Since the original debut of Grand Seiko’s Seasons collection in 2019, the artisans in Studio Shizukuishi have continued to pay tribute to nature and the 24 seasons, or “sekki”, as they are referred to in Japan. Having started with the 62GS style and then GMT designs, Grand Seiko now releases two new season-inspired models in the Elegance line. These two releases — SBGW281 and SBGW287 — feature manually wound movements and focus on seasonal transitions with the beautiful dial work we have come to expect from Grand Seiko.

In the last three years, we have seen Grand Seiko expand the Seasons series into the Flow of Seasons collection. With the previously mentioned 24 seasons in Japanese culture, there seems always to be room for new models. Additionally, when you start exploring the transition between seasons, you end up with even more possibilities. Many products claim to be inspired by nature and the beauty that is around us every day (if you look closely enough). The watches Grand Seiko produces in these collections really do evoke the seasons after which they are modeled. Even if you disagree, the dial work and colors all come together to create objectively beautiful timepieces.

The Grand Seiko SBGW281 and SBGW287

One thing that does leave something to be desired is Grand Seiko’s reference number system. This is why many of us resort to the nicknames these watches are given by collectors, journalists, or sometimes even the brand itself. The SBGW281 is inspired by Bantō, the “sekki” when winter gives way to spring. The champagne dial has a faint texture, what we have come to expect from Grand Seiko, and it evokes the melting snow as the first signs of spring begin to emerge. The gold seconds hand warms the dial, which could otherwise remind us more of winter.

SBGW281 and SBGW287

The SBGW287 is timely for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. The Boshū dial is meant to remind us of the rich autumn colors of this “sekki”. The burgundy dial features the same texture as the Bantō dial but opts for a steel seconds hand. Both dials are bereft of any text, save for the “GS” logo and “Grand Seiko” text at 12 o’clock.

Both of these watches use Grand Seiko’s 9S64 caliber, a hand-wound mechanical movement that is visible through the transparent sapphire case back. The movement has a power reserve of 72 hours and a stated accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day. The cases are in the traditional dress-watch style, which is expected given their place in the Elegance collection. The case measures 37.3mm in diameter, 44.3mm from lug to lug, and 11.7mm thick. Each watch comes on an alligator strap.

SBGW281 and SBGW287

Welcome additions

Regardless of the opinions around the marketing for the Flow of Seasons collection, the final products are stunning. These two watches are meant to complement the SBGW283 and SBGW285 released earlier this year, each referencing a specific change of seasons. Viewed together, they are a complete set of dress watches that offer a vibrant take on what a dress watch is meant to be.

SBGW281 and SBGW287

Both of these models have very open dials with Zaratsu-polished dial furniture and handsets. The texture of each dial is subtle and most impressive when viewed up close. These will not draw too much attention from across the room, other than that of fellow horophiles. The dial colors allow for a more fashion-forward take on the traditional white- or black-dialed dress watch. As we see less traditional colors working their way into formal wear as of late, watch dials should follow suit.

Final thoughts

While the colors may stand out, the case shape remains traditional. The 37mm round shape is a classic choice for a dress watch. It’s neither so large as to be flashy nor is it too small for modern tastes. These time-only watches also eschew a date, which is also a classic missing feature of a true dress watch. Depending on tastes, the alligator strap might not be for everyone, but given the plethora of strap makers out there, it should be fairly easy to find an excellent alternative to go with either dial. Perhaps a suede strap could dress either of these watches down. Be careful, though, as these watches only come with a “Splash Resistant” rating. Both the SBGW281 and SBGW287 will retail for €4,800 / US$4,800 and will be available as of November 2022.

What do you think? Are we moving towards more colorful offerings in the classic dress-watch space? Does the Flow of Seasons collection provide a fresh take on a classic look? Let us know in the comments below!

For more information, please refer to the Grand Seiko website.

Watch specifications

SBGW281 (champagne) / SBGW287 (burgundy)
Champagne with steel markers and steel hands / Burgundy with steel markers, steel minute/hour hands, and gold-colored seconds hand
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
37.3mm × 44.3mm × 11.7mm
Boxed sapphire
Case Back
Transparent sapphire
Grand Seiko caliber 9S64 — manual wind, 72-hour power reserve, 28,800vph (4Hz) frequency, hacking seconds
Water Resistance
Splash resistant
Crocodile leather
Hours, minutes, and seconds
€4,800 / US$4,800