Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Grand Seiko GMT Green Dial Spring Drive Limited Edition SBGE033 (SBGE033G) - An excellent timepiece, A Review and Video

My first watch purchase for 2016 is this Grand Seiko GMT Spring Drive Limited Edition SBGE033 which has a beautiful green dial. This watch was specially made in honour of the 55th anniversary of the Grand Seiko, the most famous premier line for the Seiko Watch Company.


Grand Seiko quietly released this sporty new GMT watch, the SBGE033 without the fanfare it had with the 62GS Historical Collection back in 2015. This subtle marketing strategy is very common with  Seiko. The Company believes it is unnecessary to promote an excellent product. The product will naturally promote itself, if it was designed and made to impress by its sheer effectiveness and quality.

I believe this is one of the only few sporty watches under the Grand Seiko line of watches (excluding dive watches). Granted there are a lot of GMT Grand Seikos but this is the only one with a contrasting chapter ring colour compared to the dial (white on green). It also has luminous hands and markers which are not seen before on its GMT watches.

Apart from the GMT hand, there are two other additional complications such as a date function in an aperture at 3 o'clock and power reserve indicator located near the 7 o'clock position.

It is powered by the in-house 9R66 caliber, the GMT version of the Seiko's Spring Drive Technology 9R65 movement. More about this later.

The case is made of stainless steel. With a 41 mm diameter case, the surface has been given a special hand finishing technique known as Zaratsu. Only 500 examples of this watch were made.


I original saw this model back in a review made on new watches by Seiko that was presented during Basel 2015. As part of Seiko's 55 year anniversary celebration of the Grand Seiko line, a number of limited edition pieces were made. The one that really caught my eyes was the SBGE033.

The colour and the use of leather strap as standard are unique traits seldom seen on a Grand Seiko. This particular model immediately got into my "must-have-it" list. Unfortunately, the wild currency fluctuations facing the global economy for the last one year put a stop to my quest.

Fortunately, the wait was worth it as a few pieces were sent to Malaysia. It also happened that AWG Fine Watches, an authorised dealer, in association with Thong Sia Malaysia, the main distributor of Seiko in Malaysia invited me for a New Year Party featuring Grand Seiko in late January 2016.




The event was well attended and stocked with a lot of Grand Seikos. It is here that I saw the SBGE033 in person. As this was a special event, I got a very handsome discount.

The Reveal

The Grand Seiko packaging comes in a three piece watch box. The first level is a white protective cardboard box outer covering with all the necessary warning notices. In fact, this part of the watch box is not supposed to go with the purchaser. Also, on the white part of this box you will be able to find the serial number, which is 169 out of 500.

The second level is the packaging box. This box has a nice dark blue colouring with the Grand Seiko brand and logo printed in gold at the center on the top of the box.


If you open this box you will find the primary watch box (the third and final level) as well as the various documents such as the manual and the guarantee document.

The main watch box has a nicer surface compared to the outer box. The brand and logo are also printed in a slightly different position.


The main watch box hinges from the back and you'll find the watch sitting on its velvet pillow. On the inner top part of the watch box is the famous lion logo of Grand Seiko.



The SBGE033 is made out of stainless steel with crocodile leather as the strap. A GMT watch, apart from the standard three hands representing the hours, minutes and seconds, there is a fourth hand to represent the GMT time. The crown is located at 3 o'clock and there is a date aperture also at the 3 o'clock position. A power reserve indicator is located at the 7 o'clock position.

The watch is 41 mm across (excluding the crown). Lug-to-lug length is 49 mm and the watch has a height of 13.8 mm. Lug width is 20 mm. The SBGE033 weighs in at 98 grams.



The mesmerising part about the watch is the radial green dial. The colour is so vivid and yet different when viewed at different angles.

The watch comes with three time scales. The outermost is located on the deep chapter ring and painted white. This is the GMT scale and the hours are marked with a combination of Arabic and point markers.

The second set of time scale is the minute markers denoted by small white line. The third and the most obvious are the main hour markers denote by rectangle polished stainless steel cut-outs. At the outer end of the cut-outs are painted with LumiBrite luminous paint. The SBGE033 is one of the few Grand Seikos that comes with LumiBrite paint.



All the hands are thin sword-like in design (including the power reserve indicator hand). Only part of the hour and minute hands are painted with LumiBrite luminous paint. The GMT hand is painted with a white paint but not luminous. It also has a red painted triangular tip to help differentiate it from other hands.

The date window is sunken and framed by two different coloured materials. The outer part is framed by a thin polished stainless steel loop and the inner part which is thicker and slightly lower is painted white. With the date dial on a white background, the depth perception looks more enhanced.

The thin scale of the power reserve indicator has 3 separate curved lines. Each represent 24 hours of reserve energy for a total of 72 hours or power reserve. Only the first curve line is not fully painted in white.

On the dial are six lines of text and logo. The top half of the watch carries the brand name. The logo, the sub-brand, the type of motive technology, its function and finally the country of origin are located on the bottom half of the dial. It is interesting to note that all have different fonts and sizes and even colours. Yet, the dial does not feel cluttered and busy.

The whole dial is protected by sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating provided on both sides of the glass surfaces.

The polishing on the casing is almost glass-like. Using the samurai sword polishing technique called Zarastu, only certified master craftsmen are given the responsibility to polish the steel to near glass perfection.



The quality of the Zarastu polishing can clearly be seen when viewing the movement via the display screw-down case-back. Also protected by sapphire crystal, you can see the way the light reflects and refracts into other component colours as it hits the polished metal.

The movement powering the SBGE033 is the 9R66 Spring Drive movement made entirely in-house. This automatic engine is made at Shinshu Watch Studio in Seiko Epson's facility in Shiojiri, Japan. Containing 296 components, it utilises 30 jewels. The main springs is capable of storing 72 hours of power reserve. The Spring Drive technology gives it an outstanding accuracy rating of +/- 15 seconds per month. This technology uses an electro magnetically controlled regulation of the mainsprings.

Additional information that one can gather from the case-back is the serial number (169 out of 500) and a water rating 100 meters.


The screw down crown has the GS logo etched on top of it. It has 4 positions. The first position is at screw down; the second position is when you can wind the main springs; the third position is where you can adjust just the hour hand; the fourth and final position is where you can adjust the minute hands. In the last position, the second hand will stop moving (hacking).

The screw down process is smooth. The crown easily catches the screw thread without any effort.

The lug holes are straight through which allows ease of changing straps.


Seiko provided a butterfly clasp for the strap. It has the "GS" logo etched on it.

This watch is well suited for all occasions. The 41 mm width makes it a very wearable watch. The ability to used in a more sporty environment makes it even more useful as a 'everyday' watch.


Having the LumiBrite paint is also a good idea. In the last photo above you can see how bright the illumination despite it being a relatively bright room.

The wearing experience is as expected - brilliant. The crocodile leather was firm straight from the box but after 48 hours of continuous wear, it start to be supple as it absorbs the oils from the wearers skin. In fact, if you sweat a lot, the 'breaking-in' of the leather is much faster.

Overall, an excellent timepiece.

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This is a short video showing the smooth movement of the second hand as powered by the Spring Drive engine.




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I also got a free gift of a pair of champagne glasses with the Grand Seiko brand sandblasted on it. Not sure what the three blue half balls suppose to signify.



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The retail price of this watch was RM19,610. I was able to get it for RM14,200.

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Photo Gallery

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5 comments:

  1. Hi Meor, we have been following your blog but have been unable to get in touch with you. We are writing on behalf of Thong Sia Sdn Bhd's PR team and would like to reach out to you.

    Could you write back to us at diana.tho@mbww.com so that we can be in touch in future and upcoming events? :)

    Thanks.


    Diane
    Senior Advocacy Specialist
    RallyBuzz of IPG Mediabrands

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi.

    Love the SBGE033. Do you know if there is another one around? Would love to own one too!

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect Thong Sia Malaysia could have been allocated more than one example by Seiko. Try contacting them. Good luck!

      Delete
    2. Let me know if you decide to "let it go"... Cheers.

      Delete

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