wearer’s wrist moves, while the double index marker at 12 o’clock makes for quick and easy readability. While the hour markers and hands are high-polish steel, the seconds hand is a contrasting gold that instantly stands out against the dial. Though minimal, text on the dial is memorable, as the “GS” logo is an applied golden-colored piece, while the remaining text is printed in three clean lines on the watch face.
Grand Seiko is known for its dial designs, and the SBGH273 is a great showcase of the company’s skill. The deep blue color is the first and most immediate feature that shows up, but on closer inspection, intricate textures become visible. Light vertical lines appear to have been brushed into the blue dial, which deepens the watch face and makes it hard to look away.
Of course, the case itself hasn’t been left out of the party. In true Grand Seiko style, the SBGH273’s classic case is chiseled and angular, with Zaratsu polishing and brushed finishes to make a watch case that continuously changes appearance, depending on lighting. There’s no bezel here, at least not in the traditional sense, so the SBGH273’s dome crystal is wide open for great visibility of the dial.
Compact dimensions make the SBGH273 supremely wearable and comfortable in nearly any situation. It checks in with a diameter of 40mm and a thickness of just 12.9mm, so it’s a watch that will work well on a huge variety of wrist sizes and shapes. Many people rave about the quality and comfort of Rolex’s Oyster bracelets, but Grand Seiko’s bracelets are, in many ways, just as good. The tri-link design and folding clasp feature large gaps to avoid pulling hair, and the SBGH273’s lightweight case helps make the entire package a dream to wear day-to-day.
Under the hood, the SBGH273 features Grand Seiko’s 9S85 automatic hi-beat movement. It ticks away at 36,000 vibrations per hour, making for an ultra-smooth second-hand sweep and a pleasing tick. Grand Seiko rates the movement as being accurate to +8/-1 seconds per day in normal use, and the watch will keep ticking for quite a while with a power reserve of approximately 55 hours.
If you’re on the fence, thinking that Grand Seiko’s watch designs are too “out there,” or that they’re just hopped-up versions of normal Seiko watches, it’s time to do some more research. It’s true that the Japanese watchmaker’s designs frequently branch out from the norm with exotic dial colors and funky case shapes, but the core model line is one of the most impressive anywhere in the watch world. As a collection of specs on paper, the SBGH273 is impressive, but as a collection of moving parts on a wrist, it’s downright mesmerizing.