Hands-On With The Grand Seiko SBGP013
For the people that are Grand Seiko devotees — like we are at Fratello — keeping up with the slew of new releases this year has been a full-time commitment. Now imagine if you are a watch enthusiast that is just getting into the magic of Grand Seiko. The maze that Grand Seiko has built can be hugely overwhelming. Do you go for mechanical, quartz, or Spring Drive? Do I go for a timepiece from the Elegance, Sport, or Heritage collection? Well, we have an answer for you. If you are looking for an entry-level quartz Grand Seiko watch, look no further. The new Grand Seiko SBGP013 is your pick.
For me, Grand Seiko is probably the only brand where I would first ask myself what kind of movement I would prefer. As some of you might know, I am very much a design-driven person when it comes to watches. This often results in a quick visual approval or dismissal in 99% of cases where I am presented with a new watch. After all, you have to wear a watch on your wrist daily, and looking at it should bring you great joy.
A difference in movements
But with Grand Seiko, it’s different. And I can think of several reasons why. First off, when it comes to Grand Seiko, there is not just the choice between mechanical or quartz. With the addition of Spring Drive movements, there is an extra choice available. It requires you to do you some additional reading on what that means when it comes to making choices. The second thing is that Grand Seiko offers a lot of similar-looking designs made with the same craftsmanship and featuring the same exceptional level of finishing made available in mechanical, quartz, and Spring Drive versions.
On top of that, Grand Seiko’s quartz movements are outstanding when it comes to their ingenuity, quality, and even appearance. Essentially, that makes them a more appropriate option for me than with any other brand. Does it beat the mechanical options? In essence, they don’t. My heart is very much in the magic of mechanical watches. So it would always be mechanical movements first, Spring Drive second, and quartz third when it comes to the heart.
With a new movement, great looks, and a list price of €2,700, this is a very attractive first step into the world of Grand Seiko.
But the head does play a very significant role as well. The biggest difference between the movement types is the pricing, with quartz being significantly more affordable than the other two. So it makes the movement (or the cost) very relevant to those of us who would like to enjoy that incredible Grand Seiko quality and craftsmanship but don’t want to spend the extra money for a mechanical timepiece. Why this lengthy explanation? Because Grand Seiko recently introduced the new quartz-powered SPGB013. With a new movement, great looks, and a list price of €2,700, this is a beautiful first step into the world of Grand Seiko.
The entry-level Grand Seiko watches
So, where does the SPGB013 stand compared to the other entry-level Grand Seiko models? To answer this question, we would have to zoom-in on Grand Seiko’s Heritage collection because that is by far the biggest and most popular collection. The SPGB013 is part of a trio of newly introduced watches within that collection. The SBGP009 features a cream-colored dial, the SBGP011 features a black dial, and this SBGP013 features a dark blue dial.
The most significant difference is the change in movement.
The trio replaces the SBGV221 (champagne dial) and the SBGV223 (black dial). The differences? The most significant difference is the caliber change. While Grand Seiko’s Caliber 9F82 powers the SBGV221 and 223, the new introductions feature the improved Caliber 9F85.
But if you are a frequent reader of our reviews, you might have read a review of the also recently introduced Grand Seiko SBGP003 (black dial). That watch features the iconic 44GS style case, is powered by the same movement, and is slightly more expensive at €3,300. It is also available with a blue dial (SBGP005) like the SBGP013.
The details of the Grand Seiko SBGP013
The case of the new SBGP013 measures a comfortable 40mm in diameter and 10.6mm thick. Compared to a 44GS style case, you will see that the case has less sharp angles and also has significantly more brushed surfaces. The only Zaratsu polished elements are the sides of the case and the bezel. After wearing both the SBGP003 and this SBGP013, I can honestly say that they are very different in wrist presence despite being the same size and pretty much the same thickness.
Its design is fairly straight forward but both the bracelet and the three-fold clasp with push-button release feel of incredible qualitaty.
Furthermore, The SBGP013 features an Oyster-style bracelet with three links that have a brushed finish on both sides and high-polished flanks. Its design is fairly straight forward, but both the bracelet and the three-fold clasp with push-button release feel of incredible quality. Consequently, the watch wears excellently.
Grand Seiko Caliber 9F85
I have discussed the new Grand Caliber Seiko 9F85 in my review of the SBGP003 but to quickly refresh your memory, the Caliber 9F85 is the successor of Caliber 9F82. The most significant change is the introduction of a much-desired independent hour hand. As a result, you will be able to set or correct the time without losing that great accuracy of the Grand Seiko watch.
You will be able to set or correct the time without losing that great accuracy of the Grand Seiko watch.
The way the independent hour hand works is simple. Set the push/pull crown in the first position, and it lets you move the hour hand backward or forward in one-hour increments. Set the crown to the second position, and you will be able to adjust the hour and minute hand to set the exact time. The date changes automatically in both positions when moving the hour hand. As with the SBGP003, it feels very crisp, as we would expect from Grand Seiko.
Wearing the Grand Seiko SBGP013
As mentioned, with a 40mm case size and the incredibly comfortable bracelet, the SBGP013 wears very well. Because large parts of the case have a brushed finish, the polished elements really pop. The polished bezel and especially the hands and indices, catch your eye hovering above that beautiful deep blue dial.
As we know from Grand Seiko, its dials are spectacular. And having to choose from champagne, black, and blue, I would go for the blue dial every time. I used to be an all-black guy, but the blue feels more spectacular, more vibrant. Indoors it’s a lovely dark blue, but the dial comes into its own in sunlight.
When it comes to choosing a 40mm entry-level Grand Seiko three-hander with a quartz movement, you have two options. From wearing both the SBGP013 and comparing it with the SBGP003 that I reviewed previously, I can honestly say it’s a really tough choice.
If you have a soft spot for the 44GS style case you will gladly pay the extra 600 Euros.
If you have a soft spot for the 44GS style case and do not have any reservations when it comes to the more sophisticated and busier bracelet, I’m sure you would gladly pay the extra €600 for the blue-dialed SBGP005. But if you don’t want to pay the extra money for the 44GS style case, this new SBGP013 might be your gateway watch into the world of Grand Seiko.
My preference out of the two? The 44GS case is simply stunning. Its angled shapes, combined with the incredible finishing, give you breathtaking views from every angle. Next to that, the 44GS style case taps straight into the heart of Grand Seiko’s iconic 44GS from 1967 and Seiko’s Grammar Of Design. As a design enthusiast, that sentiment means something. But that bracelet… Oh, the agony!
In the end, you need to see both the watches side by side to be able to choose properly. So don’t let me tell you which one to choose. Go check out both watches “in the metal”. Make your choice and walk out the boutique proudly wearing a Grand Seiko quartz watch. Because that choice was already made. You need a Grand Seiko in your life.
If you would like to find out more, you can visit the official Grand Seiko website here.