Grand Seiko Introduces The 62GS In A 38mm Size With Dials Inspired By Cherry Blossoms
I don’t know about the winter weather where you are, but here in the Netherlands, we’ve hardly had any. We usually get a few weeks with freezing temperatures and a decent amount of snow. This year, though, temperatures hardly went below zero degrees Celsius, and we’ve only had a wafer-thin layer of that white stuff. Nevertheless, we’re already in February, and spring is on its way. That also means that cherry blossom season is coming, and Grand Seiko is celebrating that with two new releases. The SBGH341 and SBGH343 have pink and green dials, respectively, and both take inspiration from Japan’s picturesque cherry blossoms. What might even be more exciting is that both share a new 38mm titanium case inspired by the 62GS case from the ’60s.
The 62GS is a household name within the history of Grand Seiko. It was actually the brand’s first automatic watch. If you’re not yet that familiar and would like to know more, make sure to read Mike’s piece on his vintage ref. 6245. In it, you’ll learn that the watch debuted in a 36.5mm case size with a very small, flat crown at 4 o’clock.
In 2019, Grand Seiko reintroduced the 62GS case in titanium with a 40mm size and a bigger crown at the more conventional 3 o’clock position. What stayed the same, however, was its peculiar and beautiful design with curved brancards that directly hug the dial without the help of a bezel. Today, that famous 62GS case is back in a new 38mm size with a pink or green dial and a Hi-Beat movement inside. Let’s take a look.
The new 38mm 62GS case
Just like some earlier re-editions of the 62GS, such as the beautiful SBGA413 “Shunbun,” the new SBGH341 and SBGH343 are also made of titanium. In combination with the smaller 38mm size, this makes these watches a dream to wear on the wrist. They measure 12.9mm thick, which is on the thicker side for a watch of this diameter. Then again, the box-style sapphire crystal (based on the acrylic one of the original 62GS) accounts for a significant part of that thickness. Grand Seiko has treated it with an antireflective coating, allowing a good look at the beautiful dials.
The side of the bezel-less case has been horizontally brushed, while the lugs, which wrap around the dial, have been finished using Grand Seiko’s Zaratsu polishing technique. The result brings out the curvy yet angular shape of the lugs so well. The bracelet has an almost all-brushed finish except for the narrow, polished parts that flank the center links. In that sense, the bracelet matches the finishing of the case. However, in terms of shape, it doesn’t match the sharper lines of the case very well. This, unfortunately, is something we often see with Grand Seiko’s watches.
The SBGH341 Sakura Kakushi and SBGH343 Sakura Wakaba
Now we get to those beautiful and colorful dials. The pink SBGH341 Sakura Kakushi (“hidden cherry blossoms”) is inspired by the cherry blossoms that are still hiding behind the late winter snow. The green SBGH343 Sakura Wakaba (“cherry blossoms and young leaves”) takes its inspiration from when the flowers bloom and the young leaves sprout all at once. Both dials have a linen-like texture, although you could also say it looks more like the texture you get when you stroke paint onto a canvas with a tiny brush. In any case, it magnificently brings out the subtle colors.
As we expect from Grand Seiko by now, the hour markers and hands display razor-sharp finishing. I also really like how much attention went into the creation of the date window. It has a very nice frame, and notice how the date wheel isn’t simply a white background with black printing. No, this time, it’s a more naked, brushed steel date wheel with numbers printed in black. It’s a subtle change, but I think it’s a very well-considered detail. It matches nicely with the rest of the hardware on the dial and the titanium case.
Powered by a Hi-Beat automatic caliber
Both of these watches house Grand Seiko’s Hi-Beat automatic caliber 9S85. Its higher 36,000vph frequency helps to achieve more stability in terms of accuracy. Grand Seiko advertises that this caliber runs between +5 and -3 seconds a day. It also offers a 55-hour power reserve, features 37 jewels, and is resistant to magnetic fields of up to 4,800 A/m. You can take a look at the movement through the sapphire window of the case back. And this time, your view isn’t obstructed by any printing. An engraving on the rim of the case back will tell you that these watches are water resistant to 10 bar as well.
What excites me so much about this release and the quartz Snowflake that came out last week is Grand Seiko’s move to smaller case sizes. There were, of course, already a few smaller references available, such as the SBGW283 and SBGW291. But most of the smaller watches in the Grand Seiko portfolio are proper dress watches. I’m glad the brand is also downsizing some sportier models in its collection. Sure, a 40mm case is fine, but a 38mm size is even better, don’t you think?
The Grand Seiko SBGH341 in pink and the SBGH343 in green will be available as of March 1st. Each can be yours for €7,900. If you’d like more information on either of these watches, please check out Grand Seiko’s official website.
What do you think of these new releases? And what are your thoughts on Grand Seiko introducing smaller watches? Let me know in the comments below.