ON THE WRIST: Grand Seiko SBGM221
MONDAY APRIL 15, 2019
No quick-set date
39.5 mm Diameter
13.7 mm Thickness
72 hours Power Reserve
30m Water Resistance
In recent years, I’ve been giving serious thought to what my grail watch will 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 Royal Oak. Having put my name down, I then went into Patek Philippe to find the finishing on their watches is to 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 to a lucky few, I too joined the queue, went home happy and waited patiently.
" Last I had a watch
reflecting this much
light was a Calatrava "
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 something like this, these things only come by so often so it is advised to wait patiently.
I obviously couldn’t.. Forget investment or even retaining value because this reason alone is enough to make people turn to Rolex, Grand Seikos lose half the money the second it leaves the boutique. 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 hundreds of years, certainly shows 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. Released in 2011 as the SBGM021 and face-lifted in 2018 where the Seiko name at twelve o clock is replaced by the Grand Seiko logo and name originally at six o clock.
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? Furthermore, the SBGM221 has yet another trick up its sleeve, magnet resistance.
Sure the Hi-Beat SBGJ219G should have been given 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 and finally, a 911 GT”
Instead of going by printer serial numbers, Grand Seikos will more easily be acquainted with a name for each lineup like other watch manufacturers. 13.7 millimetres isn’t what you call thick but the SBGM 221 will wear more comfortably with a thinner profile. Date setting is a pain, a pain that has to be experienced by oneself and cannot be explained in just a few sentences. Also no luminous material has been applied on this watch which may agitate some but not me.
Unlike Rolex, a brand that requires no introduction, Grand Seiko will need to lure people into their showrooms to fully appreciate their watches and that itself is a challenge. As for me, obtaining that final piece of puzzle will just have to wait.