Friday, May 6, 2011

Video Friday: Grand Seiko Spring Drive 200m Divers

When you think of Grand Seiko watches, the first thing that comes to mind are classically styled, non-descript and superbly made high end timepieces. However, Grand Seiko was really never associated with sports or active lifestyle watches. That perception began to gradually change back in 2002, when the first ever GMT Grand Seiko was released, the SBGM001 9S mechanical. Then circa 2006 the Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 was released. This model features a 200m steel diver's case, complete with screw down crown at the 4 o'clock position, lumed hands/dial markers and a rotating 24 hour bezel made in sapphire and also lumed. The year 2007 also saw the release of the first ever Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT Chronographs from the SBGC series sporting the then all new 9R86 movement.

But even until then, there wasn't a "True" ISO rated diver's watch under the GS umbrella. So in the Spring of 2008 Seiko introduced at the Basel fair the first ever pair of 200m rated Spring Driven ISO divers in both stainless steel and titanium cases and bracelets. Models SBGA029 (Steel) and SBGA031 (Titanium) made their debut and not without criticism from Seiko fans and others alike who perceived these models to be too similar looking to famous watch offerings from Swiss heavyweights such as Rolex and Omega. These models were a departure from the Grand Seiko watch design philosophy with their 44.3mm cases, ceramic rotating timing bezels, big "Cathedral" styled hands, power reserve indicator, and generous amounts of dial lume in the hands and markers. Also the bracelets have pins and collars instead of screws and the sport clasp has the same exact ratchet system diver's wet suit extension as found in tool divers from the Prospex range. And finally a nicely sized sports clasp with multiple micro-adjustment points. In sort, the new GS 200m Spring Drive 9R65 divers were viewed as a wild departure from the core principles of the brand.

Whether you like their styling or not, it is hard to ignore their significance and superb finishing, not too mention the innovative Spring Drive movement that powers them. Are these the ultimate luxury "Desk Divers"?


Spin Doctor said...

Could you imagine doing a factory pressure test with a whole tray of these looking back at you? Like printing money at the US Mint.

tuco said...

Awesome! But to expensive for me. Are they really so popular as Submariner in that price range?

JapanWatchConnection said...

I don't think these SD diver's have been that popular since Seiko showed them in the 2008 edition of Basel World in Switzerland. Many, including myself, are not crazy about the choice of hands in this model. Some others may find a little too much "Rolex" inspiration in the case and dial. Another thing I don't like about these is the use of pin and collars to hold the bracelet links. While I can understand why Seiko did this (Because if you wear and use the watch for its intended purpose of sea diving), pins and collars are the most secure interlink system known to man. The downside of pins and collars is that many will perceive this choice as "cheap" looking and, generally speaking, pins and collars are difficult to properly size/install for the novice.

I think the most popular "Sport" orient GS model will remain the Spring Drive GMT model SBGE001, which I recently became a proud owner of.

Anonymous said...

I've owned the titanium version for a few months now. It gains less than second a month, is build quality is immaculate and the big controvercial hands allow so much lume I can read the time in the dead of night when it's sat on my bedside table.

My firm opinion of this watch is that you can tell that most of the not in considerable cost goes into the watch and doesn't get spent on sponsoring celebrities and/or sporting events.
Thus, if you like the look of the watch, I would be staggered if you were disappointed should you get out the credit card. If you don't like the look of it, then buy something else. Different strokes for different folks after all!