Once in a while we make an exception and cover a battery-operated watch here on Fratello Watches. While we normally prefer mechanical movements, it doesn’t mean some quartz movements aren’t interesting. What should one think of the multifunction watches like a Speedmaster X-33 or Spacemaster Z-33, or the Apple Watch? But when it doesn’t concern a multifunction watch, there needs to be something special about it, right? For example, a watch like the Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust and Day-Date at least contain some mechanical parts.
For me, the Grand Seiko SBGV019G I am about to review is a special watch as well. I would almost say ‘despite the quartz movement’ but perhaps it is ‘because of the quartz movement’. After visiting Seiko in Japan and receiving a thorough workshop on how special their Grand Seiko 9F quartz movements really are, I learned to appreciate them even more than I already did. In a previous review of a Grand Seiko with quartz movement (the SBGV009, here), I expressed my enthusiasm for the caliber 9F82 movement with its thermo compensation and impeccable finish. I stated, “I think it looks even nicer than some mechanical movements out there when it comes to finish”, so what did Seiko do? They introduced the Grand Seiko SBGV019G with a sapphire caseback so you can actually enjoy looking at this brilliant quartz movement. That takes guts.
Grand Seiko SBGV019G
This 38mm stainless steel Grand Seiko SBGV019G is a beautiful mid-sized dress watch with amazing case finishing typical for the brand: beautifully polished lugs and edges that look as sharp as a blade. The dial has a silver/off-white color that gives a beautiful contrast with the high-polished applied hour markers and hands. Besides “Seiko” at 12 o’clock, it also shows “Grand Seiko” and the applied GS logo, for those who did not recognize that this is more than a “normal” Seiko due to its case and finish. The blued second hand offers great contrast as well, as you can see below.
Normally I would say that 38mm is a bit on the small side for me, but because of the case shape (wide lugs) and crown guard it suits me well. Somehow the watch felt bigger than my Chronoswiss in 38mm, but that watch has a much more classic style.
The stainless steel bracelet looks a bit like the current Speedmaster bracelet, but has a nicer finish to it and a hidden clasp (signed Grand Seiko). I am not a particular fan of the bracelet design and would prefer a leather strap, but that is very personal. The bracelet feels solid and the clasp works flawlessly.
This Grand Seiko SBGV019G will work just as well with a casual outfit as it will do with formal attire. You could say that it is a perfect all-rounder, like a Rolex Datejust or Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. As always, the devil is in the details and that surely goes for the Grand Seiko SBGV019G (and basically most Grand Seikos). This watch is not for everyone and I assume that a lot of people are still not aware of the great value that Grand Seiko has to offer within all their models (quartz, mechanical and Spring Drive). You really need to take a closer look at a Grand Seiko before you will be able to admire it. I surely needed that myself as well. Perhaps, and I don’t want to sound snobby, you need to have a certain amount of experience or knowledge about watches to see the true craftsmanship in Grand Seiko watches. Otherwise, you might not see the difference between a cheaper watch from one of the Seiko collections or a Grand Seiko.
It didn’t take long for me to start appreciating the Grand Seiko collection, but it took quite a while before I was able to see a few in the flesh. Here in Europe, they were still quite hard to find (and see) until a few years ago. I see a small change in the market as more people start to ‘discover’ the higher end watches from Seiko, like the Marinemaster and Grand Seiko collections.
In any case, you should buy and wear a watch because you appreciate it, not for the enjoyment of others. But seeing them a bit more frequently [around you] does help to increase the awareness for these Grand Seiko models.
As written above, the Grand Seiko models come in three different ‘movement’ flavors: quartz, mechanical and Spring Drive. Normally, I am often not even prepared to look at quartz models, especially when the price enables you to buy a mechanical watch instead. But Seiko, or Grand Seiko, takes quartz very seriously. They even produce – or better said: grow – their own quartz crystals in one of their plants in Japan. The flawless crystals are used for Grand Seiko 9F movements. That’s not all, though, as these movements have been developed and manufactured with great dedication and precision. Not only are they able to detect variation in temperatures up to 540 times a day and automatically compensate for these changes to maintain high accuracy, but they also have a mechanism that makes the second hand pause exactly at the markers – without vibration. So, no, these aren’t your average department store quartz fashion watches. In fact, the caliber 9F82 movement is accurate up to a deviation of 10 seconds a year, which is incredible even for quartz standards.
The finish of the movement is beautiful and this is likely why Seiko decided to put a sapphire caseback on the watch. You can truly enjoy the caliber 9F movement. There are no moving parts, but the finish is stunning nevertheless. It’s essentially a beautifully finished plate aside from the visible battery that is being held in place by the stepped crystal.
Sure, this watch is not for everyone, perhaps due to the design and perhaps due to the quartz movement, or even both. However, it is a fine piece of micro engineering nevertheless and little can be doubted about the finish and quality of this Grand Seiko SBGV019G. But I am assuming that much was clear to you already actually, especially if you are well-versed on the subject of Grand Seiko.
Appreciation is what it takes to pull your wallet out to be one of the 600 who will own this Grand Seiko SBGV019G. It is not entirely clear why they limited this model to 600 pieces only, but my guess is that it will run out of stock in a very short period. The price tag is €2800 Euro, which is about € 1300,- less than the Grand Seiko SBGV009 I reviewed here. Truth be told, the design of that particular model was a bit more to my own liking, but that one was just over 37mm in diameter, so quite small.
More information can be found here.