Seiko’s target with the first Grand Seiko in 1960 was simply to make the best watch.
The “best” typically means some kind of precious metal.
The watch that was the result, the 3180, did of course quite naturally also come in platinum though much more scarce than it’s more common sibling in gold covered stainless steel.
Until just recently there have been 7 Grand Seiko in Platinum (I might have missed some though);
3180 1960, SBGS005 1989, SBGX017 1998, SBGW021, SBGA065 2010, SBGW039 2011, SBGA107 2014
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3180
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SBGS005
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SBGX017
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SBGW021
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SBGA065
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SBGW039
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SBGA107

The first GS was quite modest and simple. The second generation,  43999/5722, that was released in 1964, had a much more unique and different design with the characteristic broad lugs and clean design. 44GS released in 1967 is probably the main model utilizing Seiko’s Taro Tanaka.s design rules ”Grammar Of Design”;

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The watch that now has arrived and is the subject of this text is for me the quintessence of Seiko’s and GS’ technical as well as design-related development and progress over the last 56 years. It is true to and honors the “Grammar Of Design” heritage well though in a more modern (read bigger) package. Inside it utilizes what is the absolute latest (and in my opinion best) Seiko movement; Springdrive. Last but not least it is made in a precious metal; Pt950.
If you have read this far and are a bit interested in Seiko you know that I am talking about the SBGD001 shown at Baselworld 2016.
I was fortunate to be there and after several attempts to convince the Seiko personel that letting us look closer (hardly touch though) to the only specimen they’d brought they finally gave in. It was mentioned that the watch would be in regular production with only 20pcs per year. The production would take place in the Micro Artist Studio at Seiko Epson’s Shiojiri plant. It is the skilled watch makers here that is responsible for the Credor models Eichi I and II, Sonnerie and Minute Repeater. After about 30 minutes of serious consideration (and the decision to let my PP 5980 go) I reserved one. Or so I thought. Apparently they were only supposed to be sold via Seiko Stores/Boutiques. Maybe this was not going to be so easy? However, in September I got the message from the Swedish AD that they’d managed to get one reserved for me. It would arrive earliest in November.
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At Baselworld2016
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Outside the Micro Artist Studio at my visit in 2014

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On November 10th the handover took place.

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SBGD001

A few words about the watch:

CASE & CRYSTAL
43mm in diameter and 13.2mm tall, massive platina is very well noticed. It is big and 168g heavvy.
The Zaratsu polish really lives up to its name and the metal has a very nice and vaguely yellowish lustre. The case is completely polished with no brushed parts.
Nice bevels on the lugs. you can clearly see the relationship with earlier models like the 43999 och SBGW047 (44GS re-issue). The crown is large (7mm) and very easy to handle, not of the screw-in type though, with a nice clear GS-marking.
The SBGD001 is water resitant to 10ATM (100m) so the fact that it is equipped with lug holes is great for those times you want to switch the reptile strap to e.g. an alligator covered rubber from RubberB when off to the beach.

Both front and the back crytsals are made of sapphire. The former is of the boxed type and stands about 3mm tall from the glass ring to the peak of the slight dome and has antireflective treatment on the inside. The latter, through which you can watch the movement, is flat.

 

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SBGW047, SBGD001 and 43999
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SBGD001
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SBGD001
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SBGD001
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SBGD001


DIAL & HANDS

The dial is nothing less than fantastic! The first time I looked at mine it was like staring into a bowl with lemon sorbet. The surface is called “Diamond Dust” and it really does the name justice. It shines and glimmers in a worthy and controlled way, varying a lot depending on the light. It is said that the dial is made to look like the new-fallen snow outside the Studio where it is made and so it does in the highest degree.
SEIKO and GS are applied while the  Grand Seiko text is printed in black and SPRING DRIVE in blue. The faceted hour markers are also applied.I do not know yet what material was used for the markers, the applied words and the hands, but I am hoping also these are made in Pt. The rehault is matte and slightly concave (I think) with printed minute indexes. The classic GS hour and minute hands with it’s five sides are perfect in length as has the substantial, blued seconds hand.
I thought I would miss a date, but the clean design easily outweighs this.

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SBGD001
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SBGD001
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SBGD001, 43999


MOVEMENT

I have really liked the ide with Springdrive since I read about it the first time in a technical magazine sometime around 1990. Another thing I like is a long power reserve.  In the SBGD001 you get the newly developed, manual 9R01 movement which combines Springdrive with a 192h (8 days) power reserve.  And on top of this the PR indicator is placed on the back (where it should be). The only complications in addition to the PR indicator are hours, minutes and seconds, so time only. The hour hand is separetly adjustable which makes it possible to change between summer/winter time and  when travelling without stopping the watch. About 150 turns (or maybe half turns) is what it takes to fully wind it.
The 37mm large movement is clearly visible through the sapphire glass on the back.
Most of the interior is however covered by the large main plate made in  rhodiumplated German silver.  The finish is restrained but absolutely flawless with e.g. nicely polished bevels. The top of the large bridge symbolises Mt Fuji, the fly-wheel the sun and  the jewels the lights from the houses below the mountain.
It is guaranteed to keep an accuracy of +/- 10 second a month, but with my other Springdrive GS as reference I think this is a number given with a large safety margin. I expect to see something more in the range of +/- 1s/month.
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SBGD001
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SBGD001
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SBGD001, SBGW047

STRAP & BUCKLE
The watch comes on a 22mm black, thick (7-8mm at the lugs) alligator strap (or maybe it is crocodile as per the Seiko home page?) tapering to 18mm where it attaches to the buckle. The thickness is also decreasing over the length of the strap.
The deployant buckle, also in Pt950, has double release buttons for opening.
The strap and the buckle feels very secure, but I will test other straps as well, for instance the above mentioned RubberB, vintage tropics and Hirsch Performance. I bet the watch works well on a nato or person as well 🙂

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SBGD001, SBGW047
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SBGD001

EXIT?
Nope, I do not believe there is something like an exit watch for a watch nerd like me. However, the SBGD001 will see a lot of use. The size, weight, precious metal, looks, 8-day movement and quality of execution together with the 100m water resistance  makes this a very appealing watch. For sure it will be scratched ,but it does not matter and is actually quite natural for something you wear on your wrist everyday.
In a way I would have liked having a date, but from an aesthetic perspective without is clearly preferred.

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