Oops!… It Happened Again — Falling For The Grand Seiko Evolution 9 GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake”
You can’t control your heart. And a watch lover’s heart, especially, tends to skip a beat when it encounters something that strikes a chord. And boy, did my heart skip a beat when I sat down during Grand Seiko’s touch-and-feel session during Watches And Wonders. It has been a few weeks since the event in Geneva, and I’ve been trying to calm my heart ever since. But there is just no denying it. Even after a cool-down period of a few weeks, I’ve fallen for the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake”. What is it that makes my heart go boom?
I can tell you right away why “my heart goes boom” when I look, feel, touch, and wear the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake”. It’s the combination of shapes, proportions, size, material, function, finishing, color, and the Spring Drive caliber inside. This watch ticks all the boxes. And believe it or not, these words do not come easy. I write this with a heavy heart because I’m still in love with my Tough Quartz SBGX341 that I got last year. The sensations the Evolution 9 GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake” caused made me feel guilty. But as I said, the heart wants what the heart wants, and like REO Speedwagon, I can’t fight this feeling anymore.
Falling for the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake”
It’s the complete package of the SBGE285 “Mist Flake” that gets me. But if I had to pick two visual elements that hit me hardest, they would definitely have to be the dial and the bezel. I like white dials and I cannot lie. That shows in the crisp, pure white dial I love so much in my quartz SBGX341 (just call me Sir Ticks-a-Lot). The “Mist Flake”, though, has a completely different kind of white dial. The one in my Tough Quartz is instrumentally white, while the dial of the Evolution 9 GMT is a more poetic grayish-white. This dial belongs to the same realm as the nature-inspired “Snowflake” and “White Birch” dials. In some light, the dial is on the whiter side of things, and in other light, it presents itself in a light gray shade.
… the dial is dynamic, vibrant, and will give you loads of viewing pleasure.
Remember when RJ wondered if “Silver Birch” would have been a better name for the “White Birch” SLGH005? I won’t go over that again, but because of the rich shades on Grand Seiko’s delicate dials, it is sometimes hard to exactly pinpoint the color. And that’s a good thing. It means the dial is dynamic, vibrant, and will give you loads of viewing pleasure.
Mist in the Shinshu region
I don’t like mist. Misty roads cause traffic jams, and who likes being stuck in traffic? I’d make an exception for the mist in Japan’s Shinshu region, though. Apparently, the fog over there looks like the dial of the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake”. I wouldn’t mind being stuck in that subtle play of gray and white shades for a while. According to Grand Seiko, the dial with its intricately textured pattern is inspired by the morning mist in winter that often predicts a sunny day. And since Shinshu is home to the studio where all Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches are made, it must be real.
When I first saw the watch, I didn’t know about the winter mountain mist at all. But even without the nice story, I think the dial has a very appealing shade and texture. It’s subtle and not too distracting at all. The “White Birch”, for instance, is a bit too prominent for my taste. The “Mist Flake”, however, sets a tasteful and introverted stage for the different hands, indications, and markers.
A show of hands
Speaking of hands and stuff, just look at the firm and stout hands on this watch. That cut-off hour hand in particular is just plain badass. The hands are bolder and more clearly differentiated than ever before in an Evolution 9 Style watch. And it works. That’s also thanks to the applied hour markers, which are not to be missed — just look at that chunky “mother” at 12 o’clock! The combination of hands and indexes gives the new GMT an instrumental appearance that just looks the business. The black, straightforward GMT hand also helps in this regard, with a triangle that glows blue in the dark. The Lumibrite on the hour and minute hands and the indexes produce a green glow.
… the power reserve of 72 hours is shown by the characteristic indicator that, in my humble opinion, looks better than ever on this dial.
And then there’s the gliding motion of the seconds hand that somehow has a calming effect on me. I do appreciate the firm steps that my quartz GS takes because every step is exactly on the mark. But the gentle, smooth sweep of the seconds hand made possible by the Spring Drive caliber 9R66 is a uniquely tantalizing micro-spectacle. This movement has a claimed accuracy of ±1 second per day or ±15 seconds per month. And the power reserve of 72 hours is shown by the characteristic indicator that, in my humble opinion, looks better than ever on this dial.
How to treat titanium
Another attractive aspect of the SBGE285 is the new Evolution 9 Style case with its 41 × 13.9mm dimensions executed in titanium. The lugs are now wider than before, and the bracelet feels more robust. I didn’t hear the awkward rattle that titanium bracelets all too often produce when you shake them a little. Additionally, because the case now has a lower center of gravity, it sits better on the wrist than many of its forebears. While I love the heft of my steel Tough Quartz GS, the lightweight SBGE285 also makes sense. It’s a travel watch, and what better way to travel than light? The fact that GS finishes the case and bracelet in the most immaculate way possible also helps to prevent the sometimes dull and gray look of titanium. On the contrary, the way GS treats titanium causes a metallic hue that is brighter than most steel watches.
Grand Seiko Evolution 9 GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake” — Final thoughts
There are a few other details that my eyes keep wandering back to. Have a look at the shape of the crown guard, for instance. I dare you to tell me that it is not one of the most subtle designs you’ve ever seen. It’s curved and angular at the same time, and it looks very organic too. And then there’s the titanium 24-hour bezel with its new font developed especially for the Evolution 9 Collection. The design of the bezel reminds me of the illustrious Rolex Explorer II 1655 “Freccione” — and the new Tudor Black Bay Pro, for that matter — and I like that.
The monochromatic style is probably the thing that I fell hardest for.
I especially dig it because the rest of the watch doesn’t remind me of a “Freccione” at all. There’s the complete absence of color, for example. But even without color, the SBGE285 is a perfectly practical GMT. The monochromatic style is probably the thing that I fell hardest for. I do feel a bit guilty about my Tough Quartz watch. But I guess it’s also tough enough to deal with my wandering eye. Having laid eyes on the GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake” still hasn’t stopped me from wearing my quartz GS. The strong appetite I get from looking at the “Mist Flake” just makes me eat at home more often, so to speak. The real question is, of course, for how long?
The Grand Seiko Evolution 9 GMT SBGE285 “Mist Flake” will be available in July at Grand Seiko Boutiques and official dealers worldwide. The price will be €8,500. For more information on this new GMT watch, please visit the brand’s official website.
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