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Grand Seiko Elegance Collection SBGZ001

Hand hammered to perfection
by Chester Lau on May 11, 2019

Grand Seiko Elegance Collection SBGZ001

The new Grand Seiko Elegance collection which marks the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive, reveals a new manual-winding thin dress series. The collection is made up of four different models, with the most talked about model, the Platinum SBGZ001 with a hammered case and snowflake dial.

All the watches in the collection offer one-second-a-day precision and a long power reserve, thanks to the dual mainspring design of both calibers; namely the Caliber 9R02 used in the Platinum models and the 9R31 in the other metals.

The Dial and Hands

The dial features the celebrated “Snowflake” pattern which is inspired by the beauty of the snow in the Shinshu region. The dial’s silver finish complements the delicate hand carving on the platinum case.

While the case is hand hammered by artisans of the micro artist studio, the dial is stamped to achieve the snowflake pattern. This dial pattern is the same as the ordinary stamped ‘snowflake’ used in the SBGA211 with a difference in color. The new dial used in the Platinum SBGZ001 is more gray as compared to the ordinary SBGA211.

The Movement

The Micro Artist Studio made its first contribution to Grand Seiko with the 8-Day Power Reserve Spring Drive watch that was greeted at Baselworld 2016 with great acclaim. This same elite team of watchmakers now presents Caliber 9R02, a new movement that has two mainsprings set in parallel within a single barrel and uses the unique Torque Return System* to deliver a power reserve of 84 hours.

When the mainspring is fully wound and the torque output is at its highest, approximately 30% of the available power is not needed to maintain the precision of the watch, and is in effect wasted in a normal movement.

The Torque Return System uses this energy to rewind the mainspring, resulting in an increase in the power reserve. In Caliber 9R02, this system is activated for 48 hours after the mainspring has been fully wound.

The power reserve indicator is visible through the sapphire crystal case back, next to the barrel whose shape echoes that of the bellflower that is the symbol of Shiojiri, where the studio is located.

The Caliber 9R02 is in many ways similar to the Credor caliber 7R14 used in the Eichi II. The finishing is top notch with beveled edge bridges, inward cut angles, golden chatons, blued screws and polished screw wells.  Fastened on the bridge of the Caliber 9R02 is a plaque with an engraved Micro Artist insignia. This plaque can be replaced with the owner’s name upon request.

The main differences between the 2 movements are the different power reserve displays, 3 additional cut-outs on the spring barrel chamber on the Credor, and an inward angle instead of an outward angle used on the Grand Seiko at the Spring Drive wheel. Both movements are technically identical, but with the customizable plaque and the gorgeous inward cut angle, the Grand Seiko’s 9R02 may be the closer winner in terms of decoration.

The 2 watches also marks an overlapping between the 2 distinct lines, Grand Seiko and Credor, with the Grand Seiko limited to 30 pieces and priced at US$76,000 and the Credor Eichi II at US$52,500.

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