More than a feeling: Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The first flakes of snow have fallen. The temperature has dropped under the freezing point. The winter is here in her full right. And something extraordinary happened – the landscape in front of me, as I was looking at the faraway fields, reminded me of a watch. Usually is the other way round – you look at a watch and it resurfaces a memory of a scene, a beauty (regardless of a thing, being, art or similar). The watch inspired by nature and brought from memory by the beauty of winter is the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue Ref. SBGA407.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

Dials that describe feelings

Grand Seiko is a master of expressing the nature surrounding the manufacturing studios. I find the dials more a poetic exploration than a faithful representation of natural details. The Japanese artisan captures with his eyes the quintessence of the environment, takes a moment of self-reflection and then symbolically, with a delightful strike of hands and tools, carves an image painted from the prism of emotions. In this way, the dial bids sentiments to your unconscious, more than just a visual representation.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

Powerful representation of thoughts and feelings about nature and moments in time can be clearly noticed in the Grand Seiko Collections. A similar winter dial can be observed on the “Skyflake” SBGX353, the crisp frozen ice on the Ref. SLGH013 or laxity of the melting ice drops on the Shizuri-Yuki SBGY008. The beauty of spring was magnificent sketched on the Sakura-Kakashi. The tranquillity of the water surprised on the surface of Lake Suwa was expressed on the SLGA007. The forest was well-matched with an abstract visualisation on the Shirakaba SLGH005 dial and the essence of wood on the Kintaro Hattori SLGH007.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue
The watch seen in the boutique light conditions

When I first met Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue Ref. SBGA407 in the metal, I was fascinated by the dial’s texture and colour. But only after the first snow has covered the hills around me I understood it. I woke up in the morning, I noticed the nature and it stroke me… That snow in the cold blueness of the morning brought that emotion, the one I felt when I wristed the watch for the first time.

Review: Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

So yeah! That was it… An unexpected way to remember, and understand a watch. I met it, in the metal, during a visit to the Paris Boutique. The Grand Seiko boutique offers an exceptional experience, in the same way as the watches express nature, seasons and life. So if you got the chance, visit it in Place Vendome.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue
Notice the perfect reflection of my hand and camera on the superb zaratsu polished bezel

Zaratsu – the black polish

The 40.2mm steel case is a subtle but impressive piece of metal. Unfortunately, this was a customer’s piece and I was not able to molest it for the benefit of your (and also mine) pleasure. The watch is covered with a protective film that hides the sharp and well-defined edges. A characteristic of the brand is the simple and elegant case design – a watch that might get unnoticed by a plebian eye.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue Ref. SBGA407

The uncomplicated lines are enriched by a superbly executed black polish, named zaratsu. Anyone that has experienced black polish before knows how spectacular the result is. The artisans take big pride in the distortion-free mirror effect. It takes countless hours to execute it, but the most impressive is how the mirror polish is realised without compromising the case lines and curvatures.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

The 48.5mm lug-to-lug case makes a good impression on the wrist. The well-proportioned dimensions offer a good wrist sit, being quite comfortable. Due to the leather strap, the combo is light enough for the usual day activities without being tiresome. The crown with deep grooves makes the winding and setting process uncomplicated. Worth noticing the GS logo embossed on the crown that makes a nice contrast against the polished background.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

Frosty emotions – a dial expressing the cold beauty of snow

Lights and shadows play within the reliefs of the dial. The blue shade is inspired by the winter sun shining shyly over the surface of the frozen snow. The grooves and patterns are given by the harsh winter winds blowing over vast snow surfaces.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

On the lower left side, a steel hand uses a fan-shaped register for the power reserve complication. All around the dial, the hour indexes expect attention from the viewer by offering polished surfaces and sharp edges. The details make it easy to read the time even in very low light conditions. Just like the indexes, the sharp dauphine hands catch the light and hold it captive for unbeatable legibility. Note the dark (almost black) edges obtained via an almost “excessive” polishing. The running seconds are displayed by a blued extra-long hand that ends perfectly just in the middle of the black printed railtrack.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

The top of the dial is reserved for the black-printed Grand Seiko name. The “GS” logo seems like floating above the dial. This part of the dial makes the watch recognisable for those in the know.
The dial also holds a framed aperture that reveals a black-on-white date. Placed at 3 o’clock, this complication is widely loved by wristwatch users.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

As anyone can easily see, the highly polished surfaces of the markers and hands reflect the surrounding, making photographing on the run a difficult task but revealing good legibility in various situations.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

Calibre 9R65

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue is powered by the Calibre 9R65. Part of the Spring Drive family, this movement features 3 days power reserve (approx. 72 hours), date and power reserve indication and an accuracy of +/- 1 second per day. The automatic system uses the 1959’s developed Magic Lever mechanism for increased winding efficiency. The Calibre 9R65 is lavishly decorated to a level that goes beyond its price point. It is a challenge to find a better/same-decorated movement at this price level.

Calibre 9R65

I was so impressed by the dial’s beauty, that I forgot to photograph the movement. A glimpse of the movement can be seen in the presentation video above.

Tri-Synchro Regulator

The Spring Drive system created by Grand Seiko is a strange but exotic and beautiful bird: combining the pluses of the automatic mechanical movement (high torque, no need for a battery, a certain mechanical beauty) with the precision of the quartz movements. Is it mechanical or electronic? – Yes!!! Both…
The automatic mechanism charges mechanical energy to the main spring which will be depleted via an electronic regulator. The innovation stays in the Tri-Synchro Regulator visible above. The system can be plainly explained like an electric car regeneration process. The torque from the main spring is used to create electric energy from a dynam. The energy is used for supplying an integrated circuit that reads the speed, compares it with a reference signal from a quartz crystal and applies the coercive brake force via a magnetic field. – As mentioned, as simple as the car braking and charging in the same time using the kinetic energy of the car’s inertial momentum, here is the huge torque offered by the main spring.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

Final words

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue is definitively a watch that will impress. Even for some that might find the GS pieces a tad boring, the Ref. SBGA407 will not go so easily unobserved (as some of the white dials of the brand). The surface’s pattern is mesmerising and the shade brings some chills to the back. It is a superb implementation of a winter motive. I adore it…

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake Blue Technical Specifications

Ref. SBGA407

Movement

  • Calibre no.: 9R65
  • Movement type: Spring Drive
  • Power reserve: Approx. 72 hours(3 days)
  • Accuracy: ±15 seconds per month (±1 second per day)

Case

  • Stainless steel
  • See-through case back
  • Case back with 6 screws
  • Glass material: Box-shaped sapphire crystal
  • Glass coating: Anti-reflective coating on the inner surface
  • Case size: Diameter 40.2mm Lug-to-lug 48.5mm Thickness 12.8mm
  • Water resistance: 10 bar
  • Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m

Strap & Buckle

  • Band width: 19mm
  • Band material: Crocodile leather
  • Clasp type: Three-fold clasp with push button release

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