Hands-On With The Grand Seiko SBGY007 Omiwatari — I Need This Watch In My Life!
The Grand Seiko SBGY007 “Omiwatari” was presented to you in June, so it’s about time for a hands-on review of this classic-looking Grand Seiko. As I wrote in an introduction article last month, the Grand Seiko SBGY007 is part of the Elegance Collection. A Spring Drive powered dress watch whose dial pays tribute to the frozen waters of Lake Suwa. I explained the origin story of the Omiwatari in this article, so make sure to read that if you want to know more. This hands-on review of the Grand Seiko SBGY007 article is about the watch itself. No storytelling, just the watch as it is.
Grand Seiko SBGY007 Omiwatari
Grand Seiko has been on a roll this year, first showing us the White Birch, but also the SLGA007 that we covered here recently. All with beautifully crafted dials, creating a lot of depth making it a joy to observe. The Grand Seiko SBGY007 looked very promising on the press images in June, but as always, you need to experience a watch in the “flesh” before you can properly form an opinion about it. So when the watch arrived in our office, everyone was standing around the box waiting for it to be opened, holding their breath. And there it was, the stunningly blue dial with its amazing texture. And what’s more: no date, no power reserve indicator, and no other frills. Just an unobstructed view of the dial and its gorgeous icy texture. I love a clean-looking watch.
Smooth second hand
At first, I thought “Perhaps it would have been even better when it just had featured the hour and minute hands”. But that thought quickly faded, due to the fact that the Grand Seiko SBGY007 is a Spring Drive powered watch. This means that it has an incredibly smooth-running — almost floating — seconds hand. The way it glides is too good not to have one there, so three hands it is. Also not to be ignored are the beautifully shaped and finished hour markers and hands. Razor-sharp, as always.
The texture of the dial creates a nice amount of depth, and to me, it is the best version to date of the SBGY series. As you’ve probably noticed, there’s no lume on the Grand Seiko SBGY007. And as an owner of a Grand Seiko without any lume, I can also tell you that it’s hardly necessary. The polished surfaces on the markers and hands reflect even the smallest amount of light and make the time legible. The winding crown was a pleasure to operate. It is easy to grasp and makes winding the movement a buttery smooth experience.
A perfect fit
At 38.5mm, the Grand Seiko SBGY007 “Omiwatari” is a watch that will fit most — or perhaps even all — wrists. Men and women alike. The case has an impeccable finish, brushed on the sides and polished on top of the lugs. Its bezel also received a polished finish. Perhaps the case of the “Omiwatari” is not as outspoken as the 44GS style cases, but it surely leaves quite the impression on me. You can debate whether the 10.2mm thickness is suitable for a dress watch. I know that there are some dress watches out there that have a case thickness of half this size, but there’s also such a thing as too thin. And not only when it comes to looks. I’ve also experienced an ultra-thin watch from another brand stopping because its thinness caused too much of a torsion effect on the case and movement. Thinner is not always better.
Grand Seiko delivers this watch with a black crocodile leather strap with dark blue stitching and blue lining. A very soft and comfortable strap, making the wearing experience of the SBGY007 a good one. I can’t imagine this watch on any sort of metal bracelet. Not even on a classic-looking bead of rice bracelet, like Grand Seiko used for its SBGW235 watch pictured below.
That would be too much for a refined watch like the Grand Seiko SBGY007. The strap is a good choice, and Grand Seiko puts it on a three-fold clasp in steel.
Spring Drive Caliber 9R31
I nearly had as much fun observing the case back as I did the dial. This movement is beautiful. And sure, it is a large plate basically, but the finishing is wonderful and it features the power reserve indicator (there it is!). I could understand that some might like to see a little bit more action from the movement, instead of just gears moving through the small apertures of this main plate. But I enjoyed looking at it anyway. You could say that with this Grand Seiko SBGY007 it’s business in the back and party in the front. The Spring Drive caliber 9R31 is a recently introduce movement, only previously seen in Grand Seiko’s SBGY003 and SBGY005. It does share some similarities with the (even more) high-end caliber 9R02.
As you probably know by now, the Spring Drive system provides very high accuracy. It’s just +/-1 second per day on average with a maximum of 15 seconds deviation per month. This movement also provides a power reserve of 72 hours, hacking seconds, and to the wearer’s delight, an incredibly smooth sweeping second’s hand on the dial side.
Why I want the Grand Seiko SBGY007
Since I wrote about my little horological wish list, I (already) ticked one of the watches off the list. This Grand Seiko SBGY007 is also on that list, and at the time I wrote “I just picked it up for a hands-on review, and my first impressions are nothing short of phenomenal.” I still stand by that 100%. It is an amazing watch. Perhaps not as slick and thin as the average dress watch, but you can’t deny the beauty of the dial, hands, and case. Additionally, I would love to own a Spring Drive-powered watch at some point, and this reference has an improved iteration of the movement.
Not for everyday use
If you’re not into dress watches or more classic-looking watches, Grand Seiko has a lot of options for you to chose from. The Snowflake, Skyflake, Mt. Iwate, 24 Seasons, and the White Birch models, for example. Those watches are a little bit bulkier and perhaps better seen as all-rounders. Although this SBGY007 can be worn every day as well for sure (do note that it’s water-resistant only to 30 meters), I personally wouldn’t. It would be a watch to have next to my sportier pieces, wear it with a nice shirt or suit. But, to each his or her own, of course. The combination of the dial and its movement make this watch a winner for me. And all I know for sure is that I need one.
Price and availability of the Grand Seiko SBGY007
This Grand Seiko SBGY007 with caliber 9R31 is available since last month and is not a limited edition. Meaning that you should be able to get it via the Grand Seiko boutique or authorized dealer, although high demand might have to make you wait a bit longer. The price tag reads €8,600 or $8,300USD when you’re in the USA, which shows me there’s still room for improvement in Grand Seiko’s pricing structure. It seems to be a tough cookie to crack. Aside from that, I think this price is incredibly fair, especially when compared to some of its competition out there.
More information on the SBGY007 can be found here.