ON THE WRIST: Grand Seiko SBGM221

MONDAY APRIL 15, 2019

In recent years, I’ve been giving a serious thought to what would my grail watch be (the final one, hopefully). Given it will be the last one to call it a day, it should be made by one of these companies; Audemars, Lange, Patek or Vacheron. One more trait it must possess is having a metal bracelet so it can liberate some duty off the Air King.

 

After some thinking, my feelings pointed towards the blue dial 15450 Royal Oak. Having put my name down, I then went into Patek Philippe to find the finishing on their watches is on a finer degree. A loupe is not required as the naked eye can tell exactly that. Turning their watches around reveals a metropolitan that has to be experienced in person, no words can truly do justice. Since only a handful come every year a lucky few, I too joined the queue, went home happy and waited patiently.

PRO

Top-class finishing

Classic looks

Wrist comfort

Anti-magnetism

CON

Date set

No lume

SPECIFICATION

39.5 mm Diameter

13.7 mm Thickness

72 hours Power Reserve

30m Water Resistance

35  Jewels

RM 18,900

“Last I had a watch

reflecting this much

light was a Calatrava”

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Days went by and four seasons later, I called and asked politely if I were closer in line to collect either of those watches. The response too was nice and went like, these things only come by so often and was advised to wait patiently in line.

 

I obviously couldn’t.. Forget investment or even retaining value because Grand Seikos lose half the money the second it leaves the boutique. That reason’s enough to make people turn to Rolex, I hear you shriek and you are right because this probably isn’t for the ones who are looking for their first good watch. Or second. Or even third. 

Zaratsu polishing, a skill harnessed from (presumably) sharpening katana for hundred of years certainly show in the mirror finish on every Grand Seiko. Each marker is precisely applied, so have the indices and the logo. Finishing on both dial and movement on modern Grand Seikos are most certainly able to take on watches three times its price. Value proposition isn’t something all that relevant in this price bracket, let’s just say it is, GSs have a lot to offer from the case down to its buckle with a mix of brushed and polished steel.

Yes, this watch keeps time extraordinarily and is finished to perfection but has Seiko written on it, you say. Isn’t superior engineering and craftsmanship the reason why we snobs come about to appreciate wristwatches in the first place?

 

Sure the Hi-Beat SBGJ219G should have be given a consideration but having both in my hands, I took home the one that spoke most. Truth is, a lot more was brought onto the table because the sales assistant went above and beyond her duties wanted no regrets in my purchase decision. 

“The first Porsche you buy is likely a Cayman then a Carrera S and finally, an RS”

The greatest challenge for Grand Seiko is to get people to appreciate their watches in-person while a Rolex requires no introduction. As for me, obtaining that final piece of puzzle will have to wait. 

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