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Hands-On: The Grand Seiko Lion Rrrrrroars With The Spring Drive 20th Anniversary Limited Editions (SBGC230, SBGC231)

I don’t know who was on the Spring DriveSpring Drive A Spring Drive movement, pioneered by Grand Seiko, is a type of mechanical watch movement that combines the traditional mechanics of a mechanical watch with the precision of a quartz watch. It uses a mainspring as the source of energy, just like a mechanical watch, but instead of using a traditional escapement, it uses a quartz crystal to regulate the release of energy. The Spring Drive movement is considered to be highly accurate, and is known for its smooth, gliding seconds hand. [Learn More] party committee at Grand Seiko, all I know is, they sure know how to throw a party and I want to party with them. I’m going to go and admit right away that this (limited) Sport collection from Grand Seiko was unexpectedly one of the stunners for me at Baselworld. 

You want to know how they celebrate at Grand Seiko? Keep reading, but here’s a quick spoiler for you: With a massive roar.

This collection spans three limited editions. In this review, we cover the GMTGMT A GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) complication is a feature found in some watches that allows the wearer to track two time zones simultaneously. It typically includes a 24-hour hand and a bezel or a second hour hand that can be adjusted independently of the main hour hand to track the time in a different time zone. [Learn More] versions SBGC230 (Rose Gold) and SBGC231 (High-Intensity Titanium). Note that pictures of both are a bit mixed throughout the review, the one on the leather strap is the rose gold version, the one on the bracelet is the Titanium version – easy enough. We will cover the SBGA430 in a separate review.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive, Grand Seiko presents a new design in its Sport Collection. “The design draws its inspiration from the strength and power of the Grand Seiko lion, the mark that has long been the symbol of Grand Seiko. Available in three limited editions, this new design series features two different and specially adjusted Spring Drive calibers”.

As per Grand Seiko, the lion has stamped its mark on several aspects of the design, notably in the strong and angular case and the claw-like shape of the lugs.  I could not agree more with their statement. The moment I picked this watch up during our meeting I felt I needed this in my life at one point in time. These are big, loud, but at the same time feature such incredible details (look at that dial!) and a unique case shape (and super short lugs – yay) that I wanted one right then and there.

This will not be anyone’s “only” watch, or well, perhaps it could be for someone with the right attitude. The case is very substantial yet the way it is sculpted (and it really feels like it has been sculpted) and slopes around the wrist is impressive to say the least. That doesn’t mean that this therefore will fit under your cuff – it won’t.

As we’re talking Grand Seiko, you can place a safe bet that the dial is on a whole other level yet again. As per Grand Seiko it mimics the delicate lion’s mane pattern on the dial. It looks extremely nice in real life.

When comparing the rose gold against the titanium, note that the texture on both dials appears dramatically different. While I’m not entirely sure if there is an actual big difference in the texture on both, the light just plays a lot more with the lighter dial found on the Titanium case. I was smitten by that one.

Hands, indices, date windows, everything is finished to a degree we all know and love from Grand Seiko. The hour, minute, seconds and chronographChronograph A chronograph complication is a feature in a watch that allows the wearer to measure elapsed time in addition to telling the time. It works by having a separate set of gears and levers, called the chronograph mechanism, which is activated by pressing a button or a pusher. The chronograph mechanism starts and stops the chronograph's second hand, which is usually located on the watch's dial, separate from the regular watch hands. The elapsed time is usually displayed on a sub-dial or a register on the watch's dial. [Learn More] hands are of a new and substantial design that increases the legibility of the time, which is further enhanced by the use of Lumibrite on the hands, hour markers and bezel and by the high definition dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.

The cases are ZaratsuZaratsu Polishing Zaratsu polishing is a type of polishing technique used in watchmaking, specifically for the polishing of steel components, such as the case, lugs, and bracelet. It is a process that uses a spinning circular disk with an abrasive surface. The craftsperson, holding the watch part, applies a certain level of pressure and uses a specific angle to ultimately achieve a mirror-like finish. [Learn More] polished and the surfaces of the hands and hour markers have diamond-cut edges. As per Grand Seiko – and I agree – the dials are ‘”supremely legible and the interplay of light and shadow from every angle gives these remarkable timepieces the deeply satisfying beauty that only Grand Seiko’s unique and Japanese sensibility can create”.

The Rose Gold model is featured above and the Titanium below. This is on a medium sized wrist to give you an idea of the wearability. It is a big watch, thicker than most, and it gave me a sort of “Turtle” vibe for some reason. I mean that in a good way. This isn’t a traditional case shape, but you notice that they put a lot of effort in making sure this isn’t just a substantial piece but also a wearable one. The way everything is angled and sloped, in combination with the very short and stubby lugs keeps everything as compact as possible. 

The Rose gold has a release price of €44,800 (SBGC230) and the titanium comes in at €13,700 (SBGC231)

1 comment

  1. You got me all excited and then I saw the pricing, yikes. Sadly no go for me at that pricepoint. Grand Seiko pricing seems to be slipping away from my fingers, upwards and onwards it seems.

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