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"?

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