A few days ago, Grand Seiko launched a handful of new watches, including a new version of the Omiwatari. The new Grand Seiko Omiwatari SBGY013 joins the Elegance collection and brings a crisp white alternative to the light blue hues of the original (SBGY007) introduced in 2021. Personally, I find this new reference to be somewhat more appealing than the previous model. Not only has the dial color changed, but Grand Seiko has also introduced a new bracelet. Inspired by traditional beads-of-rice bracelets, this new nine-link has a flatter appearance and is more modern yet still distinguished and elegant. The new dial-and-bracelet combo is coupled with Grand Seiko’s 9R31 Spring Drive movement. Overall, it seems that this is a winning formula, so let’s take a closer look.

First, let me recap the meaning of “Omiwatari.” This term refers to an icy ridge that forms on the surface of Lake Suwa when its waters freeze in winter. Legend has it that this ridge shows where the gods walk over the water, and thus, it was given the name Omiwatari (御神渡り — literally, “god passage”). The frozen waters of the lake, which lies near the Shinshu Watch Studio, have inspired the texture on all Omiwatari models released thus far. Probably my personal favorite texture used by Grand Seiko, it’s somehow even better in white. The light blue used on the SBGY007 was lovely, but nothing conveys the icy inspiration of the dial better than this crisp white iteration. Paired with a steel bracelet, it becomes the ultimate elegant yet sporty offering from Grand Seiko.

GrandS Seiko SBGY013

The Grand Seiko Omiwatari SBGY013

This latest release from Grand Seiko really ticks off all the boxes. Not only do you get a beautifully textured dial (the brand’s signature feature), but you also get the famous and mesmerizing sweep of the Spring Drive movement. The 9R31 caliber features a double spring barrel, which provides 72 hours of power reserve. The movement is beautifully decorated and also features a power-reserve indicator on the rear. All of this is visible through the watch’s sapphire case back. To top it all off, the beautiful case, at 38.5mm wide and 43.7mm from lug to lug, is both supremely wearable and classically styled. As much as I love the 44GS case, I find it a little bit less versatile. And in keeping its lines classic yet distinguished, the SBGY013 is a perfect option for both sporty and dressy occasions.

It’s a slim watch, too, at just 10.2mm thick. The textured snow-white dial features 12 faceted markers as well as the applied Grand Seiko logo. Coupled with the brand’s infamously sharp chamfered hands, is sure to make for quite the display when worn on a sunny day. Additionally, it seems that removing the blue undertones from the dial makes the blued steel seconds hand jump out even more. Doing away with the black leather strap is undoubtedly a good move too. The watch has a more cohesive look on the bracelet. As someone who has never been a fan of Grand Seiko bracelets, I have to say that this latest option is one I hope to see make its way to more models. However, as sporty as the bracelet makes the new Omiwatari, you’ll still want to stick to frozen lakes; the water-resistance rating remains a meager “Splash Resistant”.

Grand Seiko SBGY013

Final thoughts

Now, essentially, this is just a change in color for the Omiwatari. Or it would be, were it not for the addition of the bracelet. It’s certainly a nice touch and a big plus for those of us who enjoy a steel bracelet as the default option (it’s always better than an unbearably stiff or unnecessarily shiny leather strap). The new Grand Seiko Omiwatari SBGY013 will be available from Grand Seiko boutiques for €8,800 / US$9,000 from November onwards. If the light blue predecessor wasn’t quite for you, this might be your chance to get your hands on a perfect slice of icy winter wristwear.

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