I like cars – not the flashy exotic supercars but the sleeper type, the seemingly normal car that out of the blue proves everyone that it is the fastest and shows that underneath an inconspicuous exterior lies an incredible technical marvel, just like the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Diver’s 200m – SBGA 029.
The ultimate sleeper watch is the one presented here. It is a simple stainless steel watch with a relative modest 200m water rating and a simple badge on the dial…Seiko…
A non-WIS will most likely overlook this watch and it will be dismiss as “just another Seiko”. Where a Rolex will get you compliments, this one will get you questions such as “what mall did you get that from?”
A closer look will show even to non-WIS that there is something more with this watch…the 44mm case has angles and the Zaratsu polish is striking. The dial is pitch black and the indexes are polished to perfection; the hands are spectacular and the second hand…it just glides over. The second hand is partially painted black on the counterweight side so it actually increase the eerie image of a luminous dot gliding.
On the hands and dial there is a copious amount of Seiko’s finest lume, which is visible not just in the dark but also in penumbra. The power reserve indicator comes in handy, especially when wearing this watch in rotation with other watches.
Only near the power reserve hand one can discover the true nature of this watch, the Grand Seiko logo and the mention of the movement type.
The movement is a Spring Drive 9R65, one of the first Spring Drive movements released by Seiko. It is hand finished and hidden behind the solid caseback, but this adds to the tool watch image. And I like the GS lion on the caseback. The precision is better than expected; the watch has a 4-5 seconds error per month, which is better than what Seiko claims for this movement. This is rather typical for Seiko as all of their movements perform better than the official specs.
The bezel is metal, no fancy materials here, and it can be scratched. I have not managed to do it until now but I am looking forward to some wabi. Not too much, though. It also fails to align sometimes, but as someone on the internet put it: “if the bezel is aligning perfectly, then it is not an original Seiko”.
The bracelet is a 5 pieces brushed and polished links and has a rather unimpressive clasp. It does allow extending the bracelet, but it is somehow too much of a sleeper. I think that Swiss clasps are much better than what Seiko can offer at the moment, regardless of the price range.
The only almost complaint I have is that the second hand does not have the tube hidden, the way it is done for MM600. It is almost as if they have forgotten to do it, because the Grand Seiko artisans were tired of Zaratsu polishing…
This minor non-issue aside, this is the perfect under the radar watch for daily wear. Solid, precise, and discrete. However, if the need appears, it can hold its own against any other diver watch out there.
Stay safe everyone!
Text by: Mihai C.
Photos by: 7F&W